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Debates of the Senate (Hansard)

3rd Session, 40th Parliament,
Volume 147, Issue 59

Tuesday, October 26, 2010
The Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker


THE SENATE

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

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

Prayers.

SENATORS' STATEMENTS

Prince Edward Island

Community Projects for Seniors

Hon. Catherine S. Callbeck: Honourable senators, last Friday, two fantastic new initiatives for seniors were officially launched in Summerside, Prince Edward Island. The East Prince Seniors Initiative and the Third Quarter Pilot Program are both aimed at improving wellness, productivity and lifelong learning for Island seniors.

The East Prince Seniors Initiative, or EPSI, is a partnership between community, business and government, with a goal to improving the lives of Islanders over the age of 50 years. It originally began last year as a project by the Rotary Club of Summerside, and it has grown significantly. It has a board of directors comprising community leaders from across the region to help encourage older Islanders to stay active in both body and mind. The group helps bring people together to address the challenges of an aging population.

The EPSI office at Credit Union Place in Summerside has now become a drop-in centre. Here, seniors can access information on programs and services, share ideas to enhance their lives and the lives of others, and learn about what EPSI is doing.

The Third Quarter Pilot Program is a two-year pilot project sponsored by the Summerside Chamber of Commerce. This program aims to match workers over the age of 50 years who have valuable experience, work ethics and skills with employers who can make good use of such a significant resource. These workers want to delay or reverse their retirement. It is an online community where workers can find potential employers on the Third Quarter website.

One interesting aspect of this program is that it does not use traditional resumés. Many of these workers want a change — a chance to do something different with their transferable skills. The format allows employers to see the "hidden talents" of these individuals.

Honourable senators, both these projects will help to enhance the lives of Island seniors and their communities. This kind of action is so important. In the next 20 years, almost 30 per cent of Islanders will be greater than 65 years of age and 48 per cent of the population will be over 50 years of age.

As noted in the recent report from the Special Senate Committee on Aging, we must be ready to overcome the challenges that come with an aging population and take advantage of the countless opportunities that will exist in the years to come. I believe that programs like these, done through collaboration and with enthusiasm, will help Islanders to do just that.

Commonwealth Games 2010

Hon. Daniel Lang: Honourable senators, I rise today to follow up on Senator Kochhar's statement last week concerning the successful Commonwealth Games held in India.

It was refreshing to hear directly of the accomplishments of our Canadian athletes and also the accolades for the people of India and their ability to hold such a successful event. This was in sharp contrast to some of the negative press that dominated Canada's airwaves.

Honourable senators, rural Canada is alive and well. All residents of Yukon are proud of our athletes who represented Canada at the Commonwealth Games. Cyclist Zach Bell took the bronze in the scratch race; Emily Quarton won fifth place in weightlifting, competing in the 58-kilogram class; and Mackenzie Downing swam the 200-metre butterfly, finishing the heats in fourth place overall and concluding the meet with a sixth place finish, her highest placing at the games.

It is important to point out that their success can be directly tied to the fact that Yukon has the facilities, the coaching and that these young athletes had the essential parental guidance. It speaks well for Canada.

Special Olympics

Hon. Daniel Lang: Honourable senators, I would like to thank Senator Jacques Demers and Senator Jim Munson for attending the fundraising Senators' Ball in Yukon over the past weekend. The attendance by two of our honourable senators, sponsored by Special Olympics Yukon, made it a great success. Many dollars were raised to help finance athletes' activities.

On behalf of the Special Olympics and the people of Yukon, I would like to thank the two honourable senators.

Alberta

Edmonton's Bid to Host Expo 2017

Hon. Claudette Tardif (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, I rise today to inform you of my home city of Edmonton's bid to host Expo 2017.

Honourable senators will remember the success of Expo 67 in Montreal and Expo 86 in Vancouver. The same success is expected for Edmonton if it is selected to host the international exposition. Expo 2017 will build on the international awareness and national pride built during the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. It will also put Canada, Alberta and Edmonton at the forefront of the world stage.

The City of Edmonton has chosen "Energy and Our Planet" as its theme for Expo 2017. It will highlight Alberta's success in the energy sector, as well as showcase our innovative solutions to answer tomorrow's energy needs.

Honourable senators, 2017 will also be an important year for all Canadians, as it will mark the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of Confederation, as well as the one hundredth anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. Expo 2017 is Canada's opportunity to showcase the "New West," a diverse, prosperous and outward-looking region that is a model for growth and innovation. Given Edmonton's status as a gateway to the North, this will also provide Canada with the opportunity to tell its northern story.

[Translation]

The host city, Edmonton, has a rich history marked by immigration. The first settlers in the region were the Aboriginal peoples of Western Canada. Then, francophones and anglophones settled on the land that would become Alberta in 1905. Edmonton, a multicultural city, is an ideal location for Expo 2017.

The organizers of Expo 2017 are expecting major economic spinoffs, with an estimated increase in GDP of $2.6 billion. Expo 2017 would create over 37,000 jobs and bring in over 5 million visitors.

[English]

In May 2010, the Government of Alberta announced its support for Expo 2017. We are still waiting to hear from the federal government. As of October 2010, two other cities, Liège in Belgium and Astana in Kazakhstan, have declared their intention to bid for the event. I truly hope that the Government of Canada will offer the financial support required rapidly in order to finalize the bid and give its full support to the City of Edmonton to host this international event.

(1410)

Atlantic Canada

Future of Renewable Energy

Hon. Fred J. Dickson: Honourable senators, I would like to bring to your attention some exciting news for Atlantic Canada and its renewable energy future. I am no seismologist, but I can almost promise you there will be no earthquake, as there was the last time I made a statement on the need for an Atlantic regional energy action plan.

On Saturday night, Premier Danny Williams of Newfoundland and Labrador, in speaking at the annual general meeting of the provincial Progressive Conservative Party, was enthusiastic that a partnership has been negotiated with Emera Energy and Nova Scotia to develop the Lower Churchill hydroelectric project, focusing on a maritime transmission route with the opportunity to sell excess power to Nova Scotia, other Atlantic provinces and beyond. This plan would include the construction of a subsea link from Labrador Churchill to the island of Newfoundland and from there to Nova Scotia.

This is positive news, as development of the Lower Churchill has been a goal of the provincial government since the 1970s. Also, after numerous failed attempts to negotiate with the Province of Quebec, which has led to a series of setbacks, finding an alternative route is a step in the right direction. However, the premier stated that if Quebec wishes to get involved, the door is still open.

Additionally, this project would replace what Premier Williams referred to as the costly and dirty power from the island's Holyrood generating station. Replacing the Holyrood station, which burns oil to create electricity, has long been a priority of his government.

The premier said that, if the plan comes together, the Lower Churchill will be broken up into two phases. The 824-megawatt Muskrat Falls dam will be built first, with a second dam at Gull Island later. He said that the second phase of the project could be used to attract new industry to Labrador if companies promise to provide proper economic benefits to the province.

In using the Lower Churchill power in the province, Newfoundland and Labrador will be able to provide stable electricity rates for future generations, as well as securing a more sustainable economic future. I personally have a stake in this because my mother came from Bell Island.

While details of the deal are still to be worked out, this is an exciting development for Atlantic Canada. As an advocate of the need for an Atlantic regional electricity action plan, I applaud Premier Williams' initiative in focusing on the maritime route.

Honourable senators, Ottawa has listened and taken action. Ministers MacKay and Raitt established the Atlantic Energy Gateway Committee and provided federal funding up to $4.5 million to support research and development of renewable energy resources and, most importantly, the transmission of infrastructure options. In conjunction with P.E.I.'s wind initiative, New Brunswick with their mix of nuclear, hydro, gas and solar energy and Nova Scotia with their enormous potential for tidal power in the Bay of Fundy, this will position Atlantic Canada as an energy centre for the future.

Honourable senators, I ask you to join me in supporting this initiative as the four Atlantic Provinces continue to work together toward a sustainable energy future.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Hon. Vim Kochhar: Honourable senators, last week I had the great honour and privilege to spend some time with His Holiness the Dalai Lama on his visit to Toronto. I have to admit I have never been in the presence of a human being, except the meeting with Mahatma Gandhi on his last day on this earth, whose mere presence enabled me to have an extraordinary experience.

The Dalai Lama connects with young and old alike in his approach to world peace with his tranquillity and wisdom and his complete control over his emotions, except laughter. He lets you penetrate his inner soul with absolutely nothing to hide, which made me realize that he is a special gift to humanity.

Sixty years ago, at the age of 16, the Dalai Lama lost his freedom, and at the age of 24, he lost his country; yet he has no bitterness or anger toward China. He hopes, and he is convinced, that China will see the light in that he has no evil design against them and can be their biggest asset.

Senator Di Nino has been the Dalai Lama's disciple for many years and his greatest spokesperson in Canada. Senator Frum and I had the privilege of being his co-chairs to raise funds for the Tibetan Canadian Cultural Centre. Senator Poy's support was also appreciated.

I will close my statement by reading from his writing, "The Paradox of Our Age."

We have bigger houses but smaller families; more conveniences, but less time.

We have more degrees, but less sense; more knowledge, but less judgment; more experts, but more problems; more medicines, but less healthiness.

We've been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet the new neighbour.

We've built more computers to hold more information to produce more copies than ever, but have less communication.

We have become long on quantity, but short on quality.

These are times of fast foods, but slow digestion; tall men but short characters; steep profits but shallow relationships.

It's a time when there is much in the window, but nothing in the room.

