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Debates of the Senate (Hansard)

3rd Session, 40th Parliament,
Volume 147, Issue 52

Wednesday, September 29, 2010
The Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker


THE SENATE

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Senate met at 1:30 p.m., the Speaker in the chair.

Prayers.

SENATORS' STATEMENTS

Tributes

The Late Honourable Norman K. Atkins

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, it is with tremendous sadness that I rise today to mark the passing yesterday of our dear friend and former colleague, the Honourable Senator Norman Atkins.

When Norman was a teenager, his great mentor, eventual business partner and brother-in-law Dalton Camp recruited him to be a gofer in the 1952 New Brunswick provincial election. That election led to a great victory for the Progressive Conservatives led by Hugh John Flemming, who was later elected to Parliament and served in the cabinet of the Right Honourable John George Diefenbaker.

That was just the beginning for Norman as many more campaigns followed — and more often than not, successful campaigns. His lifetime underscores a string of great accomplishments in New Brunswick and Ontario, and federally across the country.

I have so many fond memories of Norman Atkins as he has been a part of my life for such a long time. Many of those memories are tied to his beloved Big Blue Machine. As all honourable senators are aware, Norman was the National Campaign Chair for former Prime Minister the Right Honourable Brian Mulroney, which produced two majority governments in 1984 and 1988. He served in the same capacity for former Progressive Conservative Leader the Right Honourable Robert Stanfield, New Brunswick Premier Richard Hatfield and Ontario Premier William Davis. Few people in this country could rival his understanding and expertise in advertising and communications, strengths he brought to all of the campaigns in which he was involved.

In June 1986, Prime Minister Mulroney requested that Norman Atkins be summoned to the Senate of Canada to represent the people of Ontario. His political skills were put to the test, no doubt, when he chaired the national caucus of the Progressive Conservative Party and when he was Senate caucus chair.

In addition to his political responsibilities, Senator Atkins was a truly dedicated member of this chamber, even as his health began to deteriorate. In recent years, his committee work focused primarily on the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence and its Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs. With his passing, the Canadian Forces, our veterans and their families have lost a true and devoted champion with a unique and special insight into the challenges faced by our men and women who serve in the defence of our country.

Honourable senators, just a little over a year ago, in June 2009, we paid tribute in this place to Senator Atkins upon his retirement from the Senate of Canada after nearly 23 years of service. That day in this chamber, I thanked Norman for his guiding hand, advice and support throughout my political career. Although we took different paths in recent years, we remained friends. I, like many in this chamber, will miss him, and I am profoundly sad he did not get to experience the long retirement that he had most certainly earned.

To his beloved wife, Mary, his three sons, Peter, Geoffrey and Mark, his extended family and friends, I wish to extend sincere condolences on behalf of all of us in this chamber and also on behalf of my Conservative Senate colleagues.

Hon. Jim Munson: Honourable senators, I guess some weeks are tougher than others. I had just been reflecting on the death of former Prime Minister Trudeau when yesterday I read a tribute to Mario Laguë, a friend and former Director of Communications for Michael Ignatieff. Now Norman — or "Kemp" as he was known to his close friends — is gone. I can hardly believe it. It was not supposed to end so soon. There was still so much to talk about and so much to learn from this gentle man.

He was my mentor in the Senate. This aisle in front of us did not separate us. It acted as a bridge to ideas and friendships. I truly believe that Senator Atkins was a bridge for everyone in this chamber. Norman loved this place. When you walked into his office, it was like walking into living history, a reminder of the golden days of Bill Davis and the glory days of Brian Mulroney. Norman was the Big Blue Machine, but he would giggle when you said that to him.

Let us take away those political labels or affiliations for a moment because today they do not matter. What matters is the life of Senator Atkins. How many times did I watch senators from both sides of this bridge walk up to Norman, sit down beside him, have a chat and leave knowing they were a little wiser for the moment? Norman was a true believer in the Senate.

I cannot help but remember how Norman and Senator Michael Forrestall helped me when I sat on the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence. We were having hearings in Washington. It was wonderful that they shared what they knew, never hesitating to feed my insatiable appetite for understanding issues. What was equally or more important was the friendship. Once the hearings were finished, we went to a ball game and had a lot of laughs — a genuine moment in the sun. This was not about politics. Norman was that bridge, again, to a good place. I am talking about that part of life you do not always expect when you get older — new and enduring friendships.

There is always so much to learn, and Norman was a teacher. He taught me, as I am sure he taught others here, his political history. He was a true insider, and a person who could motivate others. He was a real campaigner and a politician who never backed away from a challenge.

In closing, I remind honourable senators what Senator Atkins said in his retirement speech a short time ago. He was talking about the influence of his father who was a Vimy Ridge veteran. He said:

My father taught me a great deal about values, ethics, loyalty to a cause and loyalty to one's beliefs. He was so proud of his country and its people; he was my greatest influence and a good man.

Norman, you have been my greatest influence in the Senate and you, too, are a good man. Thank you.

Hon. Michael A. Meighen: Honourable senators, it was my intention to make a statement today about competitiveness and the ranking of Canadian banks and the Canadian banking system but, somehow, it does not seem to be as important now as saying a few words about my old friend Norm Atkins.

Honourable senators, it must have been providential. Last night, while travelling in a cab from City Centre Airport in Toronto to my home, I thought, "I had better give Norman a call." It was 8 p.m. in Fredericton when I spoke to him. He sounded fine. As Senator Munson said, Norm always did, and he inquired about all his friends in the Senate and asked how things were going. I said, "Norman, we miss you; but we are pretty impressed with your political prowess and what you pulled off in New Brunswick the other day." He laughed and started to deny that he had anything to do with it. I said, "Oh, no, Norman, I know your hand was there. You did it."

