Debates of the Senate (Hansard)
3rd Session, 40th Parliament,
Volume 147, Issue 67
Thursday, November 18, 2010
The Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker
Thursday, November 18, 2010
The Senate met at 1:30 p.m., the Speaker in the chair.
The Hon. the Speaker informed the Senate that the following
communication had been received:
November 18, 2010
I have the honour to inform you that the Right Honourable David Johnston,
Governor General of Canada, signified royal assent by written declaration to
the bills listed in the Schedule to this letter on the 18th day of November,
2010, at 9:10 a.m.
Secretary to the Governor General
The Speaker of the Senate
Bills assented to Thursday, November 18, 2010:
An Act to establish National Seniors Day (Bill C-40, Chapter 13,
An Act to amend the Criminal Code (auto theft and trafficking in property
obtained by crime) (Bill S-9, Chapter 14, 2010)
Hon. David Tkachuk: Honourable senators, last spring I had the honour
of tabling the audit of the Senate's statement of financial position, conducted
by PricewaterhouseCoopers as of March 31, 2009. The audit prepared the
foundation for an audit of our financial statement, which was conducted for the
first time ever this year. The first annual external audit of the Senate's
complete financial statements for the year ending March 31, 2010, was conducted
by KPMG, which has been retained on a three-year contract through a competitive
Honourable senators, I am pleased to report that the resulting opinion was
that the financial statements present fairly, in all material respects, the
financial position, results of operations and cash flows of the Senate of
Canada. These financial statements presented by the Clerk and the Director of
Finance fulfill the requirements in the Senate Administrative Rules that,
"The Clerk of the Senate shall prepare and lay before the Senate annually a
statement of the accounts of the Senate."
While the financial statements are presented in a format recommended by the
Treasury Board Secretariat of Canada's accounting standards, the Senate actually
chose to use generally accepted accounting principles for the public sector as
the basis for the financial statements. Generally accepted accounting principles
are felt to be more acceptable to the general public, as they are prepared by an
independent party, the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants, and respect
rigorous corporate standards.
KPMG praised the Senate Administration for the culture of diligence that has
been established in its financial processes, noting that their audit went
extraordinarily well for a first-ever audit of financial statements.
The auditors did not find any errors during the audit that required them to
recommend any adjustments to the financial information they reviewed, nor were
there any unadjusted differences that might suggest control deficiencies. In
fact, the auditors did not need to prepare a management letter to our Clerk, as
they did not uncover any control deficiencies that would require them to
recommend corrective actions to our financial controls.
I invite all honourable senators to join me in thanking the Clerk, the
Director of Finance and the finance team for their excellent work in producing
the Senate's first-ever financial statements.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, I rise before you today
to speak about the rights of Canada's temporary migrant workers. This past
September, I visited an agricultural workers support centre in Surrey, British
Columbia, where support is provided to migrant workers who come to work in
Canada under temporary work visas. Unfortunately, most of these temporary
migrant workers suffer in silence, which is why I am compelled to rise today and
give them a voice.
During my visit at the centre, I heard numerous stories of mistreatment by
employers. One story in particular stood out for me. This story is about a
Mexican man named Benigno who works on a farm in British Columbia.
Benigno was tasked with emptying up to 10 25-kilogram sacks of pesticide
powder into the hose irrigation system for almost five hours a day, without any
safety equipment or training. This was a job reserved for supervisors who were
equipped with the appropriate safety respirators and training.
This prolonged, constant and unprotected exposure to toxic chemicals has had
significant respiratory health implications for Benigno. When he was sent to the
doctor by the employer's liaison, who also acted as a translator, he
communicated that he was having difficulty breathing. Not surprisingly, the
incident was filed as a private visit and completely unrelated to his work
duties. He was prescribed two types of inhalers and was sent on his way.
After enduring this dangerous work for a few more months, he returned to
Mexico and once again reported to the Mexican doctor in charge of assessing
whether he was fit to return to the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program. The
doctor informed him that he should no longer work because his lungs were so
compromised by the pesticide that he could not continue to meet the physical
demands required of a farm worker.
Benigno had no choice; he had to continue working. He had originally come to
Canada to find a way to support his family and he wanted to continue working in
Canada. Benigno continued to work and he suffered until he was not able to walk
Honourable senators, hundreds of thousands of workers like Benigno come to
Canada each year with temporary work visas. These workers contribute
significantly to the Canadian agricultural industry. We eat better and cheaper
fruits and vegetables because of their work.
Honourable senators, the temporary farm workers are an important part of our
great country. We need to hear their voices.
Hon. A. Raynell Andreychuk: Honourable senators, I rise today to note
another milestone in Canada's history, the achievements of the Honourable
Born on November 14, 1910, in Copper Cliff, Ontario, Michael Starchewsky was
one of seven children in a family of Ukrainian immigrants. There were many
barriers facing Mr. Starr's family; and all new Canadians, from time to time,
have faced the same issues. He even found it necessary to change his surname
from "Starchewsky" to "Starr" to open more doors for his future.
Over the course of his distinguished and prolific career, Mr. Starr was a
Rotarian, an alderman and a mayor. He was the first Canadian of Ukrainian origin
to be Mayor of Oshawa — in fact, the first to be mayor of any large Canadian
city. He was a member of Parliament, Conservative house leader and Minister of
Labour, the first Canadian of Ukrainian origin to be appointed to the federal
cabinet. He was appointed by the then Prime Minister Diefenbaker.
