Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, on
Friday May 28, Senator Kochhar and I had the privilege of attending the
foundation ceremony for the Ismaili Centre, the Aga Khan Museum and Park in
Toronto hosted by His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan and his royal family.
After the ceremony was completed, I struggled to find the
words to describe the significance of the Aga Khan's generous contribution.
Nothing I could say would do this project justice. It was not until I awoke the
following morning to a Toronto Star article that read: "Of all the gifts
ever given to Toronto, none is more beautiful than the Aga Khan's" that I
realized what the Aga Khan had bestowed upon not only Torontonians, but all
The Aga Khan's project, which will be crafted by several
world-renowned architects, comprises three elements. These elements include: an
Ismaili Centre that will feature a circular prayer hall; an Islamic museum that
will be the first of its kind in the English-speaking world; and a welcoming
park that will connect these two buildings together and will be designed to
resemble the traditional Islamic gardens in Alhambra, which flourished during
the great era of Spanish history when Jews, Christians and Muslims lived
Although the Ismaili Centre, park and museum will indeed
be rich in beauty, this beauty extends far beyond the aesthetic and
architectural merit of its design. The true appeal of the Aga Khan's project
lies not only in the vast gardens, glass domes or serene pools that these
grounds will showcase. The true beauty lies in the concepts and ideologies this
project seeks to promote, and in the message it sends to the world.
This message is one that Prime Minister Harper described
at the ceremony as being ". . . dedicated to the promotion of ethnic, cultural
and religious interchange . . ." and is one that ". . . truly inspires our own
hopes for a better world."
Honourable senators, Muslim societies constitute over a
quarter of the world's population. However, many people, particularly those who
reside in the Western world, have limited knowledge of Islam.
The Aga Khan's project will help those who are currently
misinformed and blinded by a veil of ignorance with an insight into the
plurality within Islam and the relationship that Islam has with other
traditions. The Aga Khan continuously assures us that once this veil is lifted,
we will be able to recognize what our societies are experiencing is not a clash
of civilizations, but rather a clash of ignorance.
Honourable senators, in our great country, we are open to
understanding and embracing diversity. We no longer dwell on the differences
between various religions and cultures. Instead, we embrace our commonalities
and this embracing, in turn, enables us to live together in peace and harmony.
As the Aga Khan so eloquently stated in his closing remarks, this project is ".
. . a proud gift from our generation to future generations — even as it
celebrates so fittingly what past generations have given to us."
Hon. Carolyn Stewart Olsen: Honourable senators, I
rise before you today in recognition of the Canadian Navy and our sailors who
have defended Canada for the past century.
I rise today to pay tribute to the Canadian Navy and to
our brave sailors who have been defending Canada for the past century.
They stood fast through two world wars, two battles of the
Atlantic and innumerable conflicts abroad for our country. Our navy has produced
many heroes — men and women of iron, sailors who guarded our shores and those of
I especially want to mention Lieutenant-Commander Allan
Easton, who served with great distinction in the last world war. I learned about
Lieutenant-Commander Easton while I was preparing for an event in my hometown of
Sackville, New Brunswick, where a plaque was erected for the HMCS Sackville
as part of the naval centennial celebrations.
HMCS Sackville was built in Saint John, New
Brunswick. In 1941, the entire town council of Sackville journeyed to Saint John
to attend her launch. Throughout the war, the Sackville sailed the stormy
North Atlantic Ocean protecting convoys that carried crucial supplies for the
war effort. In 1942, with Lieutenant-Commander Easton at the helm, the
Sackville, in a time span of 12 hours, faced three enemy submarines,
capturing two and damaging a third. For his superb performance,
Lieutenant-Commander Easton was awarded a Distinguished Service Cross.
The good ship Sackville is a little vessel,
measuring only 210 feet. She carried a crew of less than 90, but she could make
18 knots. Over four long years, she stood guard in the Atlantic. She punched
above her weight, as our whole military does today.
HMCS Sackville was not a luxury ship. Her crew were
packed tightly for living space. Food was bad and it was said the ship rolled on
dew. Honourable senators can imagine what that was like in the North Atlantic.
However, no matter what comforts they lacked, the Sackville's crew
performed their duty with no thought of themselves. They fought with an
unwavering dedication to protect our shores.
HMCS Sackville was the last Flower Class Corvette.
She lies in Halifax Harbour, a symbol and reminder to us all of the monumental
effort it took to defeat tyranny. She made us proud.
Honourable senators, please join me in saluting our men
and women like Lieutenant-Commander Easton who serve our country today with
great heroism and sacrifice. Hats off to HMCS Sackville, lest we forget.
Hon. Claudette Tardif (Deputy Leader of the
Opposition): Honourable senators, Little Warriors, an organization
preventing child sexual abuse, is launching its new media campaign today.
Glori Meldrum, chair and founder of Little Warriors will
appear in radio and television advertisements across Alberta saying:
My name is Glori. I was eight. I lived with my
offender. He was family. He was a monster. I was robbed of my innocence and
my childhood. Two years of sexual abuse took me twenty-eight to recover.
This may have happened to me, but it doesn't have to happen to other kids.
That is why I founded Little Warriors.
Along with Glori, 25 survivors of child sexual abuse are
raising their voices in similar radio advertisements. They bring testimonies of
abuse by parents, neighbours and teachers, or indicate the pain they share with
a loved one who has been abused as a child. They also tell us of the
difficulties of coping with such a terrible secret for so long; the
repercussions on their health, self- esteem and trust; and the long journey out
of depression and permanent nightmares toward healing.
In a time when the topic of child sexual abuse is still
taboo, difficult to bring up and painful to hear, I commend Little Warriors for
its media campaign and all the sponsors for taking a stand against child sexual
abuse. I commend their bravery to speak up, especially in light of the
possibility of reliving their trauma. I admire the incredible courage, the
strength and resilience they show to rise above fear, self-esteem and mental
I also encourage all Canadians to step up against this
scourge and to take workshops in child abuse prevention.
Thank you, Anita, Carrie, Chris, Glori, Gloria, Jessica,
Jodie, Jolene, Kristine, Laura, Pam, Rebecca, Shannon, Tasha, Trista and Vicki
for participating in this campaign. Thank you for raising your voices and for
sharing with us a message of hope — a survivor's hope of being able to face the
past, a hope of being able to help other victims, and a hope to prevent further
May your voices be heard, and may child sexual abuse be
abolished for our future generations.
Hon. Suzanne Fortin-Duplessis: Honourable senators,
on May 28, 2010, as a representative of the Government of Canada, I joined a
number of relatives, friends, military dignitaries and veterans who attended the
military funeral of Colonel Jean- Charles Forbes, an unsung hero of the Second
Born in 1921, Jean-Charles Forbes studied with the
Brothers of the Sacred Heart. After completing his military training in
Kingston, he sailed for England in December 1942. Assigned to the Régiment de
Maisonneuve, which landed in Normandy on July 6, 1944, he led his platoon in a
number of campaigns before returning to England after being injured in
Groesbeek, Holland, near the German border.
Colonel Forbes participated in heroic battles and captured
many German soldiers, which earned him the Netherlands' highest military
decoration, the Knight's Cross of the Military William Order, which was awarded
by the Queen of Holland on the square in The Hague.
Upon returning to Canada in the spring of 1945, he was
demobilized, but re-enlisted to fight in the Korean War with the 2nd battalion
of the Royal 22nd Regiment. He left the army in 1965.
One of the most heartfelt tributes to a man considered to
be one of the greatest members of the Royal 22nd Regiment came from Holland's
honorary consul, Willeke Pierik Blanchet, who spoke with emotion when she said:
The Dutch people are in mourning too. He called us his
brothers. We will always consider him a hero. We will always remember him.
She reminded listeners that thanks to the bravery of
Colonel Forbes and his men, thousands of Dutch people were saved in the fall of
He made a tremendous contribution to the liberation of
Holland. He fought to prevent the retreating Germans from destroying dikes
and flooding vast tracts of land. If they had been successful, thousands of
civilians would have drowned.
She also said that every year, her country remembers the
contribution of young Canadians to the liberation of her country. And she went
on to say:
Colonel Forbes is a well-known name in my country...
Students in our primary schools are taught that he risked his life to free
Sixty-five years later, we still remember.
One of the colonel's friends, the former commander of
District 4 Saint-Laurent and member of the Royal Canadian Legion, Georges
Lanier, said that Colonel Forbes was like a father to him. He told us:
Everyone liked him and enjoyed spending time with him.
He was an excellent orator, painter and musician. He was generous with his
time and sought no honours. His soldiers were his first priority.
