Debates of the Senate (Hansard)
3rd Session, 40th Parliament,
Volume 147, Issue 63
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
The Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
The Senate met at 1:30 p.m., the Speaker in the chair.
Hon. Marie-P. Poulin: Honourable senators, yesterday, Tuesday,
November 2, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation started counting down to one
year of activities to commemorate the seventy-fifth anniversary of its
establishment as a national public broadcaster.
When I heard that news, I immediately realized that I had had the honour and
joy of being part of its development for one third of its existence. We cannot
underestimate the importance of November 2, 1936, the day that Canada's
Broadcasting Act came into force. That was just 69 years after Confederation,
when Canada was born. At the time, a single radio station was launched. Thus
began the work of creating a national communication network in our vast country.
Every single senator among us has access to one or more CBC or Société
Radio-Canada stations in our own communities, from Newfoundland and Labrador to
Today, the CBC offers a wide range of services in both official languages, in
eight Aboriginal languages and with closed captioning for the hearing impaired.
From these humble beginnings, one of the largest public broadcasters in the
world was born. I am proud to have been a part of its unprecedented and
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation was, and still is, our greatest
storyteller, as it broadcasts shows to all the regions of our vast country. It
has united the country and bred our own cultural expression, whether through
music, entertainment, literature, theatre, children's programming, information,
news, public affairs or sports. It is very difficult to imagine Canada without
the CBC, which has produced a rare breed of international celebrities, including
singers, comedians, actors and highly respected news commentators.
I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate all those who have
worked for the CBC over the years on their many achievements.
Hon. Gerry St. Germain: Honourable senators, like so many other
Western world countries, Canada's economy has become more knowledge-based.
Particularly in light of the global economic recession, I believe that Canada
needs to rebuild the part of our economy that, frankly, built this country in
the first place. I am speaking about our natural resources economy. The time has
come for Canada to take our knowledge-based economy and merge it with our
traditional economic drivers to create the economy of the future — the green
In my home province of British Columbia, the green industry contributes $15.3
billion in gross domestic product to the economy, and it is growing.
Senator Mercer: B.C. bud.
Senator St. Germain: I am not asking about the honourable senator's
personal life or habits.
In a report released by the Vancouver-based GLOBE Foundation, the green
economy in B.C. could realize a contribution to gross domestic product of $27.4
billion by 2020. However, this economic benchmark will not be achieved if the
green labour shortage is not addressed. According to the report, the labour
market within B.C.'s green economy will be short by 66,000 people if action is
not taken over the next nine years. With Canada coming out of a tumultuous
economic time, all levels of government must look at reports like this one.
A key element of Canada's future fiscal policy will be the green economy.
Good governance means planning for the future by investing in it today. Renewed
public policy on developing a green workforce is needed to ensure that Canada
can reap the economic benefits of the green economy. The public money invested
in green economy research and development is a prudent investment of public
money. Proper development of the green economy has a potential to benefit all
For our First Nations people, who are the original protectors of our
country's environment, the green economy can act as a driver for new educational
and economic development opportunities. Not only does the green economy have the
potential to improve Canada's economic sector, it also has the potential to
improve dramatically our health and social well-being.
I encourage all honourable senators to pay special attention to reports like
this one from the GLOBE Foundation. There is no reason why Canada's green
economy cannot be a leader in the world, for we only stand to benefit.
Senator Mercer, stay out of the bud.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.
Hon. Vim Kochhar: Honourable senators, I rise today to draw your
attention to the celebration of Diwali, the festival of lights, celebrated by
over one billion people in India and around the world. Diwali is celebrated in
India as Christmas is celebrated in Canada. Depending on the lunar calendar,
this festival falls on the darkest day of the year. This year, it falls on
November 5. The reason for celebrating this festival varies from region to
region, and religion to religion. The main reason remains the same. It is to
showcase the triumph of good over evil and overpowering our spiritual darkness.
By observing it in this way, we bring in the New Year with great expectations
and a bright, positive outlook ahead.
Many legends are associated with this festival, but mainly during this time,
people pray to Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, life, prosperity and wisdom, and
to the god Ganesha, the Remover of Obstacles and Lord of Beginnings.
It is also associated with the Ramayana, a book written some 5,000 years ago.
It is the story of how to keep one's promise and how to love one's family and
the people around one. It is a story explaining that devils temporarily succeed
but they are destroyed in the end. It is a story that public opinion may mislead
us sometimes, but that following one's conscience will always lead us to joy and
Diwali brings us a message of love, wealth and prosperity. This truly makes
the world a better place to live in. May the lights of Diwali illuminate the
year ahead for us all.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I would like to draw your
attention to the presence in the gallery of the Honourable Walter McLean, a
member of Her Majesty's Privy Council, who is accompanying a distinguished
delegation from Namibia.
On behalf of all honourable senators, welcome to the Senate of Canada.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.
Hon. Stephen Greene: Honourable senators, I went down to my mailbox
the other day and found a pamphlet from my Halifax MP, a member of the New
Democratic Party. Normally, I pile these pamphlets in a bin conveniently located
in my kitchen, so goodness knows why I decided to read this one. There on page 2
of the brochure was a picture of my MP at a Labour Day rally in Halifax,
standing next to a sign that read "Capitalism is not working."
What an awful message to give to any young person willing to invest their
time, cash and talents in starting up a business. What an awful message to give
to anyone or any company considering investing in Nova Scotia. May I remind my
MP that she represents a city which is the economic engine for the whole
province, if not the region? Where would Halifax be without private sector
companies like Irving Shipbuilding, Nova Scotia Power, Bell Aliant, Clearwater
Seafoods, Secunda Marine and Pete's Frootique? The list goes on and on — big,
medium and small — from the restaurants that MP frequents to the shops, stores
and boutiques she patronizes. Those are privately owned and managed, every one
Does she dare stand up outside of their offices and places of business and
declare that capitalism is not working? How can my MP truly represent and
promote the people and city of Halifax if she has those views?
If capitalism is not working, as she says, then what does she prescribe?
Socialism? I hardly think so. The NDP is not that naive. I would be amazed if
they did not know that socialism was in the dustbin of history, but maybe they
do not know that.
Perhaps my MP means the NDP version of capitalism is not working. I would
certainly like to think she means that, because there is plenty of evidence for
it in Nova Scotia. Under the NDP government, Nova Scotia has the highest HST/GST/PST
in the country and the highest sales taxes in North America. Nova Scotia also
has one of the highest provincial income tax rates in the country and Nova
Scotia's business taxes will soon be double those of our neighbour, New
The NDP government is not making Nova Scotia an attractive place for
investment, economic growth, jobs or families. Capitalists believe first and
foremost in low taxes, small government and balanced budgets. It has been proven
that this formula for economic growth actually works. Yet, these are all things
the NDP government in Nova Scotia has not tried. Capitalism is not working? I
might agree with that if the rest of the sign admitted the truth, that the NDP
does not allow it to work in Nova Scotia.
What can turn things around in the Province of Nova Scotia? Only the
Progressive Conservative Party under its new leader Jamie Baillie. It is
important that the MP from Halifax and all those who support her understand that
the market on which capitalism is based is not an invention of Wall Street, Adam
Smith or the West, in general. Capitalism is the horse that pulls the cart of
progress. Capitalism has existed for thousands of years and is an innate part of
the human condition.
My MP spoke on Labour Day. The day before Labour Day should be called
Capitalist Day, for without capitalists, there is no labour.
Hon. Nicole Eaton: Honourable senators, 93 years ago today on November
6, 1917, the Canadian Corps led by Lieutenant-General Sir Arthur Currie took Passchendaele. After great success at Vimy Ridge and Hill 70, the Canadians were
viewed as the best bet to secure the Belgian town. This would open up all of
northern Belgium for the Allies, allowing them to gain momentum and capture
German submarine bases.
Allied casualties had been extremely high, objectives had not been met, they
had gained just a few miles and the battlefield was a pool of mud. Currie was
hesitant to have Canadians participate and predicted 16,000 casualties. The
Canadian Corps practised the attack. They would advance in increments, with the
first goal being the red line, the second being the blue line and the third
being the green line.
When the Allies' artillery barrage commenced at 0540 hours on October 26, it
was reported as having been heard in London. Over the course of the 14-day
battle, more than 1.4 million shells were fired by the Canadian Corps. Shortly
after the barrage began, 20,000 Canadians began advancing toward the red line
through the pouring rain. Major Robert Massie wrote:
I don't believe they had been going ten minutes before they were all
soaked and covered with mud, head to foot.
The Canadians were able to achieve and hold the red line. On October 30, they
began advancing towards the blue line. They quickly reached their objective, but
for several days had to hold their gains against intense opposition. By the time
reinforcements arrived, 80 per cent of the 3rd and 4th Divisions of the Canadian
Corps were casualties.
At 0600 hours on November 6, the Canadian Corps began advancing toward the
green line, which meant capturing Passchendaele. By the end of the day, what was
left of Passchendaele was under the control of the Allies.
The victory came at a great cost. As Lieutenant-General Currie had predicted,
Canadian casualties reached 15,654 — 1,000 of which were never recovered from
General Sir David Watson said:
It need hardly be a matter of surprise that the Canadians by this time
had the reputation of being the best shock troops in the Allied Armies. . .
. the Canadian superiority was proven beyond question.
Now, as then, Canadian men and women in our Armed Forces are the best in the
Please join me in remembering the great courage that took place 93 years ago
and the great courage of our Armed Forces in Afghanistan today.
Hon. Michael Duffy: Honourable senators, I would like to follow up on
the remarks of my colleague, the Honourable Senator Eaton. As we look forward to
Remembrance Day, I want to draw attention to the remarkable work being done by
the Canadian Battlefields Foundation. The foundation seeks to keep alive in the
memory of Canadians the amazing sacrifices made in the Second World War by what
has been called the Greatest Generation.
