Hon. Rose-Marie Losier-Cool: Honourable senators,
it is with great pleasure and particular pride as an Acadian that I rise today
to pay tribute to a great Acadian, author Antonine Maillet.
This grande dame of Acadian literature and French-language
theatre will be honoured on Saturday evening at the Soirée des Éloizes 2010 in
Moncton. At this premier Acadian cultural event, Antonine Maillet will receive
the tribute award, which is presented to an Acadian who has distinguished
herself through her commitment to promoting the arts, the scope of her work or
her outstanding artistic vision.
Honourable senators, most of you know who Antonine Maillet
is, and for good reason. In a literary career that has spanned more than half a
century and shows no sign of winding down, even though she is now over 80, this
child of Bouctouche has written nearly 20 novels, of which the most popular are
likely Mariaagélas and Pélagie-la-Charrette.
She has also written or translated nearly 15 plays,
including the well-known works Gapi et Sullivan and Évangéline Deusse.
She is also the author of three collections of short stories and a humorous
tourist guide to Acadia. But I would be remiss if I did not mention her best-
known work, immortalized by a former colleague of ours, the honourable Viola
Léger. La Sagouine, a series of monologues, is currently running in
Former provincial premier Louis J. Robichaud gave Acadian
New Brunswickers a political voice. But it was Antonine Maillet who gave Acadia
a cultural and social voice, and she still does to this day.
The commitment and passion that have inspired her for so
longhave been recognized with numerous honours, decorations and awards. The most
prestigious of these include the Governor General's Award, which she won in 1972
for her novel Donl'Orignal, and the Prix Goncourt, which she received in
1979 — the first such award presented to a Canadian — for her novel
She is a Companion of the Order of Canada and a Member of
the Order of New Brunswick, and France has honoured her several times by
appointing her an Officier des Palmes
académiques, an Officier des Arts et lettres, a Commander
of the National Order of Merit and an Officer of the Order of the Legion of
Honour. A National Film Board co-production of Ginette Pellerin's film
Antonine Maillet — The Possibilities Are Endless has just been released.
Honourable senators, I invite you to join me in
congratulating Antonine Maillet on everything she has accomplished to date and
in encouraging her in everything she hopes to do in the future.
Hon. Nancy Greene Raine: Honourable senators,
Tuesday I was shocked to see the 2010 Report Card on Physical Activity for
Children and Youth. The results are disturbing.
The report card was released by Active Healthy Kids Canada
and its partners, ParticipACTION and the Obesity Research Group at the
Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario. I commend these organizations on their
work that lets us monitor progress in the field of childhood obesity.
According to the latest report card, Canadian children
under the age of five years are dangerously inactive. Fewer than half of them
are engaging in regular physical activity as part of their daily routine — that
is for children under the age of five.
Perhaps even more alarming is that the average child now
starts watching television at the age of five months. Ninetypercent of children
are watching TV before their second birthday, although that is not recommended.
In fact, no television time is recommended before age two.
Despite the negative impact of early childhood screen
exposure, new e-parenting products continue to be sold. A recent survey shows
that four of the ten best-selling education apps in the iTunes store are aimed
at children less than four years of age.
With increased television viewing, is it any wonder that
preschool obesity is on the rise in Canada? Studies show that children who are
obese before age six are likely to remain so later in childhood and throughout
life. Children who are overweight between the ages of two to five years are four
times more likely to be overweight adults.
Although work is ongoing to fill the gap, Canada does not
havephysical activity guidelines for preschool-aged children. International
guidelines suggest that all children of this age should participate in at least
two hours of physical activity every day, made up of many short sessions that
include play, games, walking and recreation.
Honourable senators, the Active Healthy Kids Canada report
card is well worth reading. We are making progress on some measures, but we fail
in all the important areas of physical
activity. Only 12percent of Canadian children and youth
meet Canada's physical activity targets of 90 minutes per day.
Honourable senators, it is clear to me that Canada is
suffering from an inactivity crisis. More must be done to address this serious
problem. I know honourable senators have been sent a copy of the report. Please
read it. We must all work together to address the problem.
Hon. Dennis Dawson: Honourable senators, everyone
in this chamber has a memory of their arrival in politics, a person or event
that stood out the most. In my case, this memory is without a doubt the election
of Robert Bourassa on April 29, 1970, 40years ago today.
For a CEGEP student, a young, would-be politician, seeing
a young, 36-year-old man become premier of Quebec was the sign of changing
times. This young man, a federalist and an economist, inspired Quebecers who
thought that the Liberal Party and Quebec had a future within Canada.
I feel a little self-conscious, and I see my friend,
Jean-Claude Rivest, who was much closer to Mr. Bourassa. I encourage you to visit
the website www.plq.org to see photos of Senator Jean-Claude Rivest when he was
much younger, and you will also see mention of parliamentarians who are now in
the Senate and who had a connection to Mr. Bourassa in the past.
I will acknowledge right now that Mr. Bourassa's first six
years as premier were not without controversy, but I would like to focus on his
great achievements, the effects of which are still seen in Quebec and Canadian
The list is extensive. First, there was the health
insurance system in November1970. The Quebec health insurance system was
implemented by the Bourassa government and gave all Quebec citizens access to
free health care. The introduction of the health insurance card — the carte
soleil or ``castonguette,'' named after Claude Castonguay, the health minister
who was also a member of this Senate.
There was also the James Bay hydroelectric project.
Mr. Bourassa launched work on the enormous James Bay hydroelectric complex in
May1972. As the largest building site in Quebec's history and the largest in the
world at the time, it created 100,000 jobs. Everyone remembers the 1973
campaign, which was an exciting time for Quebec.
Then there was the legal aid program in June1973. Premier
Bourassa implemented the first legal aid program to preserve access to impartial
justice for people of modest means.
The creation of the Conseil du statut de la femme was
another of Mr. Bourassa's achievements. Two years prior to 1975, International
Women's Year as designated by the UN, Robert
Bourassa's government created a council on the status of
women. That is yet another connection between Mr. Bourassa and this august
chamber, honourable senators.
Our former colleagues, Lise Bacon, Solange Chaput-Rolland
and Thérèse Lavoie-Roux, were all influential women in Mr. Bourassa's party and
his cabinet. Ms. Bacon still follows our debates, and I would like to say hello.
The Official Languages Act, Bill 22, came along in
July1974. Mr. Bourassa passed Bill 22, the first bill to make French Quebec's
official language. The National Assembly passed the bill in July.
In June1975, the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and
Freedoms was adopted. Mr. Bourassa got the Charter passed long before such things
became fashionable among other provinces.
Finally, there was the signing of the James Bay and
Northern Quebec Agreement. This was an agreement between Quebec and the Cree and
Inuit peoples with another connection to our Senate. Senator Charlie Watt
negotiated on behalf of the Inuit and the Cree. At the time, I was the director
of student employment services. I could go on listing Mr. Bourassa's
accomplishments, but my time is limited. Nevertheless, I assure you that I will
have another opportunity to talk to you about Mr. Bourassa, whose achievements
make both Quebecers and Canadians proud.
The Hon. the Acting Speaker: Honourable senators, I
draw your attention to the presence in the gallery of Mr.Terry Wickens,
Mr. Gordon Strathy, Mr. Al Tobio, Mr. Bill Black and Mr. Alex MacDonald. These men
are Canadian veterans who served during the Korean War. They are guests of the
Honourable Senator Martin.
On behalf of all senators, I welcome you to the Senate of
Hon. Michael Meighen, Chair of the Standing Senate
Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce, presented the following report:
Thursday, April29, 2010
The Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and
Commerce has the honour to present its
Your committee, to which was referred BillS-3, An Act
to implement conventions and protocols concluded between Canada and
Columbia, Greece and Turkey for the avoidance of double taxation and the
prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income, has, in
obedience to the order of reference of Wednesday, March31 2010, examined the
said Bill and now reports the same without amendment.
MICHAEL A. MEIGHEN
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when
shall this bill be read the third time?
(On motion of Senator Meighen, bill placed on the Orders
of the Day for third reading at the next sitting of the Senate.)
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the
Government): Honourable senators, I give notice that, two days hence, I will
That a Special Committee of the Senate be appointed to
consider any matters relating to anti-terrorism that may be referred to it
by the Senate from time to time;
That, notwithstanding rule 85(1)(b), the special
committee comprise nine members namely the Honourable Senators Furey, Joyal,
P.C., Jaffer, Marshall, Nolin, Segal, Smith, P.C., Tkachuk, and Wallin, and
that four members constitute a quorum;
That the committee have power to send for persons,
papers and records; to examine witnesses; to report from time to time; and
to print such papers and evidence from day to day as may be ordered by the
That, notwithstanding rule92(1), the committee be
empowered to hold occasional meetings in camera for the purpose of hearing
witnesses and gathering specialized or sensitive information;
That the papers and evidence received and taken and
work accomplished by the Special Senate Committee on the Anti-terrorism Act
and the Special Senate Committee on Anti-terrorism since the First Session
of the Thirty-Eighth Parliament be referred to the committee for the
purposes of its work; and
That, pursuant to rule95(3), the committee be
authorized for the remainder of the current session to meet on any Monday
which immediately precedes a Tuesday when the Senate is scheduled to sit,
even though the Senate may then be adjourned for a period exceeding a week.
The Hon. the Acting Speaker informed the Senate
that a message had been received from the House of Commons with BillC-302, An
Act to recognize the injustice that was done to persons of Italian origin
through their ``enemy alien'' designation and internment during the Second World
War, and to provide for restitution and promote education on Italian-Canadian
(Bill read first time.)
The Hon. the Acting Speaker: Honourable senators,
when shall this bill be read the second time?
(On motion of Senator Fraser, bill placed on the Orders of
the Day for second reading two days hence.)
Hon. Consiglio DiNino: Honourable senators, I have
the honour to table, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian
parliamentary delegation of the Canada-Europe Parliamentary Association to the
2009 Fall Meetings of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, held in Athens, Greece,
from October9 to 12, 2009.
Hon. Consiglio DiNino: Honourable senators, I have
the honour to table, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian
parliamentary delegation of the Canada-Europe Parliamentary Association to the
Election Observation Mission of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, held in
Ukraine, from January15 to 18, 2010.
Hon. Joan Fraser: Honourable senators, I give
notice that, at the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:
That the papers and evidence received and taken and
work accomplished by the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and
Constitutional Affairs during its study of BillS-210, An Act to amend the
Criminal Code (suicide bombings), during the Second Session of the
Thirty-ninth Parliament, and of BillS-205, An Act to amend the Criminal Code
(suicide bombings), during the Second Session of the Fortieth Parliament, be
referred to the committee for the purposes of its study on BillS-215, An Act
to amend the Criminal Code (suicide bombings) during the current session.
Hon. Catherine S. Callbeck: Honourable senators, my
question is to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Before the last
election, I was pleased that the government renewed its commitment to RRAP, the
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation's Residential Rehabilitation Assistance
Program. The commitment was renewed for five years, though no additional money
That disturbs me because the list in my province for the
homeowner program is five years. Therefore, when that program was renewed, the
funding would only be enough to cover the current waiting list. New applicants,
anyone who applies during this current five-year period, will have to wait until
that current backlog is completed, so they may not get any funding.
This program, as you know, helps low-income Canadians to
repair their own homes so they can live in safe and secure houses. It creates
jobs and stimulates the economy. Why did this government not invest more in what
is clearly a valuable program?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government):
Honourable senators, I was hopeful for a moment that we would hear some kudos
for a program that the government was supporting, but that was a fleeting
With regard to the actual funding, I will have to get
more details. However, there is no doubt that housing is an important first step
toward self-sufficiency. It helps lower income Canadians, vulnerable Canadians,
and it contributes to the community and the economy.
In regard to the serious situation of homelessness, we
have improved the process so that those closest to the community level have
direct involvement. We are consulting with all levels of government, and
listening to local communities and organizations to identify priorities and
needs and find effective long-term solutions.
In September2008, we announced $1.9 billion over five
years for the renewal of our Homelessness Partnering Strategy. We are currently
investing in more than 1,100 homeless projects across the country, of which 200
are Aboriginal-specific projects. As well, these major investments in affordable
housing are creating thousands of jobs, which are also benefiting communities
and people in the workforce in those particular areas across the country.
