The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I have received a notice
from the Leader of the Government who requests, pursuant to rule 22(10), that
the time provided for consideration of Senators' Statements be extended today
for the purpose of paying tribute to the Honourable Dufferin Roblin, who passed
away on May 30, 2010.
I remind honourable senators that, pursuant to our rules, each senator will
be allowed three minutes and they may speak only once. The time for tributes
shall not exceed 15 minutes.
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators,
I rise today to pay tribute to our former colleague, the Honourable Senator
Dufferin Roblin, who passed away on May 30, 2010.
Over the course of many years, Senator Roblin was a driving force in the life
of his home province of Manitoba and, indeed, of our country. He served his
fellow citizens as a member of the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba; Leader of
the Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba; Premier of Manitoba; and as a
member of the Senate of Canada, where he served with distinction, including as
the first Leader of the Government in the Senate in the cabinet of the Right
Honourable Brian Mulroney in 1984.
When he was a young man, Duff Roblin served in the Royal Canadian Air Force
as a Wing Commander. He was first elected in 1949 to the Manitoba legislature in
the riding of Winnipeg South. Ultimately, on June 16, 1958, Dufferin Roblin
followed in the footsteps of his grandfather Sir Rodmond P. Roblin by leading
the Progressive Conservatives to power in Manitoba. For the 10 years that
followed, he piloted Manitoba through a time of tremendous change. It is a sad
coincidence that we have recently marked the passing of the Honourable Norman
Atkins, who ran successful provincial campaigns for Duff Roblin.
As Premier of Manitoba, Duff Roblin had numerous accomplishments. He is
credited with modernizing many aspects of life in his province in education,
health care, infrastructure and social welfare programs. Without question,
however, his greatest legacy to the people of the province is the Red River
Floodway, also known affectionately as "Duff's ditch." This floodway has saved
the city of Winnipeg and the surrounding areas from major flooding many times.
Our colleague Senator Johnson pointed out to honourable senators in June that,
by coincidence, on the very day Duff Roblin died, the floodway was opened up to
help control flooding once again in the Winnipeg area.
Upon leaving provincial politics in 1967, Duff Roblin ran as a federal
Progressive Conservative Party leadership candidate, where we all know he did
not experience the same level of success. He ultimately lost to Robert Stanfield
on the fifth and final ballot in that hot Maple Leaf Gardens in 1967. Many of us
In March 1978, Duff Roblin was appointed to the Senate of Canada, where he
would serve Manitoba and all of Canada for 14 years. In this chamber he served
in a number of positions, including Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Leader of
the Opposition and, as I stated earlier, as Leader of the Government for almost
two years. He handed off his leadership responsibilities in June 1986 to the
Honourable Lowell Murray.
In his time in the Senate, Senator Roblin was an active member of numerous
Senate committees. It is hard to believe that it has been over 18 years since
Duff Roblin retired from the Senate of Canada, yet the memory of his
intelligence, creativity, concern for the less fortunate and his sterling
example of public service remains to this day, especially to those of us who had
the privilege to know him.
He lived a long, full and productive life. To this day the people of Manitoba
and Canada continue to benefit from his work on their behalf and they will for a
long time to come. On behalf of all Conservative senators, I extend sincere
condolences to his family for their loss.
Hon. Michael Duffy: Honourable senators, one of the best parts of
spending 40 years in journalism was the opportunity to meet and interview truly
great Canadians, and the Honourable Duff Roblin certainly meets that definition.
We all know of his family's many contributions to building the modern Manitoba
we see today.
As the Leader of the Government in the Senate said and as Senator Johnson
said earlier this year, Senator Roblin did not hesitate to undertake bold and
audacious initiatives, including what we have just been told about "Duff's
ditch," the floodway that was designed to protect the city of Winnipeg and the
surrounding area. At the time Premier Roblin proposed this massive public works
project, his critics were legion, saying it was a waste of money and, even
worse, it would not work. They underestimated the foresight and tenacity of Duff
Roblin. History shows that Duff Roblin was right, and today the people of
Winnipeg take it for granted that their city will be protected from floods. If
the critics had prevailed, they would not have had that assurance.
Derek Bedson, who served as an assistant to Prime Minister John Diefenbaker
and who later became Secretary to the Manitoba Cabinet, told me Duff Roblin was
the most disciplined politician he had ever met. Mr. Bedson told me Dufferin
Roblin would begin each day by asking, "What are the toughest issues we must
face today?" It was only after the tough stuff was done that he moved on to the
fun stuff of politics, meeting and chatting with school kids, posing for photos
and the like.
Senator Roblin, as honourable senators have heard, came to national
prominence when he ran for the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party
in 1967. He was late getting into the race but his speech at that convention
galvanized delegates. He came within 81 votes of beating Bob Stanfield, another
remarkable provincial premier, who went on to become Leader of the Official
Opposition and, many believe, the best prime minister Canada never had.
Duff Roblin, as we have heard, went on to leadership positions in business
and in this chamber, where his many contributions are well remembered. His had a
remarkable record of public service.
Our sincere sympathies are extended to the Roblin family and their countless
friends on the passing of this truly great Canadian.
Hon. Rod A.A. Zimmer: Honourable senators, I rise today to honour a
man, a gentleman and a gentle man, Senator Duff Roblin. I wish to associate
myself with what Senator LeBreton has said, and I want to add my own Manitoban
perspective to her eloquent words.
Long before Senator Roblin came to Ottawa, and before I came onto the federal
scene, Senator Roblin became a towering figure in Manitoba. His legacy is a
shining example of the good that politicians and government can bring to their
citizens. He gave the titles of politician, premier and senator a good name.
I wish to direct my comments to all Manitobans, Canadians and honourable
senators, but especially and most importantly to his family members who are in
the Senate gallery today.
When I came to Ottawa for the first time, from 1973 to 1979, as a special
assistant to the Honourable James Richardson, Minister of National Defence, I
met Senator Roblin. Irrespective of my political affiliation, from then on,
Senator Roblin always befriended me.
As Premier of Manitoba from 1958 to 1967, Duff Roblin was responsible for the
construction of the Red River Floodway. It was then the second largest
earth-moving project of its time, after the Panama Canal. The cost was $63
million. At first, Manitobans were upset at the cost, but when they saw his
vision, that he was saving lives and property, he became a hero. It is now and
forever known as "Duff's ditch."
I am proud to say that Pierre Elliott Trudeau was also a visionary when he
appointed Senator Roblin to the Senate in 1978. Unfortunately, Senator Roblin
reached the age of retirement well before I arrived in the Senate. However, like
many Manitobans, I, at times, like to think that I follow in his footsteps in
the service of my province and my country.
Many years ago, to relieve stress, Senator Roblin played the bagpipes in his
office. He wrote in his autobiography, in 1999, that the cleaning staff soon got
used to it. He also said:
Education is not a cost or a bill or expense but a wholesome investment
in human life, growth and comprehension.
Honourable senators, finally, to all Manitobans and Canadians, and especially
his family in the gallery, Duff Roblin is, and always will be, a Canadian hero.
Hon. Michael A. Meighen: Honourable senators, I am honoured to join my
colleagues Senators LeBreton, Duffy and Zimmer in paying tribute to the
Honourable Duff Roblin.
While I admired Duff Roblin from afar — and notably, his four consecutive
election victories — I first got to know him when I became an ardent supporter
of his during the 1967 Progressive Conservative Party's leadership race to
succeed the Right Honourable John Diefenbaker.
Having been born and raised in Montreal and having recently completed my law
degree at the University of Laval, I felt it imperative that the leader of the
party possess, at the very least, a good working knowledge of the other official
language — in this case, French — and Duff Roblin did so and more. In addition,
he was from Manitoba, where my family had strong ties through my grandfather and
also my father, who was born in Portage la Prairie.
As it turned out, Duff was particularly well received in Quebec where he was
invariably introduced by his old friend Maurice Arpin. Blair Fraser was quoted
at that time as saying he had never seen an Anglo politician receive the
reception that Duff did.
At the Toronto convention, Duff issued a clarion call for "many cultures, two
languages, one nation," but he ran into what became the Big Blue Machine, a
group of political operatives in Toronto, including our late colleague Norman
Atkins who took campaigning to a new level of sophistication. The organization
was just too good and Duff lost to the Big Blue Machine and their candidate Bob
Stanfield on the last ballot.
Duff returned from the 1967 leadership convention and ran in Gordon
Churchill's former riding. Unfortunately, the good citizens of Winnipeg South
Centre had a far easier time remembering the evils of a provincial sales tax
than they did the benefits of a floodway. It was a brutal campaign and Duff lost
Shortly thereafter, Duff and his wife Mary moved out east where he was named
as president of Canadian Pacific Investments. I had the privilege of seeing him
often in Montreal and I was always intrigued by his clear and thoughtful points
of view on national and international affairs.
But Duff was a Winnipegger at heart. After returning there, he accepted his
appointment to the Senate by Prime Minister Trudeau, on recommendation of Joe
Duff Roblin was a great parliamentarian and was admired by his colleagues
from all parties. When he left the Senate, where he was leader of the government
in the mid-1980s, the tributes flowed in. The most touching tributes were from
two Liberal francophones, Senator Gil Molgat, from Manitoba, and Senator Louis
Robichaud, from New Brunswick.
Senator Robichaud said:
I want to tell Duff Roblin, his wife, Mary and his children how proud I
was of him, and I want to tell them that Duff Roblin is a great Canadian. .
. . He consistently talked about the Metis, because they were of special
interest to him. He was an honest, dedicated, sincere politician, but above
all he was a great Canadian and still is.
In 2004, I had the honour of accompanying Duff to the sixtieth anniversary
celebrations in Normandy and, at the time, I marvelled at the stamina and
cheerfulness of this almost 87-year-old man.
Duff was chosen as the greatest Manitoban in history in an online poll. In
2007, I joined then Premier Doer and a small group of friends and admirers in
Winnipeg to pay tribute to this remarkable Canadian on the occasion of his
On June 17 last, a small group, including former Ontario Finance Minister
Darcy McKeough, who had nominated Duff for the national leadership of our party,
and Joe Martin, one of Duff's most longstanding and closest associates, gathered
in Toronto to remember Duff and to raise money for the graduate student
fellowship in his name at the University of Winnipeg. One in the group was the
Right Honourable Joe Clark. Joe said more than once that he was there because of
the impact Duff had on his life. He told us how Peter Lougheed had modelled his
rise to power in Alberta and his government on what Duff did in Manitoba.
At Bobby Kennedy's funeral in 1968, Teddy Kennedy's eulogy included these
Some men see things as they are and say why. I dream things that never
were and say why not.
In the 1950s, there were inadequate school facilities and the talents of
Manitoba boys and girls were being wasted. Duff asked, why not a system of
education with larger, better school divisions and free textbooks, as well as
improved financing for the university and the affiliated colleges?