Through their efforts, there is a Canadian Memorial Garden in Caen, France.
Every year a group of history students is taken on a tour of the battlefields in
the month of June to see where Canadians fought and died.
Many of us have been privileged to see this sacred ground, but for those who
have not, I thought honourable senators might be interested in hearing this
report from Keith Spicer, a former senior public servant, who represented the
foundation at the ceremonies in France this past June. He wrote the following:
"I was close to overwhelmed by the intensity and sincerity of French support
for" the work of the Foundation. "This was true of the officials, but also of
the ordinary French citizens I met. The commitment of these people was
profoundly touching." Mr. Spicer also reported that "they are all instilling
their sense of gratitude to Canada in their children and grandchildren."
He went on to report that, in addition to the French, he met many Dutch
citizens at the remembrance ceremonies. They, like the French, hold Canada in a
special place because of the sacrifices made by our forefathers in liberating
Tomorrow, at the National War Museum in Ottawa, the Ambassador of the
Netherlands to Canada will join with Peter Mansbridge and other distinguished
Canadians in a ceremony of remembrance. I urge all who can to attend this
Finally, it is not just November 11 or the Second World War which prompts
strong outpouring of thanks among our European friends; they have not forgotten
Passchendaele or the rest of the First World War, either.
Many of you may know that every evening at eight o'clock in the city of
Ypres, Belgium, traffic comes to a halt at the Menin Gate. Local volunteers
conduct a ceremony of remembrance for the more than 15,000 Canadian and
Commonwealth soldiers who gave their lives in the liberation of just that part
of Belgium during the First World War.
For these and millions of other Europeans, every day is Remembrance Day. That
is why I think it is important that here at home we do all we can to help the
Canadian Battlefields Foundation in their important mission of keeping this
vital part of our history alive.
Hon. Michael A. Meighen, Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on
Banking, Trade and Commerce, presented the following report:
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
The Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce has the
honour to present its
Your Committee, to which was referred the document "User Fee Proposal for
Services under the Canada Not-for-Profit Corporations Act" has in
obedience to the order of reference of Monday, September 27, 2010, examined
the User Fee Proposal and, in accordance with section 5 of the User Fee
Act, recommends that it be approved.
MICHAEL A. MEIGHEN
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this report be
taken into consideration?
(On motion of Senator Meighen, report placed on the Orders of the Day for
consideration at the next sitting of the Senate.)
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, with leave of the Senate and notwithstanding rule 58(1)(e), I give
notice that later this day, I will move:
That, in accordance with rule 74(1), the Standing Senate Committee on
National Finance be authorized to examine the subject-matter of Bill C-47, A
second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in
Parliament on March 4, 2010 and other measures, introduced in the House of
Commons on September 30, 2010, in advance of the said bill coming before the
The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted, honourable senators?
Some Hon. Senators: No.
Senator Comeau: If the honourable senators across the floor do not
grant leave, I will move the motion at the next sitting of the Senate.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to
adopt the motion?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
(On motion of Senator Comeau, motion placed on the Orders of the Day for
consideration at the next sitting of the Senate.)
Hon. A. Raynell Andreychuk: Honourable senators, I give notice that,
at the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:
That the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International
Trade be authorized to examine and report on the political and economic
developments in Brazil and the implications for Canadian policy and
interests in the region, and other related matters.
That the committee submit its final report to the Senate no later than
December 22, 2011 and that the committee retain all powers necessary to
publicize its findings until March 31, 2012.
Hon. Maria Chaput: Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader
of the Government in the Senate. Yesterday, the Commissioner of Official
Languages presented Volume II of his 2009-10 annual report. In 2009-10, the
commissioner deemed admissible 1,477 complaints relating to failure to comply
with the Official Languages Act. Of those, 876 were against CBC/Radio-Canada
regarding budget cutbacks in Windsor, Ontario.
With respect to service to the public, 451 complaints were deemed admissible
in 2009-10, which was about the same number as in 2005-06.
With regard to the active offer in person, the commissioner's observations
show that only two of the 16 institutions reviewed greeted the public in both
English and French more than 60 per cent of the time. Only two institutions out
of 16. Why is the active offer so rare in our federal institutions?
Why are Canadians still too often having a hard time accessing federal
services in the official language of their choice?
Would strong leadership on the leader's part help federal institutions
correct this problem? The Commissioner of Official Languages' report
demonstrates the urgency of the situation. There is no excuse for not taking
My question is this: does the government intend to take action immediately to
ensure full compliance with the Official Languages Act before our hard-won
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): I thank the
honourable senator for the question. As she would know, the government is most
appreciative of Mr. Graham Fraser, the Official Languages Commissioner, for his
excellent report. We will review all of the commissioner's recommendations and
will continue to work with his office.
Where there are issues — and as the honourable senator pointed out, there are
some issues — we will set about to immediately work with the commissioner to
address them. However, I would like to draw the attention of honourable senators
to page 8 of the report, which shows that the number of complaints filed by
Canadians in this area of official languages services to the public is lower
than under the previous Liberal government.
We take our responsibility to Canada's Official Languages Act seriously. I
wish to assure the honourable senator that, where there are concerns, the
government will work extremely hard with the commissioner and with departmental
officials to address them.
Senator Chaput: I would also like to draw the Leader of the Government
in the Senate's attention to the fact that, although there are no more
complaints now than there have been in the past, studies have shown that first,
francophones in minority communities have been filing fewer complaints because
they are sick and tired of filing complaints, and second, people are not aware
of their rights and they do not know where they should be receiving service in
English and French. When they do complain, they may be told that the service is
not available because the office is not designated. Thus, there are issues with
fatigue and with the burden of proof.
Does the leader not believe that this is something to think about and
something the government might wish to look at?
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, I take issue with the
honourable senator's comment that the Canadian Armed Forces has given up. That
is not the case. The Canadian Forces recognize the importance of supporting both
official languages. As I have said before to the honourable senator on other
questions, ensuring that French and English have equal status is not only the
right thing to do but it also is the right thing to do from an operational point
The Canadian Forces has accepted the 20 recommendations from the
commissioner's June 2 report, and the commissioner has written that he is
satisfied with the action plan of the Department of National Defence to
implement the recommendations. The Department of National Defence has been
working to implement the recommendations of the Official Languages Commissioner.
The Official Languages Commissioner has said he is satisfied with the work at
the Department of National Defence. I think it is irresponsible to suggest that
the Armed Forces have given up.
Senator Mitchell: She did not suggest that.
Senator Poulin: Bad translation.
Senator Chaput: Honourable senators, I apologize to the Leader of the
Government, but I did not mention the Armed Forces. There must have been an
error in the translation. I will check that.
Hon. Jean-Claude Rivest: Honourable senators, I would like to ask a
supplementary question. Year after year, the Commissioner of Official Languages'
reports are, unfortunately, quite similar and always highlight large gaps in the
application of the law, as our colleague Senator Chaput pointed out.
It seems to me that it is time that the current government and, in
particular, the Prime Minister, Mr. Harper, return to the tradition that began
with the Right Honourable Pierre Elliot Trudeau and was continued by the Right
Honourable Brian Mulroney. I would like to hear a firm, determined and resolute
commitment from the Prime Minister of Canada to assume his leadership role, as
Prime Minister of Canada, to ensure that the Official Languages Act is properly
Senator LeBreton: All I can say to the honourable senator is that he
heard absolutely right. We see by the Prime Minister's actions and the actions
of our government that the Prime Minister's commitment to our official languages
is firm, it is demonstrable, and we see examples of it every single day.
Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: In early 2010, Canada welcomed the whole
world to the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games. British Columbia was
proud to host this event. Unfortunately, we have one black mark. We hosted the
world well but we let down Canadians. Our duality, French and English, was not
reflected at the Games. The Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages
received 46 complaints regarding the Vancouver Games of which 38 were
specifically about the lack of French during the opening ceremony. The office of
the commissioner determined, after investigation, that these 38 complaints
related to the violations of Part VII of the Official Languages Act, the law of
Canadian Heritage had negotiated an agreement prior to the Games with the
Vancouver Organizing Committee that contained an official languages clause. In
his 2009-10 report, the commissioner deplored the fact that the clause was not
more explicit regarding the reflection of Canada's linguistic duality.
Why was the language clause not more specific regarding the committee's
responsibility on linguistic duality?
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, I remember addressing this
issue many times prior to the Olympics and Paralympics taking place in Vancouver
and also, I believe, just following the Olympics.
As honourable senators know, and as the Minister of Canadian Heritage stated,
the opening ceremony was under the responsibility of VANOC and the Olympic
organization. There was disappointment at the lack of both official languages in
Having said that, all facilities that were under the direct control of the
federal government fully recognized and adhered to the Official Languages Act.
Honourable senators will recall that the Commissioner of Official Languages, Mr.
Graham Fraser, went to Vancouver specifically and spent the whole time during
the Olympics assessing how well the Official Languages Act was being respected
and implemented. Honourable senators will recall that he gave the federal
government in all of its roles in the Olympics high marks and reported that the
Government of Canada had met completely its obligations to the Official
Senator Jaffer: Moving forward, will the minister's government ensure
that all future contribution agreements relating to Canada's linguistic duality
will be more explicit regarding both the presence and proper representation of
both our official languages?
Senator LeBreton: As I said in answer to all of the questions today,
honourable senators, the government fully supports, implements and recognizes
absolutely Canada's Official Languages Act.
With regard to the honourable senator's specific question, since there does
not appear to be an Olympics or a major international event upcoming in the near
future, I can only surmise that the experience of the Olympics in February would
cause the government, if we were ever in such a situation again, to remind
organizers of these committees that we have an Official Languages Act in this
country and it is their duty to respect that act.
