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Debates of the Senate (Hansard)

3rd Session, 40th Parliament,
Volume 147, Issue 46

Tuesday, July 6, 2010
The Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Senate met at 2 p.m., the Speaker in the chair.



Holland College

Joint Educational Venture with Anyang Normal University

Hon. Catherine S. Callbeck: Honourable senators, today I wish to recognize and congratulate Holland College, Prince Edward Island's community college, on its recent signing of an educational joint venture with Anyang Normal University located in Henan Province in China. Under this agreement, Holland College will deliver jointly two programs to Chinese students.

This agreement is a significant accomplishment. Over the past 10 years, Holland College has signed a number of educational joint ventures with partner colleges and institutions across China. Holland College's ongoing objectives are to share educational methodology with its Chinese partners, and to create career and educational opportunities for students, both in China and Canada.

At the present time, approximately 1,400 students attend Holland College programs in China in the areas of hotel and restaurant management, business administration, marketing and advertising, accounting, golf club management and computer information systems programs. These programs enable students to earn Canadian college credentials without leaving China.

Since its establishment in 1969, Holland College has become one of the leading community colleges in Canada. It offers 65 programs to more than 2,300 full-time students and has gained an international reputation for the quality of its programs and teaching methods.

Anyang Normal University was founded in 1908 and has a total of 24,000 full-time students. Its president has said he sees the agreement with Holland College as a long-term partnership that will provide the opportunity for faculty exchanges and high quality training.

Honourable senators, I applaud agreements of this nature with emerging economies. The agreements strengthen economic and cultural ties, lead to greater international understanding and create conditions that will lead to greater cooperation.

Once again, I congratulate Holland College and wish it every success as it undertakes this latest educational joint venture.

Guidelines for Boards of Directors

Hon. Donald H. Oliver: Honourable senators, the Senate has a long history of playing an influential role by making significant changes to corporate oversight in Canada.

Today, I would like to draw your attention to the growing influence of shareholder emancipation, also known as corporate democracy. This new trend in the business world has gained momentum during the recent economic crisis.


More than ever, shareholders play an active role in selecting members of boards of directors of companies for which they own stocks. The Canadian Coalition for Good Governance recently published a 26-page report in March entitled Building High Performance Boards. The coalition enumerates 13 guidelines that will help company boards increase their overall performance.

The first guideline is "facilitate shareholder democracy." The coalition believes companies should allow shareholders to vote for individual directors; elect directors each year — board terms should not be staggered; and adopt a majority voting policy for director elections. This guideline would contribute to a company's ability to create value for its shareholders.

Professor Richard Leblanc and Professor Ed Waitzer of York University discussed this new trend in an opinion piece published in the Financial Post on June 8. Like the coalition, they believe there should be a set of guidelines to follow in selecting corporate directors to ensure greater accountability. This set of guidelines, in turn, would increase corporate democracy.

The Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce considered many of these issues more than a decade ago. To retain the so-called "democracy," Professors Leblanc and Waitzer imply giving a number of shareholders who meet certain criteria the privilege of nominating directors. They write that, as a result, this process might "go a long way to achieving effective director independence" and "ensure shareholders assume responsibility for generating long-term value."

Having shareholder-trustees nominate directors includes other benefits. It would help heighten the focus on board competencies and effectiveness; and directors would be accountable to shareholder-trustees, which should encourage the exercise of independent judgment.

Honourable senators, in the end, giving shareholder-trustees the responsibility of selecting the directors would "help align the interests and incentives throughout the ownership chain." As Professor Leblanc and Professor Waitzer write: "Those whose interests and abilities are perhaps most aligned with effective board selection and oversight should be shareholder-trustees."

Status of Omar Khadr

Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, I rise today to speak about Omar Khadr. Omar Khadr was 15 when he was captured in Afghanistan. He was only a child. He was there, not out of personal choice, but because his father had taken him there. After being captured, he was transferred to the infamous Guantanamo Bay, where he has been imprisoned for eight years. He has grown up in that terrible place and remains there as the last prisoner from the Western world. He is now 23 years old.

Yesterday, Justice Russel Zinn of the Federal Court of Canada gave the government seven days to come up with a list of remedies for its violations of Omar Khadr's rights. In January of this year, the Supreme Court declared that Omar Khadr's constitutional rights had been infringed upon. In response to this declaration, Justice Zinn ruled that Mr. Khadr "is entitled to procedural fairness and natural justice."

After acknowledging the government's wrongdoing, the Supreme Court demanded the government take action to come up with a remedy to right its wrongs. Unfortunately, our government has made little progress on this issue and has stated that Canada must let the U.S. justice process run its course.

Our Supreme Court of Canada has looked at this issue on a number of occasions and has ruled progressively on this matter. However, each and every time, the government has found ways of escaping its responsibilities. The ruling yesterday by Mr. Justice Zinn was yet another example of the courts bending backwards to accommodate our government's inaction.

Mr. Justice Zinn has now given the government one week to propose remedies as to how it will fix Mr. Khadr's violations. Mr. Justice Zinn said that repatriating Mr. Khadr to Canada is "the only alternative remedy I can see that can potentially cure the breach" of his rights.

I rise today to ask all honourable senators to urge our government to do what Mr. Justice Zinn has suggested and to repatriate Mr. Khadr to Canada. This is the proper course of action. As I have done many times before, I urge our government to listen to our Supreme Court and Federal Court judgments, including this most recent one. Honourable senators, let us urge our government to bring Omar Khadr home.

G20 Summit in Toronto

Hon. David Tkachuk: Honourable senators, on Friday June 25, 2010, Andrew Coyne wrote the following in his blog, found at

I've now had the opportunity to see the infamous "fake lake," tucked away in a corner of the cavernous International Press Centre. As one of the first to fly off the handle over this without first checking my facts, let me be one of the first to confess this is a total non-story.

It's not an "indoor lake," as the first story I read suggested. It is a reflector pool, about the size of a backyard swimming pool, only no more than two inches deep. There can't be more than 10 gallons of water in it, tops. It is bordered by a small wooden platform simulating a dock, with Muskoka chairs casually strewn about. There's a bank of canoes on either side, and a large screen showing some quite breathtaking high-def footage of Canadian lakeland scenes. And that's it.

It's not extravagant in the slightest. Modest would be closer to the mark. The government puts the cost at about $57,000, which sounds about right: about what it would cost to finish your basement. Or to be precise, it represents just over two 100,000ths of one per cent of federal spending. All in all it's rather a pleasant spot, a small oasis of calm and comfort away from the conference churn, and shows every sign of being a hit with the foreign press. A few minutes of that footage is bound to persuade more than a few of them to want to return, or to tell the folks back home.

It is, in short, a perfectly acceptable, if hardly vital, use of public funds, and should never have become a subject of controversy. The media got rolled on this one, the opposition ran away with it, and we all ought to be ashamed of ourselves.


More members of the media should openly admit what Mr. Coyne did. Others should too, but this is the time for statements in the Senate and I urge all members on our side to resist the urge to be partisan.

The Late Honourable Harry Enns

Hon. Terry Stratton: Honourable senators, I rise to pay tribute to the former dean of the legislature of Manitoba — our friend, Harry Enns. He was a remarkable guy.

Harry and I go back a long way. We fought electoral battles together and battled leadership battles on opposite sides. We went fishing together and stayed up until four in the morning to watch the sun go down at our fishing camp up north. He was a real character who was always pushing the envelope, as it were, but if you needed to get something done for your region or area, he was there for you.

He was a Minister of Agriculture; he held numerous portfolios and served for over 30 years. I think he was first elected in 1966. We shall miss him.

I went to a dinner in Woodlands, Manitoba, about three weeks ago. The challenge was that if Harry went to the dinner, I would go. He went, so I went as well. It was a wonderful get-together. No one knew at the time what was going to happen. It happened quickly, although he had time to say goodbye.

To his wife, Eleanor, and particularly his son Andrew, who worked for John Lynch-Staunton in the leadership office here, I extend my sincere sympathy on his passing. I know they will feel his loss for a long, long time.

Honourable Sandra Lovelace Nicholas, C.M.

Hon. Lillian Eva Dyck: Honourable senators, Bill C-31 was passed on June 28, 1985. Bill C-31 was an important event. Through that bill, for example, Senator Patrick Brazeau and I were able to gain status. Through the original Indian Act, women were discriminated against: When an Indian woman married a non-Indian man, she lost her status. There were many protests and the issue was taken all the way to the Supreme Court, where the case was unsuccessful — the gender inequity in the Indian Act was still there.

However, Senator Lovelace Nicholas championed the cause and took the case to the United Nations, where Canada was told that it was discriminating against Indian women. I believe His Honour Speaker Kinsella was part of that initiative in his former role with the Human Rights Commission in New Brunswick.

I thought it important to rise today to pay tribute to the Honourable Senator Lovelace Nicholas for the work she did 25 years ago. Later, we will receive another bill that attempts to remove further inequities. However, through her work with women of the Tobique First Nation in New Brunswick, Bill C-31 was passed.