In the 1950s, Manitoba had a terrible highway system. Duff asked, why not a
highway system for the present and the future, not the past?
In the 1950s, Winnipeggers feared the Red and the Assiniboine Rivers in
springtime. Duff asked, why not a floodway, which would provide flood
That was Duff Roblin's legacy — to dream the impossible dream and to make it
Hon. Pierre De Bané: Honourable senators, when the late Duff Roblin
sat here with us, he was a senator who commanded respect from both sides of this
chamber. When he spoke, we listened because we knew that what he was telling us
was true. I met the late Duff Roblin for the first time when I was a university
student with my colleague Senator Meighen. We had organized a conference on the
Canadian Constitution, and one of the participants was Duff Roblin. There were
other participants who were well known at the time. What was remarkable was
seeing Duff Roblin, who came from Western Canada, from Manitoba, master the
French language with so much skill. He showed us how a person can have a strong
attachment to their own province but at the same time understand the needs and
aspirations of the entire country.
He was a great statesman who commanded respect from all corners of the Senate
and the country. He was a great gentleman for whom we had the greatest respect.
To Mrs. Roblin, their children and family, I say how much we miss a man of that
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I draw your attention to
the presence in the gallery of a number of members of the family of the late
Senator Dufferin Roblin, including Jennifer Roblin, Craig Laithrop, Shawn
Laithrop, Bronwyn Laithrop, Ewan Laithrop, Lilly Roblin and Rachael Roblin.
On behalf of all honourable senators, welcome to the Senate of Canada.
Hon. James S. Cowan (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, I
rise today to congratulate the University of Victoria on the great success of
its extraordinary pilot project, LE,NONET Research Project.
We all know the importance of a post-secondary degree in today's knowledge
economy. We all know the research: Higher education levels are associated with
better health outcomes, lower crime rates, and the list goes on and on. However,
in 2006, only 8 per cent of Aboriginal people aged 25 to 64 had completed a
university degree, compared to 23 per cent of non-Aboriginal Canadians.
The University of Victoria decided to do something to change those statistics
and create a university environment that would work for Aboriginal Canadians. In
2005, with money from the Canadian Millennium Scholarship Foundation, the
university established the LE,NONET Research Project. LE,NONET in
the language of the local Straits Salish people means "paddling a canoe in a
storm and making it through to the other side." How prescient that name is.
The project has been remarkably successful. Thanks to LE,NONET, many
more Aboriginal students are making it through difficult waters to the other
side. There are seven programs within the project, all developed in close
consultation with Aboriginal students and communities. These programs include a
straightforward bursary program, under which students receive an average of
about $3,500 a year. There is an emergency relief fund. Students were going home
to their communities, for example to attend a family member's funeral, and not
returning because the travel expenses were simply too high. This fund helps to
defray those expenses.
There are programs designed specifically to create an environment at UVic to
encourage Aboriginal students to stay, learn and succeed. There is a peer mentor
program, which matches new students with experienced Aboriginal students; a
community internship program; a research apprenticeship program; and a
preparation seminar, which is a course focused on Aboriginal history, culture,
research methods and skills for working in community settings.
The university recently published its findings from the four-year pilot
project. Graduation rates have improved 20 per cent. The withdrawal rate was
fully two thirds less than that of students not in the program. In interviews,
an overwhelming 97 per cent of students credited the program with contributing
to their success. The program has also helped to build community. Students felt
more connected to Aboriginal communities both on and off campus as well as to
the broader university environment. Paul Wells wrote about the program in
Maclean's last week:
Sometimes people suggest being a member of the First Nations and being at
university are contradictory. Most LE,NONET participants disagree.
In 1999, the University of Victoria had fewer than 100 Aboriginal students;
today it has nearly 700. The number of graduate students has also exploded from
fewer than 10 to nearly 150. Honourable senators, this project is a great
success story. I would like to extend my sincere congratulations, and I suspect
the congratulations of all in this chamber, to David Turpin, President of the
University of Victoria, his colleagues, the people who partnered with the
university from the Canadian Millennium Scholarship Foundation and, in
particular, the Aboriginal students at LE,NONET. Together they are truly
building a better future for all Canadians.
Hon. Vim Kochhar: Honourable senators, 125 years ago, on November 7,
1885, Canada was bound together by our railroad. The country is much different
now. When this country was young, only the Canadian National Railway linked east
and west. It took 14 years for the CPR to build through blistering summer heat
and frigid winters, and through difficult mountain terrain and inhibiting
forests and swamps.
When we think of driving the last spike 125 years ago, we must remember the
17,000-plus Chinese workers who were brought in to build the railroad. They
built the railroad kilometre by kilometre, blasting through mountains while
enduring landslides, cave-ins, drownings, avalanches and disease. It has been
said that their contribution was so crucial that the railroad might not have
been built without them. They were poorly paid, poorly treated and not allowed
to bring their families into Canada. Later, we punished them with a head tax and
all sorts of hurdles to restrict their immigration to Canada.
It was the morality of that generation; it should teach us that what we did
was wrong. The inhuman treatment by Canadians of that generation caused
humiliation and a great deal of suffering to 17,000 Chinese who stayed in Canada
after building the railroad.
Today, when we think of the CPR uniting Canada and remember their
contribution, we must not forget that the Chinese built the railroad, and their
contribution brought Canada together. This contribution is a part of the
Canadian human rights journey, and it is worth remembering.
Hon. Catherine S. Callbeck: Honourable senators, this past Sunday
marked World Diabetes Day, which aims to keep diabetes and its effects firmly in
the public spotlight. Started by the International Diabetes Federation and the
World Health Organization in 1991, it became an official United Nations day in
2007. The date for celebration is always November 14, the birthday of Sir
Frederick Banting, the great Canadian who discovered insulin as a treatment for
All around us, a global epidemic of diabetes is emerging. People everywhere
are becoming more overweight and obese, and less and less active. As a result,
they can develop diabetes. Currently, 285 million people around the world have
diabetes. Predictions are that this number will double over the next 20 years.
Every year, seven million more people develop this chronic disease. Here at
home, about two million Canadians live every day with diabetes.
As most will know, there is more than one type of diabetes. In Type 1
diabetes, the body cannot produce its own insulin, while in Type 2, the body
cannot use it effectively. Type 2 accounts for approximately 90 per cent of all
We often think of diabetes as a manageable disease that is not so dangerous.
However, approximately 5 per cent of all deaths worldwide are caused by
diabetes. That number was about 1.1 million people in 2005. Over the next 10
years, the number of deaths will increase by 50 per cent. What is more, the full
impact of diabetes is even greater. Many more die of kidney failure or heart
disease brought on by diabetes.
At the moment, most deaths from diabetes, about 80 per cent, are from low-
and middle-income backgrounds. The implications are startling for those in
poorer countries. People can be unaware of diabetes and its warning signs, and
there can be a lack of access to health services. This lack can lead to
complications like blindness, amputation and kidney failure.
Even here at home the complications and risks are staggering. About 80 per
cent of Canadians with diabetes will die from a heart attack or stroke. Thirty
per cent of Canadians with diabetes will become blind. The life expectancy of a
person with Type 2 diabetes can be shortened by 5 to 10 years, while a person
with Type 1 diabetes may lose as many as 15 years.
The good news is that diabetes can be prevented in many cases. For
individuals, 30 minutes of moderate exercise on most days and a healthy diet can
drastically reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
The Canadian Diabetes Association chapter in my home province of P.E.I. is
doing what it can. The association holds diabetes education nights for the
public, makes presentations to schools and other groups, partners with business
to support research and services, raises funds and provides a Diabetes Supply
Government can do its part as well. More awareness must be created about
diabetes and its symptoms, how to prevent it and how to live with it. Research
must be conducted to discover new and innovative ways to treat this terrible
disease. I believe that, working together, we can turn the tide of this growing
epidemic and ensure healthier lives for people around the world.
Hon. Pamela Wallin: Honourable senators, Remembrance Day is always a
remarkable time. An estimated 30,000 people turned out in Ottawa — and tens of
thousands more attended ceremonies across the country, including in my hometown
of Wadena, Saskatchewan.
Canadians of all ages gathered to show their respect for those who have died
for this country and for those who have served and still serve in defence of
this nation. Our soldiers, seamen, airmen and special forces deserve the
gratitude of their fellow citizens, and they also deserve the best from us when
they return to civilian life as veterans, especially if they have been injured
while performing their duty.
Five years ago, Parliament quickly and unanimously passed the New Veterans
Charter with little debate so that veterans could receive their benefits
quickly. Since then, as anticipated, deficiencies in the so-called "living"
charter have been discovered. The government has been acting to address these
deficiencies, recently investing more than $2 billion over the long term to
enhance veterans' benefits under the charter. Severely injured veterans who are
unable to return to work will, in future, receive an additional $1,000 a month
for the rest of their lives, and we will ensure a minimum annual income of at
least $40,000 a year to replace lost income for veterans undergoing
rehabilitation or who cannot return to work.
There will be more than $52 million over five years for seriously injured
soldiers, offering better housing and support services including up to $100 a
day for family or close friends who leave their jobs to help provide care for
ill or injured soldiers. There will also be enhanced case management support and
quicker response times from the bureaucracy. Call it giving the benefit of the
doubt to the veterans.
As a result of the Privacy Commissioner's recent recommendations concerning
unacceptable treatment of veterans' files, the government is acting quickly to
protect their privacy.
The government recently appointed a new Veterans Ombudsman, retired Chief
Warrant Officer Guy Parent. Retired Chief Warrant Officer Parent served 46 years
with the Canadian Forces and is again ready to serve. He is up to speed, having
worked the past two years in the current ombudsman's office.
As the minister has promised, the government will soon announce changes to
the lump sum disability award, making the disbursement of funds more flexible,
in line with the wishes expressed by veterans themselves.
Honourable senators, these initiatives are how we can show veterans our
respect and how we can truly remember them.
Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, a few weeks ago, I had
the privilege of attending the Southern Alberta Heritage Language Association's
International Languages Symposium in Calgary, Alberta. This year, the language
association celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary. For a quarter of a century,
this organization has been working hard to lead, advocate and provide resources
for the promotion of international and heritage languages education.
During my time in Calgary, I had the opportunity to meet with members of the
Canadian Languages Association, which is a national umbrella organization that
promotes international languages education.
During our meeting, we discussed the fact that multiculturalism and
multilingualism are the strength and heart of our Canadian society. We also
reflected on how multiculturalism and multilingualism promote peace, cooperation
and respect for one another, both nationally and internationally.
Honourable senators, we are blessed to live in a country that welcomes people
from all walks of life and embraces difference and diversity. Throughout my life
I have travelled to many parts of the world. I have been fortunate enough to be
able to learn many languages. This learning, to me, is not simply an
accomplishment that I take pride in; it is part of my identity. It is who I am.