Senator Comeau: We hope we will still be government at that time.
Hon. Terry M. Mercer: Honourable senators, every federal institution
has a duty to consult official language communities about their needs. In fact,
this consultation is an obligation under the Official Languages Act. According
to the recent report of the Commissioner of Official Languages, some
institutions fail to consult these communities entirely while others hold
consultations but, at the end of the day, do not take the opinions expressed
The commissioner says that he truly believes that strong leadership will
enable federal institutions to address these types of shortcomings.
Will the federal government ensure that all federal institutions falling
under the act will take positive measures to establish effective consultation
mechanisms, thus respecting their obligations?
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, I answered that question in
reply to the Honourable Senator Chaput's question.
Obviously, the government takes the reports of the Official Languages
Commissioner seriously. We will work hard with his office. From his report, we
know there are certain departments that have issues that must be addressed, and
the government is committed fully to working with the Official Languages
Commissioner to address these concerns.
I point out to honourable senators that this government has a good record of
adhering to all aspects of the Official Languages Act and, as I pointed out to
the honourable senator's seatmate, page 8 of the report shows the number of
complaints filed by Canadians in the area of official languages services to the
public is lower under our government than under the previous Liberal government.
Senator Mockler: That is leadership.
Senator Mercer: Yesterday, I asked a witness from the Canadian Tourism
Commission who appeared before the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and
Communications at hearings on the study about airlines and moving from Ottawa to
Vancouver. You will recall that the tourism commission moved from Ottawa to
Vancouver. I asked about the level of bilingualism of staff. I was informed that
about 50 per cent or 60 per cent of the positions in Vancouver are bilingual.
What is more interesting is that they sometimes struggle to find people in
Vancouver who meet the bilingualism standards.
Will the leader assure this chamber that we will respect the Official
Languages Act and ensure that we have mechanisms in place to achieve 100 per
Senator LeBreton: Again, honourable senators, the Official Languages
Act is an act that is the law of the land to ensure that services are available
in both official languages in federal institutions. Obviously, the government
fully supports the Official Languages Act.
As I pointed out — now at least four times — where there are concerns, the
government will work with the various departments and agencies to address them.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, before calling on
Honourable Senator Pépin, I wish to draw your attention to the presence in the
gallery of His Excellency Mircea Geoana, President of the Senate of Romania.
He is accompanied by the distinguished Ambassador of Romania to Canada and a
On behalf of all honourable senators, I welcome you all to the Senate of
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.
Hon. Lucie Pépin: Honourable senators, the Commissioner of Official
Languages has pointed out that too many Canadians still have difficulty
obtaining federal government services in French or in English. All too often,
minority official language communities do not benefit from the support they need
in order to flourish.
The Official Languages Act has been in place for more than 40 years. Why,
then, can minority language communities not expect better treatment today and
receive better federal services in the language of their choice?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): As the honourable
senator points out, the act has been in place for 40 years. This and previous
governments respect and obey the law of the land, which is the Official
Languages Act. That is why we have a Commissioner of Official Languages. He
oversees the implementation of the act and ensures that the act is properly
implemented and respected by all federal agencies and departments of the
When the honourable senator asks how it could be, obviously it is a situation
where governments must be forever vigilant. The Commissioner of Official
Languages is vigilant on behalf of Parliament because he is an officer of
Parliament. That is the value of the work that the Commissioner of Official
Languages provides. Obviously, this year, he pointed out areas that are not up
to appropriate levels. That is why, when the Commissioner of Official Languages
makes such a report, the government is appreciative. Otherwise, we probably
would not know.
As I have said before, we thank the Commissioner of Official Languages. We
appreciate the commissioner pointing out to the government where improvement is
needed, and we will work carefully with the commissioner and with the
departmental officials to ensure that the Official Languages Act is fully
Honourable senators, this situation is not something unique to this
government. In fact, this government's record, according to the Commissioner of
Official Languages, on page 8, is better than the record of the previous one.
Hon. Grant Mitchell: Honourable senators, there is one feature of the
language commissioner's report that I found to be particularly revealing and
interesting, particularly in light of what the leader has said about the
government's commitment and the priority the government places on official
languages, and how hard they will work with the Commissioner of Official
Languages to solve these problems.
The commissioner said:
. . . too many federal institutions have difficulty fulfilling their
language obligations regarding service to the public because they fail to
adequately follow up on the plans they have developed or agreements they
have signed, or because they fail to monitor the impact of their actions.
Those two features require management and leadership. If one does not have
management and one does not have leadership, those things are not done. They
have not been done for five years under this government's regime.
How can this leader say that her government is committed to official
languages as some kind of initiative or priority when she simply has not applied
the resources and does not have the priorities or, perhaps the leadership to
make that priority happen when the government has had five years to do that?
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, we do appreciate when the
Commissioner of Official Languages reports to Parliament and draws Parliament's
and the government's attention to areas that require it. The honourable senator
must have had plugs in his ears.
Senator Mitchell: If only I had.
Senator LeBreton: The honourable senator seems to say that the
complaints have occurred only in the last five years. However, on page 8 of the
present report of the Commissioner of Official Languages, it shows that the
number of complaints filed by Canadians in the area of official languages
services to the public is lower under this government than it was under the
previous Liberal government.
Senator Tkachuk: Read the report.
Senator Mitchell: Complaints are lower undoubtedly because Canadians
have diminishing interest in approaching this government for anything because
they do not receive service or response; all they receive is spin. There is
never any answer, no solution to problems, no advancement, no vision and no
leadership. Why would anyone go to this government?
We will see how many go to this government in the next election.
Here is an easy, specific problem when you talk about doing something
specific to fix the problem. The commissioner's top recommendation to Ottawa, to
the government, is:
. . . table a new bill as quickly as possible to protect and uphold the
language rights of the travelling public and Air Canada employees, and make
Jazz directly subject to the Official Languages Act.
How hard can that solution be? When will you implement it?
Senator LeBreton: When the honourable senator talks about "spin," he
reminds me of that little cartoon character that runs around in the desert and
creates a lot of dust.
Senator Comeau: The Tasmanian Devil.
Senator LeBreton: That is who it is.
The obligation to provide bilingual services to the public and a bilingual
workplace applies to Air Canada under the Air Canada Public Participation Act.
Our government intends to table legislation to address the commissioner's
recommendations regarding Air Canada Jazz.
Senator Mitchell: The Royal Canadian Mounted Police has been singled
out as having little or no resolve to address language-of-work issues that have
persisted for years. I assume that comment would include at least the last five
years under this government's regime.
Can the minister give the people of Canada some indication of whether her
government, in working with the Commissioner of Official Languages, will take
specific measures relating to the RCMP and their failure to provide proper
official languages services?
Senator LeBreton: The honourable senator is now asking me, as the
Leader of the Government in the Senate, to take on the work of the Commissioner
of Official Languages.
Senator Comeau: He has done his work.
Senator Tardif: Just enact the recommendation.
Senator LeBreton: I imagine that the Commissioner of Official
Languages, when he reports to Parliament and looks at all agencies of
government, obviously will look at the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
Hon. Roméo Antonius Dallaire: Honourable senators, Citizenship and
Immigration Canada has now standardized the forms needed to obtain a visa in
this country. It is interesting that in the new form, they ask any applicant who
has served in the military, police or civil defence services to disclose when
they served, what unit they served in, where that unit was located and what
their responsibilities were. When I read that, it brought me back to some of the
intelligence data gathering that we used during the Cold War.
Particularly with regard to the complaint by the Russians, has Canada
reopened a new venue of seeking intelligence from more recent allies through the
visa application form?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators,
I will take that question as notice and refer it to the proper departmental
officials for response.
Senator Dallaire: The new form also requires that the individual
disclose present or past membership in a political party, a trade union or any
other social, professional or youth organization.
Can I take for granted, then, either through membership in the professional
army or as a non-state actor, with respect to an individual who was a child
soldier and is now an adult, that that person could essentially be denied a visa
as a result of having been a child soldier?
Senator LeBreton: Senator Dallaire always has the same round-about
way of coming back to his favourite topic. I will take that question as notice.
Senator Dallaire: I would add that it raises a further question. If
this is the application and the interpretation of the application by staff on
how to obtain a visa, will that have an impact on the application of any such
rules on child soldiers being returned to Canada? Would that affect the decision
one year from now regarding Omar Khadr, after his year in jail?
Some Hon. Senators: Shame!
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, I just said that Senator
Dallaire always manages to get the question back to his favourite subject
matter. I will take the question as notice.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, I have the honour to present three delayed answers to oral questions
raised by Senator Chaput on September 28, 2010, concerning Industry — the 2011
Census; by Senator Cordy on October 5 and November 2, 2010, concerning Industry
— the 2011 Census; and by Senator Moore on October 5, 2010, concerning Industry
— the 2011 Census.
(Response to question raised by Hon. Maria Chaput on September 28, 2010)
The data from the mandatory 2011 Census and the voluntary National
Household Survey will be collected, processed, analyzed and released
There are three language questions in the 2011 Census and five language
questions in the 2011 National Household Survey. The questions that are
included in both the census and the survey are: knowledge of official
languages, home language and mother tongue. In addition, the National
Household Survey will include questions on knowledge of non-official
languages and language of work.
The three questions asked in the 2011 Census will provide the information
necessary to derive information on first official language spoken which is
needed to support policy and programs administered under the Official
Languages Act. The language information, coupled with the demographic
information from the 2011 Census, will be released in 2012.
Data collected in the National Household Survey will provide supplemental
information on the situation of Canada's various language groups. The survey
data from the larger suite of language questions, when combined with data
from the ethno-cultural, place of birth, immigration, place of work and
other questions, will provide information that can be used to analyze the
linguistic diversity of Canada's population.