I pay honour to my friend.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!


Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources

Notice of Motion to Authorize Committee to Meet during Adjournment of the Senate

Hon. W. David Angus: Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:

That, pursuant to rule 95(3)(a), the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources be authorized to sit this summer, on dates to be determined after consultation with the committee members, for the purpose of considering a draft report, even though the Senate may then be adjourned for a period exceeding one week.

Notice of Motion to Authorize Committee to Deposit Report with Clerk during Adjournment of the Senate

Hon. W. David Angus: Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:

That the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources be permitted, notwithstanding usual practices, to deposit with the Clerk of the Senate a report on offshore drilling, by August 20, 2010, if the Senate is not then sitting and that the report be deemed to have been tabled in the Chamber.

Racism in Canada

Notice of Inquiry

Hon. Donald H. Oliver: Honourable senators, pursuant to rule 57(2), I give notice that, two days hence:

I will call the attention of the Senate to the state of Pluralism, Diversity and Racism in Canada and, in particular, to how we can develop new tools to meet the challenges of the 21st century to fight hatred and racism; to reduce the number of hate crimes; and to increase Canadians' tolerance in matters of race and religion.




2011 Census

Hon. Maria Chaput: Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. On Saturday, June 26, 2010, the federal government announced that only the short form will be used for the 2011 census. The mandatory short form will include eight questions, only one of which will pertain to official languages: a question about the respondent's mother tongue.

My question for the Leader of the Government in the Senate is this: would it not be useful to keep the question about knowledge of official languages in the 2011 census? Is it not important to know exactly how many Canadians can communicate in French or in English?


Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, as you know, the government approved changes for taking the 2011 census. The eight-question short form will be mandatory for all Canadians. It is the standard mandatory form that will collect information on individuals and families.

Also, starting in 2011, there will be changes regarding the national household survey, the long form which so many Canadians objected to and which they viewed as an invasion of their privacy because it was mandatory. That long form will be voluntary now for Canadians to complete. It is expected that many Canadians will do so.


With regard to the honourable senator's specific question, I will have to take that as notice. I am not aware of any changes with regard to the questions about francophones, anglophones or languages, but I will take the question as notice and report back as soon as possible.


Senator Chaput: Honourable senators, I would like to ask a follow-up question. For official language minority communities, the provision of federal services takes three census-based factors into account: knowledge of official languages, mother tongue and language spoken at home. Two of those three pieces of information will no longer be available following the 2011 census because the questions will not be asked on the mandatory short form.

How does the federal government plan to fulfill these particular obligations under Part IV of the Official Languages Act?


Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, I will add that to the question for which I will seek written reply.

With regard to the Official Languages Act and the implementation of the Official Languages Act, the honourable senator knows full well that our government is committed to the Official Languages Act and Canada's linguistic duality. There are many forms and avenues into the government that help us to implement the Official Languages Act. With regard to the information that is received through the census, I will certainly seek further information.


Senator Chaput: I thank the Leader of the Government in the Senate for her understanding. I have another question. Is it accurate to say that the only question on official languages in the 2011 census will exclude new immigrants who use French as their second or third language, the children of exogamous couples and children who attend immersion schools, as well as francophiles?

Finally, is it true that the survey that replaces the mandatory long questionnaire is not part of the census because it is voluntary and, therefore, the information collected will be less reliable?


Senator LeBreton: As honourable senators know, the mandatory short form has eight questions. The honourable senator has asked a series of questions about which I will seek further information.

The advice the government received in regard to the long form was that many Canadians objected to it, but that many other Canadians did not. According to that advice, the long form will provide good information because, by and large, Canadians who had no difficulty filling out the long form previously will continue to fill out the long form. Some held the view that if the long form was sent out and people were asked to participate on a voluntary basis, then we would get more accurate information because people who felt that their privacy was not being impinged upon would be more than happy to fill out the long form. That, of course, remains to be seen when the census is conducted in 2011. I believe that will be the case.

However, with regard to the honourable senator's series of questions about the language spoken in the home and the language of newcomers, I will certainly attempt to find out how they plan to get that information to assist the government as it implements the Official Languages Act.

Hon. James S. Cowan (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, I have a supplementary question arising out of the leader's answer to my colleague, Senator Chaput.

The government leader indicated the government had received advice that people were more likely to respond if the option was voluntary rather than mandatory. Can the leader give us some indication as to who provided that advice, and perhaps she would table the advice in the house?

Senator LeBreton: No, I cannot table that information. That was discussion around the cabinet table.

The honourable senator knows that this certainly was also the case under the previous government. There was a great deal of consternation in the country on the part of people who were told they had to fill out a long census form. They felt that having to provide information about how many toilets they had, and the number of doors in and out of their house was an invasion of their privacy. It was a widely held view that this was not an appropriate measure as a mandatory census-taking device. It was decided to allow Canadians to participate in a voluntary way. Many people discussed the issue and different groups that made their views known. They felt that the voluntary long form would produce equally good, if not better, data than the mandatory long form.

Senator Cowan: I was not asking the leader to disclose the nature of cabinet discussions, but she did say the government had received advice, and I assumed that was professional advice and that she might be in a position to share that advice with us.

Be that as it may, it is my understanding that the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, the Canadian Council on Social Development, the Canadian Economics Association and the Canadian Association for Business Economics, among others, have formally protested the government's decision to eliminate the mandatory nature of the long form census questionnaire.

The former chief statistician, who worked at Statistics Canada for 51 years, said that he would have resigned if he had been asked to make such a cut because, in his view, it compromises the data quality not only of the census but also of a host of related surveys and leaves the local level of policy making with almost no tools for evidence-based decision making.

The point is that a number of organizations — governments at various levels and non-governmental associations — rely on that information so they can make evidence-based decisions. Absent that information, they will simply be guessing and I suggest that is a poor way for us, collectively as a society, to proceed at a time when we all are very conscious of making wise expenditures of public dollars. One would have thought the government would be moving in the opposite direction to enable governments at all levels and non-governmental organizations to have the best possible information available before they make expenditures either of their own private dollars or public dollars. This is a much more serious matter than counting the number of toilets and doors in someone's house.

Senator LeBreton: I could give the senator a list of a great number of Canadians who very much resented the government's requiring that people fill out a long census form. A great number of Canadians felt that was an intrusion on their privacy.

The fact is that the mandatory form provides basic information to Statistics Canada that obviously it and many other organizations rely on.

Honourable senators, whatever the decision of the government is, there will always be people who will support it and people who will not support it. The fact is that we have reason to believe that the voluntary long form will produce equally good information since it is voluntary. I have read in the newspaper when this issue was discussed that someone suggested that Canadians, by their very nature, seem to like filling out surveys.


Before we pre-judge the effectiveness of this approach, I think we should give Canadians a chance. Obviously, the biggest part of the census is the short form, which is mandatory. It consists of basic questions that provide the government, many of its agencies and many other organizations with vital information.

The formerly mandatory long form, which people viewed as an invasion of privacy, is now voluntary. I suggest that once the census is taken, statisticians will find there is valuable information to be gleaned both from the mandatory short form and the voluntary long form.

Senator Cowan: Is there a contingency plan in the event that her expectations are not met and that Canadians do not respond as she expects and hopes they will? What happens then?

Senator LeBreton: In this day and age, there are many information-gathering tools. I will not be pessimistic about this response; I am optimistic. I think this approach is a great step forward where Canadians will not be forced, under threat of penalty, to answer the long form census.

A number of years ago, I was sent a long form census, and I was put out by it. I felt it was a massive invasion of my privacy. I think this approach is a good step. Most Canadians support it.

Again, the mandatory short form provides questions — and I will check into those questions, as Senator Chaput has requested — designed to gather information that is vital to providing the government and different people who rely on Statistics Canada for information, the information they need to make their decisions.

Honourable senators, at this stage I will not pre-judge the willingness of Canadians to participate in a voluntary form because I believe they will.

Veterans Affairs

World War II Bomber Command Medal

Hon. Hugh Segal: Honourable senators, my question is to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. It relates to the veterans of Bomber Command.

I ask the leader whether she might inquire as to the status of the medal for the men and women who served as part of air crew, land crew and pilots during the bombing effort against the enemy in World War II, a theatre of war in which more Allied troops died than in any other theatre of war in World War II; specifically since this chamber passed a unanimous resolution, moved by my colleague and hers, Senator Meighen, on the matter in 2008; and specifically since I have been informed by the Minister of Defence and the Minister of Veterans Affairs that they have no objection to this matter proceeding.

I have been made aware informally that there is no formal objection in the Privy Council Office, and I have heard from members of the German Diplomatic Corps that they take no umbrage on this matter because, as one said to me, they started the war and Bomber Command helped finish it.

Sadly, many of the men who survived are reaching the natural end of their lives, and I am sure my honourable friend shares my view that it would be the ultimate travesty if those who fought in this particular theatre in a fashion that was essential to bring the war to the enemy before the attack on the land mass of Europe by the Allies were allowed to perish without this recognition from their government and their monarch.