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I said I would be down after the Thanksgiving weekend and that I looked forward to seeing him. He said that would be great: "Come in and see me; I will probably still be here." I said, "Norman, you pay attention to the doctors and get better." He said, "I will try and behave; I will try and do that."

He was a mentor for me, although I was not as successful or as apt a pupil as Senator LeBreton was. He mentored me in my two crushing defeats in Saint Henri—Westmount in 1972 and 1974.

Norman was a happy warrior. I never heard a nasty or bitter sentence escape his mouth. He enjoyed political life, he enjoyed politics and he enjoyed the people involved in politics; he thought they were among the finest in our country, on all sides.

While our views differed a tiny bit in later years, as Senator LeBreton said a moment ago, nothing separated our friendship. He has been a friend to me in good times and bad. I know many others in this chamber would say the same. He will be sorely missed, both personally and politically. He leaves a big void.

I know he is up there with his brother-in-law, Dalton Camp, plotting the next election campaign right now, and that he is thinking about his beloved Acadia University, Jemseg, Grand Lake and the province of New Brunswick, where his heart always resided. God bless you, Norman; we will miss you.

Ismaili Walk for Women

Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, I also want to recognize the great Senator Norm Atkins. He was a friend and a great example to all of us. If he were here today, he would say, "Enough said: Move on to what you really want to say." Therefore, I will continue with my statement.

I rise before honourable senators today to speak to you about sisterhood.

This past weekend I had the privilege of attending the Ismaili Walk for Women in Vancouver. This was the nineteenth year of the walk and the third year of a successful partnership between the Ismaili Muslim Community of British Columbia and the BC Women's Hospital & Health Centre Foundation.

Funds raised from this event benefit the Women's Health Research Institute in its endeavour to advance knowledge and care for women, newborns and their families across British Columbia and around the world.

However, the Ismaili Walk for Women is about more than raising money for, and awareness about, women's health research. This walk is about sisterhood, empowerment and giving a voice to women. Sarah Morgan-Silvester, Chair of the BC Women's Foundation, stated: "The partnership between the Ismaili Muslim Community and the BC Women's Foundation has been an inspiring example of community leadership."

Samira Alibhai, President of the Ismaili Council for British Columbia, went on to state:

This walk is part of our tradition of service, giving back and helping those in need, and helping improve the overall quality of life in the society in which we live by making a meaningful contribution to our local community.

Over this past year, our government has brought pressing issues like maternal health to the forefront, and I commend Prime Minister Harper for this work. We have made substantial investments to ensure that mothers and children have healthy and vibrant futures.

Events like the Ismaili Walk for Women reconfirm Canada's commitment to ensuring that maternal health objectives are met. Being able to participate in an event where women from all walks of life rally together to fight for women's health was both liberating and inspiring.

The following mission statement echoed throughout Stanley Park this past weekend, and it is still one that is fresh in my mind this afternoon: "Healthy mothers create healthy families, which build healthy communities."

Honourable senators, I ask you to join me in congratulating those who made this walk a great success. However, I think it is important to recognize that this is but one small step towards the greater goal of raising awareness about women's health issues, both nationally and internationally.

New Brunswick

Congratulations on Election of Progressive Conservative Government

Hon. Percy Mockler: Honourable senators, I also knew Senator Atkins very well. After all the campaigns we fought, we would see him giggling. He would laugh and ask me a question: "Did you have fun in this campaign?"

Honourable senators, I followed the September 27 election results in my province of New Brunswick with interest and excitement.

Once again, our party, the Progressive Conservative Party, and all Conservatives in New Brunswick, made history with the 2010 results. Under the skilful leadership of David Alward, we elected 42 members, and I have no doubt that they are representative of all four corners of our province. Eight women were elected as members, which has never happened before in the history of New Brunswick.

In addition, honourable senators, the Acadian vote increased, with the leadership of the Alward team. To the Acadians and to the Brayons of Madawaska, I say, "You can trust David Alward."

[English]

In closing, it is appropriate to quote Prime Minister Stephen Harper:

The people of New Brunswick have chosen the Progressive Conservative Party, led by David Alward, to form their provincial government. I congratulate Mr. Alward on his victory and I am confident that we will work closely together on many fronts for the well-being of New Brunswickers and all Canadians.

In closing, there is no doubt in my mind that each and every one of us, when we look at democracy, wants to make our province and Canada better places to live, work and raise our children. We also want to make our province and Canada better places to reach out to the most vulnerable.

[Translation]

Visitors in the Gallery

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I wish to draw your attention to the presence in the gallery of a group of representatives from the National Association of Career Colleges.

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


ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

Canadian Commercial Corporation

Annual Report 2009-10 Tabled

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the 2009-10 Annual Report of the Canadian Commercial Corporation, entitled Leadership and Growth.

Business of the Senate

Adjournment

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, with leave of the Senate and notwithstanding rule 58(1)(h), I move:

That when the Senate adjourns today, it do stand adjourned until Tuesday, October 5, 2010, at 2 p.m.

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, is leave granted?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?

Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Motion agreed to.)

Future of Canadian Involvement in Afghanistan

Notice of Inquiry

Hon. Roméo Antonius Dallaire: Honourable senators, I give notice that, two days hence:

I will call the attention of the Senate to the Canada's future involvement in Afghanistan and to the fourth report of the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence on that question, adopted by the Senate on 28 September, 2010.


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[English]

QUESTION PERIOD

National Security and Defence

General Jean V. Allard Memorial Library

Hon. Tommy Banks: Honourable senators, my question is for the Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence.

By way of information, Jean Victor Allard, as a brigadier, was in charge of the 6th Canadian Infantry Brigade in Germany at the end of the Second World War. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order three times. He was the Canadian military attaché in Moscow after the war, and during the Korean War he commanded the 25th Canadian Infantry Brigade. He signed the truce in Korea at Panmunjom for Canada on July 27, 1953, and in 1958 he was made Vice Chief of Canada's General Staff. As a major general, he commanded the British 4th Infantry Division as part of the British Army of the Rhine.