This is the first time Statistics Canada will conduct the National
Household Survey. Statistics Canada will analyze and release the results of
the survey applying the same methods and approaches as used for all its
surveys. The schedule for releasing results of the National Household
Survey, while not yet determined, is expected to occur throughout 2013. The
product line will be separate from that of the 2011 Census and will be
finalized following the processing and evaluation of survey results.
(Response to questions raised by Hon. Jane Cordy on October 5, 2010 and
November 2, 2010)
The sample size for the mandatory 2011 long form Census was approximately
2.9 million dwellings. The voluntary National Household Survey replaced the
mandatory long form census and will be sent to approximately 4.5 million
dwellings, an increase of 1.6 million dwellings. The government is
allocating $5 million in additional funding to Statistics Canada to cover
the increased printing and mail-out costs associated with the increased
sample. All other costs related to the development and implementation of the
National Household Survey are covered as part of the approved census budget.
(Response to question raised by Hon. Wilfred P. Moore on October 5, 2010)
Enumerators working on the 2006 Census were initially paid on a 'per
form' basis in the first few weeks of field collection. The 'per form' rates
were established to equate to an hourly rate of $11.88. Payment moved to an
hourly rate once the field workload diminished and it became less
advantageous to pay on a 'per form' basis. The Office of the Auditor General
(OAG) observed that the 'per form' mode of payment was cumbersome, difficult
to understand, and may have been one of the reasons Statistics Canada's
recruitment efforts fell short in many parts of the country in 2006. The OAG
recommended that new compensation approaches be explored for 2011.
Statistics Canada will be paying all field enumeration work on an hourly
basis for the 2011 census and the National Household Survey. The hourly rate
will be $14.72 an hour for enumerators.
Hon. Stephen Greene moved second reading of Bill C-14, An Act to amend
the Electricity and Gas Inspection Act and the Weights and Measures Act.
He said: Honourable senators, I rise today to speak in support of Bill C-14,
which has the short title Fairness at the Pumps Act. This bill amends the
Weights and Measures Act and the Electricity and Gas Inspection Act to protect
Canadians from inaccurate measurement.
Commercial transactions, the countless exchanges between buyers and sellers
that take place every day in our country, are made on the basis of trust. The
seller sells the agreed-upon quantity at a fair price; the buyer makes the
agreed-upon payment in a timely manner.
Canadians across the country have for some time called for stricter
legislation to strengthen their fair business practices and industries that
measure or weigh the products they sell.
I should like to remind my honourable colleagues that many Canadians have
become concerned about whether or not they are getting what they are paying for
when purchasing goods on the basis of measure. Federal measurement standards
took a drubbing in the media in 2008 when several news outlets, including the
Ottawa Citizen, revealed that Canadians were not always receiving all of the
gas they pay for.
Consumers often cannot tell if a measuring device is not operating properly
unless it is wildly off the mark. They have no means of judging for themselves
the accuracy of the measuring device. For example, if the device is overcharging
consumers, who is to know? Who is to compel the retailer to fix the faulty
device if that retailer does not even know himself or herself that the error
exists? Bill C-14 provides the foundation for addressing such issues.
On that foundation, retailers will be able to build a solid track record that
will go a long way toward developing renewed trust with Canadian consumers,
trust that they are receiving precisely what they pay for every time. The
government's goal with Bill C-14 is clear: to ensure that gas pumps and other
measuring devices are measuring accurately so that Canadians get what they pay
To be precise, the bill gives the force of law to three specific changes that
have been carefully designed to protect consumers and level the playing field
for businesses. First, the bill sanctions mandatory inspection frequencies for
measuring devices used by retailers. Second, the bill authorizes the Minister of
Industry to designate qualified non-government inspectors to carry out
inspections of measuring devices. Third, the bill sets out stiffer penalties
that can be imposed under the Weights and Measures Act and the Electricity and
Gas Inspection Act, and puts in place a new graduated system of administrative
Many countries — France, Germany and most of the U.S. — have used mandatory
inspection frequencies in their weights and measurement legislation for years.
Canada has lagged behind. It is time a modernizing law, such as the Fairness at
the Pumps Act, puts our country's approach to retail measurement in line with
Bill C-14 moves substantially forward by calling for mandatory inspection
frequencies. This means inspections must be carried out every one to five years,
depending on the industry and type of measuring device.
Under Bill C-14, inspection frequencies will be introduced in eight sectors:
retail petroleum, downstream or wholesale petroleum, dairy, retail food,
fishing, logging, grain and field crop and mining. Other sectors might be added
in the future depending on the results of ongoing consultations with
Establishing mandatory inspections frequencies for measuring devices helps
address a critical element of the measurement problem: retailers who neglect to
maintain their measurement equipment and, as a result, charge customers unfairly
for the goods they purchase.
Importantly, Measurement Canada will not carry out these mandatory
inspections. The bill authorizes specially trained private sector companies to
do the work on behalf of government. Measurement Canada will evaluate and
monitor them every year to ensure they are doing their jobs correctly. If they
do not, their authority will be revoked.
Once authorized service providers have been designated, they will be
available for hire whenever retailers need them. This, combined with mandatory
inspections, will lead to a much higher number of inspections than under the
current legislation. More inspections will lead to more accuracy in the
Authorized service providers could also service and repair measurement
devices as they perform their inspections. In this way, small businesses will
find they can kill two birds with one stone and keep their equipment working
optimally at all times.
Under Bill C-14, other weaknesses in the existing statutes are addressed by
increasing fines and putting into place a new graduated system of administrative
Court-imposed fines for the variety of offences listed in the Weights and
Measures Act and the Electricity and Gas Inspection Act will rise from $1,000 to
$10,000 for minor offences and from $5,000 to $25,000 for major offences. The
bill also introduces a new fine of $50,000 to be levied against those who
repeatedly violate the act.
To levy fines under the two existing laws, the government must prosecute
alleged offenders, but a process as complex as a criminal proceeding and a
punishment as severe as prosecution is not always the most appropriate way to
deal with all those who violate the law. Some contraventions of the law may call
for less stern penalties. It is common sense. That is why administrative
monetary penalties are also being introduced.
Bill C-14 gives federal authorities a means of penalizing offenders without
actually prosecuting them as criminals. Although this bill calls for swift
punishment when necessary, it also recognizes that some measurement offences are
relatively minor and inadvertent.
As such, Bill C-14 offers what we call the graduated enforcement approach,
which means that the penalty always fits the offence. Canadians believe in
appropriate justice, and this legislation reflects that ethos. Indeed, the
Fairness at the Pumps Act approaches the very issue of enforcement in a spirit
of fairness and constructive encouragement rather than casting all offenders as
Clearly, honourable senators, as commodity prices continue to soar, so does
the need for Canadian consumers to develop a greater sense of confidence in
transactions based on measurement. This need was a strong impetus for Bill C-14,
but this bill was also drafted with a keen eye to the needs of other
In truth, action on this issue significantly predates the negative media
coverage of 2008. Measurement Canada had already begun consulting with
stakeholders, including business operators and consumer groups, on a broad range
of proposed reforms. A legislative review of the Weights and Measures Act and
the Electricity and Gas Inspection Act had been announced in the Industry Canada
2006-07 Report on Plans and Priorities.
Stakeholder consultations underscored the fact that retailers can be
victimized also by inaccurate measurement, whether by their own inadvertent
errors or their competitors' deliberate practices. Those consultations led to
the recommendation for mandatory inspection frequencies.
Businesses know that the best way for their businesses to maintain the trust
of consumers is to have their measuring devices and instruments undergo regular
inspection. In addition, because they know exactly how much they are selling,
they face fewer inventory problems, which streamlines their business practices
and saves them time and money. The legislation offers tangible benefits for
businesses, including the small business operator.
Bill C-14 is about fairness — fairness for consumers and fairness for
retailers. This legislation will encourage a fair process and fair business
transactions for Canadian consumers and businesses across Canada who purchase or
sell goods on the basis of measure.
This bill is a step in right direction towards ensuring that Canadians can
trust that they are receiving exactly what they pay for. I urge honourable
colleagues to defend the interests of Canadians and to contemplate the merits of
Thank you, honourable senators, for allowing me to address this bill.
(On motion of Senator Tardif, debate adjourned.)
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Wallin, seconded
by the Honourable Senator Marshall, for the second reading of Bill S-209, An
Act respecting a national day of service to honour the courage and sacrifice
of Canadians in the face of terrorism, particularly the events of September
Hon. Grant Mitchell: Honourable senators, I rise to speak to Bill
S-209, an Act respecting a national day of service to honour the courage and
sacrifice of Canadians in the face of terrorism, particularly the events of
September 11, 2001.
I appreciate the significance of Bill S-209 and the intentions, emotions and
respect from which it comes. I know that it comes from a place upon which
Senator Wallin has firmly placed her feet, a place with which she has defined
herself. It is a place that respects patriotism and service to countries,
service to something bigger than ourselves. It is a place that respects
sacrifice for the greater good. It is a place that respects heroism and
sacrifice, once again, for the greater good and for our country in physical and
other forms of sacrifice.
All those things add up to a definition of a place that is clearly defined by
a deep love of this country, and I respect Senator Wallin for being so strong in
finding her definition in this house, in this Senate and on that place.
They are all good things. They are particularly good things if they are
applied with sincerity and humility, and I have no doubt that the inception of
this bill captured those two important elements.