Hon. Consiglio Di Nino: Honourable senators, I, too, wish to add some few words about His Holiness the Dalai Lama. I spent the better part of this past weekend with an honorary Canadian citizen, His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

On Friday I saw the thousands who came to listen to his public talk. On Saturday thousands more came to the inauguration of the Tibetan Canadian Cultural Centre, and I saw the additional thousands who attended his teachings on Sunday. I was there when he was welcomed by some 300 Chinese Canadians for a frank and inspiring talk.

For the record, let me repeat his message. His message is about much more than just Tibet; it is about global peace and justice. It is about giving a voice to all the world's citizens who are being persecuted and cannot speak for themselves.

What this humble yet extraordinary man is telling us is that justice and freedom can only be found when society collectively realizes that justice and freedom, to quote His Holiness, "come from the head and the heart" and must be based on living ethically.

His message is clear: Real freedom, real peace, is only achieved when we find the courage to base our actions on mutual respect and ethical behaviour.

Honourable senators, each time I am in the presence of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the world's most effective messenger of peace, I am humbled. I extend to him best wishes for peace and a long life.


[Translation]

ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

Auditor General

Fall 2010 Report to the House of Commons Tabled

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the fall 2010 report of the Auditor General of Canada, pursuant to subsection 7(3) of the Auditor General Act.

Governor General

Supreme Court of Canada—Commissions Appointing the Honourable Justices as Deputies—Documents Tabled

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, copies of the nine commissions constituting the judges of the Supreme Court of Canada deputies of the Governor General, to do in His Excellency's name all acts on his part necessary to be done during His Excellency's pleasure, dated October 1, 2010.

Indian Affairs and Northern Development

James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement and Northeastern Quebec Agreement—2007-08 Annual Report Tabled

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the 2007-08 annual reports of the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement and the Northeastern Quebec Agreement.

Aboriginal Healing Foundation—2010 Annual Report Tabled

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the 2010 annual report of the Aboriginal Healing Foundation.

[English]

Electricity and Gas Inspection Act
Weights and Measures Act

Bill to Amend—First Reading

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore informed the Senate that a message had been received from the House of Commons with Bill C-14, An Act to amend the Electricity and Gas Inspection Act and the Weights and Measures Act.

(Bill read first time.)

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

(On motion of Senator Comeau, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for second reading two days hence.)

(1420)

[Translation]

Keeping Canadians Safe Bill

First Reading

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I have the honour to introduce Bill S-13, An Act to implement the Framework Agreement on Integrated Cross-Border Maritime Law Enforcement Operations between the Government of Canada and the Government of the United States of America.

(Bill read first time.)

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

(On motion of Senator Comeau, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for second reading two days hence.)

National Volunteer Emergency Response Service Bill

First Reading

Hon. Mac Harb presented Bill S-224, An Act to establish a national volunteer emergency response service.

(Bill read first time.)

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

(On motion of Senator Harb, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for second reading two days hence.)


[English]

QUESTION PERIOD

Health

Product Safety—Access to Information

Hon. James S. Cowan (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate.

Last week, Canadian parents were alarmed to learn that Health Canada tests found dangerous levels of cadmium in children's jewellery. The first articles in the Ottawa Citizen and the Montreal Gazette came out of an access to information request. Those reports said that the tests were conducted by the government "since last fall."

On Friday, it was revealed that this government has known for many months, indeed as far back as 2009, that some children's jewellery had high levels of cadmium, sometimes up to 81 per cent of this dangerous substance. However, this government waited until now to ask the industry to stop selling those pieces of children's jewellery.

When were the tests conducted and why did the leader's government wait until it received an access to information request rather than moving immediately to protect Canadian children?

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): I thank the honourable senator for the question. The government did move quickly to protect the health and safety of Canadians with the product safety legislation that was stalled in the Senate and, ultimately, was not passed.

Minister Aglukkaq, the Government of Canada and Health Canada are extremely vigilant with regard to products that are entering Canada, and other incidents of lead that have been found in children's jewellery.

When the product safety bill, Bill C-36, comes before the Senate, I hope that incidents like this one, and many others that have happened since the last bill failed to pass, will cause it to receive the proper scrutiny and pass as quickly as possible. This legislation is vital to help product safety and to protect against these products coming into our country.

Senator Cowan: I will deal with the product safety bill in my supplementary question; however, the leader has not answered my question. Will the Leader of the Government tell honourable senators when the tests were conducted and why the government waited until there was an access to information request before taking action?

Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, I would be surprised if there were a correlation between the activities of Health Canada and the access to information request. However, I will be happy, if it helps to sort out the situation, to ask Health Canada about the chronology of this information being made public.

Senator Cowan: I should tell honourable senators that my office tried to obtain the information about these tests from Health Canada. Honourable senators will remember that this information has already been released pursuant to an access to information request. My office was refused the information and was told that we had to wait until the information was entered into the system and processed. It appears that even requests for information that has already been released must still be vetted by the minister's office before it can be released to anyone else.

In her press conference, Minister Aglukkaq was asked why she was not issuing a regulation now to deal with this dangerous situation. The minister replied that Bill C-36, the proposed product safety act, the latest iteration of the bill that was before us last year, would give her the authority she needs to do a mandatory recall of products like cadmium jewellery.

Given that Health Canada knew about this dangerous situation many months ago, indeed, as far back as 2009, why did the leader's government wait until June 2010 before even tabling Bill C-36? Why did the leader's government let Bill C-36 sit on the Order Paper in the other place week after week and not even bring it forward for second reading?

Since the leader brought it up in her response to my first question, I will remind her that the predecessor bill, Bill C-6, was in the House of Commons, where it was dealt with. It came to us, and we spent an equal amount of time studying that bill. We made reasoned amendments, which were sent back to the House of Commons, but by that time, the House of Commons had left on the Christmas break. Then, rather than deal with the bill so that it could have been in effect by now, the Prime Minister shut down Parliament, and the bill was lost on prorogation. Those are the facts.

Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, concerning access to information, I have responded to that in this place before. The access to information is handled by officials in the various departments. Therefore, as I offered in my last answer, I will ask Health Canada officials to provide a chronology.

With regard to the new product safety measures, Minister Aglukkaq, her officials and Health Canada have had some preliminary discussions with political parties on both sides of the aisle in both places. Clearly, some concerns were raised in the Senate that the minister felt required attention and needed to be addressed, and I believe the minister has taken care of those items. At the same time, Health Canada was also dealing with many other issues, but I will not get into all of the reasons why the officials at Health Canada took time to redraft the new product safety bill.

Honourable senators, now that it has been done and, I believe, satisfies many of the concerns, we should move as prudently as possible to pass this legislation to prevent such incidents in the future.

(1430)

Foreign Affairs

Representation of National Interests

Hon. Grant Mitchell: Honourable senators, the loss of the United Nations Security Council seat and the loss of Camp Mirage combine to indicate one irrefutable conclusion, which is that this government is incompetent in its conduct of foreign relations and that it has squandered Canada's once sterling international image and international credibility.

With this government bereft of international credibility, who exactly will defend the interests of Alberta's oil sands, which are misunderstood and all too often attacked by international interests?

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, it will certainly not be the Honourable Senator Mitchell.

With regard to the United Nations, the fact is that we are proud of our principled foreign policy position. Our government makes foreign policy decisions on what is right, not on what is popular. Canada will continue to demonstrate leadership in advancing our national interests on foreign policy priorities and supporting, as we do and will continue to do, the United Nations in contributing to peace and stability around the world.

With regard to Camp Mirage, of course, I will not, and no member of the government will, comment on operational matters concerning the deployment of Canadian Forces abroad. The government always chooses arrangements that are in the best interests of Canada and of the best value to Canadians. What the United Arab Emirates were offering was not in the best interests of Canada and that resulted in the decision about Camp Mirage. I can go no further, because I am not about to comment on matters of military operations.

Senator Mitchell: Speaking of principles, I wonder what principles lay behind this government's international faux pas and failures. For example, when it comes to precipitously shifting their focus of foreign aid from Africa with no particular reason, when it comes to not understanding that the world communities know that we need to have abortion and maternal health, when it comes to failing to have anything to do with China for the first four years of the government's regime, when it comes to offending the U.S. day after day, when it comes to impeding negotiations on climate change, could the leader tell honourable senators what principles lie behind all of those things?

Senator LeBreton: First, the honourable senator must stop reading Jim Travers from The Toronto Star. It is a repeat of the same litany.

We have a very principled foreign policy. With regard to Africa, we have increased funding to Africa. We untied food aid. We are putting money into areas where it is most needed.

On the maternal health initiative, we have been applauded around the world for this initiative. We have taken many strong positions internationally. This is recognized.

We are one of the major contributors to the United Nations. We pay our membership. We were the first country in Haiti after the disaster struck. Just this week we offered to assist the Haitian government with regard to the serious outbreak of cholera.

The Prime Minister demonstrated in his appearance before the United Nations, at the Francophonie, at the G8, at the G20 and now in Ukraine as he visits that country that we follow a very principled and honourable foreign policy direction.

Senator Mitchell: It is bad enough that we have almost no international relations credibility, but what may be worse is that this government, at least through this leader, is actually denying it.

If, in fact, the current government has destroyed the international profile and status of Canada throughout the world, will the leader tell me if she thinks there is a link between that and the ability of her government to defend our economic and commercial interests around the world? That means jobs, exports and imports that make money for Canadians.

Senator LeBreton: I wish I had the editorial from The Wall Street Journal last week about the position of Canada in the world. I do not. If I did, I would send it over to Senator Mitchell with my personal autograph.

Environment

Arctic Offshore Drilling Requirements

Hon. Nick G. Sibbeston: Honourable senators, my question is about the North and particularly about the review of Arctic offshore drilling.