Colonel Forbes passed away at the age of 89 on May 19 in
Beaupré. Once again, my sincere condolences to his wife, Nicole, his two sons
and his grandchildren.
Hon. Pierrette Ringuette: Honourable senators, on
May 13, the United States Senate approved an amendment to their financial reform
bill that will help small businesses by reducing swipe fees, also known as
interchange fees, charged by major credit card companies on every debit
transaction. The amendment received broad and bipartisan support, even from some
of the most conservative of Republican senators.
I would like to congratulate our counterparts in the U.S.
Senate for taking such an important step towards protecting the interests of
In the U.S., these debit interchange fees are around 1 per
cent to 2 per cent — far higher than the cost to process the transaction. These
fees cut into the razor-thin profit margins of small businesses on every sale
using a credit or debit card.
Senator Durbin's amendment will authorize the U.S. Federal
Reserve to create capping rules that will ensure that debit interchange fees are
reasonable and proportional to the actual processing cost of the transaction.
The amendment will also prevent credit card companies from penalizing businesses
for offering discounts to consumers using competing card networks, cash, cheques
or debit cards. It will allow businesses to decline credit cards for small
purchases, as the fees may be higher than the profit of the sale.
These measures will give small businesses more power in
dealing with the large credit card companies and will work to limit
Honourable senators, we have the same issue in Canada and
we should not sit back and allow our small businesses to be taken advantage of.
Last year, a number of recommendations were made by the
Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce during its study of
credit and debit cards in Canada that would help put control back into the hands
of small businesses and consumers.
One recommendation was that the federal government create
an oversight board that would monitor and ensure fairness in credit and debit
card payments systems through recommendations on fees and rates to the Minister
of Finance. The government should extend this mandate to the existing Office of
the Superintendent of Financial Institutions, which already has access to and
works with the Canadian financial industry.
Increased competition is often cited as the cornerstone of
a healthy economy. However, as shown by the U.S. experience, these new
competitors use their significant network of credit card holders and
considerable assets to drive small players out of the marketplace to quickly
achieve market dominance.
As their market share increases, so do their fees, with
one particular point of concern being the introduction of fees that reflect a
percentage of the purchase cost. With zero risk involved in the transaction, and
processing costs being even, honourable senators, the approval of the U.S.
Senator Durbin's amendment shows that this is an issue that transcends political
partisanship and that proper legislation has a place in ensuring a healthy,
I am happy to see the U.S. Senate is following the steps
of Australia, New Zealand and other nations. I urge honourable senators to
listen to the needs of Canadians. Let us not be the last developed country to
adopt changes that would provide reasonable fees and rates for Canadian
consumers and Canadian small businesses.
Hon. Donald Neil Plett: Honourable senators, "As
the world's attention turns — finally — to the heart-wrenching issue of maternal
mortality, it finds Dr. Jean Chamberlain Froese, . . . from Hamilton, Ont., at
the forefront of the issue." That was written by Patricia Paddey, in the
May/June 2010 issue of Faith Today.
When Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced his intention
to make maternal and child health the focus of the G8 summit in June, the
ramifications of that decision echoed in the heart of a Canadian doctor living
thousands of miles away in Uganda.
Dr. Froese said:
I can barely share the news with people here without
choking up, thinking of how important this decision is. I've slogged through
the field of maternal mortality for the past 14 years, and honestly, this is
the first time any kind of significant Canadian attention has been showered
on this modern day tragedy.
This significant Canadian attention turned out to be an
understatement. In the weeks following Prime Minister Harper's announcement,
something of a political and ideological firestorm erupted, and Liberal leader
Michael Ignatieff insisted any foreign aid funding for maternal and child
assistance should include funding for abortion. That motion was defeated.
The news must be heartening to those who work in
protecting and promoting child and maternal health. These individuals insist
that, rather than abortion, the main issues are clean drinking water, access to
safe and healthy food, shelter, medicines and quality health care. Such
practical measures are clearly working. Maternal deaths have decreased from
526,300 in 1980, to 342,900 in 2008.
Dr. Froese knows from experience that without the
political will, little real change occurs. She says:
I am learning more and more that maternal and child
health is very related to politics in developing countries. . . .
. . .
From the time you had your coffee today until the same
time tomorrow, 1,600 women will have died from complications of pregnancy
Ninety per cent of these women lived in Africa and Asia.
Put another way, a woman in Africa has a lifetime risk
of one in 16 of dying from pregnancy-related complications. In the
industrialized world, it is one in 4,000.
The article goes on to say:
Chamberlain Froese says that, incredibly, more women
and babies have died of pregnancy- or childbirth-related complications in
the developing world over the past 25 years than have died of AIDs.
. . .
. . . In Canada we lose 10 mothers a year, but in a
country like Uganda, . . . which has the same population as Canada, every
year 6,000 mothers die from pregnancy-related complications.
Later, the article says:
The obstacles, she insists, are not merely medical
ones, for maternal mortality is not just a medical issue — it's a social
The knowledge that the G8 will turn its attention to the
cause that Chamberlain Froese has worked long and hard for only adds to her
conviction. As she recently wrote in the National Post:
Not that Harper, or any one person can work miracles.
But maybe for the first time this issue will get the political backing from
rich Western powers that it so desperately needs.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I wish
to draw your attention to the presence in the gallery of His Excellency Dr.
Yahya Mahfoodh Al Manthri, Chairman of the State Council of the Sultanate of
Oman. Dr. Al Manthri is accompanied by Her Excellency the Ambassador of Oman to
Canada and a distinguished parliamentary delegation from Oman.
On behalf of all honourable senators, welcome to the
Senate of Canada.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the
Government): Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both
official languages, the certificate of nomination for the office of Information
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, pursuant
to section 38 of the Access to Information Act, I have the honour to table, in
both official languages, the annual report of the acting Information
Commissioner for the period from April 1, 2009 to March 31, 2010.
Hon. Noël A. Kinsella: Honourable senators, I ask
leave of the Senate to table a document entitled: "Report of the Visit of the
Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker of the Senate, and a Parliamentary
Delegation to Albania, Italy, Sovereign Military Order of Malta, Holy See and
Malta," October 11 to 18, 2009.
Hon. Dennis Dawson, Chair of the Standing Senate
Committee on Transport and Communications, presented the following report:
Thursday, June 3, 2010
The Standing Senate Committee on Transport and
Communications has the honour to present its
Your committee, to which was referred Bill S-5, An Act
to amend the Motor Vehicle Safety Act and the Canadian Environment
Protection Act, 1999, has, in obedience to the order of reference of
Wednesday, May 12, 2010, examined the said bill and now reports the same
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when
shall this bill be read the third time?
(On motion of Senator Comeau, bill placed on the Orders of
the Day for third reading at the next sitting of the Senate.)
Hon. Joan Fraser, Chair of the Standing Senate
Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, presented the following report:
Thursday, June 3, 2010
The Standing Senate Committee on Legal and
Constitutional Affairs has the honour to present its
Your committee, to which was referred Bill S-9, An Act
to amend the Criminal Code (auto theft and trafficking in property obtained
by crime), has, in obedience to the order of reference of Wednesday, May 26,
2010, examined the said bill and now reports the same with no amendments.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when
shall this bill be read the third time?
(On motion of Senator Wallace, bill placed on the Orders
of the Day for third reading at the next sitting of the Senate.)
Hon. Kelvin Kenneth Ogilvie, Deputy Chair of the
Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology, presented
the following report:
Thursday, June 3, 2010
The Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs,
Science and Technology has the honour to present its
Your committee, to which was referred Bill C-268, An
Act to amend the Criminal Code (minimum sentence for offences involving
trafficking of persons under the age of eighteen years), has, in obedience
to the order of reference of Wednesday, April 21, 2010, examined the said
bill and now reports the same without amendment.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when
shall this bill be read the third time?
(On motion of Senator Martin, bill placed on the Orders of
the Day for third reading at the next sitting of the Senate.)
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I wish
to draw your attention to the presence in the gallery of Mr. Ian Robertson, a
teacher at the Coquitlam School District in British Columbia. He is one of the
leading educators of physical education and physical literacy and is a guest of
the Honourable Senator Martin.
On behalf of all honourable senators, I welcome you to the
Senate of Canada.
Hon. Michael A. Meighen: Honourable senators, I
give notice that, at the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:
That, notwithstanding the Order of the Senate adopted
on Wednesday, March 24 2010, the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade
and Commerce, which was authorized to undertake a study of the extent to
which Canadians are saving in Tax-Free Savings Accounts and registered
retirement savings plans, be empowered to extend the date of presenting its
final report from June 30, 2010 to December 31, 2010: and
That the Committee retain until March 31, 2011, all
powers necessary to publicize its findings.