I have a problem with the process in that the idea of selecting days is
becoming exceptionally ad hoc. It is becoming popular, and it is happening more
and more frequently. Days are selected so often without any kind of context or
appreciation that we should assess the conditions or parameters under which
different groups and individuals be recognized in this way or any number of
We all know that the Order of Canada is not presented to someone based on
legislation. None of us can stand up with a private member's bill and say that a
certain person should receive the Order of Canada. Medals of bravery in the
military are not allocated to someone simply because of a commander's arbitrary
decision that that person should have it. We do not choose judges based on a
piece of legislation or in an arbitrary fashion; we have parameters. We do not
choose memorial parks to reflect honour upon an outstanding citizen or hero
without a basic process that is not ad hoc. We do not name buildings after
important and significant contributors to our society through legislation.
In each of those cases, we set up a managed, regularized process where we
have parameters, criteria and objective groups that can make the decision. Why
do we not have that kind of process when it comes to determining who should be
honoured by a special day?
It is not that I am opposed to this particular honour. I feel as much as
everyone in this Senate the sense of loss and frustration that we all felt so
profoundly on that day. We could see in Canadian families who lost people that
there is an element of need for recognition of that particular day in a special
way, perhaps as a day or in some other way.
However, I know that we are reaching a point where selecting days is much too
arbitrary, and it is rolling over on itself. We should step back and find a way
to select days in a structured, professional and objective way.
If we simply begin to allocate a day to a group without properly knowing the
context and the structure within which that decision has been made, or without
an objective process — I am not saying we are doing that in this case, by any
means — we might diminish other groups that have been recognized already in that
way, or if the honour is not bestowed on a group that is equally worthy,
although I am sure this group is. We could miss groups equally deserving of this
honour who simply were not lucky enough to have a defender among the 105 of us
to decide that their particular recognition is driven through this institution
and they be bestowed with some great honour.
We need to step back and consider how we can allocate these days in a way
that is fair to all such groups. Heroism, sacrifice, respect for country and
service to something bigger than ourselves happen every day in Canada. Perhaps
they do not happen every day in Canada in the way that is captured by this bill,
but they happen in many important ways. I want to know, when we bestow the
honour of a day on a group, that we are not making a mistake with other groups
and that we are treating the broad spectrum of possibilities for such honours in
a way that is balanced and objective.
Hon. Hugh Segal: Would the honourable senator take a question?
Senator Mitchell: Yes.
Senator Segal: It was not my sense from the wording of this particular
proposal before us that it was conferring a particular recognition on a
particular group. It was my sense, and correct me if I am wrong, that the
purpose of this piece of legislation was to pay tribute to all those who engaged
in a way that would provide support and succour to those who went through the
suffering engaged as volunteers, engaged in service, or engaged in terms of
It was a large community involving everyone from volunteer fire people to
members of the Armed Forces, and to individual citizens who lined up in the
thousands across Canada to give blood and to be of support to our neighbours who
were under attack.
I did not get the sense that this was as narrow as perhaps the honourable
senator's comments unwittingly implied.
Is it his sense that this is a very narrow proposition? I do not think I
heard him say that, in the absence of a specific bureaucratic process, we should
not proceed. I heard him say that he would like a broader process, one that was
a bit more laid out and explicit, which I understand, but I do not think I heard
him suggest we should not proceed.
Senator Mitchell: I am sorry, honourable senators, I did not express
myself clearly. I do not think we should proceed until we have a better process
or at least a way of answering some of these questions.
If the honourable senator is arguing, and he argues it very well, that this
is much broader and it is not narrow, then what he has raised is one very
important criterion for the discussion or the determination process, which would
be how broad or how narrow? Is it one person? Is it better because it is 10,000
people? He just begged the very question I am asking, and I would put that into
the terms of reference for whatever group we would try to define to make these
As a more specific answer to the question, the short description of this bill
is very precise. It gets down to terrorism and specifically to September 11.
However, it does not talk about a listing of who it would be honouring, at least
at this level. Maybe one would get into that when one makes presentations and
people talk about it on September 11 from now until forever.
In summary, my point is, thanks for listing one criterion for an award of
this nature — broadness versus narrowness. It is a very important consideration
to be made. We need to have those criteria, otherwise we may be excluding groups
now that should not be excluded and we should have a group that will ensure that
everyone who is deserving of this level of recognition should be recognized.
Currently it is pure happenstance. There may be many people and groups out there
who should be recognized. It is pure, unadulterated happenstance. One may happen
to come across them in some media and say, "I will do it," but what about all
the other people who do not bump into a senator and whose issue and need or
merit for recognition never comes to the light of this chamber?
Hon. Pamela Wallin: Would the honourable senator take another
Senator Mitchell: Certainly.
Senator Wallin: This is the third time that this bill has been put
forward in this house. Each time the questions raised by the other side seem to
have indicated a misunderstanding of what was being proposed. Therefore, I would
ask the honourable senator if he would move expeditiously to send this bill to
committee for study, which is what he seems to be asking for, that it needs to
be looked at and studied.
Senator Mitchell: It is not actually my decision to do that. That is a
discussion between the house leaders. I guess they have been discussing it and
apparently the honourable senator has been discussing it with her house leader
because she is intense about it, as she should be.
If we want to talk about why it has been delayed three times, it is
prorogation. That is why it has been delayed.
Senator Wallin: Would the honourable senator take another question?
If there is, as I gather from Senator Mitchell's comments, a desire and need
to better understand this, and he believes more debate and understanding is
required, can I ask that he move, seek or speak to his leadership about moving
this to committee? When this has been raised before, it has been adjourned.
Senator Mitchell: I do get the impression that there is great
frustration sometimes in getting a speaking place on the honourable senator's
side and with its leadership. I often find that. I am finding that on some of my
bills when people say they have not been told they can speak yet. Over here, we
do not have to wait to be told to speak.
If the honourable senator wants to get it done, she should talk to her
leadership and get them to do it. Do not ask me. It is not my job to do that; it
is her job and his job.
Hon. Joseph A. Day: Would the honourable senator take another
Senator Mitchell: Yes.
Senator Day: The bill focuses on paying tribute to Canada's civilian
and military efforts in the battle against terrorism, which at the beginning of
the fighting in Afghanistan would have been all of the activity that is going
on; but since General McChrystal has reclassified, and therefore NATO has
reclassified, the activity as a counter-insurgency, would counter-insurgents and
those who are fighting counter-insurgency, both civilian and military, be
included? Has the honourable senator considered that point when reading the word
Senator Mitchell: I had not considered that distinction, although it
is a very significant distinction, if not probably subtle to the general public.
Again, it is exactly the kind of thing that needs to be considered in these
The Order of Canada review process is a very detailed, elaborate and careful
process. It is not just thrown out after a couple of hours of debate in the
Senate or the House of Commons and someone is all of a sudden an Order of
Canada, because it has huge implications for the significance, value and honour
of that honour. We have to ensure that we are not just stumbling from award to
award, somehow bestowing honours that will be diluted by the very fact that we
are not using sufficient criteria and applying sufficient rigour in the way they
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Will the
honourable senator accept another question?
I could not help but overhear a few minutes ago the honourable senator saying
something to the effect that the deputy leader on this side was able to stop,
mute or tell this side of the chamber whether or not they could speak. Perhaps
he knows something that I do not about this side of the house, contrary to what
probably happens on the other side of the house, except for our honourable
colleague, who seems to have a gift for many words. That reminds me of the old
expression about a man of few words but who spoke often.
The members on this side of the house, probably contrary to his side, can
speak whenever they want. The members on this side of the chamber speak when
they want to and they do not need to seek permission from this person.
Senator Mitchell: I will give the deputy leader the answer, although
there is no real question. He said, "unless he knows something," — that would be
me — "that I do not know." Well, I do know something he does not know. He should
talk to his backbench because, as many over there will tell you, they have a
problem with it.
(On motion of Senator Peterson, debate adjourned.)
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Fraser, seconded
by the Honourable Senator Rompkey, P.C., for the second reading of Bill
C-302, An Act to recognize the injustice that was done to persons of Italian
origin through their "enemy alien" designation and internment during the
Second World War, and to provide for restitution and promote education on
Hon. Consiglio Di Nino: Honourable senators, this item stands
adjourned in the name of Senator Comeau. I have spoken with him. Hopefully,
everyone will be in agreement that I speak. It will then remain adjourned in his
name and as well, as the critic of the bill, I would certainly reserve myself
the 45 minutes time limit.
Is that agreed?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Di Nino: Honourable senators, 70 years ago, on June 10, 1940,
to be exact, the Government of Canada declared many Canadians of Italian
heritage "enemy aliens" and ordered their internment. Bill C-302 deals with this
measure, the consequences of which still send a chill throughout the Italian
Canadian community. The impact lasted decades and affected not only those who
were interned, but their families, friends, co-workers and neighbours. Being
branded an enemy alien and the associated consequences destroyed untold lives
and had an escalating effect for decades. Many changed their names; some moved
to other communities or countries; but most just suffered. The label "enemy
alien" and its impact continued to permeate society for more than a generation.
Immigrants from countries seen as "not on our side of the war" were mercilessly
mistreated, discriminated against and, at times, persecuted. I know; I was one
of those enemy aliens who, together with my mother and father, arrived at Pier
21 in Halifax on August 21, 1951, just six short years after hostilities ceased.
The issue of redress for those interned has been of great interest to me for
I am deeply insulted by the introduction of Bill C-302 by a Liberal member in
the other place; and for me to properly convey this message to you, I need to
divulge some things about my past, some of which I have never publicly talked
about, regarding my experiences as a young immigrant to Canada in 1951.
We arrived in Canada when I was 13. The impact of that June 10, 1940 decree
by Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King, ordering the internment of a
number of Canadians of Italian background as "enemy aliens," was still strong.
Many more were investigated, fingerprinted and kept on a watch list. All
Canadians of Italian background, whether citizens or not, were under suspicion
and this continued for decades, indeed generations.