In 1966, General Allard became the first French Canadian to be promoted to full general in the history of our country. From 1966 to 1969, he was the Chief of the Defence Staff, the highest rank in the Canadian Forces. He was the first francophone ever to occupy that position. He is also remembered for the implementation of a significant expansion of French language units in our forces. In 1968, General Allard was made a Companion of the Order of Canada, the highest rank of that order.

The General Jean V. Allard Memorial Library at Saint-Jean Garrison in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu is named in his honour. On September 9, 2010, library staff members were advised by the Commandant of the 5 Area Support Group that the General Jean V. Allard Memorial Library will be closing its doors permanently on December 15, 2010. This is apparently in response to budgetary constraints. According to the library personnel, this closure will save approximately $175,000 annually.

The announcement of the closure of the library coincides with the announcement of a $200 million investment for improvements to the Leadership and Recruit School, which include buildings in and around the Saint-Jean Garrison. The explanation given by the commandant is that the library is not essential to the unit operations at the Saint-Jean Garrison, but many of the people at Saint-Jean believe the contrary. Members of both the language school and the Leadership and Recruit School believe that the library is a vital and indispensible part of the training offered there. Closing this bilingual library will mean the loss of more than 85,000 pertinent documents to the access of almost 3,000 students and employees at these important schools.

The library was established to commemorate the first francophone Canadian general and chief of the defence staff. It is a step backward in the forces and a blow to the good reputation of that language school, not only for Canadian military members, but also for the foreign nationals who come to study at the school. The position demonstrates a lack of interest in the intellectual development of recruits, who are presently able to access a rich and relevant source of information.

Will the honourable senator ask that her committee look into and, perhaps, urge a reconsideration of this unwise decision?

Senator Stratton: You closed the base down in 1994, do you not remember? You closed the whole base down and we reopened it.

Hon. Pamela Wallin: I thank the honourable senator for his question. However, it is my understanding that rule 24 of the Rules of the Senate clearly states that a question posed in Question Period to the chair of a committee must be "a question relating to the activities of that committee."

As this is not a matter currently under study, I suggest that the honourable senator pose his question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate when possible.

Furthermore, he has asked that I might raise this issue with government, which would require some kind of policy change. The honourable senator serves as Chair of the Veterans Subcommittee. I suggest that perhaps the honourable senator could use his good offices to, if he wishes, convince the government to change its mind; or, if he wants, to criticize a government that has done so much for veterans across this country and their families, including all the increased support for seriously injured soldiers who have been detailed in the last couple of weeks. I believe there will soon be a decision as well to make some changes to the lump sum payment provision and make it much more flexible than it is under current Liberal legislation.

I suggest the honourable senator puts his question to our leader when she returns.

Senator Banks: Your Honour, I think there was a suggestion that my question was out of order.

I do know that rule, senator.

The order of reference of the committee, of which the honourable senator is a chair, says that the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence be authorized to examine and report on the national security and defence policies of Canada.

My question had to do with the national and security defence policies of Canada. I did not, in fact, urge that the government to change its policy. I asked — and I apologize for not having told the honourable senator in advance — whether the honourable senator would ask her committee to look into the question.

Senator Comeau: That is a decision for the Senate.

Senator Wallin: Your Honour, it is not an issue currently under study, and the honourable senator is the Chair of the Veterans Affairs Subcommittee.

The Hon. the Speaker: Are there any further questions?

Veterans Affairs

Veterans Ombudsman

Hon. Percy E. Downe: Honourable senators, I have a question to the Chair of the Veterans Affairs Subcommittee. Would he agree with me that the initiatives that have been undertaken — long delayed and much needed for veterans and their families — have been because of the effort and the public profile that the Veterans Ombudsman has put on this file?

Hon. Tommy Banks: Yes.

Senator Downe: Thank you for that very short and correct answer.

Would the honourable senator share my view as well that given the outstanding work of the Veterans Ombudsman, which has been detailed and supported by veterans across Canada, would he, as Chair of the Veterans Affairs Subcommittee, support his reappointment to that important position and, if so, why?

Senator Banks: I would have to answer that question by saying that the subcommittee of which I have the honour to be the chair is considering the possibility of asking Colonel Stogran to appear before it to answer questions about some of the things he has said and to hear further from him; and that, as would be prudent, a determination of whether or not one ought to have an opinion as to the desirability of his reappointment would be best considered after more information has been obtained from him and others.

With respect to the nature of the question that the honourable senator asked, it had to do with the purview of my committee; and I cannot forbear but to point out that the suggestion that was made with respect to that subcommittee by the Honourable Senator Wallin has nothing to do with the Veterans Affairs Subcommittee. In fact, it has to do with the training of new soldiers and not veterans.

However, I thank the honourable senator for that question and I would be interested if he has a supplementary.

Rules, Regulations and the Rights of Parliament

Questions during Question Period

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I have a question as well.

Could I ask the Chair of the Rules Committee whether asking a question of Senator Banks, who, in fact, as far as I know, is not a chair of a committee, is in order during Question Period? Is it appropriate to ask questions of a non-chair of a committee?

[Translation]

Delayed Answers to Oral Questions

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, delayed answers to seven oral questions: a question raised by Senator Dallaire on June 2, 2010, concerning international cooperation, the Official Development Assistance Accountability Act; by Senator Munson on June 10, 2010, concerning natural resources, asbestos; by Senator Dallaire on June 16, 2010, concerning international cooperation, changes made by CIDA under the Official Development Assistance Accountability Act; by Senator Losier-Cool on June 29 and September 28, 2010, concerning international cooperation, financial aid for Haiti; by Senator Chaput on July 6, 2010, concerning the 2011 census; by Senator Zimmer on July 6, 2010, concerning international cooperation, maternal and child health; and by Senator Jaffer on July 6, 2010, concerning international cooperation, maternal and child health, the prevention and treatment of malaria and the Muskoka initiative.