Hon. James S. Cowan (Leader of the Opposition):
Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the
Senate. I am sure that the leader was as surprised and disappointed as was I to
read the report in La Presse yesterday of an interview with Dimitri
Soudas, the Prime Minister's spokesperson. Mr. Soudas is reported as saying that
the Senate has not passed a single bill, including the budget bill, during this
session. This morning, I wrote to the Prime Minister and delivered a copy of the
letter to the leader's office. I asked the Prime Minister to correct the record
and pointed out that not only has the Senate passed six bills this session but
also that the budget bill is not even before the Senate, having not yet passed
the House of Commons.
Mr. Soudas' comments reflect not only on the good work
that has been done and is being done in the Senate but also on the ability of
the Leader of the Government to advance the government's legislative agenda.
Would the minister please assure all honourable senators
that she will speak to the Prime Minister as soon as he returns from Europe to
ensure that he publicly corrects the record and retracts this unwarranted attack
on the Senate and the good work that she is doing on his behalf as Leader of the
Government in the Senate?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): I
thank Senator Cowan for the question. I saw the article in La Presse
yesterday and wondered how Mr. Soudas could be so misinformed about the work of
the Senate. I raised the matter with colleagues in cabinet and in caucus. They
acknowledged the great work done in the Senate and that more government bills
have passed the Senate than the House of Commons. They are well aware of this
effort. I have not had an opportunity to speak to Mr. Soudas and I regret that
he was so misinformed. When I do speak to him directly, I intend to report that
fact to him.
Hon. Jim Munson: Honourable senators, my question
is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Earlier this week I learned
that the Harper government is set to pull its support from the Canadian Council
for International Co-operation. Why is that?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government):
Honourable senators, all programs under the Canadian International Development
Agency are being reviewed, including the one mentioned by the honourable
senator, to ensure that good value is being obtained for Canadians' tax dollars
and that the funds are directed to communities in developing countries where the
need is greatest.
Senator Munson: Honourable senators, the three-year
contract with the Canadian International Development Agency expired on March 31,
2010. The leader talked about programs being under review. How long does a
review take? The CCIC has the backing of 90 Canadian organizations —
"troublesome" groups like Oxfam, the Red Cross, the Canadian Labour Congress,
Save the Children —
An Hon. Senator: Radical groups.
Senator Munson: "Radical groups," he said
March 31 was the expiry date on the contract. How long
does it take to conduct a review? Would the leader have any positive remarks
about the good work that these groups do?
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, I do not
find organizations like the Red Cross and Oxfam troublesome, though the
honourable senator might
Senator Munson: That was sarcasm.
Senator LeBreton: Given the work of the Canadian
Red Cross in Haiti, it cannot be considered a troublesome organization.
A proposal from the Canadian Council for International
Cooperation are under review by CIDA. As I said a moment ago, all projects are
reviewed to ensure that Canadians receive good value for their tax dollars and
that the money will help relieve poverty in the developing world. That is an
important point to remember.
Senator Munson: Honourable senators, another
important point to remember is that I skated to raise funds for Haiti. I did my
small part for the Red Cross but it is about the bigger picture for all of these
Robert Fox, Executive Director of Oxfam Canada, said that
the silence regarding such an established organization worries the entire
humanitarian aid sector. Mr. Fox said, "It sends a signal to the NGO community
that is very, very disturbing."
I ask the leader again: How long will it take to conduct
this review? For the life of me, I do not know why this review was necessary in
terms of the amount of money spent for these groups. I believe that CIDA
supplies about $1.7 million of the CCIC's $2.7-million budget. I do not
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, aid
organizations need not be concerned because we have increased our funding to
foreign aid. I simply state, once again, that CIDA officials are reviewing
various programs to ensure that Canadians receive good value for their tax
dollars and to ensure that those dollars will help relieve poverty in the
Hon. Francis William Mahovlich: Honourable
senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. As we
are all aware, a massive and ongoing oil spill off the Louisiana coast began on
April 20. It is reported to be the worst oil spill in history, spewing between
19 million and 43 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, destroying
countless acres of sensitive eco-systems and detrimentally affecting thousands
of people who live in the area.
While efforts have been made to stop the gushing oil
spill, unfortunately, they seem to have failed. Reports are now suggesting that
it may be only by August, two full months from now, that the situation will
finally be under control.
One Coast Guard official has stated that the United States
government has reached out to foreign governments, including Canada, to help
with cleanup efforts.
My question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate
is this: What is the Canadian government doing to help with this disaster? The
U.S. is reaching out for leadership. Can we deliver?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government):
Honourable senators, obviously, we are all horrified by the pictures we see
every night on the news. There appears to be some good news today in that the
submarines were finally able to cut off the pipe and are now hopefully in a
position to put a device over it in order to bring most of the oil up to the
surface and into oil tankers.
As the honourable senator mentioned, there are many people
from Canada who worked on repairing the damage from the Exxon Valdez
spill and others who are working with the Americans in the Gulf of Mexico. I
would be happy to get a list of the various groups — some people have gone
independently — for Senator Mahovlich and provide it by written answer.
Senator Mahovlich: Honourable senators, while the
spill took place off the Louisiana coast, there is already evidence of the oil
moving toward Florida and the Florida Keys. One reason that the oil is traveling
in that direction is the Gulf Stream. If the oil continues to travel toward the
Gulf Stream at three miles per hour, it could affect our shores soon. What is
the Canadian government doing to ensure that our fisheries and the public are
safe from the oil spill?
Senator LeBreton: Obviously, that is a great
concern at the moment, because if the oil gets around through the Florida Keys
and into the Gulf Stream, it will travel right up along our coastline and then
across the Atlantic.
I will take the honourable senator's question as notice. I
have not been privy to any conversations yet with anyone from the Department of
Fisheries and Oceans as to what might be done in the eventuality that happens. I
do know there are increased efforts in the Gulf to capture the oil by using many
different devices, including big oil-collecting booms.
Hopefully the honourable senator's scenario will not
happen. Of course, the added problem of the hurricane season upon us now is
creating a situation no one could have ever contemplated happening. In any
event, I will make the appropriate inquiries.
Hon. Terry M. Mercer: Honourable senators, the oil
continues to gush into the Gulf of Mexico and last week President Obama imposed
a six-month moratorium on new offshore drilling permits while a panel
investigates the causes of the accident and reviews the regulations that are
currently in place.
After saying for years that his government would wait and
see what the United States would do on the environmental front instead of
putting forward a made-in-Canada policy, it would have been reasonable to expect
the Prime Minister to take a similar position to that of President Obama.
As a senator from Nova Scotia, I understand the value of
such projects, but I also have major concerns about the environmental and safety
precautions we have in place to protect us from such disasters as we now see
happening in the Gulf of Mexico.
Why is the federal government unwilling to take the time
to ensure that we have the highest level of safety and environmental protections
to prevent such disasters in our own waters?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government):
Honourable senators, first, Senator Mercer misstated what the Prime Minister
said. Second, he indicated that we have not taken the time to give serious
consideration to this issue. As the honourable senator knows, being from an
Atlantic province, Canada already has strong drilling regulations.
Our government will continue to enforce strong
environmental and safety standards across Canada. Canadian regulators will not
allow any action unless they are convinced that the safety of the environment
and workers can be assured. Canadian regulators, in view of what has happened in
the Gulf of Mexico, are reviewing our already strong regulations in an effort to
be able to respond to what is happening there.
Having said that, we do have strong regulations in place
and our people are looking at what happened in the Gulf of Mexico. Honourable
senators may have seen the article in the paper today about the depth of
offshore drilling in Canada. We should have great confidence in the strong
regulations that we already have in place.
Senator Mercer: Honourable senators, despite calls
for the Prime Minister to impose a moratorium on future exploration in the
Beaufort Sea, until the government can ensure that environmental standards that
address Arctic vulnerabilities are in place, the Harper government appears to
have only loosened the rules. In fact, the federal government has proposed, in
the other place, changes to the Environmental Assessment Act that would give the
Minister of the Environment the power to dictate the scope of environmental
assessments, again in an effort to fast- track projects of this magnitude.
Unfortunately, it does not appear as though the Prime
Minister shares the concerns of Canadians about the possibility of a similar
incident happening in Canada.
Why is the leader's government refusing to adopt policies
that are necessary to ensure that an ecological disaster such as the one
unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico never happens in Canadian waters?