By failing to preserve heritage languages, we are doing a great disservice to
our children, for we are robbing them of an important piece of their
individuality and identity. Language education has an important role to play in
strengthening Canada's identity as a multicultural nation by providing an
inter-cultural perspective on our country through language learning and
Language education serves an even greater role in the trading world in which
we live. If trade creates opportunities that promote the growth of our country,
then we must develop and sustain our capacity to engage in conversations and
develop relationships with our global trading partners.
We need to prepare our children to learn more languages. Building a truly
multi-linguistic society means educating our citizens and creating the
opportunities needed in order for them to play an important role for Canada in
the future. Through the promotion of language education, we extend the limits of
our understanding to include a global community and we increase our capacity to
play an important role in shaping the future at home and abroad.
Honourable senators, there is a growing need to embrace a linguistic
plurality. Canada's identity is made up of a mosaic of languages and cultures,
all combining to form a unique and vibrant multicultural community. We need to
prepare our children for the new world, a world where children speak three to
four languages. Most of our children do not.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the 2009
annual report on the RCMP's use of the law enforcement justification provisions.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the 2010
annual report entitled Applications for Ministerial Review — Miscarriages of
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the 2009-10
annual report of the Office of the Correctional Investigator, pursuant to
section 192 of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act.
Hon. Gerry St. Germain: Honourable senators, I give notice that, at
the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:
That notwithstanding the Order of the Senate adopted on June 2, 2010, the
date for the presentation of the final report by the Standing Senate
Committee on Aboriginal Peoples on progress made on commitments endorsed by
Parliamentarians of both Chambers since the Government's apology to former
students of Indian Residential Schools be extended from December 2, 2010, to
December 31, 2010.
Hon. Jim Munson: Honourable senators, I have a question for the Leader
of the Government in the Senate.
Honourable senators, I have noticed recently that a number of Conservative
senators have attached petitions to their newsletters advocating various
positions. I have noticed that these Conservative senators seek names, addresses
and email addresses.
Can the minister tell us if this information is passed on to the Conservative
Party or party officials? Can the minister tell honourable senators what the
senators are doing with this information? Are the senators compiling information
for campaign lists or for prospective donors?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): I thank the
honourable senator for the question. Honourable senators, this is not a
government matter. This is a matter between a senator and the Rules of the
Senator Munson: Honourable senators, given the government's huge
deficit, is it appropriate for Conservative senators to use taxpayers' dollars
to distribute thousands of partisan brochures and pamphlets critical of Liberal
positions into the ridings of elected Liberal MPs?
Senator Tkachuk: I have one of the pamphlets with me; would you like
me to read it to you?
Senator Munson: Senator Tkachuk, you are not allowed to use props. You
should know better than that.
No one has an issue with the newsletter from Senator Runciman or Senator
Plett or whomever, but the issue inside of these things, from my perspective, is
that it is unlike the Liberals. Advocating a position is one thing, but taking a
critical position into the elected —
Senator Tkachuk: You should read all of these things. Read your own
Senator Munson: Members from the other place, particularly Minister
Van Loan, used to take great delight in describing this as the "unelected,
unaccountable Liberal-dominated Senate." My, how times have changed.
Can the leader explain why the Conservative senators are using the back door
of the Senate, as opposed to the front door of the House of Commons?
Senator LeBreton: All senators in this place, whether Conservative,
Liberal, Independent or otherwise, have privileges to communicate with the
Canadian public, and I believe all senators on both sides have availed
themselves of this practice.
It is not my position as Leader of the Government in the Senate to dictate to
Senator Mitchell, or any senator on this side, how they should communicate with
the public. Individual senators make these decisions. As far as I am aware,
senators on both sides of this chamber abide by the Rules of the Senate.
Senator Munson: May I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate
if she feels it is appropriate for individual senators in this chamber of sober
second thought, this chamber of review, this chamber where minority rights are
to be respected, does she believe it is right for senators to be sending
thousands of brochures into individual Liberal MPs' ridings?
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, when I was a child, my father
used to say, "People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones."
Senator Tkachuk: You got it.
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, individual senators are
responsible individuals. Obviously members on this side support the government's
policies. Some senators on this side have their own track records, particularly
in areas of law and order issues. Senators on the other side have interests in
the environment and other issues. Those senators who choose this method to
communicate with the Canadian public are entirely within their rights to do so
and, as long as they abide by the Rules of the Senate as provided by the
Senate, as Leader of the Government in the Senate, I have no comment to make
because that is not the responsibility of the Leader of the Government in the
Senate. It is the responsibility of individual senators.
Hon. Pierre De Bané: Honourable senators, my question is for the
Leader of the Government in the Senate. Does the leader agree that it is
appropriate for an appointed member of this house to use taxpayers' money to
target an elected person in his riding and send a partisan document attacking
that elected member of the House of Commons?
Does the leader find this behaviour proper? Does the leader believe that this
type of behaviour reflects well on all members of this house? Does the leader
believe that it is our role as senators to write brochures, not to expose our
views, but to attack an elected member of the other house?
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, I believe Senator De Bané
incorrectly described the mailing as a brochure. Senators on both sides of this
house have strong views on many issues, whether it is health care, education,
the environment, law and order issues or justice matters. I believe, honourable
senators, provided it follows the Rules of the Senate, far be it from me
or any senator on either side to restrict the rights of that senator.
As I have indicated before, senators on the other side have done likewise on
matters about which they feel particularly concerned. Of course, it was okay to
do that then, but now that there has been a news story in that newspaper of such
non-partisan views, the Toronto Star, all of a sudden it becomes a big
An Hon. Senator: Its own little brochure.
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, far be it from me to dictate to
senators on that side or on this side of this chamber what senators may write in
a newsletter or a mail-out to members of the Canadian public on issues that
Hon. Gerry St. Germain: Honourable senators, I have a supplementary
question. I believe that this type of debate and this line of questioning
diminish the importance of our work.
An Hon. Senator: Hear, hear!
Senator St. Germain: Simply because on issues in the past, such as
Bill C-68, the gun registry, I travelled this country from coast to coast to
coast, ocean to ocean to ocean, and expressed my opposition. I spoke in
opposition. Those who supported it logically were not on this side. I was taking
issue with Minister Allan Rock at the time and the legislation he was bringing
An Hon. Senator: Question!
Senator St. Germain: I was spending Canadian tax dollars doing this.
Senator Tardif: What is the question?
Senator St. Germain: Honourable senators, it was not a waste of money.
It is a matter of opinion. The other side wants to stifle debate and stifle
opinion. I think this is dangerous to the democratic process. I have been
elected. Not many honourable senators have been elected. I have been elected and
I would never mind if a senator came in and took issue with anything I believed
in. He or she had that right, and this is what democracy is all about. This type
of questioning diminishes democracy.
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, Senator St. Germain is
absolutely right. There are many issues on which we have strong views. People
often have differing views. The importance is that even though sometimes I do
not share the views of my friends opposite, I will fight to the death for their
right to have those views.
Hon. Robert W. Peterson: Can the leader determine if these pamphlets
were prepared by the Senate printing office or were they printed off-site and
charged back to the Senate?
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, that is not a question for me.
The honourable senator must ask the proper authorities in the Senate. I
understand that these letters that were sent out by senators to communicate with
the public were distributed from the Senate.
Senator Cowan: What was your answer?
Senator LeBreton: It is my understanding that they were distributed
from the Senate or sent from the Senate.
Hon. Claudette Tardif (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable
senators, I recently received a touching and heartfelt letter from Ms. Jackie
Bodie of Calgary. Ms. Bodie, a 41-year-old mother of two young boys, started
paying for disability insurance through Nortel 18 years ago. She wrote:
. . . my intention — for paying for disability insurance — was to ensure
that I would have the means to provide the basic necessities of life for
myself and my family if I could no longer work for a living. In my mind, LTD
insurance was a contingency plan that I hoped I'd never have to fall back
Unfortunately, Ms. Bodie was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease at the age of
33 and in 2005, at the age of 36, went on long-term disability. Her long-term
disability income and benefit plan offered by Nortel expires on December 31 of
Time is running out. Only 45 days remain to take the necessary action. What
is the government's plan to ensure that Nortel's long-term disability
beneficiaries, like Ms. Bodie, have the funds necessary for the continuation of
their benefits beyond December 31?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators,
of course, the issue is complex and of concern to our government, as it is to
all of us. We realize there are no easy answers with regard to this issue.
Several bills are before Parliament. One is before the Senate. I am told by my
colleagues that one of the bills that is before the Senate will receive careful
consideration within the next few weeks.
Senator Tardif: Honourable senators, Ms. Bodie explains that, after
December 31, 2010, she and her spouse will have only one income to cover the
cost of her medication and support their young family.
Will the government undertake to correct this terrible situation whereby more
than 400 people will lose their disability benefits?
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, the issue is a difficult one,
for which, as we all know, there are no easy answers. The government is working
with its provincial and territorial partners on pension reform issues trying to
deal with this serious matter. I cannot offer any further comment at the present
time, except to say, as honourable senators well know, most of these pensions
fall within provincial jurisdiction. Having said that, the federal government is
working with the provinces and territories to try to address some of the issues
facing pensioners at the moment.
Hon. Rose-Marie Losier-Cool: Honourable senators, my question is for
the Leader of the Government in the Senate. An article by Geoffrey York that
appeared in last Wednesday's edition of The Globe and Mail indicated that
Foreign Affairs is thinking of closing up to four more embassies in Africa.
Added to the cuts already made by Canada to its diplomatic missions in Africa in
recent years, these new closures would result in Canada having a presence in
fewer than one-third of the countries on the African continent.
Can the Leader of the Government in the Senate tell us if these new closures
will take place? If the answer is yes, which embassies will be closed and when
will they be closed?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators,
I saw the article in question. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, of course,
always reviews our embassies abroad. I am given to understand that some
embassies may close and others may open. I do not have precise details. I do not
think the minister has made a final decision, so I will take the question as
Senator Losier-Cool: I thank the Leader of the Government for taking
my question as notice. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Cannon, replied that
he could not confirm or deny that the closures will take place. Senators will
remember that eight African countries were dropped from Canada's list of
priorities for international aid last year. It appears that the current
government is increasingly distancing itself from Africa and concentrating on
other regions considered more profitable, such as South America and Asia.
Will the Leader of the Government in the Senate confirm that this policy
change signals greater involvement in South American and Asian countries and the
neglect of Africa?
Senator LeBreton: In the honourable senator's preamble, she confirmed
what the minister said, which is basically what I said. The article in the
newspaper speculated, but, as the minister said, decisions have not been made on
the closure or opening of new embassies.