On May 11 of this year, the National Energy Board announced it would conduct a review of Arctic safety and environmental offshore drilling requirements. A draft scope was released on June 10. The board received 60 submissions during the public comments phase. A revised scope was issued in September.

The review is conducted under the Canada Oil and Gas Operations Act, COGOA. It therefore operates under different rules than the NEB.

Beginning this fall, the NEB will meet with Aboriginal groups, Northern governments and communities. They have committed to consult Northerners.

One concern that has been raised in the NWT is whether or not there will be adequate funds to permit full participation by interested Northerners in the review. COGOA does not provide such assistance as a matter of course. The NEB will do its best to promote full participation. Still, it is doubtful they will be able to assist Aboriginal groups, Northern communities or environmental organizations to do research unless they are provided with funds to do so by government.

What steps will the government take to ensure that all the questions concerning Arctic offshore drilling are answered in this review? Will those measures include participant funding so that all voices are heard and not just those of industry proponents?

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I wish to assure Senator Sibbeston that actual drilling in the Arctic will not occur unless the National Energy Board is satisfied that the drilling plan is safe, not only for workers but most particularly for the environment. The National Energy Board is, as honourable senators know, conducting a review of the Arctic safety and offshore drilling requirements.

With regard to the honourable senator's specific question about funding for organizations that wish to participate in this review, I will take that part of the question as notice.

Health

Tobacco Control Strategy

Hon. Catherine S. Callbeck: Honourable senators, my question is to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. In 2001, the federal government introduced a tobacco control strategy that was aimed at reducing the use of tobacco. At that time Canada was a leader on the world stage for tobacco control. Canada was the only country that exceeded the WHO's 30 per cent minimum size standard for warning labels on packages. In fact, it met the recommendation size of 50 per cent.

Since that time, 30 countries and jurisdictions have adopted or surpassed that 50 per cent recommendation. Canada has lost its status as a leader and we have fallen behind.

Health Canada has been working for years on new warnings. It has completed all of the analysis and conducted all of the consultations, but it appears that the implementation of these new warnings has now stopped, and there is no indication that Health Canada plans to move on the changes.

Why has this government failed to bring forward new tobacco product warning labels that can help save lives?

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): As honourable senators know, this government has entered into many different programs to help save lives, including with the Canadian Cancer Society on the dangers of cigarette smoking.

(1440)

With regard to the actual regulations, I will inquire of Health Canada as to their plans. According to the last report I read, the use of tobacco in Canada has fallen significantly, thanks to programs that have been in place for a decade and a half. I happen to know about that particular program because my sister was head of the Tobacco Cessation Program at Health Canada.

Honourable senators, I will certainly ask Health Canada for an update on the regulations and warnings and whether, in fact, they have plans to change those warnings from the way they were stated in the past.

Senator Callbeck: I would appreciate receiving a status report on exactly where the department stands on these new warnings.

This strategy, which was introduced in 2001, involves five federal departments that work together in areas such as legislation, labelling and funding for initiatives to reduce smoking. However, this strategy ends in a very short time, on March 31, 2011. Despite calls to renew the strategy, the government has failed to indicate whether it has any plans to continue this worthwhile initiative. The fact remains that 18 per cent of Canadians over the age of 15 still smoke. The smoking rate among youth aged 15 to 18 remains steady at 15 per cent. There is much work to be done.

Will the government commit to renewing the Federal Tobacco Control Strategy?

Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, I will certainly make the honourable senator's views known to my colleague the Minister of Health.

The Department of Health provides many good services for Canadians and develops many programs. In the case of the Tobacco Cessation Program, it met with a great deal of success. Health Canada is now working on other programs in relation to new and emerging drugs.

I will find out for honourable senators whether the efforts put into the Tobacco Cessation Program were deemed to have achieved the results expected and hoped for or whether, in fact, Health Canada feels there is some possibility that smoking will again increase and that they must restart the program. Health Canada has embarked on many programs that could not have been foreseen in 1991 to meet needs that have presented themselves in the past decade.

[Translation]

Industry

Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan

Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette: Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. As you know, Canada is the world leader in potash production. The Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan is primarily Canadian- owned, generates revenue of more than $9 billion, and employs almost 5,000 people.

Canada can be proud of this company, which helps farmers in Canada and throughout the world continue to produce food for a growing population. The Investment Canada Act clearly states that the government can block the sale of a Canadian corporation for reasons of national security.

I will read the first subsection of section 25.2:

If the Minister has reasonable grounds to believe that an investment by a non-Canadian could be injurious to national security, the Minister may, within the prescribed period, send to the non-Canadian a notice that an order for the review of the investment may be made under subsection 25.3(1).

I remind you that it is a review and that we are not talking at this point about blocking the sale. I do not have to tell you that Potash Corporation is of strategic importance to Canada and its farmers. Through this corporation, we are well positioned internationally in terms of agricultural products and food security.

Nevertheless, Prime Minister Stephen Harper recently indicated that he would not oppose the sale of Potash Corporation to BHP Billiton, an Australian corporation, even though it is strongly opposed by Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall.

Will the Canadian government block this sale, or review it in the interests of Canadians, and protect an industry of strategic importance to the future of Canada?

[English]

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): I thank the honourable senator for her question. I will repeat what I stated last week in answer to the same question. The minister and the government will only approve applications for review where an investment demonstrates that it is likely to be of net benefit to Canada. The review process is rigorous. Under the Investment Canada Act, we are the only government to reject a deal — MDA, in 2008 — and to take a company to court, U.S. Steel, in 2009. In the 13 years previous, the Liberal government did neither.

I repeat that we will only approve applications for review where an investment demonstrates that it is likely to be of net benefit for Canada.

Senator Hervieux-Payette: The situation that Potash Corporation is facing is familiar: a large multinational corporation that is an industrial gem, creates thousands of jobs, invests in research and development and invests in its communities. This situation sounds exactly the same as other situations with corporations that the federal government allowed to be taken over, and all those corporations failed to ensure that the new foreign owners would respect their promises to protect Canadian jobs.

Furthermore, the federal government failed to appropriately examine those transactions, to the detriment of Canadians. I think of the employees of Inco, Alcan, Noranda, and Stelco, all of whom were told that their jobs would be safe under these new foreign owners but rapidly realized that their interests would not be respected, that only the interests of the foreign investors would be taken into account.

I would like to correct the honourable senator with respect to foreign investment and takeovers in Canada and tell her that there has been more such activity in the past three years than in the previous 15 years under both Conservative and Liberal governments.

Will the government commit to protecting the jobs and livelihoods of workers of Potash Corporation by blocking this sale, or will it let 5,000 workers see their benefits reduced, their livelihoods destroyed and Canada lose its competitive advantage?

Senator LeBreton: First, with regard to the steel industry, the honourable senator missed the point I made in answer to the first question. We took U.S. Steel to court over their inaction in living up to their agreements.

Honourable senators, I repeat that the government will not enter into a review of any investment that is not of direct benefit to Canada. The honourable senator cites statistics. We are now in a global economy. We are embarking on many free trade agreements with many countries around the world. We had gone over a decade without signing even a small free trade agreement. The honourable senator failed to mention the number of Canadian companies that have moved into the global market and taken over companies around the world. We are, in fact, in a global economy, as honourable senators well know.

Senator Tkachuk: We are a global player.

Senator Hervieux-Payette: It does not create jobs here.


(1450)

ORDERS OF THE DAY

National Seniors Day Bill

Third Reading

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government) moved third reading of Bill C-40, An Act to establish National Seniors Day.

(Motion agreed to and bill read third time and passed.)

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. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, this side has absolutely no difficulty if Senator Hubley speaks today, provided the usual 45 minutes is reserved for this side.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Hon. Elizabeth Hubley: Honourable senators, I rise today to lend my support to Bill S-219. In the past four years, we have seen a steady dismantling of rural postal service in Canada. Rural post offices have been closed and roadside delivery has been cancelled. Rural Canada is the backbone of this country. I am a senator from Prince Edward Island, which is predominantly rural, and the strength of rural communities has been clear to me from the beginning. However, in recent years we have seen a slow deterioration of rural services. Not only is this affecting the heart and soul of these communities, but it is also detrimental to economic development.

Honourable senators, we need the same basic services available in rural Canada as those available in urban Canada. Canadians should not be penalized because of where they choose to live.

In my opinion, one of the most important elements in this bill is the requirement for a reasonable time for consultation with residents before a change is made to services. Too often changes are thrust upon citizens without adequate explanation and without an understanding of how a blanket policy decision will affect people in actuality.

The bill requires Canada Post to communicate proposed changes at least six months in advance to those who will be affected and to undertake a consultation with those affected to explain the reasons for a decision and to explore options for customer concerns at least four months in advance of a change. In this way, Bill S-219 recognizes the need to work with Canadians to provide a better service in a manner that meets their needs.

In recent years, the federal government has allowed Canada Post to roll back services in rural Canada. Let me remind honourable senators that in many places in rural Canada postal delivery is still a critical link to the outside world. Many rural areas in this country do not have broadband Internet services, reliable cell phone coverage, or even the competitive advantage of multiple communication service providers. For urban Canadians, snail mail might be a thing of the past, but for some rural Canadians it is still very much a necessary tool for business and personal use, and they rely on adequate postal services to do business.

By reducing postal services in rural areas, we penalize those who live in rural Canada and depend on it the most because they have access to fewer other options. This bill would restore services to levels set in 2005. It recognizes the need to support the economic and social needs of rural Canada and that not every argument should come down to the narrow focus of the bottom line for Canada Post. As our national postal service, Canada Post should be held to account to ensure that rural Canadians receive service levels on par with those received by urban Canadians.