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, we do not
have to refuse to adopt policies as we already have those policies.
With respect to the Arctic, there is no offshore drilling
taking place in Canada's Arctic currently. As I said earlier, no decision to
drill will be made unless we are convinced that the safety of the environment
and the safety of workers will not be placed at risk by any such action. Again,
there is no drilling in the Arctic that is currently under way.
Senator Mercer: I am afraid I cannot take much
solace in what the minister says.
According to an article in today's Ottawa Citizen,
the Harper government has quietly affirmed that it is not legally bound to
maintain a moratorium on oil drilling off the coast of British Columbia. I am
sure colleagues from British Columbia will be concerned about this. The article
In 2004, a panel appointed by the Chrétien government
completed a public review of these moratoriums. The panel concluded that the
public opposition was too strong to consider lifting the bans.
But last year, Natural Resources Canada attached a
correction to the report that takes issue with the former Liberal
government's interpretation of the bans. The correction states that, "the
moratorium on oil and gas activities offshore British Columbia does not
apply to tanker traffic."
That was one of the things that was banned. The article
It also notes that there is no legislation requiring
the government to maintain the ban on offshore drilling, which was imposed
through cabinet orders that have since expired. And it leaves the door open
— wide open, I would say —
to converting offshore permits held by oil companies
into new exploration licences.
Will this government say that they will not allow any
further offshore drilling, whether in the Beaufort Sea or off the Pacific coast
of our country, without having the proper regulations in place to avoid the
disaster that is happening in the Gulf of Mexico?
Senator LeBreton: I only briefly read that report
in the Ottawa Citizen this morning. I think it was pointing out the
inadequacies of the legislation that was brought in.
Therefore, simply because the inadequacies were pointed
out and because we have not commented on them, it is quite a leap to say that we
are leaving the door open to drilling off the West Coast when, in fact, as
Senator Mercer well knows, there is no oil drilling off the West Coast.
Hon. Tommy Banks: I do not want to pre-empt matters
on which I think other senators may wish to speak early next week, but would the
leader please undertake to find out whether there are now lease agreements in
place that not only permit but require the drilling of offshore petroleum wells
in the Beaufort Sea in the years 2014 or 2016?
I ask the question because, while I cannot verify it, we
have heard testimony at the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment
and Natural Resources, chaired by the Honourable Senator Angus, that there are
leases in place, signed and concluded, that require, as they are presently
constituted, that drilling by the leaseholder commence no later than, I believe,
2016. I know the leader will take that question as notice, and I look forward to
Senator LeBreton: I will indeed do as the
honourable senator suggests. I am not sure if these leases are in place and what
the expiry date is, but I will certainly get the information for Senator Banks.
Hon. Claudette Tardif (Deputy Leader of the
Opposition): Madam Leader, the Canadian government recently provided $190
million in grants to attract 19 internationally renowned scientists to Canada.
Canada may have succeeded in attracting 19 outstanding
scientists but it is difficult to imagine that it will keep them in the long
term because laboratories are closing. Professors and researchers are being let
go and university class sizes are increasing across the country.
Can the Leader of the Government in the Senate indicate
how the government will ensure that this initiative will benefit the Canadian
scientific community as a whole and its individual components?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government):
Honourable senators, talk about doom and gloom. I was wondering if I would ever
get a question on this issue. Honourable senators will remember that a year and
a half or two years ago we were accused of being science Luddites — we were not
doing anything to attract scientists, there was a brain drain and Canada would
be without scientists.
As honourable senators know, there are 19 Canada
Excellence Research Chairs. Forty-one universities submitted 130 proposals and
40 of the proposals were short-listed.
The senator mentioned women. None of the names put forward
were women. Minister Clement and the Prime Minister immediately recognized this
inadequacy, and an ad hoc panel was appointed of female academics to find out
why the universities had not put women's names forward. The panel recommended
changes to foster more desirable gender outcomes.
With regard to the scenario about how we will keep these
people here, the honourable senator knows the government has spent significant
money. The CERC program has been applauded far and wide. The universities have
attracted scientists. For the first time, Canada will have world leading
scientists in many fields. The program, just announced, has received many
laudatory comments. We should at least let the program begin its work before we
start worrying about whether the scientists will be able to stay here.
Senator Tardif: Honourable senators, I heard
Senator Tkachuk's comments on which universities were being cut. My own
University of Alberta, which has recruited four of these research chairs, has
done very well, but has recently had to cut back staff, and has asked staff to
take cuts in salary in order to meet their deficits. The executive director of
the Canadian Association of University Teachers commented when this amount of
monies was announced, and said that it is a piecemeal approach, that we are
bringing in "stars" at the same time that courses are being discontinued and
labs are being shut down.
What is being done to assure that our researchers at all
levels, and especially women, are being encouraged, and what is the government
doing to reduce these inequities?
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, it is not
the government's responsibility to tell universities how to manage their
affairs. Correct me if I am wrong, but I think the University of Alberta is
headed by a woman.
To ensure the honourable senator understands, and I kept
saying this although she did not want to believe me until the proof was before
her, we recognized the importance of science and technology three years ago when
we announced Canada's Science and Technology Strategy, and we backed that up
with one of the largest investments in science and technology of any government.
No country in the G7, including the United States, is better than Canada at
supporting basic discovery-oriented university research.
Our government is committed to developing, attracting and
retaining the world's finest researchers. In addition to the other things we
have done, we have created the new Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship program
and the Canada Excellence Research Chairs. We have invested more in the Canada
Graduate Scholarships Program, more in the Industrial Research and Development
Internship Program, more in the Canada Foundation for Innovation and more in the
federal granting councils.
With regard to the particular case the senator raised
about her own University of Alberta, I was aware that that university had
managed to attract a number of these research chairs. However, it is not up to
the government and certainly not me to question any university on how it decides
to allocate programs and funds within the institution.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, after
Question Period on Thursday, May 13, 2010, Senator Tardif rose on a point of
order respecting an intervention during Senators' Statements earlier in the
sitting. That statement had referred to a line of questions put to the Leader of
the Government during Question Period the previous day. Senator Tardif argued
that it is unfair to make statements of this type, since Senators' Statements is
not a period for debate.
Senator Comeau, on the other hand, did not see that there
was a valid point of order. He noted that the statement being challenged had not
anticipated an item on the Orders of the Day. When Senator Cools spoke, she
quoted rule 22(4), and explained that it envisions a period of time during which
senators can highlight particular events, but interventions are still subject to
the normal rules about the content of speeches. Statements, Senator Cools urged,
should be of a positive nature.
As was noted by all three senators who spoke on this point
of order, there have been several rulings in recent years dealing with Senators'
Statements. I invite all honourable senators to review those decisions and to
consider how we can best use this period of the sitting. Since the Senate
remains a largely self-regulating chamber, each of us must assume responsibility
for the maintenance of order and decorum.
Rule 22(4) requires that a matter raised during Senators'
Statements must be one the senator considers should be brought to the urgent
attention of the Senate. The rule also requires that the issue be one of "public
consequence" that cannot be raised through other means. This gives senators
considerable freedom in determining issues to raise as statements.
The rule does, however, also impose some limits on
statements. First, a statement must not anticipate any item on the Orders of the
Day. Second, matters raised during statements are not to be the subject of
debate. Finally, statements must respect the usual rules governing the propriety
of debate, which would include rule 51 prohibiting "personal, sharp or taxing
speeches." When framing their statements, honourable senators should be aware of
these limitations, which are built into the very structure of rule 22(4).
In practice, Senators' Statements are normally used to
comment on events, accomplishments, or anniversaries that the senator giving the
statement views as important. This includes, for example, paying tributes or
offering congratulations to distinguished Canadians or international figures.
I again ask all honourable senators to remember that this
chamber functions best when its business proceeds in a courteous and dignified
manner. All honourable senators have a part to play in ensuring that this
continues to be the case; they should show care in framing remarks, to ensure a
useful and respectful exchange of ideas and information, without giving offence.
The possibility of using the caucuses and the usual channels for consultations
to address the appropriate topics for statements has been raised in the past,
and could again be used to ensure that there is a clear understanding of the
purpose of Senators' Statements.
Hon. Robert W. Peterson moved second reading of
Bill S-219, An Act to amend the Canada Post Corporation Act (rural postal
services and the Canada Post Ombudsman).
He said: Honourable senators, in many regions of our
country, government services are sparse. In their haste to cut spending and
reduce the scope of the federal government, our Conservative colleagues are
leaving millions of rural Canadians in their wake.