After the Second World War, Canada needed workers and invited Europeans to
emigrate to this part of the New World. What most found was hostility,
discrimination, racism and the doors to the so-called "Canadian community"
closed. Immigrants did the most menial jobs. This has not changed much. The most
difficult part was the rejection of immigrants by mainstream society,
particularly newcomers from "enemy countries." When I arrived, the spirit of
1940, the public declaration of "enemy alien," was alive and well.
This was the Canada we found. Other than as workers in the most unpleasant,
dangerous and dirty jobs, we were not wanted by most Canadians. Most of us
endured that and created our own social and cultural environment. In retrospect,
I saw it as a rite of passage. Boys and girls had to go to school, where they
suffered the indignities other children generally direct towards those who are
different. They were following the example set by the community and, indeed, in
their own homes.
My first encounter with this rejection came days after our arrival in
Toronto. Walking down the street with an Italian boy who had been in Canada a
year or so and understood English, we were confronted by a distressed, screaming
woman who would have attacked us had we not run away. When we were a safe
distance, my friend informed me that the lady had called us "murderers." She
accused us of killing her son. We later found out that her son, a Canadian
soldier, had died in Italy during the Italian campaign. Years passed before I
understood the pain of that wounded mother. While one may understand the
sentiments of that mother, there were many other incidents I experienced during
my first years in Canada that had no justification other than pure xenophobia.
A couple of weeks after our arrival, I started school, but because I did not
speak English, I was placed in Grade 3 with children much younger than me. Even
at that age, the enemy alien feelings were strong. The constant bullying,
taunting and insults made my life and the lives of other DPs, as all foreigners
were then called, very difficult. The teachers generally turned a blind eye.
The next year, my family moved to Parkdale, one of the toughest areas of
Toronto. It was then, as it is now, a first stop for new immigrants. Of the
110,000 people living in the Parkdale area, it is estimated that 40 per cent or
more are immigrants. Although different than mine, challenges to newcomers
remain today. Now in Grade 8, I found myself in a new school with lots of DPs,
mostly from Poland, Ukraine and the Baltics. The boys became my friends and
indeed "brothers-in-arms." We were older, and the bullying, taunting and insults
most often ended in gang-style fights. The principal of the school, a nun who
christened me "Con" because my name, Consiglio, was unpronounceable, was a tough
cookie. That label still sticks, by the way, and I always blamed that nun. She
was wonderful actually. She did not condone violence so the confrontations would
take place outside of school hours and became much more serious. None of the DPs
would walk far alone. The results were quite predictable — lots of physical
We, the DPs, decided to start a baseball team, not because we particularly
liked the game but because we could use the bats as weapons. Our parents were
mostly unaware of our difficulties until they had to deal with broken noses and
teeth or even more serious injuries. They were busy surviving. On reflection,
what disturbs me most was the lack of police intervention. Indeed, the police
were often part of the problem.
To be clear, this was happening between 1951 and 1953. It was no secret that
main stream society did not wish to associate with us. We were not accepted.
This had a very deleterious impact on our young minds. We were relegated to our
own friendships and resources, and some of us were driven to the wrong side of
the tracks, where we were welcomed gladly by other marginalized youth. Except
for a life-changing event, I probably would have followed the criminal path — a
direction some of my friends took.
After a rather difficult weekend, I returned home to find my mother and
father extremely upset and distressed. They had no idea where I had been for the
previous two and a half days. They were not ignorant of the direction that my
life was taking. After an emotional confrontation, my father, who was the
gentlest person I have ever known, with tears in his eyes told me forcefully,
"If you are going to dirty my name, change it first." Even at 16, I recognized
Honourable senators, that was the day my new life began.
I should add that my father was conscripted into World War II months after my
birth and did not return from the war until I was 10, as he had spent several
years as a POW in North Africa, making it very difficult for him and me — an
only child — to get to know each other, particularly during those years of
Honourable senators, I will spare you many more such examples of experiences
I had during those days and years, but I trust I have been able to paint a
meaningful picture. I share these unpleasant memories with you because they
remind us that discrimination and marginalization have no place in our Canadian
society. The social costs are enormous.
As I said in this chamber on June 9, 2010, war is madness where perfectly
sane people behave inhumanely. One of the most draconian and hurtful examples
was the declaration to segregate certain groups of Canadians, including the
Italian community, and brand them "enemy aliens." I and countless others were
hugely affected by that action, which very likely drove many, particularly young
people, to the margins of society. Sadly, although in a different context, it is
still happening today.
This brings me to Bill C-302. I stated I was deeply disturbed by the
introduction of this bill. Before I explain further, I believe it would be
informative to review this issue.
Seventy years ago, Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King ordered the
internment of Canadians of Italian background as enemy aliens. Since then, there
have been 12 governments; 7 under Liberal leadership and 5 under Conservatives.
I believe the Liberals have governed Canada for some 50 of those years.
The position of successive Liberal governments on this issue over these many
years has been to deny and to refuse. Let me briefly summarize.
Not much was heard from governments on this issue during the 1950s and
mid-1960s. After the 1968 Trudeau sweep, aided by enormous support from the
Italian Canadian community, the internment issue began to awaken. However, it
was quickly quashed by Prime Minister Trudeau's position. I remind you that many
Liberal members owed their election wins to the Italian Canadian community and,
indeed, some were of Italian background, and yet, on this issue, silence.
As noted by Minister of Immigration and Citizenship, Jason Kenney, at the
Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage in the other place on Thursday, November
Prime Minister Trudeau, from 1968 to 1984, took the position that what
was in the past was in the past, and we should not in any way deal with
issues of historical recognition or redress for incidents such as wartime
internment, not only for Italian Canadians but also for the Japanese,
Canadians of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the first war, and immigration
restriction measures. He completely opposed such efforts.
This attitude prevailed throughout the Trudeau administrations.
Jean Chrétien was next elected Liberal Prime Minister from 1993 to 2003. On
June 8, 1993, Mr. Chrétien, as Leader of the Official Opposition, in his letter
to Thor Bardyn, Chair of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, regarding redress for
World War I internments, stated:
The Liberal Party understands your concern. As you know, we support your
efforts to secure the redress of Ukrainian-Canadian claims arising from
their interment and loss of freedoms. . .
You can be assured that we will continue to monitor the situation closely
and seek to ensure that the government honours its promise . . .
Prime Minister Chrétien did not honour his promise.
Here is another example of how the issue was dealt with under the Jean
Chrétien and Paul Martin Liberal regimes. On Wednesday, December 14, 1994, the
Honourable Sheila Finestone, Secretary of State for Multiculturalism and Status
of Women, said:
Mr. Speaker, I have just tabled the letter I sent to the following
groups: the Chinese Canadian National Council, the German Canadian Congress,
the Canadian Jewish Congress, the National Association of Canadians of
Origins in India, the National Congress of Italian Canadians, the Ukrainian
Canadian Congress and the Canadian Ukrainian Civil Liberties Association.
The letter conveys the government's decision on redress. This is not a
decision the government has taken easily, but it is one that after much
discussion reflects a commitment to building a more fair and equitable
society . . .
Seeking to heal the wounds caused by the actions of previous governments,
six ethnocultural communities have requested redress and compensation
totalling hundreds of millions of dollars . . .
. . . the government will not grant financial compensation for the
May I add, honourable senators, neither did they offer an apology.
I was particularly interested in how those members of the other place of
Italian background dealt with this issue when sitting at the cabinet table. Here
is what I found.
The Honourable Sergio Marchi, born of Italian parents in Argentina, who came
to Canada at a young age, was Minister of Citizenship and Immigration from June
1994 to January 1996. Other than criticizing the Mulroney government for the
1990 apology, while he was minister or at any other time during his
parliamentary career, he did absolutely nothing, at least publicly, to promote
an apology or redress for the internees.
The Honourable Joe Volpe, also of Italian origin, first elected in 1988 and
was re-elected six times, was Minister of Citizenship and Immigration from
January 2005 to February 2006. Do you want to know what he did to promote an
apology or redress for Canadians of Italian background who were interned?
Senator Comeau: Absolutely nothing.
Senator Di Nino: Absolutely nothing. You guessed it.
Senator Comeau: That figures.
Senator Di Nino: However, we know that he apparently supports this
bill, as I believe do all Liberals members in the other place.
The Honourable Maria Minna was Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of
Citizenship and Immigration and, subsequently, Minister of International
Development. The Honourable Judy Sgro was also Minister of Citizenship and
Immigration. Both are good friends of mine, by the way. What was achieved on
this file under their leadership while they sat serving at cabinet tables?
Senator Comeau: Zero.
Senator Di Nino: Nothing. Silence.
Senator Tardif: Do something now.
Senator Munson: What did Brian Mulroney do?
Senator Di Nino: I am coming to that. Hold on.
When Prime Minister Jean Chrétien was electioneering at a function at Villa
Colombo in Toronto in September 1997, demonstrators dressed as internees made
their position clear on Mr. Chrétien's broken promise on redress.
Honourable senators, there is a definite pattern here — one of denial and
refusal. This denial and refusal was not limited to the internment of Italian
Canadians, but as well to many other grievances with a number of other
communities, including Aboriginal communities. Let me quote from Mr. Angelo
Persichilli's article in The Toronto Star of January 2010, speaking about
the internee issue:
For almost 30 years the issue was forgotten but it resurfaced in the
1970s when some Italian Canadian community leaders started talking about an
apology and financial compensation. . . . Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau,
another Liberal, said the issue was closed. He told the House of Commons
that he did not believe "in attempting to rewrite history in this way."
. . . .
At that point, while they were in opposition, we saw the first Liberal
flip-flop. They criticized the Mulroney government, saying it had not
offered enough. "We want an apology in the Parliament, not in a banquet
hall," said then Liberal MP Sergio Marchi. Marchi also intervened in Ottawa
by asking the Conservative government to deal "urgently and efficiently"
with this "injustice" and give financial compensation, as it had in the case
of Japanese Canadians.