I hope that the Leader of the Government in the Senate might find it in her heart to inquire into this matter and find out why, perhaps at the Chancellery in Rideau Hall, this matter is being held up for no particular good reason.

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, as to whether I will make inquiries, the answer is yes, I am happy to make inquiries.

Senator Segal's colleague and mine asked this question some time ago in the Senate. I realize the urgency of the matter, honourable senators, because of the advancing age of these individuals. I will make inquiries because I have been told informally the same type of information Senator Segal provided to the chamber, so I will be happy to make an inquiry to see what the status is at this time.

National Defence

Recognition Medals for Troops

Hon. Roméo Antonius Dallaire: Honourable senators, I applaud the question of Senator Segal to recognize those who served in Bomber Command. The number of casualties experienced in Bomber Command was astronomical. That recognition should come after people complete their campaigns. We build spirit in our military by providing soldiers with campaign medals so they can be recognized for their experience and efforts.

In responding to that long overdue medal, there are many other campaigns that I wish to raise with the leader. For example, for the last six years we have had troops in Sierra Leone training that country's army to become an army that is responsible to the democratic process and that respects human rights in Sierra Leone. Our troops are still waiting for their medals, which should have been provided after their first six-month tour.

We have that campaign, Darfur and similar ones. I am told, as is Senator Segal, that the medals are being held up in the political process from the Prime Minister's Office on down.

Are several medals being held up for recognition of troops in the efforts and sacrifices they are making currently?

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I realize that the awarding of medals is a process through Rideau Hall and other advisory bodies, such as the Department of National Defence. I am certain there are a number of medals in the chain at various stages.

I will add those medals that Senator Dallaire has mentioned and make an inquiry as to what the status is and when we might expect resolution of the matter.

International Cooperation

Maternal and Child Health

Hon. Rod A. A. Zimmer: Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Following the G8 summit this past Friday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that Canada is committing $1.1 billion of new money over five years for the maternal and child health initiative. This $1.1 billion is just short of the $1.2 billion spent over the weekend on the G8 and G20 summit security measures. The total Muskoka initiative funding commitment of $7.3 billion over the next five years, of which $5 billion came from the G8 countries and just $2.3 billion came from non-G8 countries, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the United Nations Foundation, fell short of funding expectations held by various aid organizations.

I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate: Why has the government committed less funding to the maternal and child health initiative than the total cost of the G8 and G20 summit security measures?

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I am surprised at that question because we are talking about two initiatives here that have different consequences and results.

With regard to the maternal and child health initiative, I am disappointed that Senator Zimmer feels this way because the Prime Minister and the government have received much credit and praise from many organizations, including aid organizations, for taking the lead in this initiative. As Senator Zimmer pointed out, we committed $1.1 billion over five years in new additional money to the maternal and child health initiative. This funding will make significant, tangible differences in the lives of the world's most vulnerable people.

Canada's contribution is part of a $7.3 billion commitment involving donor pledges from G8 members and other countries, and organizations all committed to expanding life-saving services and programs to meet the Millennium Development Goals to significantly reduce the deaths of mothers and children in developing countries.


This new funding, honourable senators, when combined with the planned programming over the next five years by the Government of Canada, will put our total investment at $2.85 billion between 2010 and 2015. These are significant dollars. This funding will make a significant difference, as many aid organizations have said.

Honourable senators, this initiative is ongoing. The government will continue to work with our partners to increase this amount. This is a major step forward, and surely no one can criticize the government for taking this initiative.

With regard to the cost of the G20 summit, as honourable senators know, the government relied on the very best advice of security experts and we held a very successful G20 meeting. These world leaders conducted their meetings in a secure and safe environment, which is exactly what our government committed to do. We should all be grateful and thankful that these meetings took place and that the leaders from around the world were protected in such a manner.

Honourable senators, Canada is a world-class country and Toronto is a world-class city. It was our turn to host these meetings, and I think the government and all Canadians should be proud of our efforts and of the results of the meetings.

With regard to the G8 maternal and child health initiative, it is like anything else; on any given day, someone can ask me why we would spend money helping out farmers and not put it into this initiative. Governments make choices. We have made a very good choice with the maternal health initiative, and it has been proven so. Aid organizations around the world have lauded Canada for taking the lead on this issue, and many lives of mothers and children will be saved as a result.

Senator Zimmer: I thank the honourable senator for that clarification. Can the leader indicate what mechanisms will be put in place to oversee the proper distribution of these funds?

Senator LeBreton: I will provide that information for Senator Zimmer. One of the good things about this initiative is that it is realistic. Our government and our Prime Minister, who was dealing with other G8 partners, were actually dealing with what could reasonably be put into such a fund and not create expectations that cannot be met. A process has been put in place to track this money and to report on the implementation of the program. I would be happy to provide that information to honourable senators.

Senator Zimmer: Finally, what aid organizations will the government choose to work with in order to efficiently disburse these funds into integrated approaches and low-cost interventions?

Senator LeBreton: The government is working with a great number of aid organizations, which I will provide. That is handled through CIDA. The Director of International Programmes at UNICEF Canada, Meg French, said that this is a new investment that can have a significant impact to save women's and children's lives. Surely no one can criticize us for trying to save the lives of women and children.

Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, I have a supplementary question for the Leader of the Government in the Senate with regard to maternal health. The All-Party Parliamentary Caucus on Ending Malaria made representations to the Prime Minister. He had taken a personal interest in seeing whether expectant mothers could be given special help to deal with malaria.

Does the leader know whether a decision has been made that mothers who are expecting will be given nets to protect them from malaria?

Senator LeBreton: I do not have an answer to that specific question, honourable senators. However, this initiative includes hygiene, medicines and birthing kits. This money will pay for a host of measures. I will make a specific inquiry about provisions regarding malaria. I cannot imagine that that would not be part of it.


Assistance for Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill

Hon. Francis William Mahovlich: Honourable senators, I have a follow-up to my question of June 3, and I know that Senator Mercer asked a similar question a few weeks ago.

I am still very concerned about the situation in the Gulf of Mexico. After two failed attempts to stop the oil leak, over 1 million gallons of oil is still being spewed into the water every day. Thus far, over 95 million gallons have poisoned the environment. The fact that a successful solution to this problem may not occur until August is simply a nightmare.

Regardless of whether or not the leak is stopped, in the coming months it is certain that the damage to the ecosystems of the Gulf Coast is much more of a long-term problem, and we will, sadly, likely see the effects for many years to come.

Many species of birds migrate from Canada over the winter months to this infected area. One of these birds happens to be the Canadian loon.

Many years ago, I was sitting on a dock in Muskoka, near the Port Sandfield Marina, where I was purchasing a boat. The owner, Alf Mortimer, came around and asked me what I was thinking about. I said that I was wondering where those loons go in the winter. He said that they go to his place in Florida, Longboat Key, which is in the heart of the Gulf of Mexico. That is where these loons are heading. I am worried that we will not have those loons next year and that maybe all I will be looking at are my decoys.

Honourable senators, we have all seen the tragic pictures of birds and other indigenous animals covered in oil. I fear that many of these animals will die as a result of coming into contact with the polluted environment. What will the government do now to help our American neighbours clean up this disastrous mess to prevent a deadly fate for our migrating birds?

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, obviously we are all extremely troubled by the pictures of oil-soaked birds along the Gulf Coast. I think I have taken one of Senator Mahovlich's questions as notice as to what the Canadian government is doing to assist our American neighbours.

Not only the loon, but many birds winter in the Gulf of Mexico. It is a great concern to all of us, since these birds return to Canada every summer. However, there is some hope in the Gulf of Mexico. A huge ship from Taiwan is now extracting oil. I noticed in the paper that the relief well is ahead of schedule. However, all of this oil is still there and is of great concern to all of us. Anyone who sees those pictures cannot help but be alarmed, especially someone like me, who spends the summer feeding birds that probably migrate to the Gulf of Mexico.

I will take the honourable senator's question as notice and determine whether there is any further information to provide.

Distinguished Visitor in the Gallery

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, before calling for Delayed Answers, I wish to draw your attention to the presence in the North Gallery of the Honourable Steven Fletcher, Minister of State for Democratic Reform.

On behalf of all honourable senators, welcome to the Senate of Canada.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.



Delayed Answers to Oral Questions

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I have the honour to present delayed answers to five oral questions raised by the Honourable Senator Banks on March 4, 2010, concerning health, specifically the approval of bevacizumab, a type of medication; by the Honourable Senator Cowan on March 24, 2010, concerning the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, the Atlantic gateway strategy; by the Honourable Senator Mercer on March 24, 2010, concerning the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, the Atlantic gateway strategy; by the Honourable Senator Munson on March 30, 2010, concerning health, the strategy for autism spectrum disorders; and by the Honourable Senator Peterson on June 22 and 29, 2010, concerning agriculture, assistance to producers affected by flooding in Saskatchewan.