As I have said before in this place, rural Canada is at a
crossroads. Over the years, its fabric has slowly started to unravel. It seems
that no matter in which region of the country we find ourselves, stories of the
demise of rural Canada can be heard loud and clear: a lack of doctors, nurses
and emergency workers; young people lured from the family farm by bright city
lights; entire regions left behind by the digital divide; and First Nations
people languishing in Third World conditions.
These are but a few examples of the challenges facing our
How can we assure a high quality of life for the millions
of people who have decided to remain in Canada's smaller centres? How do we
accommodate the young family who recently took over the family farm or the
senior citizens who have lived in small- town Canada all their lives to ensure
that they will not be penalized because of where they chose to live? It should
not mean having to accept hospital bed closures, the closing of schools, or
having to drive for two hours to see their doctor.
However, the reality is that rural Canadians are being
asked to give up services that we would never ask people living in cities to
give up. Rural Canada is struggling to maintain an acceptable lifestyle with
dignity and confidence. Unfortunately, they have not seen the federal government
as supportive over the past four years. They have observed the closure of 43
rural post offices and 55,000 rural mail boxes. This cannot continue. We cannot
stand by and allow another part of rural Canada to fall by the wayside.
The great irony is that rural Canadians do not ask for
much. In fact, for many, their only link with the federal government is mail
service. Sadly, even this most basic of government services is now in peril.
Yesterday I raised questions about the privatization of
Canada Post after CEO Moya Greene made lofty claims before the Senate Finance
Committee that the corporation is fully compliant with the service charter and
fulfilling its mandate. She stated that she understood the important role that
post offices play in rural areas. Unfortunately, the facts do not support her
Just check with the Village of Elbow, a thriving resort
community in central Saskatchewan, where Canada Post closed the post office at
the end of May. The residents there were not consulted and were not even given
notice. This is far from an isolated incident.
Honourable senators, I am deeply concerned about the state
of rural mail service in this country.
That is why, on April 20, I asked the Leader of the
Government in the Senate to confirm that there was a moratorium on all post
Unfortunately, all I received was more banality about the
In my opinion, there is only one end game, and that is the
privatization of Canada Post. In fact, the same Moya Greene who testified before
the Finance Committee has just been recruited by the U.K.'s new government to
head the privatization of the revered Royal Mail in Britain. In order to avoid a
similar fate here in Canada, we need to act now.
The government needs to understand that shutting down a
post office means taking away a piece of the community. It is not business as
usual after a post office is closed down and super mail boxes are set up. One
can no longer send parcels nor register a letter without driving up to 15
kilometres to the nearest postal outlet. Even buying postage stamps becomes a
hardship because nobody wants to carry them, and rural areas do not always have
a Shoppers Drug Mart handy.
This makes life difficult for the elderly. Many do not
have a means of transportation. It goes beyond the line items and budgets to the
very core of rural life. Our country is vast. Towns cities and villages are
separated by hundreds of miles.
Canadian mail service binds communities. It connects
people and it unites our country. That is why this legislation is so important.
That is why I am proposing we show leadership by making sensible amendments to
the Canada Post Corporation Act, which would help rural Canadians to maintain
their quality of life.
Honourable senators, I ask you to join me in standing up
for rural Canada.
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable
Senator Harb, seconded by the Honourable Senator Lapointe, for the second
reading of Bill S-217, An Act to establish and maintain a national registry
of medical devices.
Hon. Consiglio Di Nino: Honourable senators,
Senator Comeau has this adjourned in his name. We have discussed it and, since
it is day 14 and this issue is one we need to continue to talk about, I would
like to move the adjournment in my name for the remainder of my time.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: It
has been moved by Senator Di Nino, seconded by Senator LeBreton, that further
debate be adjourned to the next sitting of the Senate.
Hon. Mac Harb: Honourable senators, this bill has
been introduced for the third time in the Senate. The first time the bill was
introduced, the Senate decided to send it to the Standing Senate Committee on
Social Affairs, Science and Technology. The bill was introduced a second time,
and because of the election we were not able to deal with it. This is third time
the bill has been introduced. I hope my colleagues are not using this tactic to
kill the bill.
This bill is in the interests of the public. It is an
important bill that deserves thorough and proper debate in the Senate through a
committee. If, in the end, the government does not want to see the bill passed
through the Senate, that is perfectly okay, but let us give the bill its day in
court. Let us not use tactical strategies that in the end do not serve
democracy. That is the kind of thing we should avoid in this house.
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable
Senator Tardif, seconded by the Honourable Senator Rivest, for the second
reading of Bill C-232, An Act to amend the Supreme Court Act (understanding
the official languages).
Hon. Joan Fraser: Honourable senators, first, I
want to pay homage to all the senators who have spoken in this debate and those
who I expect will speak in it. This bill is one of the great subjects that has
brought careful reflection to all members of this chamber. I say sincerely that
I have great respect for all the views that have been expressed. I know they are
based upon serious reflection. However, I cannot say that I agree with all the
different views that have been expressed.
This bill may need amendment. A number of senators have
made thought-provoking comments about ways in which the bill might be amended. I
think, for example, of Senator Banks' suggestion for a coming-into-force date to
be set five years hence or, indeed, Senator Banks' comment about the incongruity
between the English and French versions of the bill. Senator Comeau, I think,
raised the point that perhaps this bill should also look at other pieces of
legislation that should be addressed in this context. All these suggestions are
worth serious consideration, and I hope that the committee will undertake that
consideration. However, I believe, honourable senators, that the principle of
this bill — and that is what we discuss at second reading — is profoundly right
and profoundly Canadian.
I will address some of the vigorous mythology that has
grown up around this bill. The first element of that mythology is that Bill
C-232 will require all judges of the Supreme Court to be bilingual. The bill
does not say that, nor does it require that. The bill says that in order to be
appointed a judge of the Supreme Court, they have to understand French and
English without the assistance of an interpreter.
Let me repeat that: understand French and English without
the assistance of an interpreter.
There is a vast difference between being bilingual, which
normally means being able to speak a language, and understanding it. Any of us
who has ever taken three hours of instruction in another language knows that it
is far easier to understand and to read than it is to speak. All that is
required under this bill is that judges understand the language. That is a far
lower test than being bilingual.
Another myth is that the bill is not necessary because
there is no problem at the Supreme Court now. We have been assured of that by,
among others, former Justice Major, who does not speak both official languages.
However, we have the testimony of at least two jurists on the public record that
there is a problem now.
Michel Doucet, a law professor at the Université de
Moncton, and Sébastien Grammond, the Dean of the University of Ottawa's Faculty
of Law, have both said that they have noticed inaccuracies, missing information
and poorly translated concepts in the interpretation at the Supreme Court of
Canada. These issues affect the perceived logic of arguments presented by
lawyers before the Supreme Court.
Obviously, if one does not know that there is an error in
translation, one simply thinks that the lawyer has presented an illogical
argument that is not overly convincing, which is not the goal of arguments to
the Supreme Court of Canada.
I do not know how many honourable senators are aware of
something the Standing Senate Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of
Parliament found out when it was studying the matter of simultaneous
interpretation into Inuktitut, when we looked at the matter of simultaneous
interpretation in general. I am quoting from the relevant report of the Rules
Committee. We were advised that:
Simultaneous interpretation only captures about 80 per
cent of the original speech, on average.
Simultaneous interpretation misses, in other words, about
20 per cent of the original speech, on average. Frankly, honourable senators, I
think that for someone to be pleading before the Supreme Court of Canada and to
know that it is likely that 20 per cent of his or her argument will be missed is
not in the greatest interests of justice.
Furthermore, as I understand it, all those documents that
Senator McCoy spoke about so eloquently the other day that are submitted to the
Supreme Court are not translated. They are circulated in the language in which
they are submitted. If the justice does not speak the language of the documents,
the justice's clerk provides a summary. A summary made by a clerk is not the
same thing as being able to consult the documents directly oneself. Once the
case has been heard, the draft decisions are written and discussed in English,
because in practical terms, given the structure of the Supreme Court today, that
is the only language that all the justices understand.
Honourable senators, if you are a francophone trying to
write a judgment in English turning on fine points of law, you probably will be
operating with one hand tied behind your back. It is rare for anyone to have
such perfect command of two languages that they can write and argue as cogently
and precisely in their second language as they can in their first language. A
few people can, including Senator Tardif, Senator Comeau and Senator Fox.
However, this command is rare. We are not asking for that command to be the
criterion for Supreme Court justices; only that they be able to use their mother
tongue when they speak or write to their colleagues.