Mr. Starr recognized the devastating impact of unemployment on individuals,
families and communities. He used his cabinet post to address such issues. Some
of his major accomplishments as Minister of Labour include the Winter Works
Program, the minimum wage legislation and, notably, the creation of the
community college system, which enabled the establishment of over 880 technical
schools across Canada in less than two years.
Until his passing on March 16, 2000, at the age of 89, Mr. Starr was
dedicated to promoting engagement in the political process, volunteerism and
workplace equity. In honour of his commitment to such endeavours, "Michael Starr
Week" is currently under way in Oshawa, Ontario.
Today, I acknowledge Michael Starr's significant contribution to Canada, and
especially to Oshawa. Thus, 100 years after his birth, we honour the milestones
of this great Canadian.
Hon. Pana Merchant: Honourable senators, I rise to honour the life of
the Honourable David Gordon Steuart.
"Davey" was a long-time family friend. He sat in the Saskatchewan legislature
with both my mother-in-law, Sally Merchant, and with my husband, Tony.
We remember his humour, wit and colourful comportment; but most of all, we
remember his dedication and service to the city of Prince Albert, to the
province of Saskatchewan and to our country in time of war. As a navigating
officer who flew a full cycle of missions in a dangerous duty, he tried to
identify submarines in the English Channel, and in a navigation box, up to
Norway — and subs versus the planes of the day was a pretty even fight. Many of
his comrades died, as he might have.
Dave took all of this in stride and returned to Prince Albert, to his family
business, where he became an accomplished alderman, the mayor and, in 1962, was
elected in a by-election to the Saskatchewan Legislative Assembly.
He was re-elected in 1964, 1967, 1971 and 1975 — and always by slim margins,
which earned him the reference of "Landslide Steuart."
Dave held many high-profile portfolios, including Natural Resources, Health
and Finance, all at difficult times when the province was trying to turn the
corner from an entrenched 20-year Cooperative Commonwealth Federation-New
Democratic Party anti-business approach and reputation.
He became leader of the Saskatchewan Liberal Party in 1972. He did not form
the government in 1975, but he was effective as leader.
Dave was summoned to this chamber on December 9, 1976. Unlike some, he was
forthright about wanting to come to the Senate. He retired in 1991.
Dave was a passionate Liberal. He was the best of what liberalism is —
political democracy, market economy and defence of individual rights — and Dave
focused on the "little guy" because he was not a patrician.
He is quoted as saying:
If everyone does not take it upon himself to work his own special way to
make our society a little better, then we have failed not only our country,
but ourselves as well.
Sincere condolences go to his son, Bob; daughter, Lynne; and grandsons,
Matthew, Graham and Owen.
Hon. Yonah Martin: Honourable senators, on November 11 and 12, 2010,
Prime Minister Stephen Harper stood on the world stage in Seoul, Korea, at the
G20 summit. The government of the Republic of Korea planned and executed the
global forum with precision and success, with the blessing of her citizens and
the contribution of countless volunteers.
During the same week, Kim Yang, Minister of Patriots and Veterans Affairs,
and his dedicated team also hosted the eleventh revisit program for hundreds of
Korean War veterans of 21 countries that contributed to the United Nations force
during the war, including 12 Canadian veterans and their spouses.
As Canadians, we can take immense pride in how our Prime Minister and Finance
Minister Jim Flaherty demonstrated once again strength and leadership at the G20
summit. We can also be proud of the Republic of Korea's success — the fact that
in only six decades Korea has transformed from an aid recipient to an aid-giving
nation; and that her present day success is possible, in part, due to the
sacrifice of tens of thousands of Canadians who fought, and 516 Canadians who
died on Korean soil during the war.
On the morning of November 11, I had the honour of attending the Remembrance
Day ceremony at the National War Museum in Seoul with Prime Minister Stephen
Harper, Laureen Harper, Minister Jim Flaherty and member of Parliament Barry
Devolin to commemorate Canadian and Allied soldiers who fought to defend South
Korea against the North Korean Communist invasion from 1950 to 1953.
Colonel Jacques Morneau, Canadian Defence attaché, presided over the ceremony
under a clear blue sky. Draping us in a semi-circle, our Canadian flag and flags
of the 20 other nations waved in the wind — with hundreds of Korean War
veterans, Korea's living heroes from Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and
France in attendance. It was a perfect ceremony to mark the sixtieth anniversary
of the outbreak of the Korean War.
It was a memorable and most meaningful ceremony indeed. For the 12 veterans
"revisiting" Korea for the first time in nearly 60 years — namely Paul Rochon,
Bob Maginn, Ralph McKay, James Hallack, William Atchison, Mike Melnik, James B.
Palmer, Cecil E. Hamm-Roy, Larry John Smith, Arsene Dubé, Donald W. Tremblay,
Augustus Eugene Bince, Jean Pierre Van Eck, Robert Lavoie, Garry E. Johnson and
Edward C. Petrony — this day was all the more meaningful as Prime Minister
Harper and Laureen Harper met privately with them prior to the ceremony.