I do believe, with that kind of money and those kinds of
dollars, that the government has made a commitment, firmly believes in the
commitment and will continue our good work in this area.
Senator Callbeck: I am pleased that the Leader of
the Government in the Senate will seek more information as to why the government
did not invest more in this program.
There is a waiting list of roughly 250 people in my
province. At the current level of funding, because they can only do 40 or
50projects a year; that means it will take five years to complete that waiting
list. This means that some people on that list will have to wait four or five
years to get assistance and new applicants may never get any funding at all.
The recent budget was supposed to be about stimulating the
economy and getting Canadians back to work. Here is a program that will do both,
but this program was not even mentioned.
I would like to know what the government intends to do
about these staggering waiting lists for this homeowner program. Will the
government consider using supplementary estimates to invest more in this very
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, it really
does not matter what program the government announces or puts significant funds
into, it is never enough for the honourable senator. In any event, I will go
through some of the figures. Remember that we work with the provinces on these
This is the kind of money we have put into these programs:
over $2 billion over two years for constructing new and renovating existing
social housing; $600 million for new housing and repairs to existing social
housing on reserve and in the North; $400million for housing for low-income
seniors; and $75 million for people who live with disabilities.
These are significant dollars. I regret that the
honourable senator does not find that the government's efforts in this area are
sufficient. I believe we have made a significant step forward in an area that
was woefully lacking in any support in the past.
Hon. Sharon Carstairs: Honourable senators, my
question is to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I do not know of
anyone in this chamber, or indeed outside of it, who believes that abortion
should be a form of birth control. Clearly, contraception is the preferred
option; but often, contraception is regrettably not available in the Third World
and if it is available, it is far too expensive.
In Ethiopia, for example, with a population of some 80
million people, there were 380,000 abortions last year. Three quarters of those
abortions were done illegally and thousands of women in Ethiopia continue to
suffer as a result of these botched abortions.
Abortion is legal in Ethiopia. Therefore, can the
government tell the chamber this afternoon what will happen to maternal
childcare programs in Ethiopia? Is it now going to eliminate all of those who
provide abortion as part of their maternal child benefit?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): I
thank the honourable senator for the question. I think I made it clear in my
answers two days ago about this issue.
Each country in the G8 community is contributing to this
positive program for improving the lives of mothers and children. I regret that
this important program, targeted to maternal health and the health and lives of
young children, has become bogged down in an abortion debate, which is
unnecessary. As I mentioned before, every country that will participate in this
program will bring to the program their own expertise and make their own
I will read into the record — because I think this says it
all — a news statement from Toronto, which was headlined:
Time to Measure Success in Lives Saved, Not Political
Points Scored: Development Leaders Say
Every year nine million women around the world watch
as their children die from painful, preventable illnesses that often cost
dimes, not dollars, to treat. Hundreds of thousands more women die in
childbirth because they lack access to dependable health care close to home.
For groups like ours, who are working to make a
difference in the lives of these millions of women and children, the
upcoming G8 in Canada provides an historic opportunity to chart a course out
of this desperate terrain.
And yet, instead of pushing forward in support of an
initiative that could benefit millions, we are allowing the potential for
hope and opportunity to be swallowed up by a political debate about abortion
that is stifling the potential for progress.
We know from recent polls that abortion is a sensitive
issue for Canadians and debating abortion in the context of this initiative
will not resolve the domestic debate. Rather, it will stall or table an
initiative that has enormous potential to save the lives of millions of
mothers and children from some of the major causes of death.
With an investment at the community level, where women
and children are best able to access health care, the G8 initiative can
prevent the deaths and improve the health of millions of children and women.
Providing families with access to proven low cost health interventions can
ensure healthier pregnancies and prevent illness and death from such
diseases as malaria, diarrhoea and pneumonia. Additionally, providing
education and access to family planning, including contraception, will
reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies.
One thing is certain, if lack of agreement on one
issue forces the G8 to delay a decision on this maternal and child health
initiative, another 8.8 million children and over 300,000 mothers will die
waiting. We cannot allow these lives to slip away while we take up a debate
on abortion here in Canada.
It's time to focus on the hope and opportunity that
this G8 Initiative on Maternal, Newborn and Child Health presents and end
the suffering of millions of families around the world. It's time to commit
significant and new investments to meet this need. It's time to measure
success in lives saved, not political points scored.
This was signed by Kevin McCort, President and CEO
of Care Canada; Rosemary McCarney, President and CEO of Plan Canada; Christina
Dendys, Executive Director of RESULTS Canada; David Morley, President and CEO of
Save the Children Canada; Kimberly Moran, President and CEO of UNICEF Canada; and
Dave Toycen, President and CEO of World Vision Canada.
Senator Carstairs: If the honourable minister would
read an Order Paper from December2009, she would know that I put a motion before
the Senate urging the G8 and G20 to concentrate on maternal and child health.
The initiative has my full support. I want to know whether this government,
because of its recent statements, will stop funding organizations, such as the
ones in Ethiopia, that provide support for abortions as part of their maternal
Will the minister stop that funding?
Senator LeBreton: I would think that Senator
Carstairs would applaud the efforts of the government. Canada is one part of the
G8 partnership. It was agreed in Halifax by the ministers responsible to proceed
with this plan. There was an agreement between all G8 countries that
collectively they will put great efforts into this endeavour. In Africa, some
countries have laws opposite to what the honourable senator states.
To suggest that Canada's great contribution to this
collective effort will impede the ability of another country to support a
particular part of the treatment is wrong. We should celebrate the efforts to
save the lives of children and their mothers.
Senator Carstairs: Honourable senators, I realize
that it is Question Period and not answer period. However, it would be nice to
know this government's funding policy on maternal and child health with respect
to organizations that have nothing to do with the G8, many of which currently
fund abortions. Will the minister continue or cut that funding?
Senator LeBreton: With regard to funding that is
done through CIDA, all of these programs are ongoing. As under this and previous
governments, all projects funded through CIDA are reviewed by CIDA. I have been
informed that CIDA does not fund any projects aimed specifically at increasing
the availability of abortion. That seems to be at odds with the honourable
senator's belief. I thought her remark was rather unoriginal: This is Question
Period but not answer period. I have heard that comment in both houses for
The government is focused on making a positive difference
to improve the lives of mothers and children in the developing world in ways
that unite Canadians rather than divide them. Canada's contribution to maternal
and child health will include family planning. The details and the dollars
committed will come in a final decision at the G8 meeting in June. The United
States has stated that they are aligned with Canada on this important
initiative. Every country will bring their expertise and dollars. The object of
the meeting is to provide good nutrition, safe drinking water, hygienic products
and facilities, and trained medical people close to where these mothers and
children live. That is a laudable goal for Canada in conjunction with the other
members of the G8.
The honourable senator said that she was not asking about
the G8. I answered her question about CIDA. Surely to goodness, Canadians can
unite in their desire to make a difference in the lives of millions of children
and their mothers.
Hon. James S. Cowan (Leader of the Opposition):
Honourable senators, the leader was talking about funding organizations that
promotes abortions. Senator Carstairs was talking about NGOs
currently in receipt of funding either directly or
indirectly from the Canadian government for their services to promote maternal
and child health, which may include abortion. The question is simple: Those
organizations have been receiving funding directly or indirectly from the
Canadian government. Will that funding stop as a result of the clarification of
Senator LeBreton: I am sure that Senator Carstairs
appreciates the new leader's interpretation of what she said. All programs that
receive funding directly or indirectly from the government continue. As
honourable senators know, many of these programs are conducted under CIDA. All
programs go through reviews. I said earlier that CIDA does not fund any project
specifically aimed at increasing the availability of abortions. I do not know
what else I can say to the honourable senator.
Hon. Grant Mitchell: Honourable senators, despite
enormous pressure to change its declaration, the government remains steadfast in
its determination not to fund anything to do with abortions under the G8
maternal and child health initiative, even if a woman is a victim of rape as a
weapon or her life is threatened by the pregnancy. That causes one to think
about the level of commitment on the part of this government to oppose funding
abortions in any way. That causes one to think about what this government would
do about abortions in Canada the first time they have the chance.
Would the Leader of the Government in the Senate tell us
what the government will do to the funding for abortions for Canadian women when
they have the chance?
Senator LeBreton: I thank Senator Mitchell and
point out to him that we have now been in government for four years.
Senator Comeau: There will be many more!
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, the
government has committed that we will never open the abortion debate in Canada.
I remind Senator Cowan and Senator Carstairs that this
issue has been before Parliament. It was put in the other place as a motion
before Parliament, and it was defeated. Therefore, I do not know why the
honourable senator has difficulty accepting a motion that was defeated in the
other place with the help of members of his own party.
Senator Mitchell: I have difficulty accepting many
of the leader's promises because I believed the government would not tax income
trusts, and that is just the tip of the iceberg.
Honourable senators, I return to this idea of
international funding. I do not know how he knew this, but the Prime Minister
said that Canadians do not want their foreign aid money spent on funding
abortions in any way.
The Government of Canada has been giving money to the
International Planned Parenthood Federation since the 1980s, in the time of the
leader's friend, Mr. Mulroney, up until December2009. That funding has not been
renewed. Could the
leader tell us why not? Is it just a coincidence that the
federation also happens to be a Canadian-based NGO that provides funding for
advice and services in abortion to parts of the world outside Canada?
Senator LeBreton: This program funded through CIDA
is under review, I imagine.
The honourable senator shares his interpretation of the
view of this subject in Canada. I can tell the honourable senator what the view
in Canada is: Whether they are pro-life, pro-choice or anywhere in between,
Canadians are divided on this matter. However, the people of Canada are
overwhelmingly united in the belief that a debate on abortion does not
contribute to our efforts to help people in Third World countries. Such a debate
does not serve any purpose to the people of Canada and does not assist those who
are dealing with serious illness and the deaths of mothers and children. As it
was pointed out in this press release, the Canadian public does not want the
government to become embroiled in a debate at the expense of the people we are
trying to help.
Senator Mitchell: Honourable senators, the idea
that everything that could remotely be blamed on the Conservatives must be
someone else's fault is wearing a little thin. It is a little rich, actually.
How is it possible that debate about an issue like this is
delaying the government's program? The government has absolute authority to
proceed with this program. They do not even need a vote of the houses to do so.
Even if it does, I assume it is in the budget bill, is it not? That measure
seems to be progressing.
How is it that debate delays anything? If the honourable
senator really believes that, gosh help us, the government will be proroguing
again pretty soon.
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, I do not
even know what Senator Mitchell is talking about. We are committed to this
program. We are not delaying our efforts to participate and lead the charge and
the G8 to contribute to this worthwhile program. Therefore, I have no idea what
the honourable senator is talking about.
I am simply saying that, as was pointed out by aid
organizations in this very good press release, it would be a shame if a valid
and good program to save the lives of millions of children and their mothers is
embroiled in debate on abortion and pushed off the agenda.
Hon. Francis Fox: My question is for the Leader of
the Government in the Senate and has to do with another matter.
As the minister knows, festival season is fast
approaching. In conversation this week, Alain Simard, president and founder of
the Montreal Jazz Festival and head of the Festival de la
francophonie, said that the major festivals in Montreal,
in Quebec, and perhaps in other big cities across the country, have not yet
received any response from the minister about the funding they could usually
Can the minister ask her colleague about this so that
these people get a response as quickly as possible before the various festivals
are due to open?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government):
Honourable senators, Senator Fox's question is one that I am able to answer
without allowing things that have nothing to do with the subject get in the way.
As honourable senators know, we have increased funding to
arts and culture by 8percent, which is a significant amount. I will be happy to
find out from my colleague, the Honourable James Moore, as to when these
announcements might be made.
Hon. Bert Brown moved second reading of BillS-8, An
Act respecting the selection of senators.
He said: Honourable senators, BillS-8 is an act respecting
the selection of senators. It is an offer to the provinces to draft their own
legislation, hold elections in their provinces and to fill future vacancies in
this chamber with elected senators.
When the bill comes into effect, it will not be a legal
directive to the provinces. BillS-8 will give the voters of each province an
opportunity to democratically choose future senators or leave the decision to
the office of the current Prime Minister and future prime ministers.