Bill S-219 seeks to establish a Canada Post ombudsman whose function would be to investigate administrative difficulties encountered by persons in their dealings with the corporation; to review the policies and practices applied in the administration of the corporation's services with respect to fairness, reasonableness and promptness; and to report on cases and policies not satisfactorily resolved.

Honourable senators, I would like to commend my colleague Senator Peterson for bringing forward this bill and defending services for rural Canadians. I urge all honourable senators to support this bill and appropriate postal services in rural Canada.

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, this item will remain standing in the name of Senator Di Nino.

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

Climate Change Accountability Bill

Second Reading—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Mitchell, seconded by the Honourable Senator Banks, for the second reading of Bill C-311, An Act to ensure Canada assumes its responsibilities in preventing dangerous climate change.

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, this side has no objection if Senator Peterson speaks to this item today, provided that 45 minutes is reserved for this side.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Hon. Robert W. Peterson: Honourable senators, I rise today in support of Bill C-311, known as the climate change accountability act or an Act to ensure that Canada assumes its responsibilities in preventing dangerous climate change.

Sadly, the purpose of this bill is nothing more than to remind the government of its responsibility to keep its word. That we are debating such a bill today, honourable senators, is a profound disappointment. I maintain that we are debating a bill that should never have come into being since the Canadian government is beholden to keep its word and to lead on the global stage. It is what we are known for; it is how we built our reputation; and it is what the world expects.

While this government's abdication of its responsibilities is a disappointment, it is no surprise. Remember, honourable senators, this is the party that ridicules climate change and the Kyoto Protocol as a money-sucking, socialist scheme and that has vowed to fight it all the way.

Soon after they came to power, the government wasted no time in embarrassing Canada abroad. In 2006, mere months after Stéphane Dion brought the world together at the climate change conference in Montreal, Rona Ambrose went to Nairobi and was criticized for an appalling lack of vision. Next was John Baird who shamed us in Bali — not surprising since, I am told, Canada's delegation was made up of mostly public relations professionals at the expense of scientists and negotiators.

Most recently in Copenhagen, the fossil awards reached their fever pitch. At that conference it became clear that Canada had gone from leader to laggard on the environment and environmental groups began to target their protests towards Canada.

Never has it been more clear that the Prime Minister has isolated Canada on the environment. He is behind the provinces and our peer countries when it comes to taking leadership on climate change, and he has undermined international progress at every turn.

Many now link our lack of leadership on the climate change file to our embarrassing loss to Portugal of a seat on the UN Security Council. We can debate the reason for Canada's loss at the UN at another opportunity, but honourable senators will agree that Canada's place in the world is not what it used to be and certainly not what it should be; but I digress.

My goal today is to discuss the merits and shortcomings of Bill C-311, the climate change accountability act. Although this bill enjoyed the Liberal Party's support in the other place, it is not perfect. Our preferred course of action was to call on the government to immediately put in place a national climate change plan with economy-wide regulations on emissions and strategic investments in renewable and clean energy.

This was the basis of an opposition day motion that we put to the house last spring.

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We did this to address some of the shortcomings of the Climate Change Act, because, let us be clear, Bill C-311 is not a comprehensive climate change plan. It picks targets, but it does not lay out a plan on how Canada can reach those targets. That is where it comes up short, and that is because Bill C-311 was originally tabled by the NDP over three years ago and reflects old thinking on climate change. The world and the science have moved forward over the past three years beyond what this bill originally anticipated. New challenges came out of Copenhagen and there are new ways of understanding climate change, like the growing consensus around the need to limit global temperature change to less than two degrees.

Having said that, we support Bill C-311's central principle that Canada needs to take immediate, ambitious action to get us back on track to reducing emissions and improving our renewable energy sources. However, to compensate for its shortcomings, our Liberal motion called for immediate and decisive action to reduce our emissions starting with a domestic legally-binding, long-term emissions reduction target and the implementation of a national climate change plan with economy-wide regulations to get us there; strategic investments in renewable and clean technology; a first ministers' meeting within 90 days of the motion passing so that we could start moving forward as a country; and for the government to immediately reverse their short-sighted decision to cancel the ecoENERGY program that supported Canadians in making their homes more energy efficient, because that is precisely where we need to start — in every home, in every office, in every community.

Honourable senators, that motion was passed in the other place, but the government did nothing. We are therefore debating today a plea for the government to finally take climate change seriously. I truly hope we can all agree on that. As I mentioned a moment ago, this government's abdication of its responsibilities has shamed Canada abroad, but make no mistake, there are very real domestic and economic concerns as well.

Honourable senators, Liberals believe that Canada does not have to choose between environmental sustainability and economic growth. We are committed to a cap and trade system that is both verifiable and binding, with hard caps that lead to absolute reductions. We want to protect our oceans and other waterways and our natural environment. We want to revitalize a cleaner forest industry. Most of all, we want Canada to be a player in the new clean-energy economy.

In my home province of Saskatchewan and in communities right across the country, people are looking to the new, green, sustainable economy as a way of bringing Canada bigger and better opportunities — economic opportunities and opportunities for new jobs.

Over the past year, Liberals have outlined an economic vision for creating long-term economic growth through strategic, targeted investments toward this new economy. In order to get there, Canada needs to invest in renewable energy production such as solar, wind, geothermal and biomass. We must invest in things like transit systems, high-speed rail, smart meters for our homes and smart electrical grids. Jobs must be created through the development of cutting-edge industries that will export clean technology products to growing markets such as China and India, and we must ensure that the conditions exist for companies to develop and manufacture new products and materials that will increase our energy efficiency.

A Liberal government would make the necessary investments, and we would also bring existing legislation together into a single clean energy act that would, among other things, modernize federal legislation for energy efficient products and set mandatory federal clean energy procurement standards.

Unfortunately, our current government has let Canada fall behind in the new renewable energy economy. The Prime Minister does not understand that at the heart of everything affecting climate change is the question of energy — the energy we produce, the energy we save and the energy we will need. The fact is that this Conservative government also does not understand that in order for Canada to be a world leader we need the federal government to make significant investment in clean energy and energy efficiency and to take decisive action on climate change.

Honourable senators, Bill C-311 will not address all the problems I have highlighted today, or even come close to bringing in the kinds of measures needed to make Canada a leader in the new green economy. As I have said, it is rooted in old thinking and could be considered by some to be almost obsolete. However, despite its shortcomings it has one central redeeming quality: It urges the government to do something.

As I mentioned at the outset, it pains me to even be debating Bill C-311. That this government needs Parliament to tie a string around its finger to remind it of its obligations is a sad comment on our country's state of affairs. As any child in any school in Saskatchewan or elsewhere in this country will tell you, the matter is urgent.

Honourable senators, I call on you to join me in supporting this bill and in sending the government a message that they need to take these issues seriously and take action on the environment now.

The Hon. the Speaker: This item will remain standing in the name of the Honourable Senator Neufeld.

(On motion of Senator Neufeld, debate adjourned.)

[Translation]

Study on Issues Related to Communications Mandate

Fourth Report of Transport and Communications Committee and Request for Government Response Adopted

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the consideration of the fourth report of the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications entitled: Plan for a digital Canada.ca, tabled in the Senate on June 16, 2010.

[English]

Hon. Dennis Dawson: Honourable senators, I move:

That the report be adopted and that, pursuant to rule 131(2), the Senate request a complete and detailed response from the government, with the Minister of Industry being identified as the minister responsible for responding to the report, in consultation with the Ministers of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages; and of Human Resources and Skills Development.

[Translation]

Honourable senators, it is my pleasure to move the official adoption in the Senate of the report of the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications entitled Plan for a digital Canada.ca.

[English]

In 2009, when the committee received the mandate to examine and report on communications issues such as access to high-speed Internet and the wireless industry, the committee found a strong Canadian industry, but one facing many new challenges.

Historically, Canada has had a long record of accomplishments in the field of telecommunications. From the invention of the telephone to being the first country in the world to connect all its schools to the Internet, Canada has been a world leader in telecommunications.

In recent years, however, Canada has lost its place. Other countries have been more dynamic and successful in creating a digital national network. For example, Canada did not get the iPhone until 2008, over a year after the U.S. launch. In addition, several studies around this time criticized Canada for having high cell phone prices and low cell phone penetration. Following these challenges, the committee decided initially to focus on the wireless sector in Canada. However, as you all know, changes in that sphere of the economy evolve at a high speed.

While the committee was engaged in its study, the structure of the wireless sector in Canada changed, becoming more competitive, with consumers seeing price decreases and better terms in the cell phone market.

During that same time, a new national HSPA network was also built and coverage of the Canadian population by 3G networks went from 78 per cent to 93 per cent. Companies obviously adapted faster than the government. The industry took big steps in improving its coverage and competition.

As a result, the study evolved from one with a narrow focus on Canada's wireless sector to one with the broader focus on a digital society.

[Translation]

Broadening the scope of the study also allowed the committee to adhere to its first and most important recommendation, specifically, the creation of a comprehensive digital strategy.

Gone are the days when telecommunications were perceived as a separate matter. Now in the 21st century, telecommunications must be integrated into the various spheres of our social lives.

Over 20 countries around the world have digital strategies. Not only did all of the countries visited by the committee have a digital strategy, but the people we met with all had a vision in which the wireless sector would be incorporated into social and economic strategies, rather than being considered a separate subject matter altogether.

Estonia is probably one of the best examples of this.

[English]

Ninety-three per cent of the people in Estonia do their income tax on the Internet. They pay their parking metres with their cell phones. They basically have access to every service from the government with a digital signature that gives them open access to their files, whether in health, education or government enterprises.