Approval of Bevacizumab

(Response to question raised by Hon. Tommy Banks on March 4, 2010)

The Government of Canada recognizes the importance of providing timely access to patients to the drugs they need. However, before any indication can be authorized for use, the company must file a submission with Health Canada.

Determination of whether a drug can be sold in Canada is a federal responsibility. If, at the completion of a drug review for a new indication, Health Canada's Health Products and Food Branch concludes that the benefits outweigh the risks and that the risks can be mitigated and/or managed, the product is issued a Notice of Compliance (NOC), as provided in the Food and Drugs Act and its associated Regulations. The NOC allows the manufacturer to sell the product in Canada. At this time, the drug also receives a Drug Identification Number (DIN).

The indication for the use of Avastin for the treatment of brain cancer was authorized by Health Canada on March 24, 2010. Health Canada had previously authorized Avastin for the treatment of other types of cancer such as metastatic colorectal, breast, and lung cancer.

Under the Canada Health Act, all medically necessary drugs when administered in hospital must be insured by provincial and territorial health insurance plans. Prescription drugs provided outside of hospital are outside of the scope of the Act. Provincial and territorial governments determine, at their own discretion, whether, and under what terms and conditions, to publicly finance prescription drugs. All provinces and territories provide some form of public drug coverage, with a particular emphasis on coverage for seniors, disabled persons, and those on social assistance. Once a given drug has received a Notice of Compliance (NOC), it is up to each province and territory — who manage their own public drug benefit programs — to decide whether, and to what extent, to publicly fund, or reimburse funds expended on, said drug.

The federal government supports health care in provinces and territories through the Canada Health Transfer, which grows by six per cent annually and has reached $24 billion dollars this year. The government's continued commitment to health transfers has been underscored in the Speech from the Throne and in the 2010 Budget. How jurisdictions use these funds is their decision, but these funds can help provinces with the costs of their drug plans, including catastrophic coverage.

As noted above, drugs receive their initial Notice of Compliance (NOC) based on specific indications. It is against these indications that drug plans assess whether to reimburse. However, medical practice may see value in using such drugs for other indications. This is referred to as "off-label" use. Such use of drugs for medical purposes other than the indication for which they were initially approved occurs in Canada as it does in other countries and falls within the recognized professional purview and control of prescribing practitioners including physicians and dentists. Responsibility for deciding whether to pay for medications prescribed and used off-label rests entirely with the provinces and territories (or — in the case of private insurance — is generally the private insurer's prerogative).

Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

Atlantic Gateway Strategy

(Response to question raised by Hon. James S. Cowan on March 24, 2010)

Our government believes that the Atlantic region is uniquely poised to play a vital role in the Canadian economy.

That is why the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), Transport Canada, the four Atlantic provincial governments and private sector stakeholders are working together to make this new Gateway a reality. Officials have already participated in important trade missions to other countries in order to promote Atlantic Canada worldwide.

Together, we are working toward an effective Atlantic Gateway which captures new opportunities in the global economy.

The following are specific examples of federal investments that support the advancement of the Atlantic Gateway initiative in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island:

New Brunswick

  • $56.9 million for the new St. Stephen Port of Entry;
  • Up to half the cost of a $275 million project to upgrade Route 1 to a four-lane divided highway between St. Stephen and Saint John;
  • $70,000 for the establishment of the Canada East Air Cargo Gateway, a non-profit organization focussed on developing export opportunities centred on the Greater Moncton International Airport;
  • $26.4 million for the Port of Belledune; and
  • $9 million for New Brunswick Southern Railway.

Nova Scotia

The Government of Canada has set aside $86 million for six joint federal/provincial projects in Nova Scotia which will contribute to improving the efficiency and competitiveness of the Atlantic Gateway, including:

  • $17.5 million for the Burnside Connector Phase 1 highway project connecting Highway 102 and Highway 107 with a major industrial park and trans-shipment facility;
  • $17.5 million for the South Terminal Expansion at the Port of Halifax to accommodate the next generation of container ships;
  • $36.5 million for the Richmond Terminals Multipurpose Gateway Extension at the Port of Halifax, to upgrade and expand value-added cargo handling services;
  • $4.5 million for the Truro High Speed Interchange to upgrade the interchange ramps at a vital highway junction through which high volumes of Nova Scotian trade moves;
  • $7.5 million for highway upgrades on Route 344, to support development and operation of the proposed Melford Container Terminal; and
  • $2.5 million for business development and marketing initiatives to market Atlantic Gateway ports and other facilities.

Newfoundland and Labrador

Over $70 million to support major highway and road infrastructure projects in Newfoundland and Labrador, including 15 projects on the Trans Canada Highway, which will support the Atlantic Gateway; and

A federal-provincial-private sector contribution of $2.7 million to significantly improve operations at the Port of Corner Brook. The funding went toward new equipment and dockside improvements to load and offload larger and heavier containers.

Prince Edward Island

  • $2 million to help upgrade the Charlottetown Harbour including a new pier and cruise welcoming centre, the expansion of the berth by 113 metres, and 200 tonne bollards. This allows larger ships to visit Charlottetown and will increase passenger numbers three times over pre-expansion figures; and
  • $3.8 million to expand the Charlottetown Perimeter Highway and create additional turning lanes and realigning on and off ramps as required.

(Response to question raised by Hon. Terry M. Mercer on March 24, 2010)

Our government believes that the Atlantic region is uniquely poised to play a vital role in the Canadian economy.

That's why the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), Transport Canada, the four Atlantic provincial governments and private sector stakeholders are working together to make this new Gateway a reality. Officials have already participated in important trade missions to other countries in order to promote Atlantic Canada worldwide.

Together, we are working toward an effective Atlantic Gateway which captures new opportunities in the global economy.


Strategy for Autism Spectrum Disorder

(Response to question raised by Hon. Jim Munson on March 30, 2010)

With regard to a national autism strategy:

The federal government supports those with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and their families through research, surveillance and other initiatives in collaboration with a range of partners — provinces, territories and other stakeholders.

In order for a national strategy to be successful, it must be based on evidence and there must be consensus on the direction and elements contained within it.

In advance of a national strategy to address ASD, it is essential that governments and stakeholders better understand ASD, its causes and interventions to address it. Indeed, there is agreement among stakeholders that there is a significant lack of knowledge and consensus on ASD issues.

In keeping with the federal role of enhancing autism knowledge development and dissemination, this Government continues to support autism-related research. From fiscal year 2006-07 to 2009-10, the government, through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), has committed approximately $14.3 M in autism-related research projects. Going forward, $10.3 million have been committed for future research.

The federal government will continue to support the development of evidence to better address the many issues individuals with ASD and their families face.

With regard to the National Research Chair funding:

Simon Fraser University did their best to recruit a research chair in autism; however, there were difficulties in the recruitment process due to unforeseen circumstances, and therefore the University was unable to spend the allocated funds for this initiative. In August 2009, Simon Fraser University requested that the contribution agreement be terminated.

Health Canada officials are in the process of developing options for consideration by the Minister of Health.

The federal government continues to support a variety of activities and initiatives to improve knowledge and awareness of autism. For example, Health Canada provided $50K in 2007/2008 to the Offord Centre for Child Studies to update its Canadian Autism Intervention Research Network (CAIRN) website to support the development of updated material and the translation of its information into French. This site is a particularly excellent resource for families affected by autism. As well, Health Canada provided an additional $75K over two years (2008/ 2009 and 2009/2010) to the Offord Centre for Child Studies to further update the CAIRN website; conduct a survey among autism stakeholders to identify research priorities; and host a conference (held on October 2, 2009) to bring together autism stakeholders, researchers and policy makers to further refine the identified research priorities.

The federal government is confident that these activities will contribute to and enhance the capacity in Canada to address this important issue.

With regard to autism activities in the Public Health Agency of Canada:

This Government has responded to calls for better surveillance information on ASD in Canada.

Budget 2008 announced an initiative focusing on childhood developmental disorders and the links with environmental contaminants to better understand the impact of the environment on our health. Through this initiative, the Government is investing in a developmental disabilities surveillance program which includes among its target conditions, autism.

Work is underway on the system and this fall a progress meeting with autism stakeholders will be held to share information and ensure the surveillance approach will meet the needs of families.


Farming Crisis in Saskatchewan

(Response to questions raised by Hon. Robert W. Peterson on June 22 and 29, 2010)

The Government recognizes the difficult situation that many producers in Saskatchewan, as well as the other Prairie Provinces, are facing.

Analysis done in cooperation with the impacted provinces shows that the current suite of Business Risk Management (BRM) programs will provide significant support to these producers. This includes:

  • AgriInsurance — Unseeded Acreage Benefits of approximately $50 per unseeded acre and insurance coverage for production losses to seeded crops
  • AgriStability — Significant support to participating grain and oilseed producers who experience large declines in their incomes
  • AgriInvest — approximately 97,000 Prairie producers have more than $428 million in their AgriInvest accounts which can be used to address losses

Federal officials and the affected provinces are working together to ensure assistance from these programs gets into the hands of producers as quickly as possible through mechanisms such as interim payments under AgriStability.