Honourable senators, I will begin with a little of the
history of how we arrived at this bill and what motivated us to take on this
cause. I quote from Claire Hoy's book, Nice Work: The Continuing Scandal of
On Thursday, October13, 1864, the fourth day of the
Quebec conference, Macdonald introduced a resolution drafted by the Canadian
cabinet on just what would happen to the Senate. The proposal ignited a full
week of rancorous debate over both the composition of the Senate and whether
members would be appointed or elected. It is important to recall the
population disparity between the various players at the time of the
Confederation debate since fears from the smaller groups of being smothered
by the larger ones was at the heart of the disagreement.
Two years before the act of Confederation was signed in
Prince Edward Island, a man by the name of George Brown explained:
Our Lower Canada friends have agreed to give us
representation by population in the Lower House, on the express condition
that they shall have equality in the Upper House. On no other condition
could we have advanced a step;
Mr. Hoy also quotes Sir John A. Macdonald in 1865
In order to protect local interests, and to prevent
sectional jealousies, it was found requisite that the three great divisions
into which British North America is separated, should be represented in the
Upper House on the principle of equality.
That is how this chamber began. The desire for equality of
the provinces in the Senate stems from those quotes. The provinces are sovereign
and each has its own legislature to empower, to pass legislation on health care,
education, social services, manpower and immigration. This bill has been over 26
years in the making.
On August13, 1983, a few Albertans decided to form a
national Triple-E committee to promote the election of senators, change the
representation by province and preserve the powers of the Red Chamber. For two
years, forums were held in towns across the province to discuss Senate reform.
The government became involved, and in 1985, a special select committee of
Albertans filed a report to that end. The legislature passed a Senatorial
Selection Act. Despite nationwide media criticism of an election for senators,
the Alberta government chose democracy.
Early in the fall of 1989, the Triple-E committee was
invited to speak to the parliamentary committee on the Meech Lake Accord.
Dr. David Elton and I made presentations to that joint committee of the House of
Commons and the Senate. A brief window of opportunity opened when Prime Minister
Mulroney said he would only appoint senators from a list of names submitted by a
Alberta, in 1989, held the first senatorial election
concurrently with a municipal election. There were provincial Progressive
Conservative, Liberal and Reform Party of Alberta candidates and independents.
The names and number of votes for each candidate were put on a list and given to
the Prime Minister. Months later, in June of 1990, the winner of that election,
retired General Stan Waters, a Reform candidate, walked into history as the
first elected senator in Canada's Parliament.
The Triple-E committee participated in the hearings of the
Charlottetown Accord held in Halifax, Montreal, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver.
The Charlottetown Accord died on a vote in 1992 primarily because it did not, in
the minds of most Canadian voters, meet their expectations. It took on the
interests of the provinces, the interests of Quebec, the interests of Aboriginal
people, the issue of gender parity and the issue of Senate reform. Too many ideas
in one document gave each voter at least one reason to vote no. All but two
provinces voted against the Charlottetown Accord in a referendum in 1992.
There were subsequent Alberta elections for
senators-in-waiting in 1998 and again in 2004. The two Reform candidates who won
in 1998 were passed over by Prime Minister Chrétien and Prime Minister Martin,
despite there being a number of Senate vacancies in Alberta during their tenures
as prime ministers.
In 2004, three Progressive Conservative candidates and one
independent were elected, and they too were passed over by Prime Minister
Martin. In 2007, Prime Minister Harper appointed the winning Progressive
Conservative candidate to the vacancy created by the retirement of long-serving
Liberal Senator Dan Hays.
As that appointee, on behalf of Prime Minister Harper, I
began a third Canada-wide trip to promote senatorial elections. Five provinces
and two territorial government premiers or ministers of intergovernmental
affairs agreed with elections, as long as the Prime Minister covered the cost of
A number of Liberal MPs and senators protested that Senate
elections could be constitutionally challenged. To date, there have been no
constitutional challenges after three elections. The New Democratic Party has
for many years claimed the Senate should be abolished. This is not politically
possible and is not what the people of Canada want. For over a generation,
numerous polls in every province have shown a large majority of Canadians
everywhere want future senators to be elected by the same people who vote for
provincial MLAs and federal members of Parliament. I quote:
Probably on no other public question in Canada has
there been such unanimity of opinion as on that of the necessity for Senate
The author of that quote is Robert Mackay. The book is
The Unreformed Senate of Canada, written in 1926.
During the life of the Triple-E committee, we have
communicated verbally and in writing with 60 provincial premiers and Prime
Ministers Trudeau, Clark, again Trudeau, Turner, Mulroney, Campbell, Chrétien,
Martin, and Prime Minister Harper. Prime Minister Harper is the only prime
minister in Canada's history that has ever committed to Senate elections from
the time he was a member of Parliament, Conservative Party leader and up to and
including his years as Prime Minister.
Despite the desires of Canadians for election of senators,
neither the House of Commons members nor the senators have voted to begin a
serious attempt to elect future members to the Red Chamber. Prime Minister
Harper was faced with growing Senate vacancies after more than a year in power.
A Liberal senator actually introduced a bill proposing that the Prime Minister
should be constitutionally required to fill Senate vacancies. Lacking any
opposition support for Senate elections in the Houses of Commons or the Senate,
Prime Minister Harper appointed 18 senators in 2009. The steadfast reluctance to
embrace any form of elections would, over a nearly two-year period, make
appointments of Conservatives predictable until a majority is reached. That was
the only way to end the 13-year Liberal majority in the Senate.
The Liberals have held Senate majorities for 70 years with
only two brief exceptions to date. The last Liberal majority in the Senate
refused to deal with Canadians' expressed desire to bring democracy to the Red
Chamber and refused to open the door to Senate elections. Honourable senators,
that situation has changed.
That brings me back to BillS-8, an act respecting the
selection of senators, the bill I speak to today, honourable senators. This bill
cannot be constitutionally challenged because it is an offer from the Prime
Minister to the provinces to hold senatorial elections. It is in no way a
legislative command. For those provinces that develop their own legislation to
elect senators who would represent their voters in a Senate of the future, the
provinces should know that Prime Minister Harper will consider the outcome, as
he has with Alberta senatorial elections and will in Saskatchewan and Manitoba's
future senatorial elections.
Provinces will not be forced to hold such elections. There
will be no threats, no pressure, no penalty, only the will of the Canadian
voters. Provinces that do not hold democratic elections for future vacancies
created naturally by retiring senators will again force prime ministers to
appoint without the votes of the people.
This bill is but the first step to a reformed Senate. The
next two steps can only be done when elected senators prove their worth to their
provinces and when elected senators are close to a majority in the Senate.
Within a decade, that is possible.
At some future point, the provincial governments and
Parliament will need to draft a stand-alone constitutional amendment to agree on
the future representation in the Senate and retain the supremacy of the House of
Commons without crippling the powers of the Senate. Faced with a confirmed
constitutional reform of the Senate, the Senate chamber has only a 180-day
Honourable senators, this historic act by our Prime
Minister will ultimately lead to the provinces and territories having a real
voice, a vote and, if necessary, a veto. This amendment will constitute sober
second thought, backed up by the elected members in both houses of Parliament.
At the same time, a veto of a bill by the Senate will not
be a vote of confidence. The bill will simply die and the Commons can rewrite
the bill or, realizing that a majority of elected senators in each of seven
provinces representing more than 50percent of the population oppose the bill,
let it expire.
Honourable senators, I propose BillS-8, An Act respecting
the selection of senators, for your thoughtful consideration on behalf of Prime
Minister Stephen Harper, who made possible the journey of the bill to this
chamber and at this time.
I quote Lord Andrew Adonis, who recently spoke to the
700-year-old House of Lords when he said:
...the time has now come to make it legitimate in the
only way that a legislative assembly can be legitimate in the modern world,
which is to be elected...
I am prepared to answer all the questions that members of
this chamber ask of me in the coming months. However, at the end of each
question or concern honourable senators bring forward, the overarching final
answer will be: We do this not for any political affiliation or philosophy. We
do it to give voice to the Canadian people, and for democracy in this chamber,
and for this century.
Hon. James S. Cowan (Leader of the Opposition):
Honourable senators, I have a couple of questions, and I wonder if I can take
the honourable senator's offer to answer them.
Senator Brown described his cross-country speaking tour,
and I know he has been across the country speaking to premiers and other
provincial political leaders over the past couple of years, and probably before
then. The honourable senator mentioned that a number of them had agreed to this
type of process, providing they did not have to pay for it.
As I understand the proposal contained in this bill, it
will be a provincial responsibility and therefore all costs associated, both
with the running of the elections and running for election, will be borne at the
provincial level — there will be no federal contribution.
Have any of the provincial governments — and I perhaps
leave Alberta aside because Alberta has already financed three Senate elections
— indicated to the honourable senator that they are prepared to participate in
the process described in this legislation?
Senator Brown: In answer to the honourable
senator's question about who will pay for elections, there is only one taxpayer
in this country. Taxpayers are paying either provincial or federal taxes. Which
tax they are paying is irrelevant.
The reason the bill copies Alberta's act electing senators
by provincial methods is because the premiers that we contacted on the third
trip across Canada wanted a buy-in. They wanted to know that if they go ahead
with elections of any kind, that the prime minister will be forced in some way,
or at least forced by his or her character, to go forward with the winners of
That is the reason why we have the provinces not only hold
elections but those elected are answerable to the provincial leader of the party
they represent, the way I am. I am an invited member of this caucus, but also I
am an elected member of the provincial caucus of Alberta. I still join them,
when I can, in their chambers.
I think that is about all I need to tell the honourable
senator on that question, unless he has another one.
Senator Cowan: Honourable senators, I do have
another question, and I want an answer to the first question. Can Senator Brown
identify the provinces that have indicated that they are prepared to support a
process they will pay for? I recognize the business about there being one
taxpayer, but the money will come out of provincial government revenues. Can
the honourable senator name the provinces that have indicated to him that they
are prepared to support a process where they would run elections for election to
a federal body?
Senator Brown: Honourable senators, Saskatchewan
has passed legislation. They have not mentioned in their bill, as far as I can
read it, whether they expect someone else to pay or they will pay themselves.
In June2007, Manitoba passed an act that is funny in its
scope. It starts off with, ``Whereas we prefer to abolish the Senate,'' and then
has many more ``whereases,'' but it says if the Prime Minister wants to elect
senators, we will elect ours.
Last year, a committee was created to travel across
Manitoba to see how Manitobans would elect their senators, not ``if.'' That
committee completed its work when we testified on a day in May of last year. The
committee was ready to put forward their proposal for how elections would occur
when the Prime Minister appointed their Premier, Gary Doer, Ambassador of Canada
to the United States.
From then on, the committee decided to hold their bill
until they had picked a new premier and everyone was satisfied with the
proposal. I understand they have completed the proposal and will submit it soon.
Former Senator Pat Carney pointed out that British
Columbia has legislation for electing senators that now lies dormant because it
had a sunset clause. When Pat Carney left this chamber, she said that
legislation could be reactivated with a one-sentence amendment. I am not sure
where British Columbia stands on the legislation now.
When I travelled to Prince Edward Island, Premier Robert
Ghiz— who, interestingly enough, is the son of the first premier I spoke to in
Prince Edward Island — welcomed the idea with open arms. However, he also asked
that the federal government pay for it. P.E.I had a proposal many years ago for
the first Triple-E Senate in this country.
Senator Cowan: I take it that the answer is that no
provincial government has indicated they are prepared to support this bill and
pay the costs? No one is committed to that; is that correct?
Senator Brown: This bill, honourable senators, is a
framework for the provinces. It is not to be copied exactly. Legislation is up
to the provinces. It says in the summary of the bill that legislation enacted by
a province or territory needs only to be substantially in agreement with BillS-8
to hold democratic elections. Legislation is up to the province.
I doubt that the Prime Minister wants to pay for those
elections for the simple reason that because we expect people who run in these
elections to represent a provincial political party, not a federal one, the
intent is to allow the provinces to have immediate, direct input into every bill
considered by the House of Commons.
Senator Cowan: That leads back to the next series
of questions. As the honourable senator says, the scheme is that the
elections will be provincially sponsored, run and financed, both the elections
for candidates themselves and the machinery of the election, if I can refer to
it that way.
The candidates are either independents or persons who
receive the endorsement of registered political parties in the provinces. Will
there be any restriction on the participation of federal political parties, some
of which are not represented at a provincial level in some provinces? Some
parties are both federal and provincial, but will there be any restriction on
the participation of federal political parties in these elections or
restrictions on the role of third parties? I ask that question because, in the
previous effort of the government to introduce this electoral concept, there was
a lot of language about trying to control, rightly, the influence of third
parties on these election contests.