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[Translation]

In 1998, Estonia's parliament approved the Principles of Estonian Information Policy and immediately began implementing that policy. The policy included recognition of the importance of the private sector, the involvement of all government agencies, and the development of support programs, for digital literacy in particular.

[English]

They are in a digital society. There is a digital society out there that has digital citizenship. Youth in Canada — my children, our children — are members of that digital society. They live in a world without borders. It is the World Wide Web, it is emails, it is texting, it is Facebook, it is Twitter; the youth of Canada are members of a digital society.

We — and I am looking at my friend from Alberta — are digital immigrants. We go there every once in a while. I see Senator Mockler with his iPad, his iPhone and his "i" everything. He is also a digital immigrant. Some of the senators are laughing because we probably consider them digital tourists. They see there is a digital society but they are not members.

[Translation]

Despite broadening the report to include the digital society, the committee retained the wireless sector as a major concern throughout the hearings.

The primary issue was the extent of competition within this industry.

During the study, various stakeholders often pointed out that Canada's wireless model is not competitive enough.

Not only does this model not provide consumers with choices, it also does not foster competitive behaviour in the industry. Competitive behaviour is the key to development and innovation.

The committee recommended that the government adopt policies on free access to telecommunications infrastructure in order to enhance competition in this sector. Liberalized foreign ownership rules and free access to infrastructure are two examples of concrete actions the government could take to make the industry stronger and more competitive.

With more competition, Canadians could use their cell phones for more and more applications, which would help Canada become a real digital society.

In closing, honourable senators, I would like to share with you how this report was published.

[English]

Honourable senators, we have to recognize that the digital society exists, and if we do not want to be just digital tourists we must be able to assure ourselves that Canada has a policy in that way.

To ensure that the strategy is fully implemented and integrated, the committee believes that Canada should appoint a minister responsible for digital policy. This minister would take over the oversight of the strategy from the Minister of Industry. Because the world of the digital society is broader than the digital economy, digital policy must be coordinated among all sectors of society, not only among the members of the industry. The new minister would therefore coordinate the policy with Industry Canada, as well as with other departments and government agencies. To do so, the committee recommends that the minister for digital policy receive an annual report from each department outlining departmental progress in making programs more accessible and easier to use over the Internet.

Honourable senators, here are the digital goals for the coming year. The Government of Canada should also take major steps in its own way of doing things to set an example for the digital society. I gave the example before of Estonia where cabinet meetings are paperless. That country has taken out all of the paper, and if a minister cannot follow the meeting on his computer, he will just see the train pass by. They have made that a commitment and encouraged everyone in the community, whether it is the people, the politicians or private enterprise, to have a paperless society. That is a good example.

Senator Mercer thinks the Senate Transport Committee should set an example of being a paperless committee, but we are not there yet. Some of us are still at the immigrant level and some of us are really just tourists.

Honourable senators, every department should develop a secure Internet platform that would allow citizens to review their government files online. Elections Canada should also move expeditiously to develop major test projects involving e- registration as well as e-voting. All these projects, however, will be useless if Canadians are not using them. It is therefore imperative that the minister for digital policy and other federal ministers work with their provincial counterparts to develop comprehensive digital literacy programs so that everyone can join that society and they can become an integral part of our education system.

[Translation]

Contrary to the traditional manner of publishing a report by printing and distributing copies, the committee felt it should lead the way toward a digital society by publishing the report online only.

We have created a separate website that is easy to use and that includes summaries, a video, the list of recommendations and a PDF copy of the report.

I am particularly pleased to announce that it has been a real success. To date, the site has been visited by more than 2,500 people in more than 20 countries.

[English]

Honourable senators, it is quite a challenge to get a report on the digital society tabled digitally. I tried to see if there was a way where I could give it on a disc or something, but we are not there yet. We are a little like digital tourists at the Senate.

[Translation]

I would also like to mention and thank the person who so ably guided this study from its start until her retirement from the Senate, Lise Bacon. Lise, on behalf of the committee, I thank you for your work.

[English]

Finally, I would like to thank all the witnesses, the clerks and the Library of Parliament analysts who helped us with the study. I would also like to thank my two deputy chairs, Senators Johnson and Housakos. Senator Housakos, by the way, has done a good job of promoting the report outside the Senate.

I extend my warmest thanks to all the committee members as well, who I believe have done an extraordinary study, putting aside our political affiliations and working together for the better interests of Canadians and of the Canadian telecommunications industries.

In conclusion, honourable senators, as Senator Housakos said at the Ontario Bar Association in late September, not only is an inclusive digital society needed for Canada, but an inclusive digital society can be achieved in Canada.

I truly hope that the government will take strong action in order to move Canada towards a real digital society.

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

(Motion agreed to and report adopted.)

Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources

Budget and Authorization to Travel—Study on Current State and Future of Energy Sector—Ninth Report of Committee Adopted

The Senate proceeded to consideration of the ninth report of the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources (budget—release of additional funds (study on the energy sector)—power to travel), presented in the Senate on October 21, 2010.

Hon. W. David Angus moved the adoption of the report.

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

(Motion agreed to and report adopted.)

Budget—Study on Current State and Future of Energy Sector—Tenth Report of Committee Adopted

The Senate proceeded to consideration of the tenth report of the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources (budget—release of additional funds (study on the energy sector)), presented in the Senate on October 21, 2010.

Hon. W. David Angus moved the adoption of the report.

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

(Motion agreed to and report adopted.)

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Study on Current State and Future of Energy Sector

Seventh Report of Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources Committee—Debate Adjourned

The Senate proceeded to consideration of the seventh report (interim) of the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources entitled: Attention Canada! Preparing for our Energy Future, tabled in the Senate on June 29, 2010.

Hon. W. David Angus moved the adoption of the report.

He said: Honourable senators, it is my pleasure and privilege to rise today to speak to this report.

Just a year ago, in October 2009, pursuant to authority from this chamber, the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources commenced a major study on what we are calling the current state and future of Canada's energy sector, including alternative energy.

At the very outset, I want to thank all members of the committee. All members participated actively in this study. I particularly want to thank Senators Neufeld and McCoy who had the idea to embark on this study and who brought tremendous research and work into being to get our terms of references agreed upon and to outline the direction that the report would take. I also thank the staff of the Parliamentary Library and the researchers who helped us to get this study going.

To put matters into perspective, we all know and can take it as judicial notice that in the world today we have a population of plus or minus 6.5 billion. It is projected that in less than 25 years that number will be in the order of 9.8 billion.

Canada has been blessed with vast natural energy sources and has developed a system over many years without regard, particularly, to the need for careful conservation and efficient use of our energy sources.

It now develops that, in 2010, Canada is the largest per capita consumer of energy in the world. That includes China and all of the other vast countries that one can imagine. Of course, there are many reasons for this. I will not dwell on them, other than to say that we are a vast country over huge areas that are very cold in the wintertime, and we have many energy needs.

Therefore, as we look to the future toward this continuing demand for energy the need brought about by the frightening prospects of greenhouse gas emissions, and the devastating effects of climate change on the human population and our planet, it is important, as we re-engineer and reshape our energy system, that in the future we will have an energy system that is sustainable and clean, and that works together in the three Es, namely, energy, the environment and the economy. The three are inextricably tied together.

With that knowledge, our committee embarked on this study and for the first nine months, from October 2009 leading up to the spring of this year, it was a learning curve. The committee set out to learn what the sources of energy are, what the alternative sources of energy are, some of the devastating consequences of climate change, what are the issues that are out there, and what the words mean. What is a kilowatt? What are the various sources of electricity? Can one store electricity? If not, why not? What do the words such as "cap and trade," or "carbon tax" mean? Should we have one or the other, or both? The committee went into a plethora of such questions, as honourable senators will see at the back of our report. The report, by the way, is entitled: Attention Canada! Preparing for our Energy Future.

We called all the experts — the greens and the environmental people, the academics, the social engineers, the whole spectrum — over that first nine months, with a view to becoming articulate in the subject matter.

Again, I have to pay special tribute to our colleague Senator McCoy. Some members of our committee asked at the very beginning, what is energy? What is it about in this country of Canada? She prepared, on her own time, a catechism about energy. It is a small handbook for the layperson who wants to talk in a sophisticated way about energy.

Honourable senators, I commend this report to you. After our first nine months of study, we decided to issue an interim report. Our remit from the Senate here allows our study to carry on, if it is not extended, to at least June of 2011. In a moment I will speak about where we plan to go from here.

We did not make recommendations at this stage. We concluded that there is a great necessity in this country today to have a national discussion about energy, about how we can develop a strategic framework going forward as to what our energy system will look like at such a time when we might have 9.8 billion people on this planet. We articulated some questions.

I must tell you, honourable senators, it has been quite extraordinary to me, at least, to learn that as we started this study we found there were no fewer than 11 other major reputable groups in this country carrying out similar studies at the same time. The interesting thing was that each and every one of these other 11 studies was coming from a particular interest or perspective. The oil and gas people were saying that we have to have a strategic framework for the future. Some of the think-tank groups were more oriented toward the environmental protection aspects. All these studies are going on at the same time as ours, and we determined the important thing is how can we help to bring all the findings of all these people with different interests together in an objective and independent place.

I ask you, honourable senators, what better place than in the Senate of Canada?

Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.

Senator Angus: What struck us, as we got further into 2010 and listening to the different groups, was that we were not casting about for witnesses. We had a list of people lined up as long as your arm begging to come to the committee and tell us their perspective. They wanted to get the nuclear story out. They wanted to get the wind story out. They wanted to get run-of-the- river and tidal technologies before us, and so on. It became fascinating.