After the ceremony, the Prime Minister laid a wreath in front of the Canadian
plaque at the Gallery of the Monuments of Those Killed in Action. In the words
of Prime Minister Stephen Harper:
Today we honour and remember those members of the Canadian Forces who
fought in one the toughest wars in our history, to defend South Korea
against an oppressive communist invader. Our forces fought bravely alongside
our Allies to defend South Korea and played a pivotal part in ending the
Of the 26,791 Canadians who served in Korea; 7,000 were active in the theatre
between the ceasefire and the end of 1955; 516 Canadians made the ultimate
sacrifice; 378 are buried in the United Nations cemetery in Busan, Korea; and
countless Canadians have defended the freedoms and rights of people, past and
present. We will remember them.
Lest we forget.
Hon. Lillian Eva Dyck: Honourable senators, I rise today to pay
tribute to Mr. Howard Anderson, a veteran of World War II and an Aboriginal
veterans activist, who passed away on Friday, November 12, 2010. I attended his
funeral on Tuesday this week. It was a moving ceremony combining military,
Christian and Cree traditions. Hundreds came to pay their respects to Mr.
Anderson, who was the last surviving World War II veteran from the Gordon First
Mr. Anderson was only a young 16-year-old when he signed up to fight in World
War II. He fought alongside his fellow Canadians with courage and love of
country. Upon returning to Canada, Mr. Anderson led the fight for just
compensation to First Nations veterans over the past 50 years. Through his
position as Grand Chief of the Saskatchewan First Nations Veterans Association,
Mr. Anderson brought the issue of veterans' compensation to the forefront of the
federal government in 2000. His passion and dedication to correcting the wrongs
of the past moved the Government of Canada to establish the Veterans
Compensation Package of 2002, awarding $20,000 to eligible First Nations
veterans who faced discrimination upon return from war. This was not a
completely fair settlement, so Mr. Anderson continued to lead the fight for
equal compensation for First Nations veterans. Over the past year, I was
honoured to be working with him in his noble pursuit. His passion for educating
us all on the contributions of First Nations veterans and soldiers was
motivating, and he will be deeply missed.
Mr. Anderson had a lovely sense of humour. He said that when they found out
the war had ended, they celebrated, they celebrated, and they celebrated. He is
said to have charmed everyone that he met, myself included.
Howard Anderson also had a love of sports and was very active in minor sports
throughout his life. He was awarded the Tom Longboat Award for his efforts for
excellence in contribution to Aboriginal sports.
It is fitting that the day before his passing he combined these two passions.
During the day, he attended the Remembrance Day ceremony on Gordon First Nation
reserve and in the evening, he attended the Regina Pats First Nations and Metis
Howard leaves behind his loving wife, Denise Anderson, his 12 children, 26
grandchildren and 28 great grandchildren.
I am truly saddened that he did not live long enough to see his dream of fair
compensation for Aboriginal veterans come true. However, we will not forget. We
will remember Howard and continue his work on behalf of Aboriginal veterans. His
spirit lives on.
Hon. Elizabeth (Beth) Marshall: Honourable senators, on November 11
last week, I had the honour and privilege to represent the Government of Canada
at the Remembrance Day ceremony held in the town of Conception Bay South,
Newfoundland and Labrador.
The ceremony included a memorial service, as well as the unveiling and
dedication of two beautiful bronze statues. One statue depicts an old comrade
from the Blue Puttees of World War I in quiet repose, while the second statue
depicts a current-day soldier on patrol. This ceremony marked the first time in
more than 80 years that a bronze statue has been dedicated in Newfoundland and
Labrador to the famous Royal Newfoundland Regiment, a regiment that earned
itself the reputation as one of the best fighting forces of the war to end all
wars. It is also the first time that a contemporary Royal Newfoundland Regiment
soldier has been cast in bronze.
The Blue Puttee statue depicts an original "first 500" soldier looking back
years after the end of the war. He stands in quiet reflection on the loss of
many of his friends and comrades with whom he served.
The present-day statue depicts a female soldier of the Royal Newfoundland
Regiment on patrol. She represents all the Newfoundland soldiers who are
currently facing life-or-death situations in armed conflicts around the globe.
This statue is unique in that it is the first female soldier depicted on active
service and dedicated in all of Canada, not just in Newfoundland and Labrador.
These two statues symbolize the sacrifices that our women and men in the
military have made to protect our rights and freedoms as we know them today in
this great country of Canada. When completed, this Monument of Honour will serve
to remind all of us of the ultimate sacrifice that many of our men and women in
uniform have made for their country, province and the people they served.
Honourable senators, before I conclude I would like to thank the Monument of
Honour Committee and all those who contributed to make this memorial to our men
and women in uniform a reality. I especially would like to thank Chairperson Mr.
Wayne Miller, a retired military veteran, and his committee who, through
dedication, commitment and hard work, have reached a major milestone toward the
completion of the new memorial site. I also recognize Mr. Morgan MacDonald, a
local Newfoundland artist, who created and sculpted these two magnificent works
This memorial has been erected at a prominent site in the town of Conception
Bay South and will become a major landmark in the province of Newfoundland and
Labrador. This beautiful monument will always ensure that the words "lest we
forget" are etched in our minds today and for generations to come.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I would like to draw the
attention of all honourable senators to the presence in the gallery of
Councillor Bev Dubois, a distinguished member of the municipal council of the
City of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
On behalf of all honourable senators, welcome to the Senate of Canada.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.
Hon. David Tkachuk: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table,
in both official languages, the seventh report of the Standing Committee on
Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration.
Hon. Nancy Ruth: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in
both official languages, the fifth report of the Standing Senate Committee on
Human Rights, entitled Women, Peace and Security: Canada Moves Forward to
Increase Women's Engagement.
Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette presented Bill S-225, An Act respecting
the reorganization and privatization of Atomic Energy of Canada Limited.
(Bill read first time.)
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be
read the second time?
(On motion of Senator Hervieux-Payette, bill placed on the Orders of the Day
for second reading two days hence.)
Hon. Pamela Wallin: Honourable senators, I give notice that, two days
hence, I will call the attention of the Senate to:
The efforts and accomplishments of Canadian military members, diplomats
and aid workers in Afghanistan over the past ten years, which has included
significant milestones in security, basic services, economic development,
diplomacy and humanitarian assistance;
The Government of Canada's plans for continued assistance to that country
to build on this progress through a new non-combat role for Canada's
engagement in Afghanistan until 2014 by training Afghan security forces so
that Afghanistan can progressively take control of its own security and
The fact that the Canadian Government will persist with its successful
education and health initiatives for children, promotion of regional
diplomacy and delivering humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people.
Hon. Roméo Antonius Dallaire: Honourable senators, my question is for
the Leader of the Government in the Senate.
In 2005, the Government of Canada was very involved in the peace process in
Sudan. The Prime Minister at the time had sent a team of two senators and an
ambassador to present Canada's position and increase the African Union's
involvement in the fight against what President George W. Bush called the
genocide in Darfur.
Since then, our capacity in Sudan, in Darfur, has been significantly reduced;
barely 45 people are left. Funding has been provided for humanitarian aid, but
with the referendum on Southern Sudanese independence to be held shortly, we
anticipate conflict, friction and major humanitarian catastrophes because of the
displacement of a significant number of Darfurians.
Does the Government of Canada have an action plan to help the United Nations,
to set out a diplomatic position and ensure that this transition goes smoothly?
Does the government have observers on the ground, or is it planning to let
events take their course and pick up the pieces later by injecting new funds, as
it has done in the past?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators,
I am well aware of the activities of the previous government and of the two
senators and, the honourable senator was one — who were part of the group that
participated in the deliberations.
Honourable senators, the situation is of great concern to the government.
With regard to the honourable senator's question, I will be happy to refer this
question to my colleague and ask, at the appropriate time, that when the
government makes its decisions on how it will proceed in this area, the
honourable senator be fully informed.
Senator Dallaire: Honourable senators, the referendum will happen in
January. The United States have been calling north, east and south to ask
countries to show their hand to demonstrate to Khartoum that we expect that
referendum to be done in the proper process as per the peace agreement; that the
minorities within the northern part of the Sudan would not be targeted; and that
there would be no increase in friction along that new border that would be
created. However, there have been massive redeployments of Sudanese forces along
that border, all equipped, by the money of the oil from the southern part, with
arms bought from China.
If we have a diplomatic corps and we are a leading middle power, we would be
working there already to ensure that the rules are being followed properly and
that enough resources are being deployed to ensure that it happens.
Can the leader tell me whether the Canadian government has been engaged or
will become engaged, as I think will happen, when it will be too late to
influence the situation?
Senator LeBreton: I think the honourable senator understands that the
government is fully engaged in monitoring the situation. I am certain the
honourable senator understands that we are working with our allies to ensure
that when the referendum takes place, proper procedures are followed.
As I have already indicated, honourable senators, I do not have the
information in front of me nor have I been part of any discussions on the actual
engagement in the Sudan. However, as I indicated to the honourable senator, I
would be happy to ask my colleagues to provide me, and therefore the Senate,
with an update on all of our activities in the Sudan.
Senator Dallaire: Honourable senators, we are aware that there are
over 300,000 Darfurians right on that border, also with the intention, as has
been described by NGOs, of moving into that new country, should it come to
Would we, either from CIDA or from our diplomatic corps, anticipate being of
service in that humanitarian catastrophe, should it happen, for those 300,000
people? It may be only the front end of the other nearly 2.2 million Darfurians
who are also in displaced camps let alone the refugee camps in Chad.
Senator LeBreton: As the honourable senator indicated, this is a
serious situation. I am confident that the officials in Foreign Affairs and in
CIDA are doing everything possible to assist and to monitor the situation and
stand ready to do whatever is necessary to improve the situation. I do not have
that information. I have not been party to any discussions, but I will be happy
to seek updated information and provide it to the honourable senator as soon as
I receive it.
Hon. Pana Merchant: Honourable senators, last week the U. S. Food and
Drug Administration announced its intention to use, within the next two years,
graphic and strong label warnings to cover one half of the cigarette package. At
the same time, our Conservative government, at a closed-door meeting of
territories and provinces, announced it has abandoned a six-year project to
update with more graphic photos what has been effective scare tactic advertising
on Canadian cigarette packages.
In a Globe and Mail article of November 9, entitled, "Did Ottawa bow
to tobacco industry pressure on warning labels?" the Canadian Medical
Association questions Health Canada's "senseless" reversal on warning labels.
Another article on November 11 asks again, "Did Ottawa bow to industry
Smoking is the leading cause of preventable deaths. Canada was the first
country in the world, in 2001, to adopt strong health warnings on cigarette
packages and tobacco products designed to inform Canadians about preventable
disease with the reported result of a 28 per cent reduction in cigarette smoking
in Canada over this period.
Honourable senators, I have three questions for the Leader of the Government
in the Senate. First, why was there a closed-door meeting between Conservative
officials and territories and provinces? Second, are the Conservatives, by
hiding their true intentions, bowing to tobacco industry pressure? Third, we
know from within the department that the new warnings were ready to go and that
they included links to 1-800 help lines.