I do not see any mention of that in this bill. I should
like to have the honourable senator clarify whether there will be any
restrictions or whether there are contemplated to be any restrictions on the
role of federal political parties or other third parties in these election
Senator Brown: Yes, honourable senators, if you
read the summary, you will find that if the Prime Minister is recommending
Senate nominees to the Governor General for province or territory, he would be
required to consider names from the list of nominees submitted by the provincial
or territorial governments. The list of nominees would be determined by an
election held in accordance with provincial or territorial laws enacted to
implement the framework.
I think it is clear that they expect the people who would
be elected to represent the province. The reason for that is that this chamber
has become a partisan place over a long period of time. It represents either the
federal Liberals or the federal Conservatives, but it does not present the NDP
or any political party of a province.
Senator Cowan: I understand that, honourable
senators, but my question is this: Is there anything in the bill that indicates
whether or not there will be any restrictions, controls, or parameters for the
involvement of federal political parties or third parties? That is my question.
It is not about whether or not this chamber is too partisan. My question is in
relation to the elections that will lead to this list of nominees that will be
considered by a prime minister. My question is this: Are you looking to restrict
or prevent the participation or influence of federally registered parties, not
provincially registered political parties, or third parties?
Senator Brown: I do not think there is any intent
by the Prime Minister — I do not speak directly for everything he says — to have
federal political parties involved in those elections.
Senator Cowan: You are saying that the intent of
this legislation is to prevent federal political parties from participating in
the election of those persons to be considered for nomination by the Prime
Minister to this chamber?
Senator Brown: That is correct.
Senator Cowan: Could I ask the honourable senator
to read proposed section1 of the bill? Clause 1 of the schedule states:
1. Senators to be appointed for a province or
territory should be chosen from a list of Senate nominees submitted by the
government of the province or territory.
That is similar to the summary that the honourable senator
referred to a few moments ago.
One of the proposals that has been suggested by the
Province of Quebec is that if the Prime Minister — and, these are not the
precise words but the intent — wants to know who to appoint from the Province of
Quebec, he should ask the premier of the province. The premier would then
consult the National Assembly of Quebec and the National Assembly of Quebec
would suggest a name or names. Would that be an acceptable solution to this
Senator Brown: It was acceptable in the
consultations we conducted in Halifax, Toronto, Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver.
During the Charlottetown Accord, Quebec proposed the same thing, namely, that
senators be elected by the members of their National Assembly. I do not think
there is any restriction that would prevent Quebec from doing that again.
Let me tell the honourable senator what I think would
happen. Quebec did not give women the right to vote until 1940. This time, I
think the populace of Quebec would want to know why they do not directly elect
their senators when other provinces were doing so.
Senator Cowan: The honourable senator is quite
correct that, with the proposal here, it is up to the provinces to adopt a
framework similar to what is set out in the appendix to this bill. However, if
that were the position of the Province of Quebec and a list were provided, would
it be an acceptable solution to the democratization that he proposes?
Senator Brown: Yes, because I do not think there is
anyone who votes in the National Assembly of Quebec that is a member of the
federal government. They are members of the Quebec parties. They are Quebec
MNAs. That is, they are not in the federal government; they are in the Quebec
Senator Cowan: I refer the honourable senator to
proposed section37 of the appendix, Part 2, page 16. I will read it, if you
would explain it. It states:
37. Despite any law of the province or territory that
permits a voter to mark the ballot by writing the name of the candidate or
the registered political party of the candidate of the voter's choice on the
ballot, a voter in that province or territory may mark in writing only the
name of the candidate or candidates, as the case may be, on such a ballot.
Would the honourable senator explain what that means and
in what circumstances it would apply?
Senator Brown: It simply explains what I said,
namely, that you can either be a representative of a provincial political party
in order to vote or you can be an independent.
Senator Cowan: This section talks about writing the
name on a ballot. Presumably, ballots are preprinted. One does not go into
a ballot booth and write the name of a party or a candidate on a ballot. I have
never seen that.
Senator Brown: I must admit that it may be
something that was in the Alberta legislation, probably to accommodate the
Aboriginal people that had not registered as political parties. That is the only
answer I can give.
Senator Cowan: Would the honourable senator mind
checking on that and getting back to me?
Senator Brown: I will.
The Hon. the Acting Speaker: Is the Honourable
Senator Brown prepared to take further questions?
Senator Brown: Yes.
Hon. Hugh Segal: Would Senator Brown be good enough
to explain what appears to be quite a movement here from the previous proposal
in a prior Parliament, which was for a broad referendum in which people could
vote in their federal ridings at the time of a federal election to fill
vacancies in their own province; versus this approach, which is focused on a
province- by-province basis? If it passes and some provinces agree, you may have
some provinces voting to send senators; others demurring.
Could the honourable senator explain that transition to
colleagues in the chamber?
Senator Brown: I would be happy to explain that
transition, honourable senators. In the United States, in 1903, the Americans
had appointed their senators by the members of their legislative assemblies for
90 years. The State of Oregon decided that they wanted to elect their future
senators, so they set up an election. That election was called unconstitutional
and illegal. They went ahead and voted for two future senators. The MLAs decided
to ignore that election and, for the next state election in Oregon for MLAs,
every single MLA was tossed out. Then the State of Oregon held another illegal,
unconstitutional election and voted for two senators. They were the first two
elected senators to enter the American chamber. Eleven years later, they passed
the Seventeenth Amendment to the United States Constitution to give them the
right to elect their senators. That was the first Triple-E Senate in America. I
believe that by then, two thirds of the states had gone forward with elections,
which still meant one third of them were not electing senators.
Hon. Sharon Carstairs: I am interested in the
honourable senator's reply with respect to Manitoba because the Manitoba report
is clear that it will permit Senate elections provided the federal government
pays for them. In addition, Saskatchewan indicated that that is their concern
also; that province wants to ensure that the federal government pays for this
The only province that I am aware of — and I seek the
senator's clarification — that is prepared to pay for Senate elections is the
Province of Alberta.
Senator Brown: We were in communication with both
Saskatchewan and Manitoba as late as last week, and I can neither deny nor agree
with the honourable senator's assessment.
Senator Carstairs: Honourable senators, my second
question has to do with a change that was made with respect to the voting
procedure in this bill. In past legislation, it was to be a single transferable
ballot. In this bill, it is first past the post. Can you explain that change?
Senator Brown: In response to the honourable
senator's question I suggest she look at the framework of this bill as being
just that; a framework.
Senator Cowan has already asked whether Quebec might want
to elect its senators by the members of their National Assembly. I think also
that other provinces might want to use a single transferable ballot in order to
elect more than one senator-in- waiting at a time.
As I said at the beginning of my speech, this act is not a
command to the provinces. It is an offer to substantially meet the requirements
of a democratic election.
Senator Carstairs: Honourable senators, if the
government is prepared to make an offer to the provinces, which is what this
bill purports, why would the federal government not just sit down with the
provinces and talk about Senate reform?
Senator Brown: Honourable senators, we had an
agreement in Charlottetown with every province in this country for an elected,
equal and effective Senate. There were just too many other items in the
Charlottetown Accord and, despite a large number of votes for one issue or
another, the overall outcome was that all but two provinces voted against the
accord. If the senator were to get a copy of it, she would find it is almost an
inch thick and deals with just about everything under the sun.
Hon. Anne C. Cools: Honourable senators, I thank
Senator Brown very much for his comments. I must admit I found them most
interesting and a little bit bewildering. Honourable senators, the question I
wish to put to Senator Brown is in respect of the Constitution and the
phenomenon of the exercise of power. As we all know, in this country the
exercise of all power by the government, by the Parliament of Canada, has to be
authorized by the BNA Act, the British North America Act, which is renamed the
Constitution Act, 1867.
Could Senator Brown share with us the sections of that act
that authorize the bringing of this bill to this house?
Senator Brown: Honourable senators, I believe it is
the section that allows provinces to be sovereign under the parts of legislation
that I have mentioned, which are manpower and immigration, education, etcetera.
Provinces are allowed to hold elections in that area every time an election
comes forward. This bill invites them to use that same power to decide who they
want to sit in this chamber.
Senator Cools: Is Senator Brown referring to
section92 of the Constitution Act, 1867?
Senator Brown: I do not disagree with the
honourable senator, I am just saying that there are a great many in the media of
this country who have called Senate elections illegal and unconstitutional, but
no one has ever attempted a Supreme Court challenge on whether Alberta or any
other province has the right to hold such elections.
Senator Cools: The honourable senator's view would
be most interesting that something is only illegal if someone challenges it and
gets a judgment from the court saying that it is illegal.
I would like Senator Brown to answer my question. What is
the constitutional authority for the moving of this bill? I can discern nothing
in section92 that gives any province or any other body for that matter, the
power to elect senators.
Senator Brown: Senator Cools is probably correct.
However, I served on a committee chaired by the Deputy Leader of the Government
of Alberta, Jim Horsman. I sat on that committee during its first tour of Canada
and, at the end of that tour, it was decided to draft legislation to hold
We had many communications from the federal government
that told us if we did anything that touched the Constitution our election would
be declared ultra vires. I am sure the honourable senator knows what that means.
We did not receive a response from the government saying
that there was anything in the bill that was ultra vires. That is why we have
been able to hold three elections in the province of Alberta, and Alberta is
deciding whether it will hold one again this fall for three senators-elect, in
waiting, or whether it will be included in the provincial election next year.
Senator Cools: Honourable senators, I thank Senator
Brown again. He speaks with great earnestness, which is to be respected, but I
continue to be troubled at all times that these bills and these propositions
never seem to be able to point to a distinct basis in any constitutional
authority. Any time I ever put a question to any proponent, I never seem to be
able to get an answer, which leads me to believe that there is great
uncertainty, if not enormous error in it, and in point of fact there is no
authority in the British North America Act for any kind of election whatsoever
to the Senate.
Is it possible, Senator Brown, that the BNA Act does not
even contemplate elections of senators? Is that possible?
Senator Brown: Honourable senators, I think Senator
Cools is correct that there is no authority under the Constitution. The fact is
that under the Constitution there is also no objection. If there were, the
government would have come down on it a long time ago.
I do remember a number of times when the committee passed
the legislation of Alberta through that process and no one had ever come up with
a statement calling it ultra vires. That is all I can say on that question.
Senator Cools: Is it possible that the senator
could only be looking at some examples of complicity in lawlessness?
Hon. Grant Mitchell: Honourable senators, I have a
couple of questions for Senator Brown.
When people saw that the Prime Minister broke his fixed
terms elections act arbitrarily, summarily, to serve his own political ends, and
certainly to deny the ``values'' that he had placed in that bill, there was
I want to explore the extent of a prime minister's
obligation under this act. I am concerned immediately when I see at clause22.(2)
that there seems to be a strict requirement. I will read clause22.(2):
If only one person is to be elected, the candidate
with the highest number of votes must be declared elected.
It goes on in subclause(3) to specify the same sentiment
with more people running, or needing to be elected. If you go to the first
clause of the bill, on page 3, it says the following:
Senators to be appointed for a province or territory
should be chosen from a list of Senate nominees submitted by the government
of the province or territory.
``Should'' is certainly not ``must'' or ``shall.'' The
first question is, what does that mean? In any event, could the Prime Minister
simply disregard the act and select whoever he wants from the list of
``elected'' or from any list at all? I will give the honourable senators an
If the Senate were tied at 52 Liberals and 52
Conservatives, one position was available, and a Liberal came first in the
election, can the honourable senator give us assurance that the Prime Minister —
remember his history — would appoint the Liberal thereby giving the majority in
the Senate to the Liberals?
Senator Brown: Yes, he would. I take great umbrage
at the honourable senator's suggestion that the Prime Minister negated his own
term limits bill. If the honourable senator would read that bill, he would find
a phrase in there — I will try to quote it as closely as I can, although do not
have a copy of the bill with me — that says, in effect, nothing in the above act
disposes of the authority of the Governor General. That was always the out for
that bill if it became necessary to hold an election for whatever reason.
I can tell the honourable senator there is a better chance
that this Prime Minister will appoint the winner of any election in any province
than any Liberal prime minister in history would.