We found there was a tremendous appetite to support what the Senate is doing. I put it to you, honourable senators, that this is one of those areas that we are all talking about in various committees, including the Rules Committee and Internal Economy. How can we enhance our credibility? How can we use our time to the best advantage? How can we convince Canadians that this is the place? This is where the action is. This is how we will bring public policy that really makes sense to the people of Canada.

Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.

Senator Angus: Attention Canada! is all about calling on Canadians to wake up and see how important this debate is and to engage in the debate. I do not mean people like me who will retire from this place in less than two years, but the young people of Canada who are reading Senator Dawson's report with great interest. Those are the people who do not need big books anymore. They understand what social media is all about. They know what Facebook is; they know how to Twitter. They are in touch. They are asking and answering questions among themselves in one day that it would take us a year to ask.

Senator Dawson is right on the money. For that reason, and given the questions that we are asking Canadians to debate among themselves, we decided to establish a dedicated website to enhance and facilitate this debate, and let Canadians interact with us and themselves on Twitter or any one of a number of the social media devices and modes. New ones are coming along almost every day. By the way, the honourable senator's report is almost out of date already, but it is a key document.

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At noon today, we launched a dedicated website for this study that we are conducting. It contains a variety of ways and means to engage in Twitter. I want to share the address with you. I urge you all to go to the site and participate, if an honourable senator has an appetite to do so, in this debate. This site is live, and people are responding in the most incredibly positive way. The phrase that I have learned that is applicable is that we will be "going viral" almost overnight. People want to talk about this subject matter.

I want to thank the Internal Economy Committee. However, that is a bit of a forked-tongue comment in my capacity as chairman. Let me explain. We went to the Internal Economy Committee on this matter last spring. It took many weeks to prepare our application before them because we were told to be frugal and mindful of spending the monies wisely. One of the items was monies for this website, which was a brand new idea, the first ever. Honourable senators will hear more about that from the deputy chairman in a moment. We then conducted some studies to learn how to go out and consult the people. We got approval and money for the website, and it was up and running live as of noon today However, we neglected to ask for money for content to put on the website, so we had a very anxious summer.

After careful reflection and respectful conversations with all of the good senators on the Internal Economy Committee, we went before them again. Honourable senators just passed two motions which I quietly asked you to adopt so that we could go out live and be there with the people right in their cities. The budget provides for a trip to Chalk River, which is about two hours away by bus, to have a look at the NRU and ask questions such as this: What is all this stuff we are reading in the newspapers about? What is an isotope? What does it look like? How does it interact with the future? This is ongoing and that is what our report is all about.

Honourable senators, the questions are quite important. I will give you an idea of the questions this report suggests that Canadians ask. What does Canada want to achieve in international energy markets? What does Canada need energy for? How much do we need? How much will we need? How much in each province, and so on? What conclusions and recommendations can be derived from these answers? How best can Canadians engage at home and abroad on energy issues?

[Translation]

And there are many more. Canadians will be asked many similar questions about this topic.

[English]

I urge honourable senators to adopt this report. I am hoping that my colleagues on the committee will be speaking in the days ahead. Honourable senators, I hope it is obvious how excited we are about this study and about the new website. I look forward to seeing your reactions.

Hon. Grant Mitchell: Honourable senators, I will start by saying "ditto." That was an outstandingly good presentation on this report and on the website by my colleague Senator Angus. He has left me relatively little to say. I say that now; but I may say more than I expected by the end of my remarks.

I share the chairman's enthusiasm for both the work and the nature of our committee. Senator Angus has provided outstandingly great leadership. It is non-partisan. It is all party in the truest sense of the word. Everyone gets along and has contributed to the proceedings. It is a pleasure to work on this committee and to work with the members of the committee.

I do not want to duplicate too much of what Senator Angus has said. However, in summary, there is a need in Canada — and we have heard that from 11 groups and from others as well — to understand the demands for energy, both domestic and international, as they would affect our energy industry; the markets for energy, both domestic and international; and the questions of security of energy. It is important to see those questions within the parameters of a number of other overarching issues, for example, the matter of a smart east-west grid. Is that possible? There are the Smart meters, which we hear so much about; climate change, which Senator Angus mentioned in particular; and the question of conservation. Where does that fit? Regarding alternative energy, what are the costs? Are they practical for these kinds of energies? Is it better that we look at traditional energy and find ways to reduce the emissions, and so on?

That is what our nine months of deliberations have allowed us to conclude. We have specified and focused on what we want to achieve and do. We are ready and have background. We have a deep and broad competence in our committee to be able to do that effectively. In part, that has come from the fact that we have had outstandingly good witnesses. The witnesses have been of a high quality and are very motivated, as was mentioned earlier, because they want to be part of this effort. They see it as fundamentally important that we have a national Canadian energy strategy that answers the questions that have been emerging in each region across this country.

If I could be an Albertan for a moment here, I wish to say that this study is especially important for Albertans. There is duress internationally with regard to the oil sands. There are the questions of where will we sell those oil sands and our other energy reserves? How will we compete in a competitive world? How will that oil be refined? These are very important, significant questions to Albertans, and Albertans, in many ways, are demanding a study of this nature. To reiterate, it is clear that the Senate is a place where that can be done. We have national perspective in addition to not being particularly biased in one way or another from an industry perspective, or from an NGO perspective, or from any other perspective, for that matter.

Honourable senators, the possibilities, prospects, opportunities and the promise of this study are outstanding. I can imagine that we will be presenting a final report to honourable senators in a year or in 14 months, which I hope will make honourable senators proud of the work of the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources.

Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.

Senator Mitchell: I would now like to make a few comments about the website. You could just feel the excitement in Senator Angus when he started talking about the website. I share that excitement. In fact, my real regret in speaking after him is I wanted to be able to give out the address. I was then going to ask for a few moments so honourable senators could get their BlackBerrys out and check out the website.

Senator Angus: You can still do it. I forgot to mention the website.

Senator Mitchell: I want to emphasize one particular philosophical feature that we have captured in this website. Many websites, certainly the standard websites — and, I am not being critical here — of Parliament, the House of Commons and the Senate, are one way. It is all about telling people things. It is about reading Hansard, or some comment, or some blog, but there is no two-way communication. My experience over the years in politics is that you have to listen or it does not work. The more that we speak to witnesses and individuals, the more we find out above what we gather through the witness hearings process. We want to actually structure that communication in our travel arrangements so that we can hold round tables with individuals in the community and learn their sense of the needs, demands, pressures and fears they face with regard to heating their homes, driving their cars and trucks, running their businesses and those kinds of issues.

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We have integrated those two sides: People can come and see what it is we want to tell them, and/or they can open up certain features of this website and communicate with us. We can create a dialogue with them.

If someone wants to look at this report, it will be on the website. It can be clicked on. If someone wants to see a highlight from this report, it will be featured on the website. If someone wants to see transcripts from the committee hearings, they will be linked on this website. If someone wants to see the live webcast, they can go to this website and click on the webcast for committee hearings. If someone wants to get a voice clip of something that happened in the committee, then a person can go to this website and get a voice clip.

The other way is to ask questions and send comments. People will get responses. One can use a Facebook discussion forum and share Facebook and Twitter discussions. Therefore, we can answer questions through those kinds of elements. We can answer questions through a blog.

We could, in fact, take questions from the public and ask those questions directly in our committee hearings, and we may well be able to do that — perhaps not one on one, but perhaps we get a number of questions in the same area. We could bring them together and, on television and on the live webcast, we can ask them directly to the witnesses who might be particularly appropriate for that question and get an answer for the people who asked us that very question.

We have a blog where we will be able to answer questions. We will communicate. For those who are fearful that anybody could just communicate and go on the website and cause us a problem, I want to say that is not true. We have a balanced system to ensure that what goes up will be reasonable and proper and will not cause anybody any problems.

I want to emphasize that this is, we think, the first website of its kind in the Parliament of Canada where there is actually this much dedication to two-way communication. As time goes on, we have a great program that makes it very inexpensive to create a website like this and one can actually multiply and create other websites from the same program. It is all good.

I want to thank the committee and Senator Angus once again, and thank all honourable senators for their support in getting us the funding to do this project.

Hon. Nancy Greene Raine: Both honourable senators have told us about the website but neither has told us the address.

Senator Mitchell: It is www.canadianenergyfuture.ca.

Senator Raine: Thank you.

Hon. Daniel Lang: I would like to add my voice to the discussion on the report of the committee. I have had the pleasure of being a member of the committee since I was appointed to the Senate, and I must say to all honourable senators that it has been a very enjoyable experience. It has been a journey into looking at Canada's energy demands and how they relate to the energy demands of other countries around the world.

Honourable senators, I must stress the importance of the population growth in the next 20 years to 30 years. It is hard to believe that population will increase from less than 7 billion people to a projected 9 billion to 10 billion people. We have to think of that in the context of our environmental responsibilities as well as our energy responsibilities. Every one of those people will want some energy to do something in their daily lives.

We are very fortunate in Canada to have the resources we have. In many ways, we have developed them not because of ourselves but in spite of ourselves. When we look back at the last 20 years of government intervention, we can see that although it was well- meaning, the results tell us that many things were done incorrectly.

Honourable senators I believe that we need to reassess what we are asking to be done in respect to environmental processes. My colleague from British Columbia, who was the Minister of Energy, started to look at Site C in British Columbia in the year 2005 and now it is the year 2010. Very little has been done, other than creating a paper trail in respect to trying to get a project on- stream.

When I drive to the city of Whitehorse in Yukon every day, I go by a hydro facility that was built in 1958. It took two years to build that facility, with approximately a year and a half before that for environmental processes to be put in place.

I submit to honourable senators today that if we were to put a request in to have that same facility built, it would probably take five, ten or fifteen years.