Was it political will that stopped this updated advertising, and why is the
political will in opposition to the interests and health of Canadians?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators,
it is absolutely insulting to suggest that because The Globe and Mail
asks the question did we bow to the lobby or pressure from the tobacco industry,
then it must be true. That is an outrageous statement that does not even warrant
Honourable senators, with regard to tobacco, we have committed $15.7 million
annually through our grant contributions under the Tobacco Control Strategy to
help people stop smoking, prevent youth from starting to smoke and to protect
Canadians from second-hand smoke. Health Canada continues to examine the renewal
of health warning messages on tobacco packaging. Obviously, there are varying
opinions. We have strong warnings on our tobacco packages now. Some people think
that people are getting used to them. There is a debate about that.
I think I heard the honourable senator correctly. To suggest that the meeting
that the Minister of Health had with her provincial and territorial counterpart
was a backroom, closed-door meeting with Conservative officials is bizarre in
the extreme. The last time I looked, while there are some Conservatives at the
federal and territorial government level, all the other parties are involved as
Hon. James S. Cowan (Leader of the Opposition): If I can follow up on
that, honourable senators, with respect to the cancellation of the updated
labelling, I think the evidence is clear that these labels get stale over a
period of time. People become used to seeing these pictures and they become less
effective. That is the reason the labelling and the warnings are updated. The
study to which my colleague referred, which has been continuing since 2004, as I
understand it, resulted in updated labelling, which was all ready to go.
Why did that updated labelling not proceed?
Senator LeBreton: Again, that is not what I said. I said that Health
Canada continues to examine the renewal of health warning messages on tobacco
packaging. I think the honourable senator, in his question to me, said something
about the cancellation. I do not believe that I have seen any documents anywhere
that the Government of Canada cancelled health warning labels on cigarette
I did say that the government will continue to monitor and examine the
renewal of health warning messages on tobacco packaging. I also believe, and I
think it is backed up by evidence, that the money that is committed by the
government through grants and contributions under the Federal Tobacco Control
Strategy is working. It has helped people to stop smoking. The advertisements
warn young people about the serious consequences of smoking. I believe that the
government is, and will always be, fully committed to preventing people from
Senator Cowan: Honourable senators, I do not dispute the commitment of
the government to these other programs. My question related specifically to the
study that has been ongoing since 2004 with respect to the label. It is my
understanding — and I may be incorrect; if I am, perhaps the leader can check
with her officials and advise me — that the study had been completed and the
updated labels were ready to go. For some reason, the mandating, if that is the
correct word, of these updated labels was cancelled.
The labelling is not paid for by the Government of Canada. It is not a
diversion of any funds from any other tobacco control strategy. It is paid for
by the tobacco companies themselves. If there is no effect on these other
programs that the leader spoke about, why would the government not update the
labelling in Canada as the U.S. government has done with respect to its
The ironic thing is that at least some of the updated labels in the U.S.
feature the photograph of a Canadian anti-tobacco use activist. There is an
irony there. I appreciate that the leader may not have the answer today. I ask
the leader to check with her officials and return to me with an answer. This
matter is serious and there is real concern. My colleague referred to the fact
that the Canadian Medical Association and the Canadian Cancer Society have been
critical of it, and if the information upon which I and she and these two
societies have based our questions is incorrect, perhaps the leader would check
and advise us.
Clearly, all of us are agreed that we need to do everything we can to control
tobacco use, particularly amongst these vulnerable portions of our population.
There is a lack of understanding as to why this action has not been taken, if I
can put it that way.
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, I am aware of the situation in
the United States and the fact that a Canadian woman will be featured on one of
their advertisements. It is also well known, and I happen to be aware personally
of this fact because my sister was working in Health Canada as part of the
tobacco cessation program, that we are well ahead of the United States in
posting warnings on the dangers of tobacco.
We are proud of Bill C-32, which amends the Tobacco Act to ban flavoured
cigarettes to keep younger people from smoking.
With regard to the study, the honourable senator is right. There seems to be
a divergence of views as to what this study said, and what the decisions or
non-decisions were. I will inform myself of its status and, of course, notify
the Senate at the same time.
Senator Cowan: I draw the attention of the leader to, and ask for her
comment on, a report that was issued on Monday by the Canadian Cancer Society of
a meeting of 171 countries, including Canada, that had signed the World Health
Organization's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. This report found, and I
think it is contrary to what the leader said a moment ago, that Canada has
dropped from first position in 2001 to eighth in 2008, and is now down to
fifteenth. Uruguay is now the world leader in compliance with the Framework
Convention on Tobacco Control. We are tied for fifteenth place with Iran,
Brunei, Egypt and Albania. I hardly would suggest we have made significant
progress since 2001. I ask for her comment.
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, I am aware of the report. I can
share with the honourable senator that the Minister of Health and our own
government have taken many measures in support of, and funding for, the Canadian
I will obtain the comments of the Minister of Health on the report and also
update the honourable senator on our future plans to convince people to cease
Senator Merchant: Honourable senators, I was in the U.S. last week.
That is precisely the point. In their newscasts, and I watched two or three of
them, they held up Canada as a shining example for having been the first country
in the world to have used these graphic, powerful messages. Their point was that
there would not be any company that would carry on with the same sort of
advertising for 10 years, because people become desensitized, and that we need
to be more graphic and aggressive. That is a sad thing. I ask the leader if she
agrees that we have fallen behind so many other countries. I ask, why the
reversal; why have we found ourselves in this position?