International Cooperation

Official Development Assistance Accountability Act

(Response to question raised by Hon. Roméo Antonius Dallaire on June 2, 2010)

In September 2009, on behalf of the Government, the Minister of International Cooperation tabled the Report to Parliament on the Government of Canada's Official Development Assistance, containing the various items the Act requires. The statistical report required by the Act was published in March 2010, in accordance with the Act. Both reports are available on the website of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) at the following address: www.acdi-cida.gc.ca/reports.

The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) coordinated the 2008-2009 reports, but each Minister remains accountable for the ODA reported and for the application of the Act to his or her department.

Funding for International Aid Organization

(Response to question raised by Hon. Roméo Antonius Dallaire on June 16, 2010)

A number of actions were taken to integrate the requirements of the Official Development Assistance Accountability Act (the Act) in CIDA's operations, and clear directions were provided to CIDA staff to ensure that funding decisions take into account the relevant provisions of the Act. For instance, Act provisions are part of CIDA's project assessment process via policy and programming documents that require a thorough analysis of the development context in relation with the Act's requirements.

Without going into the details of the Act provisions, it is worth highlighting that:

  • Poverty reduction has been at the core of CIDA's mandate for many years. CIDA's aid contributes to poverty reduction in developing countries in an effective and focused manner.
     
  • Programs take the perspectives of the poor into account as a central element in delivering Canada's aid program, for instance through consultations with local partners and beneficiaries, participatory approaches and policy dialogue.
     
  • CIDA programs are consistent with international human rights standards through our "Do No Harm approach" — ensuring that programs do not contribute to violations of human rights.
     
  • CIDA has a long-standing and deep tradition of consultation. This includes extensive consultation in the field with partner governments, other donors and civil society. CIDA has and will continue to hold consultations with experts and stakeholders on the international assistance thematic priorities where it has the lead, namely food security, sustainable economic growth and securing the future of children and youth.
     
  • CIDA coordinated the production of the whole-of-government report, the Report to Parliament on the Government of Canada's Official Development Assistance 2008-2009, that was tabled in September 2009 on behalf of the Government. In doing so, CIDA ensured it was respecting all the provisions of the Act, including the requirement to provide Parliament with a summary of its own Departmental Performance Report.
     
  • CIDA also published, as required by the Act, a statistical report on the total Canadian ODA for 2008-2009 by the end of March 2010.
     
  • The 2009-10 Report to Parliament on the Government of Canada's Official Development Assistance will be tabled by the end of September.

Industry

Asbestos Regulations

(Response to question raised by Hon. Jim Munson on June 10, 2010)

With regard to the Honorable Senator's question on asbestos, it should be noted that a great deal of confusion arises from the common use of the generic commercial term "asbestos" to describe two different and distinct classes of mineral fibres found naturally in rock formations around the world: amphibole and serpentine.

Chrysotile, the only "asbestos" fibre produced and exported from Canada, belongs to the serpentine class. Serpentine minerals are strucurally and chemically different from the amphiboles. Chrysotile is the only "asbestos" fibre that does not belong to the amphibole group. The risk posed by using chrysotile fibres can be managed if adequate controls, such as those established in Canada, are implemented and completely observed.

In 1979, the Government of Canada adopted the controlled-use approach to asbestos. Through the enforcement of appropriate regulations to rigorously controlled exposure to chrysotile, the health risks associated with processes and products can be reduced to acceptable levels.

Chrysotile is regulated under the Hazardous Products Act. The objective of the regulations is to prevent the exposure of consumers to products containing or consisting entirely of any type of asbestos and which can readily shed loose fibres that can be inhaled and cause adverse health effects.

Canada does not ban naturally-occuring substances. Canada manages the risk of products and practices derived from these substances where and when required and applicable. Where exposures and subsequent risks cannot be properly managed, the specific uses are discontinued or prohibited. A total ban on chrysotile is neither necessary nor appropriate. Implementing a ban would not protect workers or the public against past uses or products that have been prohibited or discontinued in Canada for many years.

More than 93 percent of the world production of chrysotile is used in chryso-cement-manufactured products in the form of pipes, sheets and shingles. Five percent is used for friction materials such as brake pads and linings. Canadian-manufactured products include brake pads, gaskets and specialty products. Fibres are encapsulated in a matrix in those products, thus preventing release of fibres and allowing their use.

Since 1979, Canada has promoted the controlled-use approach, both domestically and internationally. Canada continues to work with other countries on matters related to the safe use of chrysotile through the Chrysotile Institute.

The Chrysotile Institute, a not-for-profit organization established in 1984 by the governments of Canada and Quebec, labour and industry, has the mandate to promote the controlled use of chrysotile domestically and internationally. The Institute provides information to governments, industry, unions, media and the general public on how to safely manage the risks associated with the handling of chrysotile fibres. This information includes technical regulations, control measures, standards and best practices. Over the years, the Institute has assisted knowledge and technology transfer in more than 60 countries.

International Cooperation

Financial Aid for Haiti—Administration of the Canadian Contribution to the Global Fund

(Response to questions raised by Hon. Rose-Marie Losier-Cool on June 29 and September 28, 2010)

Since January 12, Canada has made a number of significant announcements for Haiti. The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) has provided over $150.15 million in support of humanitarian assistance and initial reconstruction efforts (http://www.acdi-cida.gc.ca/acdi-cida/ACDI-CIDA.nsf/eng/FRA-7994831-J7V).