With regard to the honourable senator's question on Africa, the government
has increased its aid to Africa. We are proud of the policies of government with
regard to the effectiveness of our aid. As honourable senators know, we have
untied food aid. In fact, we are in the process of untying all aid. We have
doubled aid to Africa and championed the issue of maternal and child health at
the G8, as we all know. We concentrated on bilateral aid in 20 countries and
revamped the Canadian Partnership Branch. We committed $540 million over three
years to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
Senator Losier-Cool: More and more economic analysts are noting the
strong economy of Africa, a continent that fared well during the recent global
economic crisis and whose natural resources are attracting a huge number of
foreign investors, especially from Asia. We know that China has an economic
presence in Africa in a number of areas.
Can the leader tell us whether the government understands the economic
importance of investing in this booming continent and whether that warrants
maintaining a diplomatic presence in Africa? That could help the Minister of
Foreign Affairs decide whether or not to close embassies.
Senator LeBreton: I absolutely do understand the importance. As I
pointed out to honourable senators, that is why our government has increased aid
to Africa and why we have untied food aid and are delivering aid onto the ground
and into the communities where it is needed. In answer to the honourable
senator's question, I absolutely do understand the importance.
Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, my question is to the
Leader of the Government in the Senate. The leader said much of the maternal
health aid that the Prime Minister specified at the G8 could go to Africa. What
percentage of that aid will go to Africa and to what countries?
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, regarding the G8 initiative to
make a difference in the lives of women and children — the Muskoka Initiative,
as we call it — our contribution is $1.1 billion over five years. About 80 per
cent of the new Canadian contribution will flow to sub-Saharan Africa. As I have
said many times, we are focusing our efforts on areas where we believe we can
have the most impact to save the lives of the most mothers and children
possible. For example, our additional support for the Micronutrient Initiative
is a vital component. On this front, Canada is a world leader.
Senator Jaffer: May I please ask the leader if she can find out to
which sub-Saharan countries this aid will be provided?
The one thing I am confused about is this: if we are removing our presence in
the countries, how do we know our aid is being applied in these countries the
way we want it to be applied?
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, I did not say that we were
removing our representation in the country. I said that no decisions have been
made on what new missions will be opened and what missions will be closed.
With regard to 80 per cent of the Canadian monies going to sub-Saharan
Africa, obviously, honourable senators, that information would be available
because we could not make a statement that 80 per cent of our money goes to
sub-Saharan Africa and then not know where it is going. I just do not have that
information at my fingertips. However, I will be happy to provide it to
Hon. Jean-Claude Rivest: Honourable senators, I have a short
supplementary question. In response to the questions from our honourable
colleague, the Leader of the Government said that the minister was reviewing the
situation in Africa.
Could the minister ask the Minister of Foreign Affairs to be very careful if
he decides to reduce Canada's presence in Africa, because a number of African
countries are members of the Commonwealth or La Francophonie. In the case of La
Francophonie, I hope the decisions the Minister of Foreign Affairs makes will
not take away from Canada's essential role in standing up for the international
Senator LeBreton: I thank the honourable senator for the question. I
would be happy to pose that question to my colleague the Honourable Lawrence
Cannon and provide a written answer from him.
Hon. Grant Mitchell: Honourable senators, when I asked the leader a
question some months ago about how much of the stimulus funding had gone to
green projects, she rose with a triumphant flourish and listed projects that she
said had received funding from the green tech fund that applied to green
technology, greenhouse gas emissions reduction and so on.
As it turns out, we now see that only 3 per cent of that fund of $200 million
has actually been allocated. Would the leader stand in the Senate today and
apologize for so badly misleading the members of the Senate on exactly what in
fact they committed money to, or will she just remain part of that spin strategy
out of the PMO that cannot distinguish between announcing something and actually
Senator Comeau: Do it with a triumphant flourish!
Senator Di Nino: At least we do it.
Senator Mitchell: You do not do it; you just announce it.
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): The Honourable
Senator Lapointe has accused me of being a good skater and a good tap dancer,
but I have never been told that I have done it with a triumphant flourish.
The fact is that the honourable senator is obviously basing his question on
something that appeared in the newspaper. I think honourable senators will find
that many of the stories of these funds are occurring simply because the
invoices have not been submitted yet.
Senator Mitchell: Could the leader help us with that and provide to
the Senate a written list of which projects were funded under that 3 per cent,
or maybe a few more percentage points above that? Could the leader do that for
us? It will not take long because it is not a long list, I am sure.
Senator LeBreton: I suppose the honourable senator is looking for a
"short" answer. Therefore, I will do my best.
Senator Mitchell: Just about the time when you think it cannot get any
worse, we now have a part-time Minister of the Environment. Is this because the
environment is seen as a part-time job, or is it simply all that is necessary
when this government is waiting for the U.S. to tell us what to do on our
Senator Di Nino: Look at your record. You should be ashamed of what
you did not do.
Senator LeBreton: Yes, signing on to an accord and then saying
immediately after they signed on to it that they had no intention of living up
Senator Di Nino: Absolutely.
Senator LeBreton: We are taking action to make Canada a clean energy
superpower. We have committed to reducing our emissions by 17 per cent below
2005 levels by 2020. Internationally, we are committed to the Copenhagen Accord,
which has commitments from 148 countries consisting of 85 per cent of global
Continentally, we are working and continue to work with the Obama
administration in regulating the administration sector. Regulations for
passenger cars and light duty trucks were finalized on October 1. Draft
regulations are being drafted for heavy trucks, air, rail and ships. In June our
government announced that we are regulating the phase-out of coal-fired plants.
Canada is working with the United States through the U.S.-Canada Clean Energy
Dialogue. Canada is also one of 17 members of the Major Economies Forum that was
set up by the Obama administration to work in parallel with the United Nations
on a process on climate change. Furthermore, Canada's federal, provincial and
territorial ministers meet and work together to build upon the past achievements
through the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment.
Honourable senators, we are working hard. We were sorry to see Minister
Prentice leave. He did an outstanding job as Minister of the Environment.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Senator LeBreton: He will be missed, but I can assure honourable
senators that my colleague, the Honourable John Baird, has always followed with
great interest the activities of his former colleague the Minister of the
Environment, Minister Prentice, and can step into the breach and represent the
government at the next conference in Cancun at the end of November.
Senator Mitchell: I will bet the reason that Minister Prentice — the
best, most qualified minister they probably had — left was because he knew that
he could announce these things but that he could never get them done because
their caucus and Prime Minister always stood in the way.
If the leader wants to argue against that, could she indicate to me, against
this interminable list of things she says that she will do but has only
announced, exactly how much greenhouse gas reduction will be attributed to each
one of those projects and how that will relate to the 2020 objective that was
set so we can see whether the government has any chance on God's earth of doing
Senator LeBreton: I hate to disappoint the Honourable Senator
Mitchell, but Minister Prentice was a very successful minister in our
government. He had the full support of the Prime Minister. He was the chair of
the Cabinet Committee on Operations and his views were valued. He was listened
to and he got results. I could speculate that he left politics because he was
tired of getting on a plane and going to Alberta and having to face Senator
Hon. Terry M. Mercer: Honourable senators, since the Leader of the
Government in the Senate is in the mood to share the government's long list of
great accomplishments, I will give her an easier question to answer because it
will be a much shorter list, I am sure.
Could the leader tell us how much money has been spent on the Atlantic
Gateway that has been announced in the last several budgets? There has never
been a line in the budget that says "Atlantic Gateway." The absent Minister of
National Defence, the political minister for Nova Scotia, keeps announcing that
the number one project on the list that everyone in Nova Scotia agrees to on the
Atlantic Gateway is the simple dredging of Sydney harbour, yet that project has
not been done. Tell us how much money has been spent on the gateway.
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators,
I know for a fact that my colleague the Honourable Peter MacKay is an active
minister in regard to all matters in Atlantic Canada. With regard to the
Atlantic Gateway, I will take the question as notice.
The Hon. the Speaker informed the Senate that a message had been
received from the House of Commons returning Bill S-9, An Act to amend the
Criminal Code (auto theft and trafficking in property obtained by crime), and
acquainting the Senate that they have passed this bill without amendment.
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Tkachuk, seconded
by the Honourable Senator Wallace, for the third reading of Bill S-7, An Act
to deter terrorism and to amend the State Immunity Act;
And on the motion in amendment of the Honourable Senator Tkachuk,
seconded by the Honourable Senator Mockler, that Bill S-7 be not now read a
third time but that it be amended in clause 7,
(a) on page 4,
(i) by replacing line 33 with the following:
"Council may, at any time, set out the name of a foreign
(ii) by adding after line 40 the following:
"(3) The list must be established no later than six months after the day on
which this section comes into force."; and
(b) on page 5,
(i) by renumbering subsections 6.1(3) to 6.1(6) as subsections 6.1(4)
to 6.1(7) and any cross-references thereto accordingly,
(ii) by replacing lines 22 to 29 with the following:
"(a) whether there are still reasonable grounds, as set
out in subsection (2), for a foreign state to be set out on the list
and make a recommendation to the Governor in Council as to whether
the foreign state should remain set out on the list; and
(b) whether there are reasonable grounds, as set out in
subsection (2), for a foreign state that is not set out on the list
to be set out on the list and, if so, make a recommendation to the
Governor in Council as to whether the foreign state should be set
out on the list.
(8) The review does not affect the validity of the list.
(9) The Minister must complete the review", and
(iii) by adding, after line 34, the following:
"(10) Where proceedings for support of terrorism are commenced against a
foreign state that is set out on the list, the subsequent removal of the foreign
state from the list does not have the effect of restoring the state's immunity
from the jurisdiction of a court in respect of those proceedings or any related
appeal or enforcement proceedings.".
Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, I rise today to speak
on Bill S-7, An Act to deter terrorism and to amend the State Immunity Act.
Bill S-7 deals with deterring terrorism and terrorist financing by holding
those entities and/or foreign states that commit or support terrorism
accountable in a Canadian court of law. This bill creates an extraterritorial
right of action that allows Canadian victims of terrorism to sue individuals,
organizations and terrorist entities for loss or damage suffered as a result of
acts or omissions that would be punishable under the Criminal Code of Canada and
which have been committed by these individuals, organizations or entities.
Further, this bill allows victims of terrorism to sue foreign states that have
supported terrorist entities.
Bill S-7 also amends the State Immunity Act to create a new exception to the
idea of state immunity so that a foreign state's immunity can be removed when
the state in question has been placed on a list established by cabinet on the
basis that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the said state has
supported or currently supports terrorism.
Honourable senators, I would like to thank Senator Segal, Senator Tkachuk and
Senator Furey, and all honourable senators who were on the Special Committee for
Anti-Terrorism, for the work that was done on this bill. As well, I would like
to thank all the witnesses involved.