Senator LeBreton: I repeat that the government has committed $15.7
million annually through our grants and contributions program under the Federal
Tobacco Control Strategy. As honourable senators know, this program is designed
to help people stop smoking, to prevent youth from ever starting to smoke, and
to protect Canadians from the dangers of second-hand smoke, which we know are
To say that the government is not taking this issue seriously is incorrect. I
acknowledge that there are some who believe that advertisements on tobacco
packages lose their shock value after a time, but as I said as well, Health
Canada is monitoring, and continuing to examine, the effectiveness of these
advertisements and the warning messages on tobacco packaging.
The government has not reversed the position. They have not cancelled the
program. Health Canada is, I am sure, assessing all the things we do in terms of
the tobacco industry in protecting our public and our children, in particular.
That is why the government introduced Bill C-32.
My answer is the same. We are committing a significant amount of money to our
Federal Tobacco Control Strategy. Health Canada may use different avenues in
their programs. I will be happy to refer this matter to them and ask them for an
update on all the things they are doing to prevent people from smoking.
Hon. David P. Smith: In the leader's answer, she said that some of the
officials thought that these advertisements lose their impact after a while. Was
that not the very reason why the officials came up with new, presumably
hard-hitting advertisements to hammer away and give a new message so the
advertisements will not lose impact? Is that not the rationale of what they were
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, I do not believe I said
"officials." I said it is acknowledged there are some — and I am talking
generally — people who believe that the shock value of advertisements wears out
after a while. I am confident that Health Canada is well aware of this issue and
is monitoring the situation.
Hon. Jane Cordy: We certainly understand Bill C-32 and the government
bringing forward the bill to do away with flavoured tobacco is a positive thing.
I spoke to the bill as I was critic on this side and I spoke in favour of that
bill. I thought it was a good idea. I am not sure it is working. We may have to
look back at it, from what I am reading, as a follow-up, but the intention of
the bill was excellent.
I also spoke about contraband tobacco, and suggested that we should have a
study, because we know of the high amounts of contraband tobacco that are
reaching young children and drawing them in to be smokers. We know that if you
start smoking at an early age that you are more likely to continue smoking.
The leader said earlier — and we would all agree with her — that the labels
had been around for a long time. People become desensitized to the labels and do
not pay attention to them after a while.
The question is if the department had the new updated warnings ready to go,
why did they not go forward? It was not a matter of being cancelled. It was a
matter of them staying in limbo. They have not gone anywhere, despite the fact —
and the leader has said — that people do become desensitized after a while.
Senator LeBreton: I did not, in any of my answers, indicate that I was
aware that the department said they had these new advertisements ready to go.
That is something that has been reported in the Globe and Mail and is
what the honourable senator is saying. I did commit to getting an update from
Health Canada. I am of the understanding that they continue to examine the
renewal of health warning messages. That indicates to me that they may not be
ready to go. I actually do not know.
The honourable senator is reporting that we have cancelled them. Senator
Cordy is saying that they were ready to go and we have not proceeded. All of
this is speculation. I indicated that I would be happy to find out from Health
Canada and from the Minister of Health the status of the whole Tobacco Control
Who knows, Health Canada may have decided that they can have greater success
directing their resources elsewhere. Perhaps Health Canada has found some new
approaches to preventing our citizens from smoking.
On the issue of contraband, this is a very serious issue. The government is
seized of this issue. That is why Revenue Canada, the RCMP and the Canada Border
Services Agency are working to crack down on this illegal activity. As the
honourable senator is aware, earlier this year we took further action to combat
the spread of contraband tobacco when we established a Combined Forces Special
Enforcement Unit, Contraband Tobacco Team, led by the RCMP. This is a very
serious issue. It has gone on for many years. All governments, no matter what
political stripe, have been seized of this serious issue, and certainly this
government is taking a lead on dealing with contraband tobacco.
Senator Cordy: It is a very serious issue, honourable senators, and no
one would deny that. The movement of contraband across our border has been going
on for far too long.
I did not say that that the program had been cancelled; I am saying it has
not gone forward. The leader said it is just in a newspaper article. The
Canadian Medical Association said there has been a turnaround in the proposal of
the updated warnings going on packages.
An Hon. Senator: The Canadian Medical Association is just like the
Globe and Mail.
Senator Cordy: Honourable senators, I believe the Canadian Medical
Association and I believe the Canadian Cancer Society when they suggest those
things. I believe, as a parliamentarian, that we have responsibilities to raise
those issues with the government and to ask why these updated warnings have not
gone forward even though they were ready.
What has happened to the new, updated warnings that were ready to go on the
Senator LeBreton: The honourable senator and I are saying the same
thing. I am saying that I will ask Health Canada for an update as to the status
of the warnings. I will ask them why the Canadian Medical Association and the
Canadian Cancer Society believe that these warnings are ready to go. I will ask
Health Canada about the status of the warnings. I think we are all saying the
same thing. I do not know why everyone is having such a difficult time taking
"yes" for an answer. I said I would get to the bottom of it and ask Health
Canada for an update on our Tobacco Control Strategy.
Senator Di Nino: Listen. Listen.
Senator Cordy: I am not hearing anything.