On March 31, Canada pledged $400 million over two years to support the Government of Haiti's Action Plan for Reconstruction and Development. Of this amount, $33 million (USD) has been delivered in debt relief (http:// www.pm.gc.ca/eng/media.asp?id=3483) and in May Canada increased its support for Haitian justice and security institutions by $10 million (http:// www.international.gc.ca/media/aff/news-communiques/ 2010/152.aspx?lang=eng).

The $220 million donated by Canadians to charitable organizations are managed by these organizations to provide assistance in Haiti. In turn, the Government of Canada has set up the Haiti Earthquake Relief Fund (HERF) to match donations by individual Canadians to charitable organizations. $65.15 million in humanitarian assistance (out of the total allocation of $150.15 million) provided shortly after the earthquake constituted the first allocation from the HERF. $110 million of the $400 million pledge made by Minister Oda in New York in March is also being allocated as part of this matching fund.

Furthermore, while new funding announcements were made on Canada's involvement in Haiti following the January 12 earthquake, CIDA already had an ongoing five-year $555 million development cooperation program in Haiti (2006-2011). During the past five years, Canada has disbursed an average of $100 million a year for longer-term development in Haiti. In the past months, CIDA announced support for the building of temporary facilities for key Haitian government departments ($12 million) (http://www.pm.gc.ca/eng/ media.asp?category=1&pageId=26&id=3137), the rebuilding of the Gonaïves Hospital ($20 million) and the National Police Academy ($18.1 million), as well as a police training program ($16.5 million) (http://www.acdi-cida.gc.ca/ acdi-cida/ACDI-CIDA.nsf/eng/NAT-4874638-FTQ).

In total, the Government of Canada's current commitment to Haiti is over $1 billion, making it the largest development recipient in the Americas.

Canada is working alongside the Haitian Government, the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission and the international community to ensure that aid and development in Haiti emphasizes effectiveness, transparency, and accountability for results.

Industry

2011 Census

(Response to question raised by Hon. Maria Chaput on July 6, 2010)

Since the Senate debate of July 6, 2010, the government took a decision to add two core questions on official languages to the 2011 Census, in addition to the question about the respondent's mother tongue. The short form Census will now include the following questions on official languages:

1. Can this person speak English or French well enough to conduct a conversation?

2. (a) What language does this person speak most often at home?

(b) Does this person speak any other languages on a regular basis at home?

3. What is the language that this person first learned at home in childhood and still understands? If this person no longer understands the first language learned, indicate the second language learned.

The three questions cited above are used in the statistical method used by Treasury Board to allocate the Canadian population between the country's two main language groups, and form the basis for identifying demand for communications with and services from an office of a federal institution in either official language as prescribed in part IV of the Official Languages Act.

The questions asked in the 2011 short form Census will allow the government to implement the Official Languages (Communications with and Services to the Public) Regulations.

International Cooperation

Maternal and Child Health

(Response to question raised by Hon. Rod A. A. Zimmer on July 6, 2010)

The detailed allocation of Canada's contribution under the Muskoka Initiative is still to be determined.

The Government will be working over the next few months with partner countries, Canadian experts and global and Canadian partners to determine how best to allocate Canada's $1.1 billion contribution over five years to bring the results we are all working towards: saving the lives of mothers, newborns and children in developing countries.

These efforts will increase access to a series of proven, evidence-based, high-impact interventions, across the continuum of care, and explore innovative, cost effective, and coordinated means to achieve results. In alignment with the core principles intended to guide the G8 Muskoka Initiative, the Government will seek to support comprehensive, integrated approaches (Annex 1).

The Government's decisions will focus squarely on reducing mortality, and designing programming that addresses the immediate health and nutritional needs of mothers and children, while building the capacity of partner countries to deliver these services over the medium-term.

The Government will work with civil society organizations, multilateral and global organizations, and national governments. Programming efforts will align with country-led health policies and plans that are locally supported. In addition, Canada will work in countries where there is a demonstrated commitment to reducing maternal and child mortality and where there is already progress being made.

Finally, the Prime Minister has placed accountability for results at the centre of its G8 Summit and the Muskoka Maternal, Newborn and under-five Child Health Initiative. Working with its G8 partners, the Government will develop an accountability framework to track progress towards this commitment. The Government will report on this commitment through its accountability reporting, which in 2011 will focus on health and food security.

Annex 1:

The G8 Muskoka Initiative: Maternal, Newborn and Under-Five Child Health Muskoka, Canada, June 26, 2010

Principles: The Initiative is based on a set of core principles for long-lasting results:

  • ensuring sustainability of results;
     
  • building on proven, cost-effective, evidence-based interventions;
     
  • focusing in the countries with the greatest needs while continuing to support those making progress;
     
  • supporting country-led national health policies and plans that are locally supported;
     
  • increasing coherence of development efforts through better coordination and harmonization;
     
  • improving accountability; and
     
  • strengthening monitoring, reporting and evaluation

(Response to question raised by Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer on July 6, 2010)

Recognizing that malaria is a major killer of mothers and children, the Government of Canada works with a range of organizations in efforts to tackle this disease.

The prevention and treatment of malaria will be a key element of Canada's contribution to the Muskoka Initiative. While the detailed allocation of Canada's contribution is still to be determined, the provision of insecticide-treated bed nets, intermittent presumptive treatment and artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) are critical to the reduction in maternal and under-five child mortality.

Since 2003, CIDA's support for the prevention of malaria has resulted in the distribution of over 7.9 million bed nets in Africa through partnerships with the Red Cross, UNICEF and World Vision Canada. It is conservatively estimated that the use of these nets is saving approximately 121,000 lives.

The second element in CIDA's fight against malaria is expanding access to treatment for the poor. In Africa, CIDA is currently providing $60 million through multilateral partnerships to increase access to treatment at the community level for malaria and pneumonia, two of the leading killers of children. It is conservatively estimated these programs will save over 135,000 lives.