Senator Comeau: Typical Liberal.
Senator Di Nino:
The Liberals maintained this position all the time that they were in
government. In 1997, they said "the issue is closed."
That is the end of the quotation.
Now we come to the next Liberal Party leader, Paul Martin, who made a visit
to Italian groups in Montreal and in Toronto to make announcements regarding
acknowledgement of the internment of Canadians of Italian background during
World War II. As reported by Agata De Santis in Issue 7 of Accenti.ca in an
article entitled "Italian Canadians to be Compensated for Wartime Injustices: So
Who Gets the Money?":
On November 12th, 2005, Prime Minister Paul Martin stood in a park
pavilion in Montreal's east end, surrounded by his ministers and prominent
members of Montreal's Italian community, to announce a historical
. . . The compensation — an initial amount of $2.5 million — is not,
however, geared to the individuals who were interned (most of whom have, in
fact, passed on) or their families, but rather to the Italian Canadian
community as a whole. And, a sore point for some in the community, it will
not be accompanied by an official apology in the House of Commons.
The money will be used to fund projects that acknowledge and educate the
public about the historical impact of the internments, and celebrate the
contribution of Italians to the country.
. . . The agreement-in-principle is just that, an agreement that in
principle will work. The next step will see the finalization of the
agreement, which will include the terms and conditions of the program,
guidelines and eligibility requirements for projects, and a detailed
structure of exactly how the projects will be overseen.
. . . The money comes from the federal government's Acknowledgement,
Commemoration, and Education Program, also known as the ACE Program. It's a
three-year, $25 million initiative announced during the February 2005
budget. Administered by the Multiculturalism Department within the Heritage
Ministry, the Program was created to acknowledge that federal wartime
measures and immigration restrictions affected many ethnocultural groups,
In the previously-mentioned January 2010 article by Angelo Persichilli, he
I don't even want to talk about the farce performed by Paul Martin when,
a few weeks before the 2006 federal election which it was clear the Liberals
were going to lose, he agreed to requests for money and an apology, once
again trying to buy votes.
Honourable senators, while current Liberal leader, Michael Ignatieff, has, in
the past, written a great deal about human rights, particularly as Director of
the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard University, I was unable to
locate any formal position on the subject of remedies and apologies.
Now let me tell you what the Conservative record is on these matters — a
In 1984, Minister of Multiculturalism Jack Murta announced that the
government would offer a formal apology to Japanese Canadians. He was followed
in that ministerial capacity by Mr. Gerry Weiner, who concluded negotiations for
a comprehensive settlement. On September 22, 1988, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney
acknowledged wartime wrongs to Japanese Canadians.
On November 4, 1990, in a speech to major Italian Canadian organizations,
including the National Congress of Italian Canadians, internees and their
families and hundreds of others, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, on behalf of the
Government of Canada, apologized to those who suffered under the June 10, 1940
Before I quote Prime Minister Mulroney, let me illustrate to you the meaning
of leadership. A couple of weeks before the scheduled announcement, Prime
Minister Mulroney telephoned me to discuss the event. It quickly became clear to
me that he was under strong pressure to cancel the event. He, in fact, said so.
After a lengthy discussion, he said to me, "Con, give me one good reason why
we should do this." I said to him, "Prime Minister, we should do it because it
is the right thing to do." After a couple of seconds of silence, he said, "You
are right. We will do it." He hung up and we did it. That is leadership.
This is what he said to the community on November 4, 1990:
What happened to many Italian Canadians is deeply offensive to the simple
notion of respect for human dignity and the presumption of innocence. The
brutal injustice was inflicted arbitrarily, not only on individuals
suspected of being security risks but also on individuals whose only crime
was being of Italian origin. In fact, many of the arrests were based on
membership in Italian-Canadian organizations — much like the ones
represented here today. None of the 700 internees was ever charged with an
offence and no judicial proceedings were ever launched. It was often, in the
simplest terms, an act of prejudice — organized and carried out under the
law, but prejudice nonetheless.
This kind of behaviour was not then, is not now, and never will be
acceptable in a civilized nation that purports to respect the rule of law.
On behalf of the government and the people of Canada, I offer a full and
unqualified apology for the wrongs done to our fellow Canadians of Italian
origin during World War II.
I was sitting with Annamarie Castrilli, the then president of the National
Congress of Italian Canadians and a force behind the apology efforts, also with
Ms. Mila Mulroney and University of Toronto professor Julius Molinaro, an
internee, and his wife. When the Prime Minister spoke those w7ords, the whole
place erupted in emotional, joyous applause. There was not a dry eye in the
room, certainly not at our table. A huge weight was lifted from the shoulders of
those who had suffered the unjust, oppressive law.
As stated on the Ukrainian Canadian site InfoUkes in December 1990 in an
article titled, "Haunted by history: Ukranians, Italians and Chinese seek
redress for historical ill-treatment by Ottawa," written by Tom Philip:
After years of inaction, recent weeks have seen a marked changed in the
government's attitude towards righting historical wrongs. Speaking in
Toronto in November, Prime Minister Mulroney offered an "unqualified"
apology to Italian Canadians interned during the Second World War. Two weeks
ago Mr. Weiner met with representatives of the Chinese Canadian National
Council, which is seeking compensation of $23 million in "head taxes" paid
by Chinese immigrants to Canada in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
And on November 13 the prime minister met in Edmonton with UCC President
Dmytro Cipywnyk and other members of the Ukrainian community.
Honourable senators, please note: A different pattern is emerging. We now
skip 13 years of denial and refusal by Liberal governments to 2006. A new era
On June 22, 2006, Prime Minister Stephen Harper formally apologized to the
Chinese-Canadian community for the dreaded head tax and the draconian exclusion
of Chinese immigrants to Canada.
On May 9, 2008, the Ukrainian-Canadian Restitution Act was enacted. The
Harper government established the Ukrainian-Canadian Foundation with $10
million in funding to educate and commemorate the internment of persons of
Ukrainian background during World War I.
On June 11, 2008, Prime Minister Stephen Harper apologized on behalf of the
Government of Canada and all Canadians to Aboriginal peoples for Canada's role
in the Indian residential school system, in these words:
The Government of Canada sincerely apologizes and asks the forgiveness of
the Aboriginal people of this country for failing them so profoundly.
On March 19, 2009, I had the privilege of announcing the Italian-Canadian
Advisory Committee members for the Community Historical Recognition Program
(CHRP) on behalf of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason
This group provides advice on the merit of eligible Italian-Canadian
Community Historical Recognition Program projects to raise awareness of and
commemorate wartime measures and immigration restrictions in Canada's past.
The CHRP, created by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his government in
2006, is a grants and contributions program for community-based commemorative
and educational projects related to historical wartime measures and immigration
restrictions applied in Canada. A total of $5 million, double the election
promise of Prime Minister Martin, is available to the Italian-Canadian community
for projects such as monuments, commemorative and educational material, and
The CHRP fund that our government has made available represents the first
money ever released by any government in Canadian history to commemorate this
Conservative governments have also been responsible for the creation of the
Canadian Race Relations Foundation, which received Royal Assent on February 1,
1991, with a $25 million endowment by the Mulroney government. The provision of
funding to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and the
creation of Pier 21, Canada's Immigration Museum in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where
my family and I first set foot in Canada so many years ago, have become a
reality under the Stephen Harper governments.
Under Conservative governments, from 1984 to 1993, led by Prime Minister
Brian Mulroney, and from 2006 to date under Prime Minister Stephen Harper, we
have acknowledged wrongdoings and apologized on behalf of the Canadian
government and Canadians to Aboriginal peoples, Chinese Canadians, Italian
Canadians, Japanese Canadians and Ukrainian Canadians. Do honourable senators
recognize a different pattern that is now emerging? Liberal governments deny,
Conservative governments act.
I strongly disagree with the proposed private member's bill, Bill C-302, as I
find it insulting to me, to all internees of all backgrounds and to their
families and their communities. It is infuriating that members of past Liberal
governments, who now purport to have supported such measures, had neither the
interest nor the courage to deal with these issues, except to raise them at
election times and to criticize Conservative governments when they dealt with
Senator Tkachuk: Typical.
Senator Di Nino: This bill so insults me because if Liberals had the
courage, they could have, and indeed should have, acted when they were in power.
They had ample opportunities in the 1960s, 1970s and early 1980s, but also in
the 13 years between 1993 and 2006. Instead, we have heard nothing but
criticism. They now come up with this unnecessary, politically motivated
legislation, which only brings back terrible memories for those of us who
suffered the indignities and consequence of the decree of June 10, 1940. This
bill is pure political hypocrisy.
Honourable senators, the principal purposes of this bill have been achieved.
An apology to Italian Canadians was delivered eloquently and effectively on
behalf of the government by Prime Minister Brian Mulroney on November 4, 1990.
The Conservative government under Prime Minister Stephen Harper set up a
Community Historical Recognition Program, from which a $5 million grant was
provided to acknowledge and educate Canadians about the consequences of that
tragic decree 70 years ago.
Once again, like Mr. Ignatieff said, "They didn't get it done." It seems to
me a constant refrain. Honourable senators, for me, one thing is indisputable.
The Liberals have lost the moral authority to deal with this issue.
Where do we go from here? I understand that other colleagues are interested
in contributing to this debate at second reading. They are welcome to do so,
after which we can then decide how we dispose of the bill.
Honourable senators, I do not wish to conclude my remarks without praising my
country, Canada. The environment for immigrants to Canada after World War II,
other than those immigrants from the United Kingdom or France, was
unquestionably a hostile one for at least a couple of decades. This problem was
not a Canadian problem. It happened all over the world in other nations where
those who came from other places were seen as enemies and in whose lands sons,
fathers and yes, even daughters and mothers perished or were physically or
As time healed and the community began to understand that the pain was shared
and that those who came to Canada came looking for peace and to build new lives
and future communal prosperity, the pain, hatred and fear began to subside.