The Hon. the Acting Speaker: Does the Honourable
Senator Brown wish to ask permission for more time to continue the debate? It is
up to you to ask for more time — five minutes.
Senator Mitchell: The honourable senator is saying
that the Prime Minister left himself an out, despite adamant statements to the
contrary. If you read the fine print, it was there. I look at the fine print
here. Is the same kind of weasel clause not right here, the first one:
``Senators to be appointed for a province or territory should be chosen...''?
There is nothing determinate there at all.
Senator Brown: If the honourable senator listened
to my speech, he would know that the second step of this process is when enough
elected senators have entered this chamber, the provinces
will have had eight years to decide a stand-alone
constitutional amendment that does not include everything under the sun so that
they can deal with just two issues.
One is the future representation of the Senate, and the
second is the method by which to preserve the veto power of the Senate. Those
are crucial, and the only governments that have a right to do that are the
federal government and seven out of ten provinces representing 50percent of the
population. That was in my speech, senator.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the
Government), pursuant to notice of April28, 2010, moved:
That the Senate resolve itself into a Committee of the
Whole, chaired by the Speaker, after Prayers on Wednesday, May5, 2010, in
order to receive Bogdan Borusewicz, Speaker of the Senate of the Republic of
Poland, accompanied by other Polish parliamentarians and the Ambassador of
Poland to Canada;
That Speaker Borusewicz's remarks be preceded by a
welcome statement from the Leader of the Government or her designate and
followed by a statement of appreciation from the Leader of the Opposition or
That television cameras be authorized in the Senate
chamber to broadcast the proceedings of the Committee of the Whole, with the
least possible disruption of the proceedings;
That photographers be authorized in the Senate chamber
to photograph the proceedings of the Committee of the Whole, with the least
possible disruption of the proceedings;
That the Committee of the Whole rise and report to the
Senate following the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition or his
designate, after which the sitting shall continue with Senators' Statements;
That, notwithstanding the order adopted by the Senate
on April15, 2010, if the Senate has not reached the end of Government
Business at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, May5,2010, the sitting continue beyond that
time, until the end of Government Business; and
That committees scheduled to meet on Wednesday, May5,
2010, have power to sit from 4:15 p.m., even though the Senate may then be
sitting, and that rule95(4) be suspended in relation thereto.
He said: Honourable senators, the Speaker of the Senate of
the Republic of Poland will be here that day and, if honourable senators agree,
the Speaker of the Senate would like to welcome him among us in this chamber.
Hon. Anne C. Cools: Honourable senators, I think
that most of us would agree that it seems like a very good idea and a good and
desirable thing to do. Our Speaker is extremely well respected internationally,
and, in addition to that, is well qualified in many international affairs. I
would like to pledge my full support to this endeavour.
The Hon. the Acting Speaker: On debate. Are
honourable senators ready for the question?
Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the
Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette moved second reading
BillS-205, An Act to provide the means to rationalize the governance of Canadian
businesses during the period of national emergency resulting from the global
financial crisis that is undermining Canada's economic stability.
She said: Honourable senators, the G20 is currently
discussing the governance of businesses and I am compiling all of the
information that I am receiving. Some members of my staff are attending today's
conference on these important issues. Therefore, I wish to postpone my speech in
order to include all of the research and the measures put in place by various
G20 countries to prevent another global crisis like the last one and to ensure
Bill, S-205, is in line with international demands and circumstances.
(On motion of Senator Hervieux-Payette, debate adjourned.)
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable
Senator Mercer, seconded by the Honourable Senator Chaput, for the second
reading of BillS-203, An Act respecting a National Philanthropy Day.
Hon. Andrée Champagne: Honourable senators, I am
pleased to speak once again to BillS-203, which calls on the government
to designate the 15th day of November in each and every year as National
Honourable senators, it is no exaggeration that Canada
would not be the country it is today were it not for the efforts of millions of
Canadians. Our country thrives on a philanthropic spirit. The altruism and the
actions of Canadians are evident in our health care, education and social
service systems, in our sports and leisure organizations, and in all aspects of
Individually or as members of organizations, big or small,
these Canadians have helped build this nation. From the early days
of colonization, their vision, dedication, mutual aid, physical effort and
monetary donations have helped define us as a nation. Philanthropy has given
Canadians an enviable quality of life at home, and has helped build our
country's international reputation as a dedicated and committed country. More
often than not, this has come about without any sort of official announcement.
Sometimes, it is only after the fact, after we follow the
trail of an individual who is long gone, that we recognize people for the
significant philanthropic work they have done.
Our lack of recognition has not slowed down or hampered
the determination of other Canadians who continue to look beyond their own lives
to help others in many ways. In many respects, philanthropy is its own reward.
Philanthropy is recognized in many ways in Canada. One
particular way of recognizing it is National Philanthropy Day, November15.
After being celebrated for the first time in 1986,
National Philanthropy Day has gained momentum across North America. It has been
adopted by philanthropic organizations as a day to reflect on their achievements
and often as a day to mark the achievements of caring individuals.
The Canadian chapter of the Association of Fundraising
Professionals — one of the many organizations behind the creation of the current
celebration — adopted the national day in the mid-1990s, using it to mark the
culmination of the year's major achievements and to promote public awareness.
If I may, honourable senators, I would like to briefly
discuss the bill itself.
The Government of Canada can designate a special day,
week, month or year in several ways, either by royal proclamation, legislation,
declaration by a minister, or by a motion in the House of Commons. Every year,
the Government of Canada receives many requests from organizations and advocacy
groups asking for special recognition for their particular cause.
Let me be clear, I support the designation of November15
as National Philanthropy Day. The Minister of Canadian Heritage has already
recognized this day through one of the means I just mentioned, namely, a
Clause 3 of BillS-203 states:
The Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official
Languages shall make a declaration that the 15th day of November in each and
every year be recognized throughout Canada as ``National Philanthropy Day''.
Honourable senators, as I just mentioned, the minister
already issued a ministerial declaration on October27, 2009, designating
November15 as National Philanthropy Day. Clause 3 of this bill is therefore
redundant. I wanted to draw your attention to that point.
According to the 2007 Canada Survey of Giving,
Volunteering and Participating, the altruism of Canadians is dynamic and always
changing. Approximately 23 million Canadians made a financial donation to a
charitable or non-profit organization, with a total value of $10 billion — an
increase of nearly 3percent in the number of donors and 12percent in the value
of donations compared to 2004.
Canadians also dedicated nearly 2.1 billion hours of
volunteer time, equivalent to almost 1.1 million full-time jobs. This represents
an increase of 4.2percent over 2004.
The traditional avenues used by Canadians to channel their
philanthropic spirit — religious organizations, the health sector, social
services, the arts — continue to benefit from this generous support.
Annual fundraising campaigns like the United Way's raise
billions of dollars to support vital initiatives to improve lives and enhance
community well-being across Canada.
Honourable senators, our fellow citizens are also generous
in difficult times, such as when devastating events and natural disasters
In February2010, following the major earthquake in Haiti,
14Canadian charities raised $154.4 million. According to the latest data, the
Canadian Red Cross raised $122 million, including $91 million in individual
donations. Generosity is a truly Canadian quality.
Honourable senators, during the last session our former
colleague, Senator Grafstein, introduced this bill, which was passed in the
Senate and sent to the other place, where it was then referred to a committee.
I would like to thank Senator Mercer for having taken up
the torch during this session. I am eager to debate this bill in committee.
The Hon. the Acting Speaker: Are honourable
senators ready for the question?
Hon. Senators: Question!
The Hon. the Acting Speaker: It is moved by the
Honourable Senator Mercer, seconded by the Honourable Senator Chaput, that this
bill be read the second time. Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable
Senator Banks, seconded by the Honourable Senator Moore, for the second
reading of BillC-464, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (justification for
detention in custody).
Hon. Elizabeth (Beth) Marshall: Honourable
senators, I am pleased to rise today to speak to BillC-464, An Act to amend the
Criminal Code (justification for detention in custody), which passed third
reading in the House of Commons on March22. BillC-464 was introduced in the
House of Commons by the member of Parliament from Avalon and unanimously
supported, as amended, by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and
Human Rights on March16 of this year. This bill has the extremely important goal
of protecting Canada's children from dangerous accused during the bail process.
I take this opportunity to offer my deepest condolences to
the family and friends of young Zachary Turner, and especially his grandparents,
Kate and David Bagby, who have worked tirelessly on behalf of Zachary and all
children. This government is committed to protecting Canadian citizens, young
and old, and to building an effective criminal justice system.
BillC-464 proposes to amend paragraph515(10)(b) of
the Criminal Code to read that detention of the accused in custody is justified:
. . . where the detention is necessary for the
protection or safety of the public, including any victim of or witness to
the offence or any person under the age of 18 years, —
— which is the part of the paragraph that is being
— having regard to all the circumstances including any
substantial likelihood that the accused will, if released from custody,
commit a criminal offence or interfere with the administration of justice;
Honourable senators, BillC-464 is a private member's bill.
It is not a government bill. Regardless, honourable senators, I am of the view
that this bill is consistent with this government's commitment to tackling crime
and ensuring the safety of the public.
To date, this government has a long list of
accomplishments of tackling violent crime. For example, as honourable senators
know, BillC-25, Truth in Sentencing, received Royal Assent on October22, 2009
and is now in force. That bill serves to limit the amount of credit courts can
grant convicted criminals for the time they have served in custody prior to
their sentencing. Since this government has come to office, it has pursued an
aggressive legislative agenda to tackle crime. BillC-464 is entirely compatible
with this agenda.
The proposed amendment to the Criminal Code bail provision
will serve expressly to remind courts to consider the safety and protection of
children under paragraph515(10)(b). The paragraph this bill seeks to
amend already indicates that courts are to consider ``the protection or safety
of the public'' when determining if an accused should be detained in custody.
The provision is broadly cast and encompasses all potential vulnerable persons
whose safety may be in jeopardy if an accused person is released pending trial.
Nonetheless, there is clearly significant merit to reminding courts specifically
to consider also the safety of children during the bail process.
BillC-464 does not propose to change the standards with
respect to the release or detention of the accused at the bail stage. The law
states that because detention results in complete loss of liberty, bail shall be
denied only when there is just cause to do so. This bill does not challenge that
principle. It proposes only that, before an accused is released, the courts
consider the safety and protection of children. Members of the Justice and Human
Rights Committee in the House of Commons worked together to consider and pass a
government motion aimed at strengthening this bill to remind courts to consider
the protection of all children and not only the children of the accused, which
was the intent of the original amendment. Together, the Member of Parliament
from Avalon and the Justice Committee have created a bill that will strengthen
and clarify the bail provisions.
It is clear that legislative amendments alone will not
address all child protection issues. The federal government must continue to
work together with its provincial and territorial counterparts to ensure
children grow up in a crime-free environment in their homes and on the streets.
As honourable senators know, bail issues are complex. Bail
hearings happen shortly after the alleged offence before all the information is
known and while an investigation may be ongoing. Often assessing the risk of an
accused to commit further offences at this juncture is not easy. An effective
bail system, however, is critical to public safety and is of great importance to
this government. Currently, federal, provincial and territorial officials are
developing comprehensive reforms to the bail regime. We are working to develop
efficient and practical ways to ensure the risk of releasing an accused person
is appropriately assessed, and that public safety is thoroughly considered.
In closing, honourable senators, I will indicate that I
appreciate the opportunity to speak to this bill. The tragedy of Zachary
Turner's death, which precipitated this amendment, occurred in my home province
of Newfoundland and Labrador and within a short distance of my own home.
Subsequent to that tragedy, as Senator Banks indicated earlier this month, the
Office of the Child and Youth Advocate in Newfoundland and Labrador commissioned
a review, which was released in October2006.
Having said that, I also refer back to my previous
statement that the child welfare regimes within the various provinces also have
a responsibility to protect children. This amendment alone will not protect
children. Protection measures will have to be taken in unison with other
measures, such as child welfare legislation and child welfare policies and
The Hon. the Acting Speaker: Will the honourable
senator accept questions?
Senator Marshall: Yes.