Governments have extended the crop insurance seeding deadline in Saskatchewan and areas of Alberta to accommodate the needs of impacted farmers.

Federal officials are also currently working with provincial officials from Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba to complete an AgriRecovery assessment of the situation as quickly as possible to determine what further assistance beyond the core BRM programs may be required to help producers mitigate the impacts of this disaster on their farming operations.


The Senate

Tribute to Departing Pages

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, before calling Orders of the Day, please join with me in bidding farewell to three of our departing pages.

First, Marie-Michelle Jobin. After two years as a page, Marie-Michelle Jobin, from Kingston, Ontario, will be leaving the program to go on an exchange to Austria for a year before finishing her degree in international economics and development.


Philippe Teisceira-Lessard, from Quebec City, is leaving the program after one year to pursue a degree in journalism at the Université de Montréal.


Hannah Wyile, is this year's Chief Page. She is leaving the Senate Page Program after three years in the Senate. Next year, she will be completing the final year of her degree in political science and human rights at Carleton University.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!



Family Homes on Reserves and Matrimonial Interests or Rights Bill

Third Reading

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Nancy Ruth, seconded by the Honourable Senator Nolin, for the third reading of Bill S-4, An Act respecting family homes situated on First Nation reserves and matrimonial interests or rights in or to structures and lands situated on those reserves, as amended.

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, my speech will be very short. If I have understood correctly, Senator McCoy would like to speak to this bill.


Senator McCoy is at the Finance Committee at this moment and I understand that Senator Brazeau wants to speak on this bill. That will give Senator McCoy a chance to be called over from the committee so that she can also speak on this bill. We will then be able to proceed further with it.

That is the length of my speech on this bill. I think Senator Brazeau wants to speak to it now.

Hon. Patrick Brazeau: Honourable senators, we have before us Bill S-4, An Act respecting family homes situated on First Nation reserves and matrimonial interests or rights in or to structures and lands situated on those reserves, as amended.

It is no big secret that a regime in the case of marital breakdown on reserves has been missing forever. It is equally inconceivable that, in 2010, while every woman has protection in the case of marriage breakdown, First Nations women do not have the same protection. It is about time that we passed this legislation. Let me outline some reasons why.

The organization that represents native women across Canada, the Native Women's Association of Canada, went to the United Nations many times to make presentations calling on Canada to develop a matrimonial real property regime. We now have one before us.

Like any piece of legislation, honourable senators, it is not a perfect piece of legislation. However, this is what it would do: First, in the case of marriage breakdown or separation, it would protect all Aboriginal peoples with respect to their matrimonial real property; second, it would allow for the recognition by the Minister of Indian Affairs of a matrimonial property regime or code currently in place that has been ratified by a First Nations community. A First Nations community might have their code right now, but, because of the Indian Act, it cannot it be recognized by the minister. This would be a step forward in recognizing what many First Nations communities have worked hard at, namely, to develop their own matrimonial real property regime that reflects their traditions, values and customs. That is extremely important.

Among those who seem to oppose this piece of legislation, there is a lot of fear-mongering by people who are saying that non-Aboriginal women, for example in the case of the breakdown of a marriage to an Aboriginal man, would have access to the lands. Honourable senators, this has nothing do with lands; it has to do with matrimonial real property.

The second instance of fear-mongering we hear is that we might have an influx of non-Aboriginal women marrying Aboriginal men. Furthermore, if there is a divorce or a break-up, then non-Aboriginal women would have access to the home. That might happen in certain circumstances, but what about the children of those marriages? What about the children who are First Nations? What about the chiefs, leaders and Aboriginal people who talk about the importance of learning traditions and culture on reserve and going to school on reserve? What about the rights of those children? Even if they have a non-Aboriginal mother, they have a right to be part of that community. That is what this bill would do. It would protect the rights of Aboriginal men but, in particular, it would protect the rights of Aboriginal women and their children.

Honourable senators, we hear a lot of talk about how much money will be given to communities to develop their own codes, but it does not cost a lot of money to do that. Let me be blunt — many of the witnesses who appeared before the committee who opposed this piece of legislation are also the consultants who would be doing the work on behalf of the First Nations communities at $500 a day or $1,000 a day. They have a vested interest in ensuring that their nest is feathered as well.

This is not about money, honourable senators. This is about human rights and about equality for First Nations women.

Honourable senators, as I said earlier, how can it be that, in 2010, Aboriginal women do not have this protection? If it were non-Aboriginal women, there would be a huge outcry in this place, in the other place, and all across the country.

Obviously, I am a strong supporter of this proposed legislation. I encourage all honourable senators to vote in favour of it. Think about this, honourable senators. How do you explain it to a First Nations woman who comes home late at night one night, puts her key in the door and finds the locks have been changed? She is stuck out on the streets with her two, three or four children with nowhere to go and with no one to go to, because there are no matrimonial real property regimes on reserves. How do you explain that to an Aboriginal woman?

We talk about the 500-plus missing and murdered Aboriginal women in this country — women who have far too often gone missing or have been murdered in urban centres. Imagine how many lives could have been saved if there had been a matrimonial real property regime on reserves so that their rights and interests would have been protected. Let us think about that, honourable senators.

Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

Hon. Joan Fraser: Would the Honourable Senator Brazeau take a question?

Senator Brazeau: Absolutely.

Senator Fraser: I did not have the benefit of attending the committee meetings, but it is my understanding that, as I think Senator Brazeau more or less agreed in his comments, many witnesses opposed this bill. Who supported it and on what grounds — that is, apart from the minister?

Senator Brazeau: As I mentioned several weeks ago, the current president of the Native Women's Association of Canada stated that they supported the piece of legislation as it was currently written. However, they would have liked more assurances in non-legislative terms with respect to addressing the needs of the shortage of housing on reserves, as an example.


I hope that the honourable senator will appreciate the fact that many chiefs appeared before committee. They were similarly opposed to Bill C-21, which provided for the repeal of section 67 of the Canadian Human Rights Act. Both bills are about human rights and protections for Aboriginal women, in particular in cases of discrimination.

I am sure the honourable senator will appreciate that many Aboriginal women have been affected by the lack of a matrimonial real property regime on reserves. The women support the concept but it is difficult for them to come before committee. They do not want to be re-victimized by having to retell their stories of abuse before a parliamentary committee. From my experience and work on information-sharing sessions in the past, both on this matter and on others, there is a wide range of support by Aboriginal women across this country.

Senator Fraser: Honourable senators, I am well aware of the strong, legitimate and pressing desire of many Aboriginal women to have this matter addressed; but the chiefs oppose it. What are we to do? The chiefs are the legitimate democratic representatives of the people who are affected. How are we supposed to say: too bad? Is the honourable senator suggesting that we ignore the wishes of the chiefs?

Senator Brazeau: Honourable senators, certainly, we can listen to what the chiefs have to say. I disagree that they are the democratically elected representatives of the people because of the problems under the Indian Act associated with custom codes whereby First Nations people still do not have the right to vote on reserves because of so-called custom — whatever those rules might be. I do not consider it democratic when people are excluded from voting. No, we should not turn a blind eye to the demands of the chiefs. However, parliamentarians on both sides of this place should pay more attention to the grassroots people across this country.

Hon. Sandra Lovelace Nicholas: Honourable senators, the chiefs disagree with this bill because it will cause more hardship for the women and children with an even greater lack of housing. What do you suppose the people will do then?

Senator Brazeau: Honourable senators, I am not sure if there was a question, but I fail to see how a matrimonial real property regime to protect the interests of women and their children in the case of marriage breakdown has anything to do with housing. Now, for the most part, when a marriage breaks down, the women and children are kicked out of the family home. I do not know what happens on your reserve but on mine, many women are kicked out of their family home. They are kicked out not because of a shortage of housing, although it can be, but because there is no regime in place to protect their interests.

Hon. Lillian Eva Dyck: Did the honourable senator read the report of the National Aboriginal Circle Against Family Violence commissioned by Indian and Northern Affairs Canada when this bill came forward several years ago? Those women were abused and thrown out of their homes, and yet they said they did not want legislative reform. They were not afraid to come forward to speak their minds.

Some of these women are relatively fresh out of the relationship and are reluctant to speak but not all are in the sorry state that the honourable senator portrays as typical. Some of these women are incredibly strong. This is not an either/or situation.

What did Pamela Palmater, Chair of the Centre for Study of Indigenous Governance at Ryerson University, say about this bill when she appeared before the committee? Did she say we should go ahead with it?

Senator Brazeau: I will begin with the honourable senator's last question. Ms. Palmater is a lawyer and consultant who also works for chiefs. Obviously, she has a vested interest. She also worked for the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, which I used to head. In my experience with the congress and women's shelters across the country that our provincial affiliates ran, I met with many women who were affected by lack of a matrimonial property regime. I still cannot understand how anyone can justify not passing this piece of legislation because it will allow First Nations communities who have a regime in place, which cannot be recognized by the minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, to recognize that regime. What is wrong with that?