Finally, in 2008, Canada pledged an additional $450M over three years to the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, bringing Canada's total commitment to $978.4M. Approximately one-quarter of these funds has been channelled towards malaria.


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[English]

ORDERS OF THE DAY

Point of Order

Hon. Claudette Tardif (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Your Honour, I rise on a point of order. I believe that Senator Banks' question was not appropriately responded to, and an allusion was made that his question to the chair of the Defence Committee was, in some way, out of order.

Honourable senators, I certainly disagree with that because the committee's mandate is to deal with matters relating to national defence and security generally, including Veterans Affairs. In the order of reference of the committee on March 30, 2010, the committee was authorized "to study on the services and benefits provided to members of the Canadian Forces; to veterans . . .; to members and former members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and their families."

As Senator Banks noted in his question, members of both the language school and the leadership and recruitment school believe the library to be a vital and indispensable part of their training. Evidently, the General Jean V. Allard Memorial Library provides services to members of the Canadian Forces as well as to veterans and their families. Therefore, it does fall within the scope of the committee activities, pursuant to the order of reference of March 30, 2010. Consequently, Your Honour, I believe that Senator Banks posed a valid question, and it should have been dealt with in a serious manner.

Senator Mercer: But not for Ms. Congeniality.

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): We are going from the sublime to the ridiculous. As I noted earlier in my question to the chair of the Rules Committee, we have questions being asked of an individual who happens not to be a chair of a committee. That question seemed fine because we do not have a process by which we can raise points of order in this chamber. Now we are being asked that a chair of a committee start commenting on government policy or the policy of a school, in this case, a school closed by the previous government and reopened by this current government. We have a chair of a committee being asked to say to the committee, in this case, the Defence Committee, that it should be looking at this issue, which is, in fact, a decision of the committee. The committee decides whether it will look at these issues, and if it needs an order of reference, the committee will come back to this chamber and secure that order of reference. It is not appropriate for the chair of a committee to start commenting, on the floor of the Senate during Question Period, on issues of government policy.

It was entirely out of order. If it has to do with issues that are currently being studied, for example, having certain witnesses appear before the committee, and so on, I would presume that would be a fair question. If it is an issue of whether the committee will be meeting at a certain time, that is in order, but offering comments on government policy is certainly not in the purview of the chair of a committee.

The Hon. the Speaker: On the point of order.

Hon. Tommy Banks: Thank you, Your Honour. This is the fun part, folks. Honourable senators, I did give Senator Wallin advance notice of this question, and in the advance notice I gave her, the words that I used had to do with using her good offices to ask the government to reconsider this policy. Having considered the possibility of the appropriateness of such a question, I did not ask that of Senator Wallin, in fact, as the record will show. I asked whether she would consider asking the committee of which she is the chair to consider the matter and to consider urging its reconsideration.

Senator Wallin was correct in responding to what I had said I was going to ask her, which was that she should use her influence with the government, and I may have been unfair in not asking her the question that I told her I was going to ask. However, as to the substance of the matter and whether it is appropriate, I suggest that asking the chair of a committee a question that has to do with the clear order of reference that has been given to that committee is entirely in order.

I will repeat that, on Wednesday, March 17, 2010, the Honourable Senator Wallin moved, seconded by the Honourable Senator Raine, that the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence be authorized to examine and report on the national security and defence policies of Canada.

My question was entirely consistent with that order of reference.

Hon. Pamela Wallin: Honourable senators, I heard both of Senator Banks questions. We discussed these matters in committee as recently as 30 minutes ago. Senator Banks is Chair of the Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs. The senator should feel free to present any matters with specific reference to veterans to the steering committee. Senator Banks, as chair of that committee, is able to establish what he wants to deal with on that committee and what witnesses he would like to call on matters with specific reference to veterans.

Senator Banks: Honourable senators, I am sorry. This library closure has nothing to do with veterans. This closure has to do with the facility that trains new recruits.

Hon. Joan Fraser: I would like to get away from the debate on the Jean V. Allard Memorial Library and return to the point of order.

Your Honour, committees are creatures of the Senate, and the work of the committees is of concern to all senators. There is, I submit, no other vehicle for a senator to ask a question of the chair of a committee than to use Question Period. That is one of the reasons we have Question Period, to ask chairs of committees about the activities of their committee.

It seems to me that it is entirely legitimate for any senator, under any circumstances, practically, to rise to ask the chair of a committee whether, within the general terms of reference given to that committee, a given subject will be studied. The chair of that committee can then respond: "We have not had a chance to look at it; thank you for drawing it to my attention"; or, "We have looked at it, and we have decided that, no, we will not look at it"; or, "We would love to look at it, but we have 15 other things we are already looking at, and it will take some time." There are any number of ways in which the chair that of committee can respond.

I repeat that it is, however, entirely proper and in order for the question to be put to the chair of a committee.

Senator Munson: Certainly not answer period.

Hon. Joseph A. Day: Thank you, honourable senators. If honourable senators want me to bring another point of order, I will. Perhaps my colleague Senator Comeau would agree to allow me to correct the record with respect to a comment that he made. I will tell honourable senators that in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, there is the base and there is the Collège militaire royal de Saint-Jean. They are two separate budgets and two separate mandates. What was closed for a period of time was Collège militaire royal de Saint-Jean. We are talking about the base for recruits and the language school. That base is completely separate from the college.

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To suggest that the previous government closed the base for language school and recruiting is not correct. I am sure honourable senators will want to have that point clarified.

Senator Comeau: I thank the honourable senator for that clarification. It was not the base that the honourable senator's government closed but the French-language school that was closed. I appreciate the honourable senator pointing that out.

Senator Day: I hate to say "read my lips," but someone said that to me yesterday. Maybe I will only say, listen. There is a base on the — do you understand now?

An Hon. Senator: We understand.

Senator Day: He does not understand, and he is the senator that speaks for the government side.