Hon. Anne C. Cools: Honourable senators, I was
touched to learn that the Honourable Senator Marshall is close to this
particular tragedy. I am also pleased that the honourable senator raised the
question of the provincial side of the affair, which is child welfare and child
The honourable senator seems to be well acquainted with
the situation, but this bill is primarily about an amendment to the Criminal
Code. Since the honourable senator seems to know so much about the situation,
can she share more of her knowledge with us? The first question that springs to
mind is, what happened to the child protection processes? If the honourable
senator has such information, can she share it with us for the record?
Senator Marshall: There was some debate whether the
amendment put forward was worthwhile. In the end, I think all people who
participated in the debate, especially in the House of Commons, agreed that this
amendment would be helpful.
I was a resident of Newfoundland and Labrador at the time
of the tragedy. I entered provincial politics later that year and I was
appointed Minister of Health and Community Services. While I was in that
position, the child death review was carried out. The review took a couple of
A lengthy report came out of that review. It was very
critical of child welfare people in the province. It had significant
ramifications for that area of the Department of Health and Community Services.
People were reassigned as a result of this tragedy.
The report concluded that young Zachary should not have
died. While child welfare people had been concerned about Zachary's mother, it
seemed that Zachary did not get the attention he deserved. More focus should
have been on Zachary and his protection because he was the child in this case.
The Honourable Senator Banks talked about the DVD he
distributed to members. I did not see that video. Why? I read the report as a
result of the child death review. Once I began to read the report, I could not
put it down. It grabbed hold of me and I had to read it cover-to-cover.
Reading the report of the child death review was
traumatic. It put forward a large number of recommendations for the provincial
government, and specifically for the Department of Health and Community
Services. The department has implemented many of those recommendations over
Obviously, I have since left the department. There is now
a separate Department of Child, Youth and Family Services. It was a member of
the Department of Health and Community Services. A separate department was
created to look after children. There has been a significant increase in
staffing, a revision of policy and a review of legislation. The report had
far-reaching implications for the provincial government.
Senator Cools: Honourable senators, we are
privileged to have a person like the Honourable Senator Marshall in the Senate.
Are the people who undertook the child death review from the coroner's office?
Senator Marshall: No, an independent person
contracted by the Child and Youth Advocate's office conducted the child death
review. I believe when Senator Banks spoke two weeks ago, he mentioned the name
of the gentleman. His name must be in the Debates of the Senate.
Senator Cools: Honourable senators, during that
review, does the honourable senator know if they would have looked at section233
of the Criminal Code, which deals with infanticide? For example, if the mother
had succeeded in only killing the child and not killing herself, she could have
been charged with infanticide. As we know, infanticide is a very strange
provision in the Criminal Code. Possibly the honourable senator could amplify on
infanticide since she was a minister in the field. Most people believe that
infanticide means the killing of a child, but it does not; it means the killing
of a child by a female person — the mother.
What Senator Banks and Senator Marshall have done for us
is to bring home to honourable senators the vulnerability of these little
people, children and, quite often, the inadequacy of Criminal Code provisions to
Senator Marshall: Honourable senators, Senator
Cools poses a very interesting question. I read the report a number of years ago
before I came to this chamber. I read it in the context of child and family
services, and what had been done.
I do not recall any reference to the Criminal Code in the
review. However, I went online recently while preparing for this speech and
found a copy of the report. I could not find any reference to the Criminal Code.
I will not say the reference is there or not there; I am simply saying I could
not find it while scrolling through the report.
Senator Cools: Honourable senators, perhaps when
this bill goes to committee, the committee might address the particular question
of the charge of infanticide. Infanticide was only put into the Criminal Code
about 60 years ago. It is most interesting because there was a time where no
court could convict a woman for killing her own child. Section233 on
infanticide, in effect, reduces responsibility and penalties for the offence. It
was put into the Criminal Code as a way to have some kind of tool when these
awful, horrible, terrible things happen.
Honourable senators, people in positions of authority,
quite often, do not respond the way they should because they labour under a
belief that women are angelic and that no woman could
kill her child, which is not the case. The phenomenon of
women killing their children for a short time was described in the field of
psychiatry as the Medea Complex. Now that I know the honourable senator worked
in this field, I am eagerly looking forward to the debate. Protection of
children is a difficult, complex and extremely challenging matter, especially
when the persons who may be doing harm are the children's parents. It is a
difficult area under the best of conditions.
Honourable senators, I plan to speak to this bill. I hope
that as the committee's study proceeds, perhaps, we can even bring some coroners
to appear as witnesses. I am sure they will tell the committee that this
business of parents killing their children is rare, but it is still far too
Senator Marshall: I thank the honourable senator
for her comments and her interest.
The Senate proceeded to consideration of the third report
of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs (budget—study
on the DNA identification Act—power to hire staff and to travel),
presented in the Senate on April27, 2010.
Hon. Joan Fraser: Honourable senators, this is
simply a report for a small budget of approximately $9,000 for the Standing
Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs to conclude its statutory
review of the DNA Identification Act. That work is almost concluded. We probably
will not spend the $9,000 allocated, but we ask for the funds in case we find
ourselves in need of them. I expect most of the sum will be returned to the
The Hon. the Acting Speaker: Debate?
An Hon. Senator: Question!
The Hon. the Acting Speaker: Is it your pleasure,
honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
The Senate proceeded to consideration of the second report
of the Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament (study
on questions of privilege), presented in the Senate on April27, 2010.
Hon. David P. Smith: Honourable senators, I rise to
speak on the second report of the Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and
the Rights of Parliament, dealing with the procedure for questions of privilege
presented to this chamber on Tuesday, April27, 2010.
Honourable senators may recall that the genesis of this
report dates back to 2006, when the committee decided to examine an
inconsistency that had come to light between rule43 and rule59(10). These rules
pertain to the notice period required for questions of privilege. Rule43
provides a comprehensive mechanism whereby questions of privilege are raised,
which includes both a written and oral notice requirement. However, rule59(10)
states that questions of privilege can be raised without notice.
This had never really been an issue for honourable
senators until 2006. The obvious conflict between the two provisions became
apparent after the Speaker was called upon to rule on the process whereby
questions of privilege can be raised in the Senate. The Speaker's ruling of
October26, 2006, indicated that the inconsistency originated at the time of the
substantial changes to the rules made in 1991. Before then, the process for
dealing with a question of privilege was to raise it without notice. It appears
that, when the amendments were made to replace the old process by adding rule43,
a necessary correlative change was not made to what is now rule59(10).
A series of rulings since 2006 dealing with this matter
have established that, unless a deliberate decision is taken by the Senate to
change rule43, rule59(10) is only available for questions of privilege that
arise out of circumstances that prevent a senator from providing the notices
required under rule43. The Speaker has also noted that the Senate would benefit
if the Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament were
to consider this issue. This was a good suggestion and the committee chose to
consider the matter. However, to be clear, this was a decision taken by the
Let me note this is not the first time the committee has
looked into the matter. The committee presented recommendations during the first
and second sessions of the Thirty-ninth Parliament, as well as the second
session of the Fortieth Parliament. Those recommendations died on the Order
Paper, most recently when the Prime Minister prorogued Parliament, which members
on this side of the Senate did not feel was necessary, but that is another
matter and not before us today.
The report currently before the Senate essentially
reflects the content of those earlier reports. It is, however, a new report from
this session and, as such, contains the current committee's recommendations.
Essentially, the committee has dealt with three issues in
this report: First, the procedure for question of privilege; second, the level
of information required in the written and oral notice for questions of
privilege; and third, the prohibition as to when points of order can be raised
in the chamber.
To deal with the first issue, the committee recommends
that a senator must give a written notice of a question of privilege three hours
before the Senate meets or by 6 p.m. on Thursday if
the matter is to be raised on a Friday. It must also give
oral notice of the question of privilege during Senators' Statements, and this
reflects the current provisions of rule43.
If a senator is made aware of a question of privilege
after the deadline for written notice, oral notice during Senators' Statements
will suffice, and questions that arise during a sitting may be raised
There are also provisions allowing us to deal with matters
that arise during the sitting. These are new and allow the Senate the
flexibility to have such an important matter come before it but in a way that is
coherent with the current rule43.
On the second issue, the committee supports what the
Speaker concluded in his ruling of October2006, which said that any written and
oral notice must clearly indicate the subject matter of the question of
privilege so that senators have the opportunity and time to prepare.
On the third issue, when points of order can be raised —
and I am referring to ``points of order'' here — the committee recommends that
the prohibition on the consideration of points of order apply to Senators'
Statements, Daily Routine of Business, Question Period and Delayed Answers, so
as to ensure that the time limited regular business of the Senate at the start
of the sitting is not unduly interrupted. As part of this proposal, the report
makes provisions for when either questions of privilege that occur during the
sitting or points of order that arise before Orders of the Day will be taken
Those are the basic elements of the report, and reflect
those of the report presented last May. Since the new session commenced in
January, the Rules Committee once again considered the report and made minor and
reasonable amendments to it, such as increasing the amount of time allocated for
consideration of questions of privilege and points of order, after Delayed
Answers, to 45 minutes from 30 minutes.
The committee discussed the report and adopted it on
Tuesday of this week, and I believe my comments reflect the background and
primary contents of the report.
I believe other honourable senators wish to speak to it at
(On motion of Senator Cools, for Senator Carstairs, debate
The Senate proceeded to consideration of the thirteenth
report of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and
Technology, entitled: In from the Margins: A Call to Action on Poverty,
Housing and Homelessness, tabled in the Senate on December8, 2009, during
the Second Session of the Fortieth Parliament.
Hon. Art Eggleton: Honourable senators, I move,
seconded by the Honourable Senator Segal:
That the report be adopted and that, pursuant to
rule131(2), the Senate request a complete and detailed response from the
government, with the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development
being identified as minister responsible for responding to the report, in
consultation with the Ministers of Citizenship and Immigration and
Multiculturalism; of Indian Affairs and Northern Development; of Finance; of
Justice and Attorney General of Canada; of Health; for Status of Women; of
Transport, Infrastructure and Communities and the Presidents of the Treasury
Board and of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada.
Honourable senators, first I want to express appreciation
to the members of the Subcommittee on Cities who participated in this study. It
occurred over a period of two years. It took a little bit longer with the
election and prorogation periods bringing us to a stop for some time, but we got
I want to express appreciation to the members of the
committee: the deputy chair, Senator Segal, who has long been a champion of
measures to help people escape poverty in this country; honourable senators
Cordy, Dyck, Keon, Martin and Munson, who also have participated directly; and a
number of other senators who are members of the Standing Senate Committee on
Social Affairs, Science and Technology, the parent committee, who also
participated. My thanks to them, and also to the staff, particularly Havi
Echenberg at the Library of Parliament, who worked extensively on the writing of
what is almost a 300-page report. We were glad to obtain permission to produce
something in a more condensed fashion, complete with a compact disc — a more
readable form that has been circulated among a number of interested communities.
In our study of poverty, housing and homelessness, the
committee held some 35 hearings, hosted 5 round tables and visited some 20
agencies in 9 cities across Canada. We had the opportunity to hear from close to
200 witnesses, some of whom were people who live in poverty or are homeless
themselves. Other witnesses work for community agencies, are academics at
universities or work in various volunteer organizations.
What we heard, frankly, was appalling. We found that a
staggering one in ten Canadians lives in poverty. The rate has been even higher
at other times. That is 3.4 million people, the equivalent of every man, woman
and child in Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, Prince
Edward Island and Saskatchewan combined.
For these people, for our fellow citizens, every day is a
battle with insufficient income, unaffordable housing, inadequate clothing and
unsatisfactory nutrition. Every day brings wrenching decisions about whether
they have enough money to buy groceries or whether they use the money to pay the
rent; can they buy shoes for the kids or do they make a mortgage payment; and
also whether they drop out of school and take a job to help the family
struggling to get by. These families cannot even dream about getting ahead.
One witness who had experienced poverty expressed it this
Poverty steals from your soul leaving you with little
or no hope. It robs you of all that can be good in life. It leaves you
isolated, lonely and hungry. Every day is a struggle.
What is particularly disturbing to me is that
approximately 800,000 of those living in poverty are children, a statistic that
is all the more deplorable given Parliament's commitment back in 1989 to
eliminate child poverty by the year 2000. Instead, we have hardly made a dent,
with double digit rates of child poverty in most of the provinces of this
Honourable senators, we all understand the moral arguments
against poverty: the jarring juxtaposition of suffering and want in a land of
plenty; and the unacceptable toll in terms of lives diminished, dreams deferred
and potential denied.