Senator Di Nino: You are not listening. You are hearing but you are
Senator Cordy: I am listening, but I am not hearing anything, you are
Hon. Wilfred P. Moore: Honourable senators, my question is for the
Leader of the Government in the Senate. I have been watching the news with
respect to the spreading of cholera in Haiti and into the Dominican Republic. I
know that the people of Canada donated $200 million of their treasure to the
people of Haiti, and the federal government promised to match that with $200
million. I am wondering how much of that $400 million has been delivered to
Haiti and for what purpose has it been used.
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): I thank the
honourable senator for his question. With regard to the horrific situation in
Haiti and the spread of cholera, as the honourable senator knows, the Prime
Minister announced a few weeks ago that Canada will provide up to $1 million to
help contain the spread of cholera in Haiti. CIDA has provided funding to the
Pan American Health Organization to support the emergency deployment of experts
and the procurement of medical supplies to treat cholera. The Pan American
Health Organization will also conduct disease surveillance and information
campaigns on preventive measures and coordinate the overall health response for
health issues in Haiti.
With regard to the matching funds, within days of the earthquake we announced
a matching fund program that raised over $220 million. On March 31, at the New
York donors' conference, Canada pledged $400 million over two years to support
the Government of Haiti's action plan for reconstruction and development. We
have already delivered $150 million of that aid on the ground.
Senator Moore: The Prime Minister pledged $400 million. Does that $400
million include the $200 million donated by the people of Canada?
Senator LeBreton: The $400 million, actually, was partly matching
funds. There was over $200 million raised by Canadians and the government
announced matching funds.
Honourable senators, I should have added that in the past months we have also
launched new initiatives for the building of temporary facilities for key
Haitian government departments, the rebuilding of a hospital and the national
police academy, as well as a police training program. As honourable senators
know, our government cancelled the debt Haiti owes Canada in July 2009.
Senator Moore: I commend those initiatives, but I would like to know,
and I would like the people of Canada to know that their $200 million is helping
to fund those initiatives. These initiatives are in Haiti because of the people
of Canada; these are not just initiatives brought to Haiti solely by the
Government of Canada. This is the people of Canada, these are our resources, and
I have not seen credit come to the people of Canada.
I do not know who is administering the money. It seems to me it took a long
time for the first few dollars to flow. The leader is saying the government will
put the money in over two years. I do not think Canadians intended that for
their money. I think Canadians want to help the Haitian people immediately.
Senator LeBreton: Of course they want to help them immediately, but
the money is being funnelled through the Red Cross and other organizations. We
cannot match the money that Canadians generously gave with government funds and
dump it in without proper control. That is why we are working with the Red Cross
and others. It is over two years, and I think any reasonable person would
absolutely know about the situation in Haiti. I have been to Haiti and our
former Governor General is the UNESCO Special Envoy for Haiti.
The important thing is that the money generously donated by Canadians and
matched by the Canadian government is used for the purposes intended, to rebuild
Haiti and secure for the Haitian people infrastructure and all of the facilities
required. Anyone who has looked at the pictures would know this is not something
that can be automatically done overnight. I do not think the Canadian public,
when they donated their money, expected with the snap of fingers that all this
money would instantly produce results in Haiti. That is totally unreasonable.
Senator Moore: I appreciate that, but my concern is that money that
Canadians donated —
The Hon. the Speaker: Order. I am afraid we have exceeded the time for
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Martin, seconded
by the Honourable Senator Braley, for the second reading of Bill C-36, An
Act respecting the safety of consumer products.
Hon. Joseph A. Day: Honourable senators, it has taken a long time for
Bill C-36 to reach second reading.
Several bills to update the legislation governing consumer product safety
have been introduced. Unfortunately, however, they all died on the Order Paper
when Parliament was repeatedly prorogued.
The Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology
carried out a serious study of one of those bills and some amendments were
adopted at committee. Honourable senators, I would like to point out that,
despite the inflammatory remarks that the minister herself unfortunately made
regarding those amendments, I believe that the situation has finally improved
As I will explain in greater detail, the government proposed a few amendments
that have been incorporated into the bill that is currently before us.
Honourable senators, there can be no doubt that the bill has been improved
considerably thanks to the Senate's contributions.
Honourable senators, in joining the debate with respect to Bill C-36, I would
like first to congratulate Senator Martin on her sponsorship of this particular
bill, a sister of Bill C-6 which Senator Martin, as one of her very first
obligations in this chamber, sponsored. I can recall having gone to committee
where a good number of the senators on the committee that studied Bill C-6, the
precursor of this bill, were also performing a function that they had not
previously had occasion to do.
Honourable senators, it is important to set the stage for what we are talking
about here in Bill C-36. I will go through some of the history in a moment, but
in broad terms we are talking about a piece of legislation to protect the public
against defective consumer products — toys, for example, bicycles, other
consumer products that, if not manufactured properly or even if manufactured
properly but that happen to have a defect, could cause very serious harm or
death to consumers.