There are two separate entities. The honourable senator made a statement on the record based on prompting from his colleague from Winnipeg that the Jean Allard library, the language school and the recruitment school had been closed by the previous government. That is not the case. It is the library we are discussing. It was not closed, it had not been closed and now it has been announced as closing under this government.

Senator Comeau: I will not prolong the issue further. We can all go back and find out exactly what the previous government closed. However, I would like to read something from House of Commons Procedure and Practice, second edition. I do not have the page number, but the passage relates to the issue of asking questions to committee chairs. This edition was revised by Audrey O'Brien and Marc Bosc:

Questions seeking information about the schedule and agenda of committees may be directed to Chairs of committees. Questions to the Ministry or to a committee Chair concerning the proceedings or work of a committee, including its order of reference, may not be raised. Thus, for example, a question would be disallowed if it dealt with a vote in committee, with the attendance or testimony of Members at a committee meeting, or with the content of a committee report. When a question has been asked about a committee's proceedings, Speakers have encouraged Members to rephrase their questions.

That was written by the Clerk of the other chamber, a learned person who does in fact try to guide members how to pose questions to chairs of committees.

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I think the point of order that was raised has been well canvassed. I am prepared to rule that Question Period was conducted by honourable senators in the manner consistent with the Rules of the Senate.

As you know, rule 24 provides that when the Speaker calls the Question Period, a senator may, without notice, address an oral question to the chair of a committee, if it is a question relating to the activities of that committee.

As I heard the question raised and put to the chair of the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence, I did not interrupt the matter because I thought it was a legitimate question asked with a legitimate answer provided.

I will point out that in terms of answering a question, of replies to oral questions, as Speaker Jerome summarized in his 1975 statement on Question Period, several types of responses may be appropriate. Ministers — and this would also apply to chairs of committees — may: answer the question, defer their answer, take the question as notice, make a short explanation as to why they cannot furnish an answer at that time or say nothing.

Honourable senators, I think that the question that was put by the Honourable Senator Banks to the chair of our Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence was very much in order, and that is why the chair did not intervene and all honourable senators conducted themselves consistent with the rules.

However, regrettably, your chair was in error, and he apologizes, for I ought not to have allowed the question of the Honourable Senator Downe to the chair of the subcommittee because the subcommittee reports to this house through the chair of the committee. Therefore, I apologize for my lack of attention.

I found that the question that was being posed to the chair of the Rules Committee had not been put. No judgment was made on it. I wanted to maintain the flow of business.

However, should at any time there be a desire to have the Rules Committee look at the rule, then that is up to the house to decide.

[Translation]

Business of the Senate

Hon. Roméo Antonius Dallaire: Honourable senators, I have the impression that Question Period was cut short. I am wondering if that is the case or if we had time for a 30-minute Question Period.

The Hon. the Speaker: Question Period ended because we moved on to delayed answers. The Deputy Leader of the Government responded to numerous questions. We then moved on to Orders of the Day.

[English]

National Seniors Day Bill

Second Reading

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator LeBreton, P.C., seconded by the Honourable Senator Meighen, for the second reading of Bill C-40, An Act to establish National Seniors Day.

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

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

An Hon. Senator: Question.

The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?

(Motion agreed to and bill read second time.)

Referred to Committee

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be read the third time?

(On motion of Senator Comeau, bill referred to the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology.)

Controlled Drugs and Substances Act

Bill to Amend—Second Reading

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Wallace, seconded by the Honourable Senator Mockler, for the second reading of Bill S-10, An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts.

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

The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?

Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Some Hon. Senators: On division.

(Motion agreed to and bill read second time, on division.)

Referred to Committee

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be read the third time?

(On motion of Senator Wallace, bill referred to the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs.)

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Canada Post Corporation Act

Bill to Amend—Second Reading—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Peterson, seconded by the Honourable Senator Lovelace Nicholas, for the second reading of Bill S-219, An Act to amend the Canada Post Corporation Act (rural postal services and the Canada Post Ombudsman).

Hon. Consiglio Di Nino: Honourable senators, obviously we took the adjournment on this particular item because of the importance of it. I just have not had the opportunity to complete my research, and I would like to ask for the adjournment to be in my name for the remainder of my time.

(On motion of Senator Di Nino, debate adjourned.)

The Senate

Motion to Encourage the Minister of National Defence to Change the Official Structural Name of the Canadian Navy—Order Stands

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Rompkey, P.C., seconded by the Honourable Senator Fraser:

That the Senate of Canada encourage the Minister of National Defence, in view of the long service, sacrifice and courage of Canadian Naval forces and personnel, to change the official structural name of the Canadian Navy from "Maritime Command" to "Canadian Navy" effective from this year, as part of the celebration of the Canadian Navy Centennial, with that title being used in all official and operational materials, in both official languages, as soon as possible.

Hon. Hugh Segal: Item No. 41 was listed at 14 days yesterday. I want to ensure it will not fall off the Order Paper today. If it will, I would ask if I might be allowed to adjourn it and speak to the matter sometime in the future.

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, given that this item is in my name and I did not have the fact that it was at day 14 on my scroll in front of me, I would like to say that I have not completely prepared all my notes yet. I do intend to talk to Senator Rompkey about whether we might find a way to expedite this. We did speak at one point about the possibility of referring this motion to committee for further study. We still need to hammer that out a bit more, but we are very close to a possible referral to committee on this one. I would like to keep it in my name for the next few days, and at that time I will have some more comments to make on it. I do apologize to Senator Rompkey. I did not realize, given that my scroll did not say that it was at day 14, and thus his worry that this would fall off the Order Paper. With that in mind, I would like to continue the adjournment for the balance of my time.

The Hon. the Speaker: Just for clarity, Item No. 41 is at day one, yesterday it having been restarted, and it stands in the name of the Honourable Senator Comeau. Agreed?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Order stands.)