If we were talking about non-Aboriginal people, there would be a huge outcry in this country. I am almost ashamed to stand before honourable senators to try to defend something that is so right. There have been consultations on this issue for years and years with Aboriginal women and other stakeholders. Wendy Grant-John was named Ministerial Representative for On-reserve Matrimonial Real Property by former Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs Jim Prentice. She published her report on this issue. If I am not mistaken, 30 of her 33 recommendations were adopted and reflected in this bill. I do not think that is bad.

Senator Dyck: What did the witnesses say with respect to the problems associated with recognizing the codes they might have in place? Did they not say that they objected to the ministerial authority to recognize the code, which is a paternalistic, colonial way of operating, and that under section 35 of the Constitution, they should be able to enact their own laws? They said that the minister should not be in charge. Was that not what they said?

Senator Brazeau: Honourable senators, that is exactly what they said. Allow me to be blunt: I would like to be alive when we have a good understanding of rights under section 35. Anyone can stand up and say they have the right to this and that but if those rights are not negotiated or recognized by the courts, none of these rights will be recognized. I am about getting the job done and this bill will get it done.

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I must advise that Senator Brazeau's time has expired unless he is asking for more time. Is there continuing debate?

Hon. Elaine McCoy: I thank honourable senators for extending me the courtesy of a few extra minutes to make my way from the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance to the chamber. It never rains but it pours. The committee is hearing from environmental witnesses and your esteemed Minister Jim Prentice is appearing at this moment. I am sure he is not missing my attendance but I am missing his. Nonetheless, I have to speak to this bill today with the understanding I will not have another opportunity. Forgive me if I am a little scattered but I shall proceed.

I took adjournment of the debate on the bill last week because I was concerned that the issue would be dropped and summarily passed, which is not an appropriate course of action on this bill.

This is not my issue, although I have experience working with First Nations over the years. I will tell honourable senators about the first introduction I had to the ways of the First Nations, which I still cherish. The role of honourable senators is to speak for minorities and to give all Canadians a voice in shaping their future. That is why I spoke up.


We just heard a good exchange of views between Senators Brazeau, Dyck, Lovelace Nicholas, Fraser and others. Regardless of the interpretation that might be made of the testimony of the witnesses, we at least know that a substantial number of people speaking for Aboriginal women are saying this is the wrong legislation. Everyone agrees that there is some harm and that it needs to be fixed. However, everything comes apart with the suggestions for a solution.

It strikes me that we are trying to impose a solution that might suit me, as a middle-class, aging women who has lived in urban areas all her life, has a law degree and is quite competent at accessing and becoming familiar with all sorts of Anglo-Saxon legal procedures. It suits me very well, although I must admit, having been a minister responsible for women's issues and having been involved with these issues for decades, that even in my society women leave home when they are abused. However, Calgary, for example, has two or three well-established women's shelters. Even so, they turn away something like three women and ten children for every woman and child they take in each year. They are terribly underfunded. I must not get started on that rant.

I have familiarity with and sympathy for those issues, and I think that we are all reaching out to find a way to help women who have been abused, wherever they live, whether in remote communities or in downtown Calgary. However, the solution is sticking in the craw of many who are living on reserves, and it is because it is an imposed and unnatural solution according to their culture.

In this session, we have had some very interesting debates — I have participated in them — about the culture of another minority, the Francophonie. In that case, the bill was directed to pre-qualifications for Supreme Court judges. Once again, we were talking about protecting a culture, ensuring that a minority is as respected as possible in their own way, provided there is no significant harm caused to the other cultures that together make up Canada.

We are dealing with a similar situation in some ways now in that we do not necessarily understand the culture we are dealing with because we were not raised in it and do not live it.

I will tell honourable senators a bit of an amusing story. When I first ran for nomination in Calgary in 1985 — goodness, that is a long time ago; that tells you how old I really am — I was the underdog. However, I had a wonderful team of six people who were the core of the campaign team. One of them was Dr. Ron Scrimshaw, a PhD in education. He was a section 31 First Nation member. He was either the first or the second First Nations person in Alberta to receive a PhD. He was my age, by the way.

Ron was very helpful. He worked for a large corporation; he had lots of energy; he was very good with people, and a smile always came to our faces when Ron came in. He was also beginning to introduce me to his culture. He had a foot in both, but he certainly lived his own culture as well.

One day he came in and noticed how messy everything was. There were bits of paper all over and messages strewn all around. Everything is makeshift in a campaign office. Ron said that he would bring in a little pigeon-hole device to put messages into so that they would not get lost. We said that would be wonderful, so he brought it in. We were all very happy with this small but wonderful gift, and as he gave it to me, he said, "Of course, I want it back." He had a great sense of humour, so I laughingly said, "Oh, an Indian giver, eh?" I could have swallowed by tongue after that, as I thought it may have been a bit too close to the bone. However, he laughed and laughed and said, "Absolutely."

Ron then asked if I knew where the term came from. I said that I thought I did, but asked if he would explain. He said that the native culture is a communal one which always gives a thing to those who need it most, when they need it; as soon as someone else needs it more, it is taken from the first person and given to the next, the one who is most needy. It is always shared property. As a community they look after everyone, but the weakest among them first, and that varies from time to time. Therefore, what they give to one person they might take back, but only because someone else needs it more. That is why he said he needed the pigeon-hole device back, because we would not need it after the campaign.

That was my introduction to First Nations' culture. When I hear the debates here on the solution to this problem, I think that if I had not had the benefit of working with Ron, who began to introduce me to that First Nations' concept, which is something I had never lived, I would never have understood it in their context. I feel that I am hearing echoes of that language issue or lack of understanding back and forth.

Honourable senators, I believe that we should delay this bill until the fall. I would very much appreciate the government side holding it back until then because I have been told by those who are involved in the issue that there are discussions going on between First Nations' representatives and high-level policy makers at Indian and Northern Affairs Canada in search of an amicable resolution that will speak to the people and be appropriate for the way they interpret and live their culture, which may differ from community to community. I think that we, as protectors of minorities, owe them that opportunity.

However, even if we do pass this bill today, which I think would be a breach of our obligation as senators, since it originated here in the Senate, it will at least not be taken up in the House of Commons until the fall. Hopefully the departmental and ministerial representatives can pursue discussions before it is taken up there, and hopefully the people there will read our debates. Hopefully senators will speak to MPs and tell them of the difficulties we have heard about. Hopefully, somewhere along the line, amongst people of goodwill, we will find an appropriate solution that will address the harm in a way that is culturally appropriate.

Hon. Francis William Mahovlich: Of the 650 Aboriginal bands, how many agree with this bill?

Senator McCoy: I do not know the specific number, but I know that the Assembly of First Nations does not agree with it, and they represent almost all of the Indian nations across the country.

The Hon. the Speaker: Are honourable senators ready for the question?

Some Hon. Senators: Question.

The Hon. the Speaker: It was moved by the Honourable Senator Nancy Ruth, seconded by the Honourable Senator Nolin, that this bill be read the third time, as amended.

Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?

Some Hon. Senators: Yes.

Some Hon. Senators: No.

The Hon. the Speaker: Those in favour of the motion will please signify by saying "yea."

Some Hon. Senators: Yea.

The Hon. the Speaker: Those opposed to the motion will please signify by saying "nay."

Some Hon. Senators: Nay.

The Hon. the Speaker: In my opinion, the "yeas" have it.

And two honourable senators having risen:

The Hon. the Speaker: Call in the senators.

Is there advice from the whips?

Hon. Stephen Greene: A one-hour bell.

The Hon. the Speaker: The vote will take place at 4:20.

Do I have permission to leave the chair?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.


Motion agreed to and bill, as amended, read third time and passed on the following division:


Andreychuk MacDonald
Angus Manning
Boisvenu Marshall
Braley Martin
Brazeau Meighen
Brown Mockler
Carignan Neufeld
Cochrane Ogilvie
Comeau Oliver
Dickson Patterson
Duffy Plett
Eaton Poirier
Finley Raine
Fortin-Duplessis Rivest
Frum Runciman
Gerstein Segal
Greene Seidman
Housakos Stewart Olsen
Johnson Stratton
Kinsella Tkachuk
Kochhar Wallace
Lang Wallin—45


Baker Lovelace Nicholas
Banks Mahovlich
Callbeck Massicotte
Campbell McCoy
Chaput Merchant
Cowan Mitchell
Dallaire Moore
Day Munson
Downe Pépin
Dyck Ringuette
Fairbairn Robichaud
Fraser Rompkey
Furey Sibbeston
Harb Smith
Hubley Stollery
Jaffer Zimmer—32



The Senate

Motion to Extend Wednesday Sitting Withdrawn

On motion No. 17, by the Honourable Senator Comeau:

That, notwithstanding the Order adopted by the Senate on April 15, 2010, when the Senate sits on Wednesday, June 30, 2010, it continue its proceedings beyond 4 p.m. and follow the normal adjournment procedure according to rule 6(1); and

That the application of rule 13(1) be suspended on Wednesday, June 30, 2010.

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I withdraw the motion standing in my name.