Another problem is that justices who do not have the
capacity to read or understand the other official language, mostly French, thus
do not have the capacity to read or understand the rich body of jurisprudence
and commentary that exists in French in Canada.
Let me address another myth, which is that somehow this
bill is concerned only with Quebec and civil law. The commentary and
jurisprudence that is written in French has to do with Canadian law, not only
civil law but all Canadian law — constitutional law, criminal law, all Canadian
law. If we cut ourselves off from 25 per cent of the legal reasoning of this
country, I submit that we are not in the best position to deliver true justice.
We know, of course, that cases come from other provinces
than Quebec that are argued before the Supreme Court in French. Indeed, Maître
Doucet, whom I quoted, is from New Brunswick. Even the cases from Quebec are not
all concerned with civil law and, therefore, the province of the three judges
who, by law, represent Quebec on the Supreme Court of Canada.
Honourable senators may be interested to know that of the
judgments the Supreme Court rendered in 2007, 2008, and 2009, 34 concerned cases
coming from Quebec, excluding cases from the Federal Court of Canada, only 13
pertained to civil law and 21 pertained to federal law, constitutional law, or
international law, having nothing to do with civil law. There were, of course,
other cases in those three years, namely 12, where the Attorney General of
Quebec intervened — and, of course, the Attorney General of Quebec intervenes
before the Supreme Court of Canada in French.
Honourable senators, it has been suggested that requiring
the ability to understand both languages would mean that we chose Supreme Court
justices from too small a pool of talent. I do not think that is necessarily
true, even in the West. It may have been true in the past, but I am not so sure
that it is true today, and I am sure that it will not be true in the future.
Honourable senators should think of Calgary. How many
times have we heard the wonderful news about the great number of students in
Calgary who went to immersion classes? That was not true when we were all young,
but it has been true for a generation now.
Judges already hear cases in French in every province and
territory of this land, and I believe that anyone who seriously wants to be a
judge of the Supreme Court of Canada is capable of learning French. French can
be learned, honourable senators. It is not an arcane, mysterious something to
which only a chosen few have access. It can be learned, particularly when what
we are talking about is command of a specific technical vocabulary. We are not
asking that justices of the Supreme Court be able to change diapers in French or
buy their breakfast grapefruit; we are asking them to understand the law.
A number of years ago, I heard an interesting interview
with a language teacher here in Ottawa who was asked, "Who are your best
students?" The answer was, "Judges are the best students. Because judges are
already so trained in precision of language and in the grasping of specific
vocabulary, they are my best students."
Senator Segal raised the interesting question of who would
test judges to be sure that their understanding of the other official language
at the Supreme Court was sufficient. Well, the same people who test the other
judges who are already required to demonstrate understanding of the other
official language; the same people who test the senior civil servants of whom we
demand that they have not just the ability to understand, but the ability to use
both official languages.
There seems to be some sense that it would be beneath the
dignity of Supreme Court judges to face any such inquiry into their capacity.
However, in order to be a lawyer considered for the Supreme Court of Canada, one
must have already demonstrated to impartial examiners one's competence in many
different fields. The key point is that there is no divine right to be a justice
of the Supreme Court of Canada. These are not beings on a higher plane than the
rest of us. These are, in the most fundamental sense of the word, public
servants. They have the privilege of being perhaps the most important public
servants in the land, but they are there to serve us, not the other way around.
We have already recognized in law the principle that
judges should be able to understand the proceedings before them without an
interpreter. We did that a generation ago — that is, about 22 years ago — in
section 16 of the Official Languages Act which uses the same language as this
bill. It says that every judge should be able to understand English or French,
as the case may be — that is, the language of the proceedings — without the
assistance of an interpreter. I would draw the attention of honourable senators
to the fact that this section of the Official Languages Act covers all federal
courts, including the Federal Court of Appeal. For me, it is not a persuasive
argument to say that because the Supreme Court of Canada is an appeal court, it
does not need to have the same linguistic capacities as other courts. I would
argue the reverse, in fact.
Yesterday, Senator Comeau made the important distinction
between institutional and individual bilingualism. However, for institutional
bilingualism to exist, certain key individuals must be individually bilingual
themselves. In the Supreme Court of Canada, I submit that that means that all
judges must be able to understand both languages, because there are cases where
we need all those justices to sit, to hear, and to decide. Some cases are too
important to be decided by less than the full court. For the sake of argument, I
would cite the references on patriation of the Constitution and on Quebec's
Might I have five more minutes, honourable senators?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Fraser: This is one reason I cannot agree
with Senator Carignan's impressively reasoned arguments that the bill before us
would be unconstitutional in relation to section 133 of what we used to call the
British North America Act.
If it is unconstitutional to say that the Supreme Court
must have this capacity, why is it constitutional to say that the Federal Court
of Appeal must have it? More specifically, section 133 enshrines the right of
any person to use either the French or the English language in any court of
Canada or in any court of Quebec — and, I repeat the word "use." Honourable
senators, I submit to you that that means any person may speak either language.
There have been arguments that the right to speak does not necessarily include
the right to be understood, but I would suggest to you that in the case of the
Supreme Court of Canada, it must mean the right to be understood.
Some people have argued that we trust interpreters here in
Parliament, in the Senate, for example, so why do we do not trust them at the
Supreme Court of Canada? There are vital differences. To use a word that Senator
Nolin used yesterday, we in Parliament have layers and layers of redundancy. We
have 105 members. We have, in most cases, almost unlimited debate, at second
reading, in committee, at third reading, and, if we still do not get it right,
if we have been the first house to consider a bill, it then goes through the
same process all over again in the House of Commons. There are many
opportunities for any misunderstandings or imprecisions to be addressed. If we
still get it wrong, there then lies an appeal to the court. However, the Supreme
Court of Canada is where we go to have those imprecisions elucidated for us.
They are the last safety net. We have to require of them that they are capable
of understanding all the necessary arguments and law.
Honourable senators, this bill may need amendment, but I
submit to you that its principle is profoundly Canadian, profoundly faithful to
what this country represents, stands for and believes in, and I urge you to
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the
Government): Would the Honourable Senator Fraser accept a question?
Senator Fraser: I will, if there is time.
Senator Comeau: In her comments, the honourable
senator mentioned section 16 of the Official Languages Act in referring to all
Federal Courts, which can provide services in both official languages in that
the judges themselves are bilingual. That is absolutely true. The Official
Languages Act does indicate that such should be the case.
However, the honourable senator failed to mention that
there is no section 16 with regard to the Supreme Court; and this bill makes no
reference whatsoever to the Official Languages Act. That is where the problem
with this bill lies. It is not subject to the Official Languages Act and
therefore there are no protections.
Let me refer honourable senators to what the Official
Languages Commissioner said on the issue of institutional bilingualism in
response to a question before the Official Languages Committee. This was in
response to a question as to why the Senate and the House of Commons would not
be subject to the same policy.
In a word, no, I never argue that this should be the
case for members of Parliament, senators or ministers. Those people have the
same rights as members of the public. The very nature of the Official
Languages Act is that institutions that have to be bilingual, not
individuals. The right of the public takes precedence over the right of the
public servants to work in their language. The entire system is based on
So the Supreme Court is not subject to the Official
Languages Act, and this bill does not give it that right either.
Senator Fraser: Honourable senators will be aware
that I never comment on the words or acts of the Commissioner of Official
Languages, for family reasons. I tried in my remarks to make reference to
Senator Comeau's comment that perhaps other legislation would need to be
amended, and I had in mind particularly this section of the Official Languages
Act. It could be amended by amending this bill to include that provision or by
companion legislation. That is one of the technical elements we would need to
look at, but I do not think it goes to the fundamental principle of this bill,
which is to do with the fact that we need judges of the Supreme Court to be able
to understand all of the pleadings and the arguments brought before them.
Senator Comeau may not agree with me about that, but that
is what I believe.
Hon. A. Raynell Andreychuk, pursuant to notice of
May 27, 2010, moved:
That notwithstanding the Order of the Senate adopted
on Tuesday, March 16, 2010, the date for the presentation of the final
report by the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International
Trade on the rise of Russia, India and China in the global economy and the
implications for Canadian policy be extended from June 30, 2010 to December
31, 2010 and that the committee retain all powers necessary to publicize its
findings until March 31, 2011.
Hon. Irving Gerstein, pursuant to notice of June 1,
That, until June 30, 2010, for the purposes of any
study of a bill, the subject-matter of a bill or estimates, the Standing
Senate Committee on National Finance:
(a) have power to sit even though the
Senate may then be sitting, with the application of rule 95(4) being
suspended in relation thereto; and
(b) be authorized, pursuant to rule
95(3)(a), to sit from Monday to Friday, even though the Senate may then
be adjourned for a period exceeding one week.