Established Canadians mostly began to embrace their neighbour's customs,
cultures and friendships. We all became Canadians. The result, honourable
senators, is what we have today — the envy of the world, a place of tolerance,
prosperity and peace. It is not perfect, but pretty close when compared to most
other nations. We did it together, and each one of us is reflected in the Canada
we know and love. I am proud of my roots, but I am fiercely Canadian and lucky
to be so.
(On motion of Senator Comeau, debate adjourned.)
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Eaton calling
the attention of the Senate to the benefits of Canada's oil sands.
Hon. Linda Frum: Honourable senators, last Tuesday night, both CBC and
CTV evening newscasts had as their top story the news that 230 ducks had landed
on an oil sands tailings pond near Fort McMurray.
Just a few miles away, a small airplane carrying oil sands workers had
crash-landed, killing one person with nine others injured. That oil sands human
tragedy was not the top story. In fact, it was not big news at all; the ducks
were. These ducks were so important that they even bumped Omar Khadr off the top
spot for Canada's nightly news.
After years of suspense, Khadr had confessed to being a member of al Qaeda, a
terrorist and a murderer, and he is likely to be back in Canada next year, but
the ducks were more important news. That tells you all you need to know about
Canada's oil sands. The moral compass of the oil sands critics has become
Do not get me wrong; it is of course regretful when ducks are killed by
accident when landing on an industrial site. It is a waste. Even so, it should
not have been the top story in the country. It was not the greatest moral
failure in the world last Tuesday.
Two years ago, another 1,600 ducks died when they landed in a tailings pond.
Syncrude was prosecuted under the criminal law and fined a total of $3 million.
Just for comparison, the serial murderer and rapist Russell Williams was ordered
to pay the families of his victims a grand total of $8,800. That is $100 for
each crime. Syncrude's fine works out to $2,000 per duck. There is something
We should care about the environment and wildlife. Part of the measure of
human ethics is the respect with which we treat plant and animal life, but it
becomes perverse when we care more about flora and fauna than we do about
By focusing on these occasional and minor bird accidents in the oil sands
instead of the massive, systematic, routine environmental devastation in OPEC or
the shockingly common violation of human rights in OPEC countries, critics of
the oil sands are no longer acting ethically. It is like a policeman ignoring an
armed robbery to give a ticket to a jaywalker.
It is not just about ducks. Take greenhouse gases. One of the chief
objections to the oil sands is that they have a slightly higher carbon footprint
than some other sources of oil. Not all other sources, mind you. Canadian oil
sands oil takes less carbon to produce than heavy oil from Venezuela or
California and even less than oil from Nigeria and Iraq because of all the
natural gas those countries flare.
If you subscribe to the theory of manmade global warming, you would want to
replace high carbon oil from Venezuela, California and other sources with lower
carbon oil from Canada's oil sands. Even that is not the whole story.
The entire oil sands combined emit about 30 megatonnes of carbon dioxide each
year, or about 5 per cent of Canada's emissions. There are individual coal-fired
plants in the United States that emit 25 megatonnes a year each, such as the
Scherer plant in Juliette, Georgia. That is just one single power plant. Even
that big plant is barely in the top 20 coal-fired high emitting power stations
in the world.
By far, the world's largest emitter of carbon dioxide is China, with half a
dozen individual coal-fired plants bigger than the one in Georgia. China builds
two or three new coal-fired plants every week.
Even if we shut down the entire oil sands and threw hundreds of thousands of
Canadians out of work in the name of reducing carbon dioxide, less than a week
later, China would replace any reductions of CO2 with growth of their
own. That is just what the Chinese are doing on purpose. Underground coal fires
in China account for 360 megatonnes of carbon dioxide a year. That is just what
they burn by accident, the equivalent of our entire oil sands every month. Even
that is not the full story.
If we shut down our oil sands production, as Greenpeace and other anti-oil
sands activists would have us do, that oil would simply be added to what is
pumped from other OPEC countries, places with far worse environmental records.
It is the opposite of the environmentalist motto, "think globally, act locally."
Oil sands critics are engaging in a form of pollution imperialism; they would
rather any side effects from energy production happen in the poor Third World
rather than here in Canada, even though we are far better at mitigating that
pollution. Not exactly an enlightened viewpoint.
I mention this because so few of the critics of the oil sands do. They would
rather point to a pound of CO2 in Canada than a tonne of it in China.
That is not true environmentalism; that is either a political agenda or a
Honourable senators, do not confuse any of this for an acceptance of the
environmental status quo here in Canada. Like everyone in this chamber, I hope
that the oil sands and all Canadian industries continue to relentlessly pursue
new technologies and new ways of doing business to become cleaner and cleaner
each year. I know that many of the new oil sands technologies, especially the in
situ underground ones, do not need tailings ponds, and they use recycled,
non-potable water instead of river water. This is a very hopeful sign of things
There are other technologies being tested that are completely water-free,
such as Petrobank's THAI process, which stands for "toe-to-heel air injection."
That is another underground process that combusts the bitumen using compressed
air, melting the oil away for easy extraction, no water or steam needed.
With no open-pit mines, no tailings ponds and no water needed, the THAI
process should be an environmentalist's dream, but paradoxically, some anti-oil
sands lobbyists expressed dismay at such breakthrough technologies because they
will lose their best fundraising tools, those graphic pictures of the open-pit
Honourable senators, when activist pressure groups gang up on liberal Western
companies and give a free pass to the world's dictatorships, the outcomes can be
Let us recall the example of Talisman Energy. About 10 years ago, Talisman
Energy bought into a four-country consortium pumping oil in Sudan. Talisman was
the only liberal, human rights respecting company in the group, and it soon
spent millions of dollars setting up hospitals and schools and digging new water
wells. It even donated hundreds of prosthetic limbs to Sudanese children who had
been injured by landmines. Talisman did not just pump oil; they provided social
services and spread a little bit of Canada in Sudan.
Because Sudan was a human rights abuser, Talisman soon faced pressure to quit
Sudan. Protesters targeted Talisman, and it was even threatened with sanctions
and lawsuits. Talisman's share price started to fall because of its political
situation. Eventually, Talisman caved in to the pressure and got out of Sudan,
selling its stake to India's national oil company.
What happened? The one liberal do-gooder in Sudan left. It did not need the
hassle, but the oil did not stop flowing for a second. All that happened was
that a country that did not care about human rights bought Talisman's shares.
Talisman is gone, the hospitals and schools are gone, and far from getting
better, Sudan fell off the human rights cliff, murdering 300,000 of its own
people in Darfur.
The NGOs had every reason to be worried about Sudan, as Darfur proved.
Instead, protesting against the Sudanese government, which was hard, or against
the other oil companies in Sudan, they focused on the easy target, the one oil
company that cared about Western values and its liberal reputation.
Where are all the NGOs that hounded Talisman out of Sudan? They have moved on
to greener pastures; they have moved on to the oil sands. We are next on their
to-do list. If they had it their way, they would shut down the oil sands; just
ask them. Just as Talisman was immediately replaced by an oil company that did
not care about human rights, Canada's oil sands production would be replaced by
countries that do not care about human rights, countries like Saudi Arabia and
As Senator Eaton pointed out, it is in our Canadian character to be modest
and humble. It makes us welcoming and tolerant of others, but sometimes that
same attribute makes us vulnerable to people taking advantage. Radical activist
groups, most of which are paid for by foreign lobbyists, are taking advantage of
our good humour and good faith and are attacking the oil sands unfairly while
giving passes to the world's worst offenders, and, too often, we as a country
have allowed our critics to seize the moral high ground through sheer force of
It is time we took that moral high ground back. Every Canadian from every
province can be deeply proud of the manner in which our oil sands are being
produced, not just in terms of the environment, but also in respect for
Aboriginal people and other minorities and in terms of fair wages. It goes
without saying that Canada's reputation as a peaceful nation is morally superior
to the warmongers of OPEC. We should stop granting Greenpeace and other groups
the moral authority to condemn our conduct while they ignore that of OPEC.
We should make it clear that we will not be driven out of the oil business to
make way for unethical competitors the way Talisman was driven out of Sudan. We
are Canadian. We believe in self-criticism and self-improvement; we have a lot
of patience, even for people pointing out our flaws, but that patience has its
limits. The national frenzy in the face of the accidental death of 230 ducks,
contrasted with the usual silence in the face of OPEC atrocities, is that limit.
The Islamic Republic of Iran is now the chair of OPEC — Iran, the builder of
nuclear bombs, the attacker of democratic dissidents, the exporter of terrorism
and anti-Semitism. Iran beat or killed more than 230 opposition activists in its
last rigged elections. Why do not we talk about that, rather than 230 ducks?
On behalf of senators of all parties and of all provinces, I am happy to join
with Senator Eaton to say Canada's oil is nothing to be ashamed about. In fact,
Canadian oil — oil sands oil — is the most ethical oil in the world.
(On motion of Senator Segal, debate adjourned.)
Hon. Nancy Ruth, pursuant to notice of November 2, 2010, moved:
That the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights be authorized to
examine and report on the role that the Government of Canada may play in
supporting the promotion and protection of women's rights in Afghanistan
after Canada has ended its combat operations in 2011; and
That the committee submit its final report to the Senate no later than
December 16, 2010, and that the committee retain all powers necessary to
publicize its findings for 180 days after the tabling of the final report.
Hon. Suzanne Fortin-Duplessis (The Hon. the Acting Speaker): Is it
your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
(Motion agreed to.)
(The Senate adjourned until Thursday, November 4, 2010, at 1:30 p.m.)