Two weeks ago, Senator Tkachuk rose on behalf of the government and presented
amendments to this bill. Senator Tkachuk has worked hard on this issue of
protecting victims of terrorism, and I want to thank him for this. I also want
to thank Senator Furey, who has worked closely with Senator Tkachuk on this
I have had a chance to examine the amendments of the government. I am pleased
to tell honourable senators that I am content in one regard, but I am
disappointed in another. Let me explain.
During our last committee meeting, held on July 12, 2010, I submitted three
specific amendments to this very bill. I proposed the following:
First, that the general criteria concerning how a country is posted on the
list of foreign states that support terrorism be made public knowledge.
Second, there should be a creation of a new bill that creates a fund and
compensates victims in situations where the victim wins the case, but the
accused is unable to pay. We need a similar act to the U.S. Victims of
Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000, or the Victims Trust Fund
created by the International Criminal Court.
The Americans have two acts: one to enable the victim to sue and another that
makes provisions to compensate the victim financially.
We are now working on the bill to enable the victim to sue, but not to help
to compensate the victims.
The third amendment I proposed was that a country should not be removed from
the list of foreign states that support terrorism during an ongoing legal
proceeding. If the country is removed, the victim should still be able to
proceed with their trial against the said country. If a country is delisted
post-trial but is still found guilty, then the individual should be able to
attain compensation. If at any point there is a delisting, then our government
should take over the trial.
Honourable senators, I am very thankful that the government accepted my third
amendment. I am also grateful that the government expanded the amendment so that
it is more comprehensive. The new amendment, in clause 7, section 10, reads:
Where proceedings for support of terrorism are commenced against a
foreign state that is set out on the list, the subsequent removal of the
foreign state from the list does not have the effect of restoring the
state's immunity from the jurisdiction of a court in respect of those
proceedings or any related appeal or enforcement proceedings.
This matter of delisting a country during an ongoing legal proceeding was a
crucial concern for not only me, but many other honourable senators, during the
committee proceedings because the process, as set out in the bill, was
confusing, unclear and contradictory. Even some of our witnesses from Public
Safety Canada admitted to this.
On July 5, for example, in regard to the question of "If a state is removed
from the list, what would happen for the plaintiff, should the plaintiff be
successful in their case?" a legal representative from Public Safety stated:
If a state is listed, the plaintiff would commence proceedings. Before a
judgment is rendered, if the state is delisted, without being able to
predict exactly what the court would say, it is probable that the state
would likely benefit from the immunity again.
Honourable senators, this was a very problematic issue in the bill because it
meant that in certain situations we could not hold foreign states that support
terrorism accountable for their actions. However, now this unfairness has been
fixed, and I thank the government for this correction.
The challenge I now have, however, is that neither my first nor my second
amendment was implemented in this bill, the first of which is in regard to
making public general criteria of how a country is posted on the list of foreign
states that support terrorism.
The list in question is a fundamental aspect of the bill. It determines which
countries can or cannot be pursued in terms of their association with terrorism.
However, one flaw I observed during committee, and which still exists today, is
that we do not know the criteria for how a country gets on the list. All we know
is that the basis for listing a foreign state is that there are reasonable
grounds to believe that the state in question supported or supports terrorism.
However, I ask: What are these reasonable grounds?
The government has presented new amendments which state that "the name of a
foreign state can be listed at any time" and that "the list must be established
within a specific time frame from the day in which this section comes into
However, honourable senators, this still does not address the fundamental
issue of how the country listing process works. In the current framework, three
parties have the ability to deal with the creation of the list — the
Governor-in-Council, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the Minister of Public
Safety — and in the current framework, none is required to show any transparency
behind their decisions.
As Minister Toews said on June 28, 2010, during our committee meeting:
There must be, in my opinion, a very deliberate consideration by
government as to whether or not state immunity should be lifted in respect
of any particular country.
Undoubtedly, there must be deliberate consideration, but this deliberate
consideration, and other relevant considerations, I believe, must be made
transparent. Because of the seriousness of listing specific countries as having
relations to terrorism, and the diplomatic effects it can have on Canada, we
must be transparent in terms of the criteria used to deem if a country is to be
on the list.
Honourable senators, in my second proposed amendment I suggested that a new
bill — similar to the United States Victims of Trafficking and Violence
Protection Act of 2000, or the Trust Fund for Victims established by the
International Criminal Court — be created so as to compensate victims in a
situation where they may win a case, but the accused is unable to pay.
As with many forms of litigation, a case as such may take a great deal of
time and thus a great deal of money.
As the second report on this bill, which was released on October 5, stated:
This type of litigation "is likely to be both complex and expensive,
requiring victims of terrorism to engage the services of expert witnesses,
such as for example forensic accountants and/or intelligence experts to
demonstrate the link between the activities of the foreign state and the
activities of the terrorist entities."
Given the fact that these trials can be costly and ultimately in the end, an
accused — whether it be a terrorist entity or a nation state — may not be able
to pay, there is a need to create a backup financial framework such as exists in
the United States or with the International Criminal Court, which can compensate
a victim if they are successful in their claim.
The U.S. system is set up for such a situation through the Victims of
Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000. We need to create a similar
framework here in Canada to deal with this issue. We need a system that will
justly serve Canadian victims.
I am disappointed that the government did not include this amendment. Without
a financial framework in place, a Canadian can win a case against a country or a
terrorist entity but not receive the financial support they deserve.
Terrorism in the 21st century is an unfortunate reality. Every single day we
see the impact terrorism has on our society. The introduction of Bill S-7
undoubtedly will help in both addressing our current set of circumstances with
terrorism-related issues as well as work to prevent future tragedies.
However, I feel if this bill is to be fully effective in protecting
Canadians, it needs to address its current set of shortcomings as soon as
possible. Specifically, there needs to be transparency in terms of determining
how a country is put on the list of foreign states that support terrorism. This
process should not take place behind closed doors. It should be made public
because of the seriousness of the matter.
Second, a bill needs to be created that can compensate victims in situations
where they are successful in their claims but the accused is unable to pay.
Honourable senators, we all know that the victims of terrorism have suffered
enough. Victims not only have to prove their case, but further, they have to
find ways to be compensated.
Honourable senators, I thank the government for implementing one of my
amendments into this bill. However, I encourage them to re-examine my other two
amendments in the other place and incorporate them into this important piece of
legislation. By incorporating these amendments, we will serve the best interests
of Canadians, especially those Canadians who have suffered at the hands of
terrorists and the countries that support them.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Are honourable
senators ready for the question?
Hon. Senators: Question.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is it your pleasure,
honourable senators, to adopt the amendment?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: It was moved by the
Honourable Senator Tkachuk, seconded by the Honourable Senator Wallace, that
this bill be read a third time now, as amended.
Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Some Hon. Senators: On division.
(Motion agreed to and bill, as amended, read third time and passed, on
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government), pursuant to
notice of November 4, 2010, moved:
That the Standing Joint Committee on the Library of Parliament be
authorized to examine and report upon the expenditures set out in Parliament
Vote 10 of the Supplementary Estimates (B) for the fiscal year ending March
31, 2011; and
That a message be sent to the House of Commons to acquaint that House
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Wallace, seconded
by the Honourable Senator Mockler, for the second reading of Bill S-222, An
Act respecting a Tartan Day.
Hon. W. David Angus: Honourable senators, I rise today to say a few
words respecting Bill S-222, a private member's bill introduced by our colleague
Senator Wallace with a view to having a federally sanctioned Tartan Day to be
held annually on April 6.
I fully subscribe to the remarks of Senator Wallace when he spoke so
eloquently in support of this bill here on October 21. Indeed, I am one of those
senators he listed having a strong Scottish background who has a great interest
in preserving our nation's rich Scottish heritage and in celebrating same in all
areas of Canada each April 6.
In the interests of full disclosure, I am not a Scot; I am a proud and true
Canadian, but my father and his family emigrated three generations ago to Perth
County, Ontario, from Aberdeen, Scotland, and my mother's family emigrated from
Aberdeen as well in 1898.
Alas, honourable senators, there may no longer be a need for this
Prior to the adjournment of the previous session of Parliament, I was about
to introduce a similar piece of legislation calling for a National Tartan Day,
and I had plans to be in full Scottish regalia and to be piped to the doors of
the chamber by a piper from the Black Watch Regiment. However, these plans did
not come to pass.
There may no longer be a need for this legislation in that on October 21,
shortly after Senator Wallace's said speech, the office of the Honourable James
Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages, issued a press
release in which he purported — and I underline "purported" — to declare April 6
as Tartan Day in Canada. The press release stated as follows:
The Honourable James Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official
Languages, announced today that the Government of Canada will now officially
recognize April 6 as Tartan Day.
"A tartan represents a clan, a family, and a community, and is an
enduring symbol of Scotland that is cherished by Canadians of Scottish
ancestry," said Minister Moore. "Many Canadian provinces and other countries
already celebrate Tartan Day. As well, through Tartan Day, Canadians will
have an opportunity to learn more about the various cultures that comprise
Tartan Day originated in the late 1980s in Nova Scotia, where it was
declared an official day by the provincial government. It then spread across
the country, with many provinces joining in.
I might say that every province of Canada, either through legislation or
Premier Proclamation, has adopted in that province and, indeed, in at least one
of the territories April 6 as Tartan Day. The press release continues:
This marks the first time the Day has been recognized by the federal
"By officially recognizing this Day, we encourage Canadians all across
the country to celebrate the contributions that over four million Canadians
of Scottish heritage continue to make to the foundation of our country,"
said Senator John Wallace, who recently introduced a bill in the Senate in
support of nationally declaring Tartan Day.
In Canada, Tartan Day is celebrated on April 6, the anniversary of the
Declaration of Arbroath, the Scottish declaration of independence. Tartan
Day celebrations typically include parades of pipe bands, Highland dancing
and sports, and other Scottish-themed events.
Honourable senators, as mentioned, I am a very enthusiastic supporter of
Scottish social and cultural traditions here in Canada and, indeed, elsewhere.
As a matter of fact, I served in 2008 as Scotsman of the Year for Quebec. In
this role, I had occasion to attend and sometimes officiate at many Scottish
activities, including country dancing, highland dancing, bagpipe and folk music
festivals, whiskey tasting, and highland athletic games. As well, I sported the
highland regalia, including an Angus tartan quilt. I attended numerous Robbie
Burns suppers and participated in a variety of festive dinners featuring
Scottish cuisine, including haggis.
Honourable senators, on the subject of haggis, I am sure you will indulge me
in the following wee ditty, for it always mystifies me why in some quarters
haggis is not all that popular.
Folklore has it, honourable senators, that a certain Sandy Campbell arrived
at the restaurant of the Caledonian Hotel in Glasgow with his wee wife Nelly,
and he was greeted by Jock, the maitre d', who inquired: "Are you here for a
"Och aye," said Sandy, "we won third prize in the annual Robbie Burns
contest, a haggis dinner for two."
"Well done," said Jock, "and what were the other prizes, then?"