Hon. Joseph A. Day: Will Senator Gerstein explain
Senator Gerstein: Honourable senators, I thought it
was evident we wanted to have the ability to deal with Bill C-9 to its fullest
extent and not curtail any discussion on the matter and so provide the Finance
Committee with the opportunity to meet 24 hours a day to deal with it.
Senator Day: As Chair of the Finance Committee, I
would like to thank Senator Gerstein for that. Would the honourable senator take
Senator Gerstein: I would be pleased to.
Senator Day: Senator Gerstein mentioned Bill C-9.
Has the honourable senator any information as to when this chamber might have an
opportunity to see that bill?
Senator Gerstein: I do. As soon as it comes out of
the other place, we will be delighted to deal with it here.
Senator Day: I thank the honourable senator for
that. As a follow-up question, I see the honourable senator has put the date of
June 30 as the limitation on this matter. Since Bill C-9 has now been 36 days in
the other place, why has the honourable senator chosen June 30 as the
termination date for this motion?
Senator Gerstein: I am delighted the honourable
senator asked that question. As I recall, 36 days includes the weekends and
every day. I believe it was 16 and a half hours, to be specific, in committee.
Of course, it then came back to the house and is now being discussed. Certainly,
every effort will be made to get it out as quickly as possible. With the support
of the senator's colleagues, I am sure it will get here quicker rather than
With regard to the end date, as I indicated, our approach
is that we would be very happy to entertain any time the opposition would like
to suggest if it needs more study.
Senator Day: I intend to speak on this item,
I would like to ask His Honour whether I should propose a
friendly amendment when I speak, or would it be appropriate at this stage to
perhaps extend that time to a mutually convenient time?
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: One
moves an amendment not when one is asking questions but when one is actually
speaking. Is the honourable senator still posing questions of Honourable Senator
Senator Day: I am about to ask the honourable
senator if he would agree to a friendly amendment to his motion.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore:
There is a further question, Senator Gerstein. Are you ready for a friendly
Senator Gerstein: I am always open to a friendly
amendment. How friendly is it?
Senator Day: The honourable senator has me at
somewhat of a disadvantage because we have not received the bill yet, and he is
proposing a motion to deal with a bill we have not seen. I would propose that
June 30 is far too soon. As soon as that bill comes, I will be asking honourable
senators, in the interests of cooperation within this chamber, to deal with this
bill in an expedited manner, as has been proposed in this motion. I would
suggest that July 31 would be a more reasonable time than June 30.
Senator Gerstein: I would be absolutely delighted
to receive that friendly amendment.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore:
Does the senator have a written amendment?
Senator Day will now make his friendly amendment.
Senator Day: I was afraid the senator might come
back and say July 15, so I appreciate his indications of July 31 and I will, at
the end of these remarks, move that amendment to the motion. I want to set out a
number of other points to this motion.
Honourable senators, this motion is for the purpose of
allowing the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance to sit out of our
normal sitting time and to sit when the Senate may not be sitting. We understand
that. I have made this comment before, so senators will know there was
discussion in the steering committee to deal with Bill C-9 and other bills,
because we have more items than Bill C-9 coming to the Finance Committee over
the next while. We have main supply, and we have not seen the bill on supply but
we will be expected to deal with that bill expeditiously, and before the end of
June with respect to supply because that is the end of the supply cycle. We
understand that, and we have been working diligently on the Main Estimates so we
can have a report in the chamber for you, and I thank honourable senators for
their cooperation in that regard.
We also have Supplementary Estimates (A) that will be
forthcoming, which also must be passed before the end of June to fit in with the
government's supply cycle. We started our hearings last evening on that bill,
having received the Supplementary Estimates (A) only a few days ago. We started
immediately on our hearings and we hope to deal with that item expeditiously as
well. I have asked all members of our committee to sacrifice other matters to be
there when we have our hearings and to try to deal with these matters that are
critically important to the parliamentary fiscal cycle.
This motion of the Honourable Senator Gerstein asks for
more sacrifice and more cooperation from the members of our committee. I
recognize that and I want to state publicly that we are doing that. I thank
those honourable senators who will be asked to sit out of their normal times and
to sit when their colleagues from the Senate have gone home.
I thank the Honourable Senator Gerstein for providing me
with a copy before he brought this motion. I note that in addition to the fact
that it is limited to June 30, which we have discussed and we will deal with,
for the purpose of any study of a bill, presumably that is Bill C-9 but it could
be any other bill that might be forthcoming, and then it goes on to say "the
subject matter of a bill or estimate." The subject matter of a bill is a pre-
study, as I understand it in normal parliamentary jargon.
We offered to have a pre-study of this particular bill and
I want senators to know that. The steering committee was in agreement on the
pre-study. Each of us went back to our respective caucuses. I spoke to the
Liberal caucus and the Liberal caucus said yes, they approved a pre-study on
this bill. Then, regretfully, I was informed we would not proceed due to lack of
agreement on the other side.
Honourable senators, we are now in need of this particular
motion to allow us to study outside of our normal time, to the end of July of
this year, because the committee was not able to pre- study this matter. That
aspect of this motion does not need to be there any more: the subject matter of
a bill. There is no pre-study offered, no pre-study requested and none was
agreed upon. Therefore I wonder why that particular portion was put into this
motion. The third portion is the estimates. The estimates are the two that I
referred to, Supplementary Estimates (A) and main supply. We will be prepared to
deal with those bills.
Hon. Joseph A. Day: Therefore, honourable senators,
with those comments indicating that we are prepared to be cooperative on the
theme of this motion, although we have some question about why the subject
matter of a bill appears in this matter, I move that:
The motion be amended by replacing the words "June 30,
2010" with the words "July 31, 2010".
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: It
has been moved by the Honourable Senator Day, seconded by the Honourable Senator
The motion before us be amended by replacing the words
"June 30, 2010" with the words "July 31, 2010".
Hon. Tommy Banks: Honourable senators, I apologize
for my ignorance in this respect, but do I understand correctly that although
the committee might sit and study the substance of bills it might also be
necessary, in order for those bills to be given effect, that the Senate might,
in fact likely will, be called back to sit to give effect to the committee's
report on those bills, or have I got that wrong?
Senator Day: My understanding — and I think
honourable senators will understand — is our committee, in studying, will report
back to this body once the study is complete. This body, being the Senate
Chamber as a whole, must be here to receive our report and deal with that
Hon. Fernand Robichaud: I have a hard time
understanding why they refused to begin studying the content of this bill. If
they had agreed to study the content of this bill, an amendment would not be
necessary, and there would be no need to recall the Senate during the summer,
Senator Day: Thank you for the question, Senator
Robichaud. I do not understand either.
I asked for the reason and there did not appear to be any
particular reason, so I started speculating, and one of the points I came up
with was the possibility that this bill might be divided into component parts in
the other place. If that happens, in the Finance Committee we would have been
studying matters much more appropriately studied by other committees. If that is
not the reason — and I hear comments that it might not be the reason — then I
would be pleased to know the reason for our offer being rejected.
Hon. Pierrette Ringuette: Senator Day is the chair
of the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance. I am a member of that
committee. After seven and a half years of participating in the different
committees of the Senate, when a motion is addressed in this chamber, to guide
or to instruct a committee, the committee members have adopted such a motion at
the committee meeting.
It is my recollection that this motion was not introduced
and agreed upon by the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance. This
chamber has been told that Senator Day, as chair of the committee, agreed to
this motion. Could Senator Day advise honourable senators if he agreed to this
motion, even though the committee was not advised of such a motion?
Senator Day: Honourable senators, I thank the
honourable senator for that question. Has time run out for the day yet?
Senator Ringuette is correct with respect to the normal
procedure. Normally one would expect this particular motion to have been brought
by the chair of the committee. As Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on
National Finance — I have been chair for some time thanks to all honourable
senators — I would have consulted members of the committee before moving forward
with this motion. That procedure was not followed in this instance.
In relation to whether I agreed to this motion, I was
favoured with a copy of the motion on the day it was filed. I thanked honourable
senators for providing me with the copy.
Hon. Terry M. Mercer: Honourable senators, I have a
brief question for Senator Day. He will not be surprised by my question; it is
that time of year again. It is June and we do not have Bill C-9, Supplementary
Estimates (A) or supply. Is that correct?