What I do not think many people realize is the economic
cost of poverty — how it costs each and every one of us, forcing up our tax
bills, depressing the economy, increasing health care bills and breeding
alienation and crime.
Today I want to examine those economic costs and outline
some of the measures we have proposed to lower them because, make no mistake,
with the demographic and economic challenges before Canada today, we simply
cannot afford poverty any longer.
A recent Ontario study, guided by economists and policy
experts such as Don Drummond, Judith Maxwell and James Milway, estimates that
poverty costs this country about $7.5billion every year in health care costs
alone, and between $8billion and $13 billion in lost productivity. All told, the
study sets the bill for poverty at over $30 billion annually. That is more than
half the current federal deficit.
Imagine what eliminating poverty could mean for our fiscal
situation; to our ability to pay for things like education, innovation and
health care and to our capacity to help the elderly?
Let me bring the Canadian Chamber of Commerce into this
issue. In a recent report, they put the looming demographic challenge in stark
terms — as our population ages and the growth in the working age population
slows, we will face significant labour shortages. One third of the current
workforce will retire in the next 20 years. Put another way, we will have about
half the ratio of people working, paying taxes, contributing to pensions and
health care than we have today.
In its report, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce said that
to address the coming shortages in our labour supply, we need to tap into the
underutilized segments of our society — for example, older people, Aboriginals,
the disabled and new immigrants.
Those groups are the very groups —— along with lone
parents, which are largely lone mothers — that our study found were the most
vulnerable to poverty. It turns out the same groups that are languishing in
poverty are the ones that we will need to fill the jobs and pay the taxes in the
Here we have the intersection of two of the greatest
challenges facing our society: the ongoing economic costs of poverty, and the
demographic time bomb of aging.
The good news, and I think the tremendous opportunity, is
that we can address both at the same time. If we give more people a way out of
poverty, we will help fill the jobs that need filling. Give more people a way
out of poverty and we will save billions of dollars that poverty is costing all
It is not as if we are not doing anything about poverty.
According to Statistics Canada, we spend $150 billion every year in federal and
provincial transfer payments to individuals, and that money does not include
education and health care costs. What are we getting for $150 billion a year?
The short answer is not enough.
Those numbers of children, for example — 800,000 living in
poverty — are not only sterile statistics; they are a flashing red light. We
know that a child born poor has a greater chance of dying in infancy and that if
the child lives, is likely to have a lower birth weight and more disabilities.
As they grow, the children are more likely to suffer from
poor nutrition and poor health. They will miss more school and, slowly but
surely, they will fall further and further behind. Not surprisingly, they are
less likely to do well and more likely to drop out of school.
As adults, they will have higher rates of chronic illness.
With a poorer education, they will earn less, pay less in taxes, be less
productive workers, have more health problems and use more social services. It
will be a vicious cycle instead of a virtuous circle, and all of that means
higher costs to society.
Our committee also discovered something else, something
more systemic about poverty in this country. We saw that decades of social
policy-making by all levels of government, well meaning as it may have been, has
resulted in two equally devastating results.
First, even when all the programs are working as they
should, the resulting income is often only enough to maintain them in poverty.
Second, at their worst, existing policies and programs actually entrap people in
poverty, creating unintended but nonetheless perverse effects that make it
almost impossible to escape the reliance on income security programs or homeless
As Senator David Croll put it in his landmark committee
report almost 40 years ago now:
...we are pouring billions of dollars every year into
a social welfare system that merely treats the symptoms of poverty but
leaves the disease itself untouched.
Another quote of his I like to cite is one where he says:
It was obvious that the poor do not choose poverty. It
is at once their affliction and our national shame. Unlike the poor of
earlier days, they know how poor they are and so they face the future with
little hope and mounting anger. The children of the poor, and there are
many, are the most
helpless victims of all and find even less hope in a
society whose social welfare system from the very beginning destroys their
dreams of a better life.
Along with that great work of Senator Croll, we have had
other examples of solid work done in this chamber by its members on the
questions of poverty. The Standing Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry
conducted a study on rural poverty. Senator Cohen, a previous member of this
body before my time, wrote a book on the subject. She was passionate about the
issue. There has been some great work done in this institution.
Here is the situation, in sum: We spend over $150 billion
a year; and we have almost three and a half million people living in poverty,
including 800,000 children. Any corporation that spent $150 billion a year on
programs without achieving its goals would conclude it needs reworking. We
should too. I do not think Canadians want us to spend their tax dollars on
things that do not work.
However, there are some good signs. During our work, we
found examples of promising practices and programs, largely community based,
that actually work. We identify and celebrate these initiatives in our report.
Sadly, these examples are pockets of promise in an otherwise dysfunctional
system that must be overhauled. Our committee studied the whole range of income
security programs, everything from tax breaks to social assistance, Employment
Insurance to Old Age Security, along with the Guaranteed Income Supplement. We
made a number of specific recommendations, 74 in all, for improvement. I will
touch on a few of them.
With Employment Insurance, the biggest problem is that
most of the unemployed do not qualify for benefits. What sense does that make?
Recommendations 7 through 15 in our report suggest a number of specific changes
to make income support for the unemployed more responsive and effective. On
education and training, as honourable senators well know success in today's
fast- moving job market often depends on having the right skill. There is a
clear connection between the level of education achieved and the level of income
received, yet we found a classic Catch-22 situation: Poverty keeps many people
from acquiring the kind of education and training they need; yet their lack of
skills keeps them from getting the jobs that would lift them out of poverty.
Breaking the cycle is critical, and breaking it begins at the earliest years of
Study after study confirms that children who arrive at
school ready to learn become adults prepared to succeed. Among our
recommendations, therefore, is a nationwide federal-provincial initiative on
early childhood learning, with the emphasis on learning. Referring to early
childhood development programs, the recent report of Canada's Chief Public
Health Officer, Dr. David Butler-Jones, notes that a dollar invested in the early
years saves between $3 and $9 in the future spending on the health and criminal
justice systems, as well as on social assistance.
We also witnessed first-hand the importance of middle
school support for vulnerable children and for high school completion, as well
as literacy upgrading and skills building at every age. Thatis why we propose
offering additional tax support for
post-secondary education for students in groups like Aboriginals who are
under-represented in those institutions, as well as for initiatives that keep
disadvantaged young people in school.
According to one study, if Aboriginal Canadians were able
to increase their education attainment to the level of other Canadians, our
cumulative economic output would grow by an additional $179 billion by 2026 and
government tax revenues would be $3.5 billion higher. Obviously, that is good
for Aboriginal people and good for all Canadians.
One of my favourite community-based programs to help keep
kids in school is the Pathways to Education Program. At Toronto's Regent Park,
they were instrumental in lowering the high school dropout rate from 56percent
to 10percent and increasing the number of high school graduates going on to
post-secondary education from 20percent to 80percent. Those numbers are
The Hon. the Acting Speaker: Does the honourable
senator wish more time to speak?
Senator Eggleton: Yes. I understood that as the
mover of the report I would have 45 minutes.
The Hon. the Acting Speaker: A speaker is allowed
45 minutes on a bill.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the
Government): No more than five minutes.
Senator Eggleton: We need more programs like that.
I was pleased that the Minister of Finance, in his recent budget, provided $20
million so that Pathways to Education could tell other people about their
programs. That can be a benefit right across the country.
We also looked at health because there is a strong
connection between being poor and having poor health. The poorest quarter of
Canadians use twice the health care services that those in the wealthiest
quarter use. According to Statistics Canada, poverty reduces life expectancy
more than cancer does. Also in our study, we saw examples of things that worked,
such as tax credits, including the National Child Benefit Supplement, which puts
money into the hands of low-income individuals and households. As a critical
step to eradicating child poverty, we propose increasing the NCBS to $5,000 by
2012 from the current $3,400. The Working Income Tax Benefit supplements low
income earnings and holds great promise by making work pay. We recommend
increasing the benefit so that no recipient would fall below the poverty line.
I will say a quick word on those who struggle with
disabilities. They are highly marginalized, face exclusion from quality
education, have lower employment rates and are more likely to be poor. We
believe that what is needed is to provide a basic income guarantee for people
with severe disabilities. Just as the Guaranteed Income Supplement lifted tens
of thousands of seniors out of poverty, a guaranteed income for those with
severe disabilities would immediately take about half a million people off the
social assistance roles.
On housing and homelessness, I think all honourable
senators understand intuitively the importance of having decent shelter. A home
anchors a person and a family, provides the foundation for higher educational
attainment and leads to greater stability in the workplace. Health experts also
tell us that adequate housing is a key determinant of health and long-term
health outcomes. Today in Canada, at least 3 million people are struggling to
find affordable housing. We need to do a better job. We need leadership from the
federal level. Our report provides a number of relevant recommendations.
Addressing the issue of homelessness is not only about
doing the right thing morally but also about dollars and cents. It is more
expensive for us to leave someone on the street than to provide them with decent
housing and support services. Recently, Premier Ed Stelmach of Alberta said that
an average homeless person costs society roughly $100,000 per year, including
health costs. He said that the annual cost per person drops to $35,000 annually
if that person is given a long-term home.
We need to do a better job on both housing and
homelessness. It is time for the federal and provincial governments to come to
grips with the issue and develop a national housing and homelessness strategy.
Underlying our report is a simple common-sense premise:
Social programs should lift people out of poverty, not keep them there. It is
time to give people the tools they need to lift themselves into a better life.
Poverty is not benign. It affects us all. It costs us all. We spend a lot of
money and do not get the results we should get. We do not need to spend more
money. I emphasize that. We do not need to spend more money, but we need to
spend smarter, and more efficiently and effectively.
In today's global economy, with the looming demographic
challenge of an aging population leading to a shrinking workforce, the
importance of creating those opportunities of unleashing the creative
contribution of those trapped in poverty is more important than ever. In a very
real sense, honourable senators, the future level of our prosperity depends on
addressing the current level of our poverty. Simply put, we cannot afford
Hon. Hugh Segal: Honourable senators, I rise in
support of the motion before the house for consideration. I have a couple of
points that might be relevant to honourable senators on this side. This report
looks at federal and provincial issues as they relate to poverty income,
security and homelessness, and not just from the perspective of the federal
government. It is clear about not wanting to spend more taxpayers' money and
about spending the existing revenues of $140 billion to $150 billion per year by
federal-provincial governments more efficiently and more effectively. It pays
tribute to helpful programs, such as Minister Finley's extension of EI benefits
and Minister Flaherty's Working Tax Benefit. These important initiatives have to
be addressed over time but are steps in the right direction. The report also
pays tribute to the reinvestment in social housing that the present government
has put in place and which is so vital to the questions and challenges that we
I will make one point about the notion of this report
being a base for further work. The report takes the position that we have an
income security hodgepodge of programs across Canada that clearly are not
reducing the level of poverty while they cost a tremendous amount of money.
In every province of the country, except for Newfoundland
and Labrador, recipients of welfare are earning, as a family of four, between
$11,000 to $19,000 less than the low-income cut-off. Even if you take the market
basket measure of our friends at the Fraser Institute, welfare still pays well
below that level.
What the report suggests is that this is a great
opportunity for a green paper to look at income security across Canada, to look
at best practices elsewhere, to look at how we can make it more effective and
efficient and to do it in a way that involves the provinces, business, the
private sector and the many NGOs that work so hard on this issue, church
organizations and others in their own communities.
The opportunity for this report to play a positive role
here is suggested by the calendar. The time period during which the provinces
and Ottawa have to renegotiate the transfer payments put into place by the
Martin administration, transfer payments that relate to health care going up
6percent a year, and other issues, is 2013 and 2014. It is important that that
negotiation, the members of the committee would suggest, not be a sterile debate
about who pays for what, but rather what we can do together to make it better.
Poverty is not a partisan issue. People on this side care as much about it as
people on that side. People in this government care as much about it as people
in the previous administration. Provinces are trying to work hard.
Quebec announced a strategy to fight poverty; New
Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland did as well. The Yukon is following
suit. A few weeks ago, the Yukon Legislative Assembly held a two-day, all-party
meeting to discuss the inclusion of poverty.
This is an opportunity for the Senate to put some facts,
figures and ideas in the marketplace of ideas in a way that is most
constructive, and I commend the passage of this report to your earliest
The Hon. the Acting Speaker: Continuing debate? Are
honourable senators ready for the question?