"Well, oh, well," said Sandy, "second prize was a single haggis dinner and if
you were lucky enough to win first prize, you dinnae have to have haggis at
Now, I have two other wee examples of Scottish humour, which I love so well,
and I am sure honourable senators do, too. It's rather subtle, but very
Jock's nephew — the very same Jock — came to him with a problem: "I have my
choice of two women," he said, "a beautiful, penniless girl, a young girl, whom
I love very dearly, and a rich old widow, whom I cannae stand."
"Follow your heart. Marry the girl you love," Jock counselled.
"Very well, then, Uncle Jock," said the nephew, "that is very sound advice."
"By the way," asked Jock, "where does the widow live?"
I have another one.
A Scotsman was invited for a visit to the home of his Canadian friend. Soon
after the Scotsman arrived, he glanced out the window to see a huge beast, just
outside the window. He pointed and he asked his Canadian friend: "Oh, lad, what
The Canadian replied: "Oh, that is a moose."
The Scotsman declared his disbelief and replied: "That is a mouse? How big
are your cats around here?"
Some Hon. Senators: Oh, oh.
Senator Angus: In Canada today, honourable senators, some 15 per cent
of our citizens are of Scottish descent and many others, over 5 million
Canadians, are directly descended from Scottish ancestry, over 250,000 of them
in Quebec alone. Many others across Canada claim to be Scottish and they wish
they were, but they are not.
As a Quebecer, I have a special interest in what is known as the Auld
Alliance. The Auld Alliance was formed between the French and the Scots back in
1295. This was a centuries-old alliance between the Scots and the French from
early times and, over the years, neither the Scots nor the French have gotten on
well with the English.
For today's Scots, this old alliance remains a characteristic of their
national identity that significantly differentiates them from other Brits,
whether in Scotland or here in Canada for their descendants. Canadians of
Scottish descent have always related more to French Canadians, with whom they
more easily share joie de vivre, music, Scotch and, of course, red wine.
You folks on the other side will appreciate that the great Sir Wilfrid
Laurier stated in an important speech in Toronto in 1893, and I quote: "If I
were not French, I would choose to be . . . Scotch."
I could go on about this business, but I want honourable senators to know
that Robbie Burns, for example, the great Scottish poet, lived a very short life
from 1759 to 1796. He died at 37, but by that time his poetry had encompassed
the folklore, the new education and the new awakening of a society that was
blossoming. He died at about the same time so many poor people were fleeing from
Scotland and proliferating out around the world in the great diaspora of the
Scots. They went to countries such as South Africa, Canada, New Zealand,
Australia, the United States and many other countries around the world. Often,
they had nothing with them except the clothing on their backs and two volumes —
one, the Bible, and the other, a book of Robbie Burns' poetry. They arrived in
places such as Canada and put themselves to work in the way they had been taught
at home. With education, they became engineers, doctors, professors, educators,
architects and all kinds of great things.
In Canada, we were blessed. From the time they arrived here, it was the great
awakening. The railway and the great banks started to be built. Honourable
senators can look at the literature, and there are three books that I would like
to refer you to.
First of all, there is an overall volume entitled How the Scots Invented
the Modern World by Arthur Herman. Lately, two really good books have come
out and I commend them both to you. The first is by Matthew Shaw from British
Columbia, who has published a book called Great Scots!: How the Scots Created
Canada. Another book that has just come out is entitled Howthe
Scots Invented Canada. These are current books that are on the bestseller
lists around town here. I bought them here two weeks ago. So the Scots must have
There seems to be a prevalent view that we have too many "days" — this, that
and another day. However, what group of people have come and helped to settle
this country more than the Scots and have done so in a most significant way —
the Lord Strathconas and Donald Smiths of the world. I think it is appropriate
that we pass this legislation, support this initiative by the government and
have a National Tartan Day on April 6.
Honourable senators understand the point here, and I would ask all honourable
senators to support this legislation and the words of Senator Wallace in his
speech of October 21.
I believe that it would be appropriate to ask that this debate be continued
in the name of Senator Hubley.
Hon. Francis William Mahovlich: I would like to ask a question of
Senator Angus: Yes, please, sir.
Senator Mahovlich: Will Canada have a tartan for this national tartan
day on April 6, and will I have to wear a kilt?
Senator Munson: Yeah, it will be a maple leaf.
Senator Angus: That is a very interesting question. There are many
tartans. There are the tartans of particular clans, which have become tartans of
If honourable senators search the Internet, as I did last weekend, there is a
tartan known as the Canada tartan. It has not been officially adopted in the
statutes because of intellectual property issues. However, it is worn by some of
our military pipe bands and the like. Therefore, Senator Mahovlich, it will be
Senator Mahovlich: The Province of Nova Scotia has a tartan. Does
Quebec have a tartan?
Senator Angus: I do not know what the honourable senator means by that
kind of a tartan, but "a tartan is a tartan is a tartan," as far as I am
concerned. The Nova Scotia tartan happens to be lovely and I like it very much,
as do Senator Moore and others from that great province.
I am sure there will be lots of debate on whatever tartan Canada ultimately
adopts as the Canadian tartan, as it might not suit everyone's particular fancy.
The Canada tartan in question that is under consideration, subject to copyright
and the like, is rather nice, Senator Mahovlich.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it agreed, honourable senators, to have this
item stand in Senator Hubley's name?
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Mitchell,
seconded by the Honourable Senator Banks, for the second reading of Bill
C-311, An Act to ensure Canada assumes its responsibilities in preventing
dangerous climate change.
The Hon. the Speaker: I would now ask the table to call the current
Hon. Grant Mitchell: I do not want it to stand.
The Hon. the Speaker: If debate has concluded on this item, are
honourable senators ready for the question?
Senator Comeau: No.
The Hon. the Speaker: The question has been called.
It was moved by the Honourable Senator Mitchell, seconded by the Honourable
Senator Banks, that Bill C-311, An Act to ensure Canada assumes its
responsibilities in preventing dangerous climate change, be read a second time.
Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Some Hon. Senators: No.
The Hon. the Speaker: All those in favour of the motion will signify
by saying "yea."
Some Hon. Senators: Yea.
The Hon. the Speaker: Those opposed to the motion will signify by
Some Hon. Senators: Nay.
The Hon. the Speaker: In my opinion, the nays have it.
And two honourable senators having risen:
The Hon. the Speaker: Call in the senators.
Do the whips have advice as to the length of the bell?
It will be a one-hour bell. Honourable senators, the vote will take place at
20 minutes before 5:00.
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Lang, seconded by
the Honourable Senator Brown, for the second reading of Bill C-475, An Act
to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (methamphetamine and
Hon. Claudette Tardif (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable
senators, I would like to reserve the 45 minutes allocated for Senator Campbell,
who would like to speak. I would therefore like to move adjournment of the
debate in his name.
(On motion of Senator Tardif, for Senator Campbell, debate adjourned.)
The Senate proceeded to consideration of the fourth report of the Standing
Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce, entitled: Canadians Saving
for their Future: A Secure Retirement, tabled in the Senate on October 19,
Hon. Michael A. Meighen moved the adoption of the report.
He said: Honourable senators, I am honoured to speak to this report. On March
31, 2010, pursuant to authority from this chamber, the Standing Senate Committee
on Banking, Trade and Commerce began a timely and significant study on tax-free
savings accounts and registered retirement savings plans and how they might be
put to better use for Canadians.
I want to applaud all members of the committee who participated in the
generation of this final report and the interim report that was issued last
June. I am particularly grateful to the members of the committee for unanimously
agreeing to undertake this report in the first place. Committee members agreed
to study this topic in response to a request from Finance Minister Jim Flaherty
in order to assist him in discussions with his provincial counterparts on
retirement income issues. Our decision to focus on this study and to prepare a
timely report required that we set aside other issues, as well as private
senators' bills, that are also before the committee. I salute committee members
for their cooperative spirit and understanding.
I would like to thank the committee's deputy chair, Senator Hervieux-Payette,
for the leadership role she has taken at different stages in our study. Thanks
to her sustained effort, we were able to add to our order of reference the study
of potential ways to improve the protection of tax-free savings accounts, TFSAs,
and registered retirement savings plans, RRSPs.
I must also thank the staff of the Senate Committees Directorate, the
Communications Branch and the Library of Parliament for their excellent work
throughout our study. Congratulations to everyone for the professionalism and
commitment to the public service that were the hallmarks of their work for the
Honourable senators, RRSPs were introduced in the 1957 budget. This measure
responded to arguments from professional associations stating that their members
were facing discrimination because of their ineligibility to receive a tax
deduction such as the one associated with occupational pension plans.
According to the Canada Revenue Agency, in the 2008 taxation year,
approximately 6.2 million Canadians, or approximately 25 per cent of tax filers,
contributed about $32.9 billion to their RRSPs. The average RRSP contribution
was approximately $5,337 and the median contribution was about $2,700. The
annual RRSP contribution limit is 18 per cent of income earned in the previous
year to a maximum contribution of $22,000, an amount that is indexed to average
Tax-free savings accounts, TFSAs, introduced by the current Conservative
government in the 2008 budget, allow Canadians to earn investment income on a
tax-free basis. Tax filers are able to make annual TFSA contributions of up to
$5,000 on which — in contrast to RRSP contributions — taxes have already been
paid. The annual contribution limit is indexed to inflation and is rounded to
the nearest multiple of $500. As with RRSPs, unused TFSA contribution room can
be carried forward to future years.
According to an RBC survey in October 2009, 10 months after it was first
possible to contribute to TFSAs, 71 per cent of surveyed Canadians were aware of
the existence of the savings vehicle and 24 per cent of surveyed Canadians had
opened a TFSA.
I should point out that, unlike registered retirement savings plans, funds
withdrawn from a TFSA are tax-exempt. Also, income-tested benefits, such as the
Goods and Services Tax/ Harmonized Sales Tax Credit, the Age Credit, and Old Age
Security and Guaranteed Income Supplement benefits, are unaffected by TFSA
withdrawals. This is different than RRSPs where withdrawals do cause clawbacks
to kick in with some income-tested benefits, including the GIS and the GST/HST
I should also underscore the fact that, based on testimony from some of our
witnesses and at the persistent urging of Senator Gerstein and others, one of
the report's recommendations would terminate these clawbacks. Specifically,
recommendation number two states that:
The federal government make the necessary legislative amendments to
ensure that, while remaining taxable, withdrawals from registered retirement
savings plans have no impact on eligibility for, or the amount of, federal
income-tested benefits and tax credits.
Honourable senators, in making this recommendation and in devising the other
five proposals made in Canadians Saving for their Future: A Secure Retirement,
our committee members were informed by compelling testimony of the need to
focus, as far as RRSPs and TFSAs are concerned, on middle- and, to a somewhat
lesser extent, lower-income earners.