The Hon. the Speaker: Is it agreed, honourable senators?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Motion withdrawn.)

Family Homes on Reserves and Matrimonial Interests or Rights Bill

Allotment of Time for Debate—Motion Withdrawn

On motion No. 18, by the Honourable Senator Comeau:

That, pursuant to rule 39, not more than a further six hours of debate be allocated for the consideration of the third reading stage of Bill S-4, An Act respecting family homes situated on First Nation reserves and matrimonial interests or rights in or to structures and lands situated on those reserves, as amended;

That when debate comes to an end or when the time provided for the debate has expired, the Speaker shall interrupt, if required, any proceedings then before the Senate and put forthwith and successively every question necessary to dispose of the third reading stage of the said Bill; and

That any recorded vote or votes on the said question shall be taken in accordance with rule 39(4).

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I withdraw the motion standing in my name.

The Hon. the Speaker: Is it agreed, honourable senators?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Motion withdrawn.)



Supreme Court Act

Bill to Amend—Second Reading—Debate Continued

On the Order:

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. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, I want to thank Senator Fraser for paying tribute to all the senators who spoke to the debate on Senator Tardif's motion regarding Bill C-232 on the Supreme Court Act.

Under this bill:

. . . any person referred to in subsection (1) may be appointed a judge who understands French and English without the assistance . . .

I would like to point out that this bill does not concern bilingualism, as the media would have us believe. Like many of my colleagues, I have considered the same question about this bill, in a context that is familiar to us all. The Prime Minister should speak both official languages, and so should the leaders of the opposition. We, as parliamentarians, are encouraged to be as bilingual as possible. Employees of the public service have no chance of being promoted if they are not bilingual.

My question is: Why would we make an exception for Supreme Court justices? Should the crème de la crème of our society not be required to follow the same rules as anyone else wishing to be part of the public service? Let us not forget that there is a big difference between being bilingual and understanding a language. This bill asks that the judges understand the second language without necessarily being bilingual.


Honourable senators, there are nine justices appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada from thousands of lawyers across the country and among 34 million Canadians. By law, three Supreme Court judges are from Quebec and, by convention, we have three Supreme Court judges from Ontario, one from an Atlantic province, and two from the West.

Honourable senators, please note that we have only two Supreme Court judges from the West. There has been a lot of concern that judges from the West might not be able to understand French.

I have confidence that we have or will have jurists in Manitoba, Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia who understand French. In today's world, we cannot make the argument that we cannot find two capable and competent judges, from four provinces in the West, who understand both official languages. We would be compromising the judges.

A person considered to be a justice is a very competent person in the legal domain. I believe that they can be competent in two of our official languages. These skills are compatible. Honourable senators, by making this argument that we cannot find two judges in the West, we are not giving enough credit to my part of Canada.


The Official Languages Act of 1969 says that, under section 133 of the British North America Act, anyone can use either official language, while the act gives presiding judges the freedom to choose their language. How long will our so-called bilingual society tolerate this exemption?

Everyone knows that in every single one of Canada's provinces, people use both official languages every day. Millions of anglophones across this country have francophone and francophile neighbours. These people cross paths daily, they participate in the same activities, they share their lives, and they have been living together for centuries. We can no longer operate like isolated silos, each with our distinct origins stored like grain in a separate silo.

We simply have to recognize that we form a single whole, a single entity. We have to share our best qualities in both English and French. Many people tend to believe that it is difficult to find legal services in French in Western Canada. But I want all honourable senators to know that British Columbia, the province I proudly represent here, has a francophone court and legal experts who offer services in French. Here is what the president of the Association des juristes d'expression française de la Colombie-Britannique, Francis Lamer, thinks:

It would be beneficial for all Supreme Court of Canada justices to understand both official languages, not only because they have to hear cases in French, but also because they have to read and understand written submissions from parties that choose to plead in French. Even with the help of simultaneous interpretation, pleading in French before a judge who neither understands nor reads French means missing out on an opportunity to make oneself fully understood.


Honourable senators, after hearing the various presentations against Bill C-232, I get the impression that people think we operate in silos in our provinces; that we speak either English or French in our courts. I agree that we mainly speak French or English, but there are courts in both languages in our provinces. Under section 530 of the Criminal Code, an accused whose language is one of the two official languages may apply to be heard in that language.

In my province, we have courts in which French trials are conducted. We have had a number of justices who have conducted many trials in French in my province, such as Justice Paris. He did that for many years. In addition, we also have many justices now who, for many years, have been learning French and are now fluent in it. Justice Cohen is one example. We also have many provincial court judges who know French.


Canadians identify with the very specific values of national identity, pride and bilingualism. We are not the only ones in the world to hold these specific values; they are held by many other peoples. However, the difference for us lies in putting these values into practice.

Take the example of the Swiss, mentioned by Senator Champagne in a speech she made not so long ago. I am not going to speak about education, but about the linguistic and legal aspects that have a common principle: knowledge of a language. The three bilingual cantons in Switzerland — Bern, Fribourg and Valais — have passed a great deal of language legislation.

At present, in the canton of Bern, according to section 17.a of the rules that govern language use in judicial proceedings:


The competent judicial authorities for the entire canton generally use the language of the district with jurisdiction. With the agreement of the parties, the judge may authorize use of the other national language.

We can conclude that the judges, whether or not they want to, must understand the other language and therefore be bilingual.

Also in the canton of Bern, article 12 of the 1907 constitution, amended on June 9, 1985, proclaims that the national languages are French and German. The equality of these two languages must be observed in legislation and administration. Furthermore, article 62 of the constitution mentions that the judges of the cantonal court must know both national languages.

If the judges of that country can do it, honourable senators, is it not possible that the very best, the model individuals of our society can also do it? As a lawyer and a senator, I am expressing my point of view today.


As a lawyer, I want the justices to understand exactly what my client's words meant in both official languages. When I appeared before the Supreme Court of Canada, I had the comfort of knowing that the nine justices would understand English. I am sure that the lawyers who present in French want the same comfort to know the justices understand them. The justices pronounce judgments for all of Canada and they should have knowledge of both of our languages. This bill only asks that they understand both languages.

Since a very young age, I have learned the importance of learning the language of the person you are working with as this enables you to gain meaningful insight into their thought processes. When I was a young child, I remember a family friend who wished to travel to Japan and learn Japanese. She told us that upon arriving in Japan, she faced several obstacles. The Japanese were resistant to having her learn the language because they felt that once you speak a person's language, you understand how they think. Now, of course, this is no longer the case in Japan.

I believe that when you learn a language, you understand how that person thinks and feels. My family has a very diverse background, so if you listen to our conversation, it will never be in one language; it will be in English, Kutchi, Gujarati, Swahili and sometimes Hindi. We pick the word from the language that best describes what we are trying to convey.

For the justices, it is very important that they understand our two official languages.


With all due respect to the Supreme Court, allow me to express my own perception of this honourable institution. In my own awkward French, I would define it as the crème de la crème de la crème of our society. This higher court, the Supreme Court, is more than a symbol of justice in our land. Supreme Court justices are the people to whom the affairs of an entire nation of millions of people, half of North America from the Pacific to the Atlantic, are entrusted.

The Supreme Court, the ultimate arbiter in disputes, is unique and almost sacred. Think about it: Supreme Court justices make vital decisions on a daily basis for the well-being of Canadians. I am sure their legal and language skills are fully compatible and knowledge of a second language can only improve our country's legal system.

I am convinced that the sponsor of this bill, Senator Tardif, was right when she said:

I find it essential that an institution as important as the Supreme Court . . . reflect our values and our Canadian identity as a bijural and bilingual country.


Honourable senators, our country's bilingualism is evolving. At one time in our history, we had unilingual Prime Ministers. Now we expect our Prime Minister to be bilingual. At one time in our history, we had unilingual Governor Generals. Now we expect our Governor General to be bilingual. At one time in our history, we had leaders of the opposition who were unilingual. Now we expect leaders of the opposition to be bilingual. At one time in our history, we had public servants who were unilingual. Now we expect public servants to be bilingual. Some of these public servants have come from outside of Canada and have to learn both of our official languages.

May I please have five minutes?

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Five minutes.

Senator Jaffer: Why should our justices not be held to the same standard?

When our Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, Beverley McLachlin, who is originally from British Columbia and Alberta, can learn French, why would we expect any less from the other justices?

In 1969, the justices had been given an exemption from knowing both languages. It is now 40 years since the time they had been given this exemption. The time has arrived where the cream of our country's crop from the legal profession understand both official languages.


If the judges of our Supreme Court, these people who judge the most sensitive cases and who must grasp the very essence of things, do not understand both official languages; if the crème de la crème de la crème of our bilingual society who deal with matters of national importance cannot meet the same criteria as federal employees; if this requirement does not apply to Supreme Court justices, then who does it apply to?

In this country, if we cannot require our federal representatives to be capable of understanding both official languages, then who?

Honourable senators, I recommend that you support this bill in order for judges to grasp the full meaning of the cases before them. Regardless of the language of the accused or the defendants, concerned citizens must have confidence in the ability of the judges to understand the facts without the assistance of an interpreter. The verdicts handed down by the judges must be based on informed decisions and a deep understanding of the arguments and the representations.


Honourable senators, when you vote for this bill, I ask you to think about this: Prime Minister Harper is from Alberta, the West. He made the effort to become bilingual. Why would we expect anything less from our nine Supreme Court judges?


Hon. Michael A. Meighen: Would the honourable senator take a question?

Senator Jaffer: Yes.

Senator Meighen: You mentioned Chief Justice McLachlin who you said learned French after being appointed to the Supreme Court. Do you agree that had this bill been in effect when she was appointed, Justice McLachlin would not have been deemed to be qualified?


Senator Jaffer: I agree that Chief Justice McLachlin is from my province and we are very proud that she is the chief justice of our country. When she became a justice, she did not know French, but it has been 40 years that the chief justices have had an exemption.


Our country is bilingual. People who want to become justices train for that job for a long time. As senators, we, who protect the rights of Canadians, must take leadership and say that everyone, including the justices, need to know French. Yes, many years ago, Chief Justice McLachlin had to learn French, but now people know that in our country we expect bilingualism. I am sure we can find two justices from the West who understand both languages.


Senator Meighen: In your remarks, you emphasized the fact that one need not be fully bilingual, that it is enough to understand the other official language. But you keep talking about bilingualism. It seems to me that understanding the other official language and bilingualism are two different things.

Being bilingual means being able to express oneself orally in the other language, but comprehension does not require verbal expression. It has to be one or the other. To pick up on Senator Segal's arguments, who will determine the level of comprehension? And what level would you deem acceptable — basic understanding or comprehension on a par with that of Mr. Trudeau or some of our colleagues here?


Senator Jaffer: The act specifically states that all they have to do is understand French. They do not have to be bilingual.

As for who evaluates it, it happens every day in our federal public service. We have a system where we test people in our federal system as to their comprehension of French, and I am certain the justices are capable of following the same system in the Supreme Court of Canada.


The Hon. the Speaker: Unfortunately, the honourable senator's five extra minutes have run out.

(On motion of Senator Meighen, debate adjourned.)


Declaration of Private Interest

Hon. David P. Smith: Honourable senators, in view of the fact that my wife is Chief Justice of the Superior Court of Ontario, which happens to be the court with the largest number of judges in Canada, I have come to the conclusion that the appropriate thing for me to do is to abstain from voting on Bill C-232, and I wish that noted on the record.

Aboriginal Affairs

Inquiry—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Brazeau calling the attention of the Senate to the issue of accountability, transparency and responsibility in Canada's Aboriginal Affairs.

Hon. Nicole Eaton: Honourable senators, I rise to address the state of accountability and responsibility for the First Nations citizens of this country.

There is a wonderful phrase that students of history know encapsulates the promise Canada pledges to all its citizens. It was written in the Constitution Act 143 years ago today, and it remains our nation's oath to its people: Peace, order and good government. That promise is an unpretentious guarantee, but I can think of no recipe more necessary to ensure optimal quality of life.

In fact, the phrase dates back long before Confederation. It was a formula that British authorities had passed on to colonial legislatures since 1689. Without governance dedicated to the public good, there can be no lasting peace and there can be no just order.

For those who would mistake this covenant of peace, order and good government as elitist, they could not be more mistaken. These words, as political scientist Stephen Eggleston has written, are the linchpin of government. They are the mantras of free and prosperous people.

Yet there are hundreds of thousands of Canadians who have for more than a century been denied the full enjoyment of this crucial constitutional blessing.

Canada's First Nations have no guarantees to good government. Quite often they must settle for anything but. Canada's Auditor General has reported that, through no fault of their own, roughly three quarters of First Nations are run by inexperienced, untrained public servants.

The reserve housing system is backlogged with thousands of Aboriginal families waiting for housing. Many of the existing homes on reserves across Canada are mouldy, overcrowded and unfit by most standards for human habitation.

Close to 50 reserves in this country do not have consistent access to safe drinking water. That number was reduced by our government from an astounding 193 reserves in 2006.

Sixty per cent of First Nations citizens living on reserves do not complete high school.

By every social and economic measure, Canada's First Nations are vastly worse off than any other demographic in this country. Yet Canadians have never spent more money than they do now on First Nations programs.

Over $10 billion a year is spent to sustain a reserve system that cannot even sustain something as basic as clean water and safe and adequate housing. No segment of Canadian society has ever been as over-governed as our First Nations, and no segment has lacked good governance so badly.

While Canadians demand, expect and receive accountability from those who govern them, that is not the case on far too many Aboriginal reserves. We would not accept this from non-Aboriginal politicians here in Ottawa. It is grassroots Aboriginals who pay the price for this double standard. First Nations people well know that many of their communities' council governments beset by incompetence, cronyism and corruption are too often considered entirely unremarkable. The abuse of the democratic process — First Nation members being denied their franchise, voters being intimidated or coerced to vote against their free will — is also, sadly, considered unremarkable.


The abuse of band funds by the powerful and privileged is all too unremarkable, as our chiefs who rule over communities of mere thousands pay themselves from band funds more richly than premiers or prime ministers, while reserve homes and schools crumble around them. These politicians are accountable not to the members of the community that they are meant to serve but to Ottawa. That, as Aboriginal author Calvin Helin has said, is a recipe for corruption.

It should not surprise us that when Harvard University's project on Indian economic development studied the chief causes of poverty and despair on reserves, researchers concluded that poverty and despair were the result of a political problem, not an economic one.

Canada's First Nations face many formidable challenges in addressing some of the most basic social, health and economic issues that were overcome a long time ago elsewhere in Canada. I have no doubt that these challenges, too, can be overcome some day, provided we ensure that First Nations benefit from that most essential Canadian guarantee: peace, order and, most important, good governance.

Hon. Hugh Segal: Will the honourable senator take a question?

Senator Eaton: Certainly.

Senator Segal: I was intrigued by the honourable senator's comments and I support, in large measure, everything she said. Part of what one often hears is that the challenge faced by those who share these concerns is the same sort of challenge Felix Rohatyn faced when he was given the task of refinancing the city of New York, which was bankrupt, and that is, where does one start, and which road does one take first?

One suggestion I have made — and I have heard that others agree with it — is that the only thing to do within our purview in the federal Parliament is to abolish the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs; that the authority of band councils, the fact that they hold power without real democratic accountability, comes from the fact that that authority is conveyed by the act that creates the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs, which spends all that money about which the honourable senator speaks, to no apparent benefit for average fellow Canadians who happen to be First Nations.

Are you open to the idea of doing away with that department so as to have a clear break with the past and a fresh approach to enfranchising our First Nations so they can have the same right to peace, order and good government, as we want for all our fellow citizens?

Senator Eaton: Senator, I am not an expert in the way that some of my colleagues are. One point Senator Brazeau made in his speech was that the Assembly of First Nations and the opposition lobbied in 2006 to opt out of the Federal Accountability Act. Even before looking at how to account for INAC's $10 billion a year, and how to make it so that grassroots Aboriginals have a say, perhaps if they were part of the Federal Accountability Act, that could start the process.

Senator Segal: I have a further question, if the honourable senator will accept one.

One argument often made is that, unlike the rest of us, who earn a living and pay taxes — and in return for those taxes demand accountability from those who serve us in elective office, municipally, provincially and federally — in many cases, the funds flow from the federal department to the band councils, not to the individuals who are residents on the reserves. For that reason, they do not have the clout to hold their band councils accountable in the same way that we have the clout as taxpayers to hold accountable those who are elected on our behalf.

One argument is that if we eliminated the department and provided a basic income or some other process for First Nation individuals, which they then were taxed on by their local community, band council or reserve council, as is the case for other Canadians, individual First Nation people would have the same kind of clout that we hope to have as taxpayers for the rest of the population.

Is the honourable senator prepared, particularly in her outstanding work on the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology, to reflect on whether that might be a better way ahead than the system we now use?

Senator Eaton: Senator, the discussion is now happening with regard to private property on reserves. If one begins to espouse the idea of being able to have private property on a reserve at some point, then one can perhaps start a taxation system that reflects the person's own worth and that they are part of a community.

The honourable senator has raised valid questions, and I thank him.

(On motion of Senator Fraser, debate adjourned.)


Study on Provisions and Operation of DNA Identification Act

Notice of Motion to Request Government Response to Ninth Report of Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee

Leave having been given to revert to Notices of Motions:

Hon. Joan Fraser: Honourable senators, I give notice that, two days hence, I will move:

That, pursuant to rule 131(2), the Senate request a complete and detailed response from the government to the ninth report of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, tabled in the Senate on Monday June 28, 2010, and adopted by the Senate on Tuesday June 29, 2010 with the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada and the Minister of Public Safety being identified as the ministers responsible for responding to the report.

(The Senate adjourned until Wednesday, July 7, 2010, at 1:30 p.m.)