There is something wrong with this picture, honourable senators. We, as parliamentarians, have a responsibility to bring it out for public debate and to reassess what we are requesting in respect of these developments. We will all pay the price, and it will be a heavy price if we do not proceed accordingly.

The other area I would like to refer to is the "not in my backyard" syndrome. Our committee can be a catalyst to help bring forward in the public debate this ongoing question that society faces any time a development is being proposed in any part of the country. I do not know what has happened to us as a society, but when government brings forward a project for public input, it is not a question of those public processes being utilized for the purposes of bringing forward ideas for improving the project. It seems that in many cases the vested interest is strictly there to block progress.

Unfortunately, those are the organizations and the individuals who are funded by government and have the time, enthusiasm and perhaps the expertise to be able to do that. Meanwhile, Joe Lunchbucket goes to work every day thinking that the Government of Canada or the provincial or the territorial government is taking care of him. He does not go to these hearings; he does not have time. Those Canadians expect governments to bear their responsibilities and move forward as far as these projects are concerned, which in many cases are common sense.

I submit to all honourable senators here that the work the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources is doing is very important to the future of Canada from the point of view of our energy resources. As Senator Angus pointed out, it is tied to our economic future as a society. It is important to all aspects of our community and our society that we be successful in what we are proceeding to do with the committee.

Honourable senators, I have a comment to make in respect to the website. I want to give credit to the chair and the deputy chair for taking the leadership to getting this web page in place. I would highly recommend that all honourable senators take a moment and just go and have a look at what has been provided. I think honourable senators will be very impressed. Senator Angus had his first step forward on YouTube. I was very impressed with the 90-second clip that I saw on the website.

There is a lot of information on the website. I think it will be a gathering point for all these organizations that are looking for some leadership from the Government of Canada as we try to sort out our responsibilities at the national level, recognizing the constitutional, provincial and territorial responsibilities. Let us figure out how we can tie these and the various levels of government together with respect to the energy future of Canada.

(1550)

Hon. Richard Neufeld: I would like to briefly add a few remarks to the great remarks that have already been made by our chair, deputy chair and Senator Lang. Most of our colleagues are probably getting a little tired of hearing about energy, but energy is a huge part of our lives, regardless of who we are, where we live, or what we do. Sometimes we may think that personally we do not consume much energy, but I do not think we think through the process.

Senator Angus talked about the genesis of the committee in deciding what we were going to study. I am pleased that I could be part of this study because I find energy and the environment to be very interesting.

We do not realize just how dependent we are on energy. We probably do not realize that when women do their makeup each morning they are using products that are made out of oil; or that the computers we use, as Senator Dawson and Senator Angus talked about, are full of minerals and natural resources such as oil and natural gas. Natural gas is a part of the plastic in them. If one looks around the room and sees all the plastic in this room, it comes from natural gas. When one goes to the grocery store and takes a 4-litre jug of milk off the shelf, it is not in a glass or paper bottle but rather in plastic. How much of our lives revolve around plastic?

The website that everyone talked about will be good for people to go to and find out about these things. We hear a bit of rancour once in a while about how one person does not care about climate change and only another person does. I do not believe in those kinds of things for a minute. One does not have to sit on this or that side of the house to be concerned about the environment. Without a good environment, we will not have a good economy; and without a good economy, we will not have a good environment. We only have to look around the world to find that out.

All of us, regardless of who we are or where we come from, are concerned about climate change, and so we should be. We tend to talk about the fact that we are the greatest consumers of energy in the world, that we need to clean up our act and all of these kinds of things. Yet we often forget that 75 per cent of our electricity in Canada comes from clean sources, that we have an abundance of natural gas that will be a transition fuel to take us into the future, that natural gas is found all across North America and in Europe, and that they are finding more of it all the time trapped in rock. That will be our transition fuel until our children find and recognize things to use in the future that will not be so harmful to the environment.

Can that be done by next Friday? No. We need to take the time to think about it, to work through it and to have the experts tell us exactly how we will do those kinds of things. Those are some of the things that this website will do for us.

We need to start telling Canadians about what we have, what we use, how we use it, where we use it, and how much we have. To say there is an end to oil, I do not particularly believe that. To say that there is a finite amount of natural gas, I do not believe that. Just a few years ago — probably about a decade ago — industry started extracting natural gas out of solid rock. It is there.

Technology leads us to those areas. Technology will allow us to use that new fuel in a much different way, but we will still use it and we should remember that.

When it comes to talking to Canadians about what we have and what the opportunities are — because there are huge opportunities all across this great country as it relates to energy — we should also be talking about the fact that we are pretty good at what we do and that we should not be ashamed to stand on the world stage and say those kind of things. The more we say negative things about ourselves here, the worse it will get. We need to talk about ourselves in a positive way to get a positive response.

When I look at the energy that is consumed across Canada, I think there is a reason why sometimes we are coined as using the most per capita. I have friends who have been to China where there are places where they do not have hardly any energy of any kind, but they will get beyond that point. Therefore, it is important to use the energy that we consume now carefully, because they want to live like us. We have to develop the technology to help, along with those countries, in how we affect the environment.

We can do great things with this study and we can learn great things from Canadians all across the country. With an interactive website we can get information and try to answer questions, or give the questions that we cannot answer to the experts so they can go out and find those answers for us.

I am tremendously pleased that I am part of this committee and that we can move it forward this way.

In closing, Senator Lang mentioned that we started a study on a project called Site C in British Columbia in 2005 but did not have much done. I want to correct that a little bit. I was actually responsible for that at that period of time. I would put on the record that we did accomplish a lot from about mid-2005 until I left the ministry, because there is a lot of information that has to be gathered.

To get a large hydro project going in Canada, it takes a minimum of 14 to 15 years before construction starts in most cases. That is too long a period of time. We have to look at ways by which we can encourage that process to hurry along.

Thank you very much for listening to my brief remarks and I look forward to hearing anyone else who wants to speak about this.

(On motion of Senator Banks, debate adjourned.)

Study on Rise of China, India and Russia in the Global Economy and the Implications for Canadian Policy

First Report of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Committee—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the consideration of the first report (interim) of the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade, entitled: Canada and Russia: Building on today's successes for tomorrow's potential, tabled in the Senate on March 31, 2010.

Hon. Consiglio Di Nino: Honourable senators, this is part of the Foreign Affairs Committee study on Russia, China and India, their emerging economies and their relations with Canada.

There was an interim report done on the visit to Russia. I have been holding it until the rest of the reports have been tabled. I understand that the last one will probably be tabled either later this week or next week.

I want to decide at that time whether I want to make a comment on all of them, or still keep my options open to possibly make a separate comment on this report. Therefore, I would like to adjourn this particular item in my name for the rest of my time.

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

[Translation]

Women's Choices

Inquiry—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Poy, calling the attention of the Senate to the choices women have in all aspects of our lives.

Hon. Rose-Marie Losier-Cool: Honourable senators, I am speaking today to the inquiry by Senator Poy concerning the choices women have in all aspects of our lives.

[English]

As a woman who has always fought for women's rights, I am proud of Senator Poy's initiative and I applaud her for bringing to your attention hard facts that many of us know but that so many of us ignore.

(1600)

[Translation]

On June 22, Senator Poy spoke about the choices women have in many areas, from finance to health, including reproductive health. She also spoke about rape, violence, feticide, contraception and abortion. I applaud her courage. Today, I would like to continue what she started, by speaking about the fifth Millennium Development Goal.

[English]

Honourable senators will remember that world leaders gathered at the UN in New York City in September 2000 to hash out eight goals to make the world a better place by 2015. The first goal seeks to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger. The second calls for universal primary education. The third aims for true equality between women and men and for the empowerment of women. Some of you may recall the speech I made about this third goal in this very chamber in May 2005. The fourth goal seeks to curb child mortality. The sixth goal calls for a fight against HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases. The seventh goal targets a sustainable development environment. The last goal, number 8, calls on world countries to strike a global partnership to foster development in less privileged countries.

[Translation]

The fifth goal — the subject of my speech — aims to improve maternal health by reducing the maternal mortality ratio by three- quarters by 2015. This goal also aims to achieve universal access to reproductive health by 2015, or, in simpler terms, access to sexual and reproductive health services and care, from sexual activity through to birth and beyond.

These services and care include qualified staff, safe delivery, sexual education, prenatal care, contraception, safe abortion, care during pregnancy, and support for family planning.

Senator Poy's inquiry is timely, since it coincides with the tenth anniversary of the signing of the Millennium Development Goals, with the recent UN summit on these goals, held in New York, and with the current Canadian federal government's interest in issues related to maternal and child health.

[English]

In Muskoka this summer, our Prime Minister, acknowledging the fact that over half a million women throughout the world die each year of pregnancy-related causes, also expressed his belief that Millennium Goal 5 will not be met. As he promised earlier in the year, he then pledged an initiative to improve the health of mothers and children around the poorest regions of the world. With regard to women, the Prime Minister suggested access to drinking water, vaccination, better nutrition and obstetrical training as possible solutions. Canada's financial contribution to this initiative would be $2.85 billion in total by 2015.

[Translation]

I would like to thank the Prime Minister for his interest and for the substantial funding he has allocated for the project. However, I would remind honourable senators about the concerns raised by the Liberal Party of Canada last spring, specifically, that the initiative announced by the Prime Minister in Muskoka should also include access to contraception and safe abortion, two important aspects that were missing from the Prime Minister's speech.

[English]

While the Prime Minister eventually talked about family planning, which can be interpreted to include contraception, he remained adamant that safe abortions be specifically excluded from his soon-to-be-launched initiative. However, Canadians rallied behind our concerns and, in May, a poll found that close to 60 per cent of our population disagreed with the Prime Minister's exclusion of safe abortions. Unfortunately, this poll did not sway the Prime Minister.