With respect to low-income earners, the committee was particularly struck by
the negative implications for low-income Canadians of RRSP withdrawals being
treated as income for purposes of obtaining government benefits. While we agree
that withdrawals from RRSPs should be treated as taxable income, we believe that
such withdrawals should have no impact on eligibility for or the amount of such
government programs as Guaranteed Income Supplement benefits or income-tested
In the committee's view, an end to the practice whereby RRSP withdrawals
compromise eligibility for or the amount of government benefits would make RRSP
contributions a more attractive option for lower-income Canadians, thereby
perhaps enhancing their standard of living in retirement. It would also remedy
what we consider to be somewhat discriminatory treatment, since withdrawals from
tax-free savings accounts do not have a negative effect on such government
The Committee did hear testimony indicating that for some Canadians —
particularly those with a low income — contributions to an RRSP are not feasible
and perhaps not even in their best interest. This testimony expressed the view
that the retirement income needs of low-income Canadians can be met through
public pension sources with relative consistency between their pre- and
post-retirement standard of living, and that RRSP withdrawals could compromise
their eligibility for income-tested benefits and tax credits. According to this
perspective, another reason why RRSPs are a less attractive option for
lower-income Canadians, relative to middle- and upper-income Canadians, is the
relatively low rate of taxation with lower tax benefit that would accrue to
lower-income Canadians when they make contributions.
Lower-income Canadians who are employed also would undoubtedly benefit from
other recommendations of the committee, including the proposal to facilitate
multi-employer pension plans and the Canada-wide voluntary plan to encourage
adequate retirement savings and its emphasis on lower administration fees and
shared risk. The financial education and oversight component of recommendation
number 5 would also benefit all Canadians, regardless of socioeconomic status.
Before I go any further, I want to address the issue of the Canada Pension
Plan because this is also of concern to lower-income Canadians. Labour groups,
including the Canadian Labour Congress, have criticized our report for making
little or no mention of the current discussions that the federal government is
having with the provinces with respect to strengthening the Canada Pension Plan.
In response to these criticisms, I would like to read to you a letter I wrote to
Ken Georgetti, President of the Canadian Labour Congress, after my office
received correspondence from him on this very topic. I stated:
With respect to your comment regarding the Canada Pension Plan, I point
out that it is the Senate's Social Affairs, Science and Technology Committee
which has a mandate over pensions, not the Standing Senate Committee on
Banking, Trade and Commerce. Secondly, as is clear in our Order of Reference
for this study, which was based on a request from the Minister of Finance,
our committee was not asked to study options for the CPP (which would have
been outside the Committee's mandate . . .), but rather to study the extent
to which Canadians are using tax free savings accounts and registered
retirement savings vehicles, how their usage might be increased, and how
savings in these vehicles might be protected. With this frame of reference
as our point of focus, we generated recommendations to make these savings
vehicles more effective and attractive for Canadians.
As to any consideration of our report's recommendations vis-à-vis any
options for the CPP, I can't speak for any of the committee members, but as
a colleague of the Finance Minister, I personally endorse his efforts to
bolster the CPP, as this is a key component of most retired Canadians'
Honourable senators, the committee heard considerable testimony and data that
indicated that the extent to which unused RRSP, and perhaps TFSA, contribution
room exists for some Canadians, we felt that the current principal focus should
be middle-income Canadians. We particularly focused on those Canadians who do
not belong to an occupational pension plan or who belong to a defined
contribution rather than a defined benefit plan, self-employed persons who are
unable to contribute to an occupational pension plan and employees of those
small- and medium-sized employers who may face barriers in sponsoring an
occupational pension plan.
As to high-income Canadians, the committee felt that they are already
assisted by the federal government in a manner that is both adequate and
appropriate. While they were not the committee's key focus, they would
nonetheless benefit from the implementation of many of this report's
recommendations, including the committee's recommendation to increase the age at
which an RRSP is converted to a RRIF from 71 years to 75 years. They would also
benefit from the recommendation for a lifetime $100,000 contribution limit to
TFSAs, which would enable one to take greater advantage of financial windfalls
Honourable senators, two recommendations that I feel are absolutely central
to this report are the Canada-wide voluntary plan — or the "big idea," as
Senator Greene and Senator Massicotte referred to it — and the measures to
facilitate multi-employer pension plans, including registered retirement saving
These two recommendations are not incompatible. They have been recommended
with a view to targeting groups most in need of help in addressing their
retirement income requirements, and in the case of multi-employer pension plans,
the recommendation is designed to address existing barriers and regulations to
Neither are these two proposals unique to this report, having been discussed
at meetings of federal and provincial finance ministers. As well, a 2009
background paper prepared by Canada's Department of Finance discussed these two
concepts as possible ways forward in addressing the retirement income needs of
With respect to the issue of multi-employer pension plans, the Department of
Finance consultation paper entitled Strengthening the Legislative and
Regulatory Framework for Private Pension Plans Subject to the Pension Benefits
Standards Act, 1985 noted:
Multi-employer pension plans have a number of advantages: they spread
risk across a number of employers; they provide employees with benefit
transferability when they switch employers within the plan; and they allow
employers to provide defined benefit coverage without the same
administrative burden borne by a single employer defined benefit plan
With respect to the concept fleshed out in greater detail within the national
voluntary plan recommendation of our report, this same Department of Finance
discussion paper mentioned:
Another related issue that has been receiving attention in recent months
consists of establishing large, pooled defined contribution arrangements for
employers and employees who do not already have a private pension plan,
potentially with the involvement of the government. Proposals for such
arrangements are typically advocated under the premise that investments
could be managed professionally and efficiently, leveraging economies of
scale due to pooling. Some of these proposals suggest that new annuitisation
options could be offered.
Honourable senators, in recommending the voluntary plan, I have explained how
the committee's focus was primarily on middle-income Canadians, self-employed
persons, and the employees of small- and medium-sized employers that may find it
difficult to establish an occupational pension plan. The committee believes that
the proposed plan that we have put forward would help each of these groups.
There are several aspects to the proposed voluntary plan that your committee
feels would make the mechanism attractive to a wide range of Canadians. These
include professional management, simplicity in terms of having to choose from a
limited number of fund options, and guidance about the fund most appropriate for
people of various ages and incomes.
The voluntary plan, as envisaged by your committee, would contain a
commitment to low fees as well as the absence of real and/or perceived conflicts
of interest on behalf of investment advisers and managers.
Furthermore, while Canadians would have the right to opt out, the
auto-enrolment feature of the voluntary plan would presumably result in
increased saving by Canadians. In interviews publicizing this report, I used a
rather poor analogy, but an analogy nonetheless, to the effect that if you lead
a horse to water, he or she might indeed stay and eventually drink. The hope of
the committee was that by making enrolment automatic, with the right to opt out,
most of the people who are automatically enrolled would stay and thereby act to
grow their retirement savings.
On a final note with respect to the voluntary plan, it should be attractive
to employers who wish to make contributions on their employees' behalf, since
the funds would already be established and contributions by them would be locked
in until retirement.
Turning to the report's recommendation that the government should take action
to encourage multi-employer pension plans, the Banking Committee had access to
evidence and other studies that pointed out that there are considerable
regulatory barriers to their usage.
In 2009, the Department of Finance consultation paper to which I referred a
moment ago stated that it appears that the main obstacle to greater uptake and
usage of multi-employer pension plans is that much of the legislative framework
of the Pension Benefits Standards Act, 1985, was originally designed mostly for
single employer defined benefit plans.
As well, Frank Swedlove, of the Canadian Life and Health Insurance
Association, has stated:
Participation in multi-employer plans is constrained by tax and
regulatory red-tape that create administrative burdens for employers,
particularly small- and medium-sized businesses. But this can be corrected
relatively easily and with immediate and quantifiable benefit. If
legislation were amended to permit any employer, including the self-employed, to participate in a multi-employer pension plan, this would remove
almost all administrative costs for employers, as it would be handled
centrally by the managing financial institution.
Honourable senators, can I have five minutes?
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it agreed, honourable senators?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Meighen: Thank you, honourable senators.
In addition, if all businesses with 20 or more employees were required to
offer a pension plan, group RRSP, or access to a Multi-Employer plan, this
would mean more than 80% of Canadian workers would participate in an
efficient, cost-effective way to save for retirement.
Mr. Swedlove also pointed out:
Employment standards should facilitate automatic enrolment of employees
and automatic escalation of employee contributions, with appropriate opt-out
rights, to gently steer human behaviour to smart savings strategies. For
many employers, group RRSPs are an efficient alternative to pension plans.
But employer contributions to group RRSPs can be withdrawn at any time by
employees. Employers are more likely to contribute if those contributions
are locked in, to ensure that they are meeting the objective of providing
retirement savings. We recommend that tax law explicitly require such
Those are the views of Mr. Swedlove and your committee, as honourable
senators are aware, adopted many of them.
Honourable senators, in a nutshell, it appears that there is not greater
usage, uptake or participation in multi-employer pension plans for reasons due
to the existing legislative framework, administrative costs, tax and regulatory
disincentives, and the fact that they are not mandatory.
Finally honourable senators, I would be remiss if I did not make reference to
another innovative recommendation, to which I alluded earlier, contained in the
report. I refer to the proposal to establish a lifetime contribution room of
$100,000 per individual to his or her TFSA in addition to the current annual,
inflation-adjusted contribution room.
In making this recommendation, the committee felt that this modification to
TFSAs could have several benefits. Individuals who experience a financial
windfall, including middle-income Canadians, self-employed persons, and the
employees of those small- and medium-sized employers who face barriers in
sponsoring occupational plans could make good use of this modification.
Lifetime contribution room could also benefit those who are close to
retirement and have had relatively less time to make TFSA contribution and to
accumulate unused TFSA contribution room.
Honourable senators, in conclusion, I want to again acknowledge the
disciplined efforts of the senators who participated in this study. They
deployed sound judgment and great creativity in crafting this final report on
this most important of topics. I hope it will commit itself to all honourable
senators. It is hard to overemphasize the importance, particularly with the
aging population, that faces this country in encouraging Canadians to save for
As I said at the outset of my remarks, the work of my colleagues on this
committee has made it a joy to lead.
(On motion of Senator Tardif, for Senator Hervieux-Payette, debate
The Senate proceeded to consideration of the eighth report (interim) of the
Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources
entitled: Facts Do Not Justify Banning Canada's Current Offshore Drilling
Operations: A Senate Review In the Wake of BP's Deepwater Horizon Incident,
deposited with the Clerk of the Senate on August 18, 2010.
Hon. W. David Angus moved the adoption of the report.
He said: Honourable senators, I want to speak to the eighth report of the
Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources that
was tabled with the clerk on August 18, during the summer break, pursuant to
authority received from this chamber before the summer adjournment was taken.