That legislation federally is based on the criminal law jurisdiction of the
federal government, but the criminal law jurisdiction that we are familiar with
and we take comfort in as having one of the best systems in the world with
respect to criminal law process and procedure is felt to be too cumbersome to
deal with this type of consumer product protection. Therefore, the government is
asking for an alternative administrative type process. In order to define that
administrative process, it is necessary to outline in detail all of the steps
that will happen and will be followed — who will do the inspections, what will
happen if there is a suspected problem, what type of fine or penalty process is
in place, and how will these things be rectified. All of that is outlined in
this legislation because it is not in existence now. We are moving from criminal
law jurisdiction and criminal procedure, which is in existence, to an
Honourable senators, when we look at what the government is asking in terms
of giving more powers to the government, our role is to balance that against
individual rights and freedoms. That, in essence, is what this legislation is
about. Is the government going too far in the power that it is asking for to
protect the public? Is it going too far such that it is unnecessarily taking
away individual rights and freedoms?
Honourable senators, that should be the theme of our review of this
legislation. That was the theme of our review previously in the last
legislation, and we looked at warrants, private and public information, and
confidential corporate information being made available to the public. We are
saying that the very backbone of what employs men and women are our small- and
medium-sized businesses, and the backbone of their businesses is that
confidential private information. Therefore, we cannot just give the power to
someone called "an inspector" to release that information without some checks,
and that is what we looked at in the last legislation.
Honourable senators, some of the concerns that we had — and I will not go
through them all at second reading — were accepted by the government, but it
took a long tedious time and role to get there because the role that we have to
play here in the Senate, with all due respect, was not the role that was
followed and not the role that we saw reflected in the way the amendments were
presented and the amendments were defeated. The minister spoke out strongly in
inflammatory language, quite frankly, about the Senate playing any role to try
to make this legislation better.
However, because of the way things have happened, we have another chance. If
things had not happened in this particular manner, we would not have this chance
to make it even better.
Perhaps I should go over a little bit of the history of this bill so I am not
alluding to something that, even though most of us are aware of, is important to
put on the record.
Senator Martin spoke at length about a number of provisions of the bill, and
she alluded to its long history, in particular the close familiarity a number of
us have with the provisions. That is correct. I think it is important,
honourable senators, that we all have this history in context, so I will take a
few minutes to set out for the record a little bit of what happened and how we
arrived where we are today with respect to this legislation, Bill C-36.
The principle of the bill, to update and strengthen consumer product safety
for Canadians, is not a matter of controversy. There is no argument anywhere in
this chamber with respect to the basic principle of this bill. I think all of us
wholeheartedly support the principle.
Federal officials have been working to develop a new legislative framework
for consumer product safety for over a decade, under both Liberal and
Conservative governments. I underscore strongly that this framework is not and
never has been a partisan issue. It should not be a partisan issue. To the
contrary, this bill is an example of Parliament, and the Senate in particular,
working as it should, albeit with a few bumps along the road, which I will refer
Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government has tried to pass this bill in one
form or another several times. The first time it was Bill C-52, tabled in the
other place on April 8, 2008. It had companion legislation, Bill C-51, which
dealt with food products. All the consultation that went on before dealt with
both those subjects — safety for consumer products and food products — and two
pieces of legislation were introduced.
The legislation with respect to food products, as honourable senators might
guess, fell under the Food and Drugs Act. Amendments to the bill were
controversial and, as far as I am aware, that particular piece of the
consultation and the legislation has not been re-introduced. Honourable senators
will recall that I asked Senator Martin about the status of this companion
legislation, and she could not provide any enlightenment as to when, or whether,
that bill will be re-introduced.
The reason it is important for us to know about that companion legislation is
because they were together at one time and because the scheme of an
administrative way of handling the challenges that come up are similar in both
pieces of legislation. We will want to know if we are dealing with a one-off
type of problem here or if it is likely to be duplicated. That is the reason for
pursuing that particular point.
Bill C-52, honourable senators, the precursor of this legislation before us
today, was referred to committee in the other place and then died on the Order
Paper in September of 2008 when Prime Minister Harper prorogued Parliament to
call an election. Honourable senators will remember that election was called
notwithstanding Mr. Harper's fixed election date that was passed in this
chamber. The stated reason for that election, as I recall, was that Parliament
was dysfunctional, an interesting argument since Parliament had not sat for
several months due to summer recess.
I digress, honourable senators. Some honourable senators may be interested in
that piece of history, but I want to concentrate on Bill C-52.
Bill C-52, the precursor of this legislation, died on the Order Paper as a
result of that.
The government did not reintroduce the bill on this subject in the first
session of the new Parliament. Honourable senators will recall that session was
short and ended when the Prime Minister prorogued Parliament to avoid a
non-confidence motion. The bill died twice in three months, honourable senators.
On January 29, 2009, the government finally re-introduced the bill as Bill
C-6. However, evidently it was not of high priority for the government, as the
government let the bill sit on the Order Paper in the other place for four
months before bringing it forward for second reading. Nevertheless, eventually
it did move through all the stages in the other place and came here before this
chamber on June 16, 2009, shortly before we adjourned for the summer.
In the fall of 2009, Bill C-6 was debated, passed second reading and was
referred for study to the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science
and Technology. Under the able chairmanship of Senator Eggleton and vice-chair,
Senator Keon, the committee worked long and hard listening to witnesses and
scrutinizing the drafting of the particular provisions of the bill.
In the end, we on our side proposed 16 amendments. Most, but not all, were
passed at committee, honourable senators.
These amendments were carefully thought-out, honest attempts to improve the
legislation. They ranged from technical amendments to cleaning up inappropriate
language — like the minister should come to the Senate, which we knew was not
possible — to others that were substantive ones to try to ensure certain
fundamental civil liberties would be upheld.
I regret to tell honourable senators that the votes on the amendments divided
along partisan lines in large part. This is