[Translation]

I refuse to enter into an ideological debate at this time on the perception of female sexuality or on abortion. However, as a woman, I believe that a woman's body belongs to her alone, that she alone should be the one who decides whether or not to enter into a sexual relationship, that she has every right to decide whether that relationship will lead to pregnancy, and in the event of an unplanned pregnancy, that she has every right to decide whether or not to go ahead with the pregnancy.

A woman who does not know her body, the mechanics of sexuality or her rights might not be able to make the decisions I just referred to. That is why sex education is absolutely crucial and must be the second component funded by the Government of Canada in the context of its initiative announced in Muskoka. By "sex education," I mean comprehensive, free education that is accessible to everyone.

[English]

Many of us will remember our distinguished senator, who was a female minister, Senator Lois Wilson. She used to say that education is the best form of prevention.

[Translation]

The first component should obviously be the training of qualified staff to educate these women. Without qualified staff, there is no information and without information there can be no informed decision-making.

[English]

Assuming the best possible world where there are enough qualified health care workers and all women are fully informed about what their body does and how it does it, and about their rights as women, the next step that should be covered by the Muskoka initiative is access to sexual health services and products, including contraceptives. Obviously, what is the point of having informed women if they cannot be properly cared for in their womanhood, including before, during and after a pregnancy? What is the point of telling women that they can choose when to have babies if they do not have access to contraceptive means?

[Translation]

Let us go even further and imagine an even more perfect world where women are educated and have access to contraceptives. However, how can we disregard human error, rape, or occasional contraceptive failure? Even in this nearly perfect world — that we are far from achieving — a woman could unwittingly become pregnant and decide that she is not ready to be a mother. In that case there would be access to safe abortion. This could save the 219 women who die every day, somewhere in the world, from complications of unsafe abortions.

The most basic logic would require the Muskoka initiative to add safe abortion to the services funded by the current Government of Canada. Unfortunately, that is still not the case.

[English]

I am just as worried about a recent partnership agreement between the current Canadian government and the government of Mali. This agreement, signed under the auspices of the Muskoka initiative, aims at bettering the health of mothers, newborns and young children. The agreement favours access to well-equipped health centres, deals with the training of qualified personnel, and focuses on the nutritional health of pregnant mothers and young children. However, the agreement makes no mention whatsoever of family planning or contraception. It seems the current Canadian government has chosen to leave it up to the Malian government to use Canadian monies to fund contraceptive products, or not.

[Translation]

The current Canadian government says it is concerned about reporting the slightest expense incurred in Canada, and rightfully so. It should also be concerned about how its outlays are accounted for internationally. Given the significant sums at stake, it seems that the current Canadian government could require its international partners to respect certain basic criteria before any money is granted. In the present case, the Canadian government could have required the Malian government to use the funds for purposes clearly stipulated in the agreement.

(1610)

I hope the current Canadian government will fix this by negotiating with greater clarity any future partnerships with other countries under the Muskoka agreement.

Honourable senators, the choices available to women, Canadian or not, are an inescapable reality. These choices sometimes present problems, the gravity of which varies around the world. The Muskoka initiative is an interesting step forward. I hope the Canadian government will better define its future partnership agreements with other countries and keep the survival of women and mothers separate from its partisan, vote-seeking and ideological agendas.

[English]

I believe that to fully comply with Millennium Goal 5, the Canadian government should recognize that contraception and safe abortions are integral means to sexual health and the survival of women and mothers.

(On motion of Senator Pépin, debate adjourned.)

2010 Olympic Winter Games

Inquiry—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Raine calling the attention of the Senate to the success of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games held in Vancouver, Richmond and Whistler from February 12 to 28 and, in particular, to how the performance of the Canadian athletes at the Olympic and Paralympic Games can inspire and motivate Canadians and especially children to become more fit and healthy.

Hon. Catherine S. Callbeck: Honourable senators, this inquiry is adjourned in the name of Senator Fraser, but she has yielded so that I may speak to it at this time.

I am pleased to rise in support of the inquiry initiated by Senator Raine on how the performance of Canadian athletes at the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games can inspire and motivate Canadians, especially young people, to become fit and healthy. Senator Raine has inspired and motivated many Canadians over the course of her career, and I congratulate and commend her for bringing forth this inquiry.

Like most Canadians, I watched with great interest and excitement the success of Canadian athletes at the Olympics and Paralympics. The tremendous sacrifice and effort made by our athletes to rise to the top of their respective sports was truly outstanding. Their ability to focus their efforts and concentrate on the challenges they face was a measure of their dedication and their commitment. Just as athletes inspire and motivate themselves to excel, so too do they inspire and motivate others. That is one of the greatest legacies of the Olympic spirit.

All Canadians have their own special Olympic heroes. In my home province of Prince Edward Island, we are extremely proud of our Olympic athletes — Dave "Eli" MacEachern, Heather Moyse, Kara Grant and Jared Connaughton. They excelled in their respective sports and earned the respect and admiration of their fellow Islanders. They all have become role models, especially for those who share the desire to become the best athletes they can be. Not all of us have the potential to be medal winners or even to participate in local, regional, national or international athletic competitions. However, we all can be inspired and motivated by those who have committed themselves to the discipline and rigours of training and competing.

In initiating this inquiry, Senator Raine said that we must take advantage of the special spirit of the Olympic Games to inspire Canadians, young and old, to choose a healthy lifestyle. That healthy lifestyle includes exercise, healthy eating, positive attitude and avoidance of unhealthy products. As has been pointed out, most Canadians fall short in one or more of these characteristics of a healthy lifestyle. It is estimated that 6 in 10 Canadians are overweight or obese. This leads to many other health complications including chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart and lung diseases, and the like.

Canadians do not exercise nearly enough. According to the Canadian Fitness and Lifestyle Research Institute, more than 50 per cent of Canadian adults aged 20 and over are inactive. Only an estimated 23 per cent are considered to be active; and one quarter more are only moderately active. Given what we know about the importance of physical fitness in the prevention of illness and disease, these are truly alarming numbers.

Having a positive attitude is also an important factor in the overall health of people. Dealing with stress, depression and other mental and emotional problems creates very difficult conditions for many Canadians. Again, research has shown that exercise and diet can help to mitigate or alleviate many of these conditions, resulting in healthier and happier lives.

Olympic athletes represent the ideal in terms of healthy living, positive attitudes and the drive to succeed. As Senator Raine pointed out in initiating this inquiry, the spirit of the 2010 Olympic Games must be harnessed to address the crisis in physical activity.

We recognize that this is not an easy challenge to meet. Despite the examples demonstrated by Olympic athletes, efforts on the parts of government and health professionals, and campaigns to encourage people to exercise more and eat better, the fact remains that Canadians could be much healthier and more active. Many poor families cannot afford to purchase healthier foods. I recently had the privilege of being involved in a project at a family resource centre in Charlottetown that helped to provide fresh vegetables and fruits to children, as well as advice to families on how these foods are best prepared. These and other initiatives can help, but they are not enough.

When it comes to exercise, there are limits on people's time. Many people live rushed and busy lives. However, many have found that it requires only the discipline to allocate even shorter periods of time to simple exercises such as walking. Despite these and other practical obstacles and constraints, we need to mount an all-out campaign to better inform people about the risks of not exercising or eating properly and about the benefits of a healthier lifestyle. It is people themselves who must make the changes needed, and we need to provide them with the information and supports that they require.

In that context, I would like to tell you about a new initiative launched by the government of Prince Edward Island in May called, Go!PEI. It is a partnership between the government and community groups that encourages Islanders to think about how they can add more physical activity to their days and how they can make healthy food choices. The campaign is organizing walking events in various communities, which promote fun and exercise. Hopefully, this will lead to people undertaking physical activities on their own or in the company of others.

In terms of healthier food choices, information is available to help people know what a portion size looks like, how to read food labels, how to follow Canada's Food Guide, and other tips for healthier eating involving various age groups.

(1620)

This issue of unhealthy living, unless it is checked, is a looming national crisis that will result in enormous costs to individual lives and to the health care system. I believe that we must have a concerted effort in Canada to promote healthy lifestyles. I hope the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic spirit will prove to be a catalyst for change. The pride we feel for the success of the men and women who compete for Canada can inspire us to achieve our own versions of the Olympic motto: Faster, Higher, Stronger.

The Hon. the Speaker: Is it agreed that this item stand in Senator Fraser's name?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(On motion of Senator Fraser, debate adjourned.)

Contraband Tobacco

Inquiry—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Segal calling the attention of the Senate to the seriousness of the problem posed by contraband tobacco in Canada, its connection with organized crime, international crime and terrorist financing, including the grave ramifications of the illegal sale of these products to young people, the detrimental effects on legitimate small business, the threat on the livelihoods of hardworking convenience store owners across Canada, and the ability of law enforcement agencies to combat those who are responsible for this illegal trade throughout Canada, and the advisability of a full-blown Senate committee inquiry into these matters.

Hon. Tommy Banks: Honourable senators, I notice that this inquiry is on the fifteenth day. I hope to ensure that it not fall off the Order Paper. If the item is about to fall off the Order Paper, I would move the adjournment of the debate.

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I have spoken with Senator Segal and advised him that unless someone else wishes to speak to the matter, that I would not keep it alive. If Senator Banks wants to keep it alive, by all means he can take the adjournment, and that will keep it on the Order Paper.

(On motion of Senator Banks, debate adjourned.)

(The Senate adjourned until Wednesday, October 27, 2010, at 1:30 p.m.)