The report is entitled Facts Do Not Justify Banning Canada's Current Offshore
Drilling Operations: A Senate Review In the Wake of BP's Deepwater Horizon
First, I commend this report to all honourable senators on the basis that
there is a wealth of data contained in its pages that talks about licences that
have been issued by the various regulatory agencies, and where and how certain
activities are carried on, be they exploration or production in the oil and gas
industry off Canada's three coasts. More importantly, I want to explain to
honourable senators how this study came about.
At the outset, I want to thank all members of the committee who went the
extra mile to participate in the 12 hearings where we heard some 26 witnesses,
and hundreds of pages of documents were filed. The staff of the parliamentary
library worked hard to draft the report and ultimately send it through
translation and make it available for our approval at committee, outside the
regular hours during the summer, to be sure it was in good and due form for
tabling with the clerk.
As honourable senators know, we are in the midst of a major study on Canada's
energy system: how energy is produced, what the sources of energy are, and how
they need to be re-engineered going forward, taking into consideration the
dynamic explosion of population globally and what is anticipated 20 years hence
— Canada being the greatest consumer per capita of energy in the world — and all
of the related aspects that involve the interrelationship between energy, the
environment and our economy.
Suddenly, in the midst of this study, this tremendous accident happened in
the Gulf of Mexico. This accident involved not some isolated oil rig drilling in
a deepwater location, but it was one of literally 300 or 400 drilling operations
taking place at all times in a totally different environment than we have off
the East Coast or West Coast in terms of the ecological surroundings, the
proximity to the U.S. coast and Mexico's coast, and all the ecological
sensitivity. Yet there is voluminous activity there. There was panic around the
world following the explosion of the BP drilling ship, the Deepwater Horizon,
and the consequential spewing into the ocean, unchecked, of hundreds of
thousands of barrels of crude oil a day, not to mention the tragedy that took
place when the drilling ship exploded, with a loss of 11 lives and 28 serious
injuries, and untold collateral damage in and around the area.
There were stories that this oil would somehow leave the Gulf of Mexico,
enter the current, come up the East Coast of Canada, foul Nantucket and American
preserves on their East Atlantic Coast, continue up the coast to Nova Scotia and
Newfoundland, and so on. These stories are some of the things that were being
written in the newspapers. Scientists said that will never happen, but we might
want to consider if there is something going on in Canada's offshore oil and gas
exploration and development industry that might let us take a look at this
That is to say, is there a real and imminent danger of damage in Canada of a
similar incident happening here?
What sent us into action was a CBC poll that appeared on May 6 or 7 this year
stating that well over 50 per cent of Canadians were afraid that there could be
a similar incident in Canada. Canadians were afraid that there was a real and
imminent danger not only to life and limb but also to the ecology, to the
wildlife, to the beaches of Sable Island in Nova Scotia, and so on, and to the
Some stories were preposterous in the view of your committee, honourable
senators. What we knew even then, without going into whether there was a real
and imminent danger, was that there was no drilling or exploration occurring on
the West Coast and that there had been a moratorium in effect since the
mid-1970s, sanctioned by both the Government of British Columbia and the federal
government. Furthermore, there was no activity in the Arctic, which we all know
is a highly sensitive and difficult area to deal with, so we are obviously
focused on the Arctic.
We knew that no licences were granted for any drilling. We were aware of
exploratory licences out there that will begin in 2012, but we also knew that
there was activity. There is exploration and development occurring on a large
scale off the East Coast.
We also knew that the economies of Atlantic Canada, especially Nova Scotia
and Newfoundland and Labrador, were directly tied to this critical industry. We
were aware that some 15 per cent of Canada's fossil fuel resources in the form
of oil and gas were produced in our Atlantic offshore industry. We felt it was
necessary to find out whether these polls were justified. If so then we would
recommend action. If not, we would say so and, hopefully, allay the fears that
might turn out to be unfounded.
Under the general mandate of our energy study, we convened special hearings.
We sent out notices to all stakeholders and interested parties. We launched the
study with a press conference and there was great interest. We had many requests
to appear before our committee. I do not think anyone who wanted to appear was
The House of Commons committee held hearings that were two or three days
long. In our view, they gave the wrong impression. They focused on the Arctic
and said, "Look how terrible it would be if there was a blowout like the
Deepwater Horizon in the Arctic."
We said, "Sure, that would be terrible, but we are not drilling there, so it
is irrelevant for the purposes of our study."
We were trying to enlighten and to provide a service on behalf of the Senate
for Canadians to tell them the facts and what the state of play is.
We set upon our study, and we had 28 witnesses. We started with the
regulators from the Newfoundland and Labrador board and from the ones in Nova
Scotia, and we developed a sense of what was taking place. Lo and behold, we
found out there was only one deepwater drilling operation on any of Canada's
coasts, namely, the one sponsored by Chevron some 450 kilometres northeast of
Newfoundland in the middle of the western ocean.
We then called upon officials from the National Energy Board, which has
jurisdiction different from the offshore. I will not go into the details, but
these jurisdictional issues are important. As we all know, there are certain
elements of natural resources that are provincial matters. Then there are
elements that are federal, especially those dealing with interprovincial
pipelines and the transmission of some of the product, and I could go on and on.
This is clearly delineated and defined in the report. One of the beauties of
this report is that it will be a catechism for someone who wants a snapshot of
what the Canadian offshore industry is all about, how it works, what is the
supervision, and so on.
We carried out our study and we found there was no reason to fear an imminent
danger of a Deepwater Horizon happening here. We found some flaws in the
oversight. We found that the laws related to liability and how much the
developers should be putting up as contingencies are complicated matters and we
have made recommendations in that respect.
All in all, we found that Canada's regulatory system is state of the art. We
are a member of a group comprised of all the major offshore oil and gas drilling
and exploration countries in the world. There are nine such countries, and we
are a major player. Along with Norway, we are considered to be the gold
Interestingly, now the reports are coming out in the United States from the
presidential commission and the other investigations that took place. They had
five or six regulatory regimes in the U.S. that overlapped. That was one of the
elements that led to Murphy's Law kicking in and their having eight or nine
things go wrong. That was what was needed for the event to happen, much like the
Piper Alpha incident some 25 years ago in the North Sea.
These findings are being pointed to by the investigators in the United States
who are saying they will move to this other system, which is the gold standard
of oversight — presently, at least, in their view — and that is the system we
have. We are not saying our system is the be-all and end-all and that it should
remain that way. Our regulatory system is a work-in-progress. As technology
develops and as experience from the Gulf of Mexico incident comes to bear, we
learn from that.
Generally, we felt comfortable telling Canadians what we found in this
regard. We held a press conference on August 18 at the National Press Theatre. I
must say that it was absolutely jam-packed. There was tremendous interest in
the report and in what we had to say, and there was tremendous coverage. I think
the Senate was presented in a very good light in the days following that
We also had a lot of feedback. Some people said they did not realize we were
doing this study. Some environmental groups wished that they had come.
From people involved in Old Harry Field, which is a cross-jurisdictional
situation between Newfoundland and Labrador and Quebec, we found that an
exploratory licence had been issued. We asked the regulators to come back and
tell us why we did not know about it, and they said, "Well, you did. It is right
in your report." We said, "Yes, but you did not tell us that it was such a
sensitive area." They said, "Because nothing is happening there yet."
We got people's attention. We were able to fill in the blanks where people
were not clear on what is going on. I would say that this study has been
extremely well received.
I do not think there is much more for me to say about the report. I know that
members of the committee also wish to say a few words on this matter in the
I want to conclude by saying that I am really glad we did this special
emergency type of study, with opening and closing press conferences, because the
idea was to present the Senate in the light of doing something constructive. As
a member of the political party that sits on this side of the house, I want to
say that the study is consistent with government policies that are in place. I
am proud of recently resigned Minister Prentice who, at all times, cooperated
with our committee in this study, as did his colleague Minister Paradis of
National Resources Canada.
Our committee was ready to let the facts be known and to call the necessary
witnesses. The facts that were made known are consistent and not only show the
Senate in a good light, but also the present government.
Honourable senators, this is the report that our committee was pleased to
have tabled here on August 18 and, in due course, I hope the report will be
adopted in this place.
Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Callbeck,
calling the attention of the Senate to the need to adequately support new
mothers and fathers by eliminating the Employment Insurance two-week waiting
period for maternity and parental benefits.
Hon. Rose-Marie Losier-Cool: Honourable senators, today I am speaking
in support of the initiative of my colleague from Prince Edward Island, the
Honourable Senator Callbeck.
On September 29, Senator Callbeck expressed her wish to eliminate the
two-week waiting period that new mothers or new parents currently have to endure
before receiving the parental or maternity benefits to which they are entitled.
I agree with my colleague that this waiting period is illogical and unnecessary
and that it should be eliminated as soon as possible.
A mother returning home from the hospital after giving birth or parents
returning home with their adopted baby often do not have any income during their
maternity or parental leave. Living alone does not come for free; imagine what
it is like with a new baby. The two weeks that these mothers or these parents
currently have to wait without an income are very difficult.
In a society that depends a great deal on children in order to renew itself
and grow, the government is sending a bad message to new mothers and new
parents. By delaying the start of the benefit period by two weeks for these
mothers or parents, who themselves have contributed to the employment insurance
fund for a long time, the government is saying to these mothers and these
parents that their contribution to society is not appreciated enough to justify
immediately releasing the benefits to which they are entitled.
While I would argue even more strongly for doing away with the two-week
waiting period before collecting regular employment insurance, I am constrained
by the topic of this inquiry to limit my advocacy to new mothers and new
parents. While the current weekly maximum of $457 is not quite enough to see a
new mother or parent through the ever-mounting expenses of raising a child
during his first year, maternity and parental benefits are incredibly important
to many parents. They can help buy diapers, formula, clothing, and toys. How
would they pay for those without any money for two weeks?
Bear in mind, honourable senators, that what Senator Callbeck and I are
suggesting is not to extend by two weeks the maximum duration of benefits,
currently set at 50 weeks per child. What we are suggesting is that the maximum
duration remain at 50 weeks, but that it begin and end two weeks earlier than is
now the case. At the end of the day, what we are suggesting will not cost the
government and taxpayers a single penny more. The amount will not change, but
simply the period in which it is given.
Senator Callbeck feels that the parental income replacement provisions of the
Employment Insurance Act need a thorough overhaul that goes further than just
eliminating the two-week waiting period. I agree. It will be my pleasure and
duty to take part in that debate in due course. However, in the meantime, we
need to deal with the most pressing issue and abolish the waiting period, which
is totally unwarranted when you consider that childbirth and adoption are life
events that are neither unexpected nor unplanned.
I therefore call on the government to do the honourable thing and give this
money to these new mothers and new parents earlier. If children are our future,
then we should prove it by giving their parents the tools they need to want
children, have them and raise them from day one.
(On motion of Senator Wallin, debate adjourned.)
(The Senate adjourned until Wednesday, November 17, 2010, at 1:30 p.m.)