I draw to the attention of honourable senators the
frustration of many of us that, again, we receive this treatment from the other
place. They will move this measure down the hall some time at their pleasure and
then expect honourable senators and, in particular, the Finance Committee to
work overtime. No honourable senators mind working those long hours, but there
must be a better way to manage the affairs of a government. It is not only this
government; the previous government did the same thing. I take the time every
year in June and December to express this frustration.
Are honourable senators facing the same situation again?
Senator Day: Honourable senators, yes, Senator
Mercer is again frustrated for the same reasons as he was previously. His
frustration is shared by a good number of honourable senators on both sides,
many of whom hope to go home for July 1 to be in their communities. We now know
that unless something significant happens, honourable senators will have to
carry on with these three bills, none of which we have yet seen.
Hon. Percy E. Downe: Honourable senators, the
problem I have with this motion, notwithstanding the mover of the motion, is
that it does not refer specifically to Bill C-9. In 2005, this chamber ended up
in a last minute rush. The New Veterans Charter was sent to the Finance
Committee and not to the Subcommittee on Veteran Affairs where we had competent
members with expertise in that area. A number of honourable senators were on
both committees at the time, but that is not the way things should work.
I hope there will be some restrictions or a friendly
agreement that the bills going to the Finance Committee until July 31 will be
finance-related, and the committee will not become a dumping ground for other
legislation rushed through at the last minute.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore:
Does Senator Day wish to respond? His time is up, but he has time for a brief
Senator Day: Honourable senators, I do not believe
the intent of this motion was to deal with other than supply and Bill C-9.
However, the wording of the motion is somewhat loose. We will ensure that there
is not an abuse of this motion if it is passed.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the
Government): Honourable senators, I am pleased to support the friendly
amendment made by Senator Day. It is important that the Finance Committee is
granted the time needed to deal with this important bill.
I want to return to a point that Senator Day raised on
pre- study. I think honourable senators know my long-standing personal support
for the concept of pre-study. Pre-study is a tremendous tool when it is
practical to use it. It is not practical on all occasions.
At least two weeks ago, Senator Day and I discussed the
possibility of using pre-study on Bill C-9, when he said there was a hitch that
would not permit pre-study. I think I said at the time that I was receptive to
pursue pre-study further to make it happen.
Honourable senators, I do not think blame can be laid
completely on this side, that we were not receptive to pre-study. Sometimes, I
am able to persuade my side to follow certain measures by which to expedite
matters in this place.
I take note of, and appreciate, the sacrifice of members
of the Finance Committee. However, I do not think honourable senators should be
under the illusion that this motion will be limited to members of the Finance
Committee. If we decide to continue until July 31 or beyond, I can assure
honourable senators that not only will the Finance Committee sit, but the
chamber itself will sit.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.
Senator Comeau: Honourable senators, while we were
discussing this subject, I was looking at some of the bills we still need to
address. We have plenty of work to do until July 31.
Senator Robichaud: Am I to understand that the
Honourable Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate is saying he is
prepared to consider a pre-study of the subject matter of the bill and, in that
case, there would be no need for us to vote on this motion?
Senator Comeau: Absolutely. I am now prepared to
propose a pre-study of the subject matter of the bill.
Senator Day: Honourable senators will know that
pre-study is extraordinary for this chamber. Typically, we are a chamber of
sober second thought. We like to receive a bill after all amendments are made in
the House of Commons. We look at a bill in its final form as passed by the House
A pre-study is an opportunity for the Senate to look at a
bill before it is finalized in the House of Commons and, as I understand it,
before it exits committee in the House of Commons, which is where the majority
of amendments are made. In order to effectively change our rules regarding sober
second thought and conduct a pre-study, it should occur when the bill is
introduced in the House of Commons so they would have the benefit of our report
and understand honourable senators' concerns with the bill.
When this bill was introduced in the House of Commons,
knowing we would have the song and dance in June and July of this year, we
suggested the pre-study.
The discussion I had with the Honourable Senator Comeau,
and the discussion we are having today, to do a pre-study after the bill is out
of the committee and in report stage, does not achieve the basic reason for
changing our fundamental rule here. It makes no sense to do a pre-study of a
bill that we will receive in a week, and which is in third reading and report
Senator Comeau: In response, I beg to differ with
the honourable senator. The issue of starting at the same time as the House of
Commons is not the idea behind a pre-study; that is not the case whatsoever. The
purpose is not to send a signal to the House of Commons about how smart we are.
Pre-studies deal with having certain witnesses come in and
talk to us about the non-contentious issues, or the issues on which we might
have questions, as the bill arrives here in the chamber. The concept of starting
at the same time as the House of Commons makes no sense; if there are major
amendments to the bill, a lot of work we will do in this chamber will not be
worth it. It will be a waste of time, as one of the honourable senators said.
The concept of a pre-study is to allow us to have
witnesses and study non-contentious items of the bill as we move closer to the
bill arriving in the Senate, knowing there are a few contentious issues that we
may put aside until the bill reaches us. I am hearing from the honourable
senator that he does not like the concept of pre-study, and I can accept that.
If the honourable senator has changed his mind on pre-study, so be it.
I, for the most part, have been open. I have never hidden
my long-standing support for the concept of pre-study. I realize we have to be
careful how we use it.
I think I indicated a few moments ago that I had a
discussion with Senator Day on this bill at least two weeks ago and we were
receptive to lobbying for pre-study on this bill. It did not happen.
Senator Day: When I first arrived in the chamber, I
heard the debate between Senator Lynch-Staunton and several others in relation
to pre-study. Senator Lynch-Staunton was at the time, leader of the Progressive
Conservative group in the Senate, and I listened closely to his comments. He
strongly disapproved of pre- study.
Others believed pre-studies are a good idea, from time to
time. I am persuaded to follow the comments I made, in relation to when it is
appropriate to have a pre-study based on my experience here. All I can say to
the honourable senators who are newer to this chamber and who have not been
involved in the concept of a pre- study is that there appears to be a clear
divergence of views between the Honourable Senator Comeau and myself. I suggest
this might be an interesting point of research honourable senators might want to
follow up on.
Hon. Doug Finley, pursuant to notice of June 1,
That the Senate condemns last Friday's barbaric
attacks on worshippers at two Ahmadiyya Mosques in Lahore, Pakistan;
That it expresses its condolences to the families of
those injured and killed; and
That it urges the Pakistani authorities to ensure
equal rights for members of minority communities, while ensuring that the
perpetrators of these horrendous attacks are brought to justice.
He said: Honourable senators, last week on May 28,
Canadians were dumbfounded when it was reported that two Ahmadi mosques in
Lahore, Pakistan, were left in ruins after being attacked in separate
coordinated terrorist strikes. Over 90 people were killed, with hundreds
injured, by suspected Pakistani Taliban fighters.
This mass murder of innocent Ahmadi Muslim worshippers
emphasizes how senseless terrorist killings in Pakistan or anywhere in the world
can be. To kill in a place of worship is the ultimate insult to faith and
religion. These are Muslims killing other Muslims in their own state.
Unfortunately, because their beliefs on Mohammed diverge, a clash rather than
dialogue has formed.
Ahmadiyya is a religious movement fostered by the
teachings of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad at the end of the 19th Century. Mr. Ahmad was a
reformer, not a prophet. However, during the 1950s, an anti-Ahmadi sentiment was
brought forward by the Pakistani government.
This is an absurd war against a peace-loving people.
Numbering over 4 million followers in Pakistan alone, they are not allowed to
call themselves Muslims or call their place of worship a mosque, according to
adopted Pakistani laws from 1974. This religious minority was, and continues to
be, chastised for its progressive Muslim beliefs. Members are considered to be
non-Muslims and are therefore a persecuted people in the Islamic state.
Only a couple of days after the terrorist attacks, the
chaos continued to plod along into a downward spiral. Gunmen dressed in police
uniforms burst into the local Lahore hospital where survivors and one of the
alleged attackers were being treated and killed another eight people.
The use of suicide vests, Kalashnikovs and hand grenades
are not the right means to deal with ideological or religious differences. Yet,
inexplicably, people somehow feel justified in fighting and killing so-called
During the funeral procession, Pakistani politicians and
other prominent dignitaries were absent in paying their respects to the families
and friends of those killed, perhaps fearing for their own lives or reputations.
An unnamed Pakistani politician conceded in a recent article that:
Only to call a dead Ahmedi a martyr is enough to send
you behind bars for three years under the laws of the land. . . . Such
religious matters are quite complicated here. On the one side, there are
religious extremists and on the other are the persecuted ones.
It is a sad time in our lives when we hear things like
this. I wish to convey my condolences to the families of those killed and
injured recently in Lahore.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is
there further debate? Are honourable senators ready for the question?