Hon. Senators: Question.
The Hon. the Acting Speaker: Is it your pleasure,
honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
The Senate proceeded to consideration of the first report
(interim) of the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International
Trade, entitled: Canada and Russia: Building on today's successes for
tomorrow's potential, tabled in the Senate on March31, 2010.
Hon. Consiglio DiNino: Honourable senators, I have
consulted with Senator Andreychuk. I wish to speak to this report, and I am
asking that it be adjourned in my name.
Hon. Hugh Segal rose pursuant to notice of March10,
That he will call the attention of the Senate to the
seriousness of the problem posed by contraband tobacco in Canada, its
connection with organized crime, international crime and terrorist
financing, including the grave ramifications of the illegal sale of these
products to young people, the detrimental effects on legitimate small
business, the threat on the livelihoods of hardworking convenience store
owners across Canada, and the ability of law enforcement agencies to combat
those who are responsible for this illegal trade throughout Canada, and the
advisability of a full-blown Senate committee inquiry into these matters.
He said: Honourable senators, I have been doing a fair
amount of work talking to police officers, both uniformed and undercover,
enforcement agencies, First Nation groups and others, but the work is not at a
stage where I can make a coherent case on this inquiry, so I would like to, with
honourable senators' indulgence, move the adjournment in my name for my
Hon. Yonah Martin, pursuant to notice of April15,
That the Senate recognize and endorse July27th
annually as National Korean War Veterans Day.
She said: Honourable senators, with deepest respect and
gratitude to our honoured veterans of the Korean War, including the veterans and
their families present in our chamber today, I rise to draw your attention to
the motion in my name that the Senate recognize and endorse July27 annually as
National Korean Veterans Day.
The armistice signed on July27, 1953, ended the three-year
military conflict but did not bring an end to the civil war. Canadians from
coast to coast to coast pause on November11 of each year to remember those who
have served our nation during
times of war and peace. In order for Canadians of all
generations to truly understand the service and sacrifice of our armed forces,
we must capture the significance of Remembrance Day and extend our commemorative
activities and events throughout the year, such as Vimy Ridge Day, April9;
Liberation of Holland Day, May5; and Merchant Navy Day, September3.
I would like to add that at this approximate time, on this
day and in honour of our veterans, MLA Harry Bloy, the government liaison to the
Korean community of British Columbia, is speaking in the Victoria Legislature to
proclaim June25, 2010, as the Sixtieth Anniversary of the breakout of the war.
To veterans Mr.Terry Wickens, Mr. Gordon Strathy, Mr. Al
Tobio, Mr. Bill Black and Mr. Alex MacDonald and all veterans of the Korean War, I
owe them my very existence, as do my parents and every person of Korean descent
in the world today. On behalf of all of us, please accept our deepest gratitude
to you, our unsung heroes of democracy and freedom, and for the sacrifices of
your fallen and departed comrades.
[The senator spoke in Korean.]
We sincerely thank you.
The Korean War was a result of the political division of
the Korean Peninsula by agreement of the victorious allies at the end of World War
II. At the Potsdam Conference in July and August1945, without consulting the
Korean people, the allies unilaterally decided to divide Korea, a clear
violation of the Cairo Conference.
Korea had been ruled by Japan prior to the end of the war.
In 1945, following the surrender of Japan, the peninsula was divided along the
thirty-eighth parallel with the United States troops occupying the southern part
and Soviet troops occupying the northern part.
The failure to hold free elections throughout the Korean
Peninsula in 1948 deepened the division between the two sides with the
thirty-eighth parallel becoming the de facto political border between the two
Although reunification negotiations continued in the
months preceding the war, tension intensified. Cross-border skirmishes and raids
at the thirty-eighth parallel persisted and escalated into open warfare when
North Korean forces invaded South Korea on June25, 1950. International reaction
was swift. The United Nations Security Council met on the same day and called
for an immediate cessation of hostilities.
As the day wore on and North Korean forces pressed onward,
it became clear that they did not intend to comply with the United Nations
A second UN resolution called on the members to furnish
such assistance to the Republic of Korea as may be necessary to repel the armed
attack and to restore international peace and security in the area. Over the
following days and weeks, member states committed their troops, Canada included.
Despite having no special national interest in the Far
East and with armed forces just large enough to protect domestic interests,
Canadians answered the call of duty. The first Canadian aid to the desperate UN
forces was answered by the Royal Canadian Navy. The fact that Korea is a
peninsula offered unusual scope for naval support. Eight ships of the Royal
Canadian Navy joined their UN and Republic of Korea navy colleagues, performing
a great variety of tasks.
In addition to blockading the enemy coast and supporting
the UN land forces, they protected the friendly islands and brought aid and
comfort to the sick and needy in isolated fishing villages.
I wish to make note of my support of Senator Segal's
motion in support of our fine Canadian Navy in its centennial anniversary in
2010, whose legacy includes the important contributions it made during the
Following the Canadian Navy, later in June of 1950, a
squadron of the Royal Canadian Air Force was assigned to transport duties with
the UN. By August, it had become clear that the Korean crisis had deepened. The
Canadian government authorized the recruitment of the Canadian Army Special
Force, CASF, to carry out Canada's UN obligations. In December1950, the 2nd
Battalion of the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry landed in Korea,
and in May, the CASF followed.
On the sea, in the air, on the ground, in the hills —
through some of the most intense fighting and the worst conditions, against
great odds, resilient, valiant — Canadians were there to make a difference.
During the battle of Kap'yong, Canadians were there,
heavily outnumbered and surrounded, the brave soldiers of the 2nd Battalion,
Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, along with their Australian
comrades, endured fierce night fighting to prevent the Chinese breakthrough that
would have seen the recapture of Seoul.
During the battle of Chail-Li, Canadians were there. The
newly- arrived Canadian battalions were deployed in support of the U.S. 25th
Division assault along the Ponchon River. In the course of this operation, the
Royal Canadian Regiment launched an attack upon the village of Chail-li and a
neighbouring hill. The attack was successful, perhaps too successful, as the
brigade's advance had created a deep salient in the enemy lines and the units,
without protection on the flanks, were forced to withdraw.
During the battle of Hill 187, Canadians were there. The
3rd Battalion of the Royal Canadian Regiment withstood a strong enemy assault on
its position on Hill 187. The attack was repulsed, but the engagement cost the
Canadians heavy casualties— 26 killed, 27 wounded and 7 taken prisoner.
During the battle of Hill 355, Canadians were there as the
Chinese launched another series of attacks in one engagement against the Royal
22nd Regiment positioned at the focal pointonHill 355, an important feature that
dominated most of
the divisional front. During the night of November23 to
24, the Royal 22nd Regiment was attacked several times after heavy shelling, but
no ground was lost, even when one of their forward platoons had been dislodged
and another surrounded.
Just days before the ceasefire, at the ``Hook'' they stood
and died alongside their UN comrades as wave after wave of Chinese attacks
attempted to remove them from their position.
The armistice of July27, 1953, ending three years of war,
took place because Canadians were there — 26,791 Canadians, who were asked to
fight for a country they did not know and for a people, like my parents, whom
they may have never met, and 12years later I would not have been born. Five
hundred and sixteen soldiers made the ultimate sacrifice to give the people of
South Korea — my family — our precious freedom.
At the end of the war, Canadians returned to a peaceful
nation that almost seemed to be unaware of the conflict across the ocean that
had taken 516 Canadian lives and hundreds of thousands of others.
For decades, the media ignored it. For the most part,
reference to the war was buried in archives to occasionally arise as a footnote
to history and most frequently referred to as the Korean conflict. The Korean
War was aptly called the ``Forgotten War'' because it was not a Canadian
conflict but a United Nations conflict. The Korean War was a forgotten war
because it ended in a stalemate, not a triumphant victory, because the fewer
casualties and combatants were overshadowed by the world war fought just a few
While the memories of the war began to fade and the legacy
of the Korean War was archived in Canada, the people of South Korea and Korean
immigrants around the world remained forever grateful.
Since 1953, the Republic of Korea has risen from the ashes
of war to transform itself from being the second-poorest nation in the world to
becoming one of the leaders of the industrialized world, now standing among the
On June26, 2010, one day after the sixtieth anniversary of
the Korean War, it is symbolic that Canada and Korea will co-chair the G20
summit in Ontario.
Honoured veterans, may you see South Korea success as your
own, for none of it would have been possible had it not been for your
selflessness, courage and sacrifice. I embody the deep history of Canada and
Korea. The Korean War is not a fading memory but a sharp reality at the heart of
every person of Korean descent living today. It is a sharp reality to those
families that have been separated by the thirty-eighth parallel, including my
As my mother's short-term memory deteriorates, she spends
much of her time reliving the past, including her vivid memories of the Korean
War. I remember too when my father refused to waste food, like mouldy rice. He
would scrape off the top layer of mould and mumble as he put a spoonful of the
perfectly good rice in his mouth: ``Do you know how much we starved during the
war?'' We would joke that his stomach could handle anything, even a bowl of
Honourable veterans, you are the living heroes of the
Korean people. Days of national commemoration bring Canadians of all generations
and many backgrounds together to honour and remember the significance of an
event or period in history. Together we can thank those who fought for our
freedoms and pass the tradition of honouring and remembering our soldiers to the
next generation so that Canadians may never forget why and how we came to enjoy
In the coming months, Canadians from across the country
will take time to honour, in a multitude of ways, all those who served during
the Korean War. Commemorative ceremonies in Victoria and Burnaby, British
Columbia to Ottawa and Brampton, Ontario have already been planned and others
will be scheduled.
The fallen will be remembered, their achievements and
sacrifices acknowledged and the lessons learned passed on to a new generation of
June25, 2010 will mark the sixtieth anniversary of the
breakout of the Korean War. July27, 2013 will mark the sixtieth anniversary of
On April9, Canadians gathered to mark the end of an era
with the passing of our last Canadian World War I veteran, Mr. John Babcock. Let
us join as a nation to remember our soldiers of the ``Forgotten War'' before it
is too late.
Let us give our veterans the hero's welcome they deserved
back in 1953. Many Korean War veterans are no longer with us to witness the
respect they deserve; however, there are those who are thankfully still with us.
Some of them are in this chamber.
I ask all honourable senators to support this motion to
recognize July27 as National Korean Veterans Day and show our Canadian veterans
of the Korean War that they are not forgotten and will never be forgotten.
Hon. Suzanne Fortin-Duplessis: Honourable senators,
I would like to thank Senator Martin for her remarks today. She spoke from the
heart and stirred our emotions.
I would like to add to her list a very devoted and
courageous man, Mr. Pierre Couillard, who lives in my area, and who distinguished
himself in the air force during the Korean war.
Thus, I join the Honourable Senator Martin in thanking and
honouring all those who defended her country and fought in Korea.
Thank you, again, for your speech.
Hon. Joseph A. Day: Honourable senators, I had not
intended to speak today on this motion, but I believe that it is an extremely
important motion that I wish to speak strongly in favour of, and I would not want
the opportunity to pass to indicate support from this side of the chamber.
As the Chair of the Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs, I
had the honour to visit the Korean battlefields as well as to attend a service
that we held with the Minister of Veterans Affairs at the time in Pusan. There
is no one, who has had the opportunity to visit that grave site where those
brave Canadian soldiers — many of whom fell during that conflict — are buried,
who would not be moved by that particular site.
I can tell honourable senators that there is a duplicate
of the monument that appears in Pusan in back of the National Arts Centre close
to the National Defence building, Not many people know the monument is there.
The monument of a soldier holding a young Korean child recognizes the tremendous
contribution of Canada in the Korean war — I call it a war — the Korean
conflict. There was never an agreement with the United Nations to call it a war,
but it was a war to anyone who participated in it.
Honourable senators, there are other points I want to make
on this particular motion, and I note that it is not time-sensitive. I will speak
in favour, but I ask for the indulgence of honourable senators and move
adjournment of this matter, so that I may prepare for it, for the balance of my
The Hon. the Acting Speaker: Honourable senators,
before I recognize Senator Comeau for the adjournment motion, I do not want to
end the week without thanking honourable senators for their confidence.
Fullfilling the role of Acting Speaker was a great experience for me.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
The Hon. the Acting Speaker: It is beyond my
authority to say it is only my first week, but the future will tell. Thank you