Employment Insurance

Maternity and Parental Benefits—Inquiry—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Callbeck, calling the attention of the Senate to the need to adequately support new mothers and fathers by eliminating the Employment Insurance two-week waiting period for maternity and parental benefits.

Hon. Catherine S. Callbeck: Honourable senators, I wish to speak on Inquiry No. 14 today and to propose a change to Employment Insurance, a change that has been widely advocated by such groups as the National Association of Women and the Law, National Liberal Women's Caucus, House of Commons Standing Committee on the Status of Women and, in my own province, PEI Women's Network.

I am speaking of removing the current two-week waiting period that new mothers face when they start receiving employment insurance maternity and parental benefits.

Honourable senators will recall that over the years a number of changes have been made to the Employment Insurance Act to enable working parents to care for their infants during that critical period of child development.

Since 1971, eligible biological new mothers can claim up to 15 weeks of maternity benefits, capped at 55 per cent of their average insured earnings. Beginning in 1990, parental leave benefits were added and later extended so that parents now have up to a year of leave to care for their newborn infants. In the financial year 2007-08, close to 170,000 new mothers claimed maternity benefits, receiving an average weekly income replacement of $338. In addition, about 190,000 biological and adoptive parents registered for parental benefits.

These provisions are obviously important to families. Janice Charette, Deputy Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, speaking last year before a standing committee in the other place, pointed out that the 50 weeks of EI maternity and parental benefits play a critical role in supporting Canadian families by providing temporary income replacement for parents. They offer the flexibility for many women and men to stay home to nurture their child during that important first year.

These benefits are also good public policy since our country as a whole is enriched when our children are well cared for. In a 2005 decision, justices of the Supreme Court of Canada observed that children are one of society's most important assets and the contribution made by parents cannot be overstated.

As important as maternity and parental benefits are, many recent studies recommended ways to improve the current program in order to correct inequities and to provide additional support for parents. One of the most obvious improvements is to eliminate that two-week waiting period for maternity and parental benefits, because currently an expectant or new mother must wait two weeks before she begins receiving maternity benefits. If the parents will only be receiving parental benefits, such as in the case of adoptions, they will also have to wait two weeks. Mothers cannot apply in advance. The earliest they can apply is their last day of work.

At a time when families experience significant additional costs in welcoming a new member, parents experience a drastic reduction of income during the waiting period. I would note that the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan does not have this two-week waiting period for maternity and parental benefits.

The waiting period for employment insurance benefits applies to all applicants, not just those seeking maternity and parental benefits. It was originally justified on the basis of administrative efficiency and to discourage those experiencing only very short-term job loss from applying for benefits. More recently, the waiting period is characterized as a standard feature of coinsurance plans, something like a car insurance deductible. Whatever the arguments are for keeping or scrapping the waiting period for all Employment Insurance claimants, it is inappropriate for those relying on maternity and parental benefits.

The financial benefit of eliminating the waiting period would be most helpful for low-income mothers who must rely solely on maternity and parental benefits and who do not receive an income supplement from their employers. It is difficult enough for these women to support a new life on slightly more than half of their working income; in fact, many of them simply cannot afford to take the full 50 weeks of maternity and parental benefits. Going without an income for two weeks is clearly an unfair financial burden on these women and their families.

Others would argue that the parental income replacement provisions of the Employment Insurance Act need a thorough overhaul and that we should not be just tinkering at the edges. Certainly there are problems with the current system. The basic income replacement rate is relatively low, as is the cap on insurable earnings. The National Association of Women and the Law estimates that one third of working mothers are not eligible for maternity benefits. These weaknesses are felt most by low-income working families.

While I support an in-depth review and improvements to our current parental benefits program, I recognize that this will take time.

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Honourable senators, what I am urging today is a single, straight-forward change: one that will provide immediate, if modest, support to Canadian families, especially those that are struggling financially. I am not asking the government to pay for two more weeks, but simply to start the payments on the first week. I therefore call on the federal government to consider early elimination of the two-week waiting period for Employment Insurance maternity and parental benefits.

(On motion of Senator Losier-Cool, debate adjourned.)

Parliamentary Reform

Inquiry—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Cowan calling the attention of the Senate to the issues relating to realistic and effective parliamentary reform.

Hon. Joan Fraser: Honourable senators, I would like to apologize to colleagues, and particularly to Senator Cowan. I had not realized how much time had gone by but I am, in fact, keenly interested in this subject and I do wish to speak on this inquiry if honourable senators will give me the indulgence of a few more days to prepare my notes. Therefore, I move the adjournment for the balance of my time.

(On motion of Senator Fraser, debate adjourned.)

Senate Online

Inquiry—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Mitchell calling the attention of the Senate to the online presence and website of the Senate.

Hon. Hugh Segal: Honourable senators, I find myself in the same position as Senator Fraser on the previous matter. I am desperate to address Senator Mitchell's thoughtful and constructive inquiry. My office is actively engaged in assessing online presence for legislative bodies around the world so we can have a comparative discussion. As television and video are now part of the online presence, I would have a chance to make my case on television one more time.

With the indulgence of honourable senators, I move adjournment for the reminder of my time on this matter.

(On motion of Senator Segal, debate adjourned.)

The Honourable Wilbert J. Keon, O.C.

Inquiry—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Comeau calling the attention of the Senate to the career of the Honourable Senator Keon in the Senate and his many contributions in service to Canadians.

Hon. Consiglio Di Nino: Honourable senators, I have been consulting with some individuals whom I will name in my presentation that I will give next week on this inquiry. Therefore, I ask, once again, that we adjourn this in my name for the remainder of my time.

(On motion of Senator Di Nino, debate adjourned.)

[Translation]

(The Senate adjourned until Tuesday, October 5, 2010, at 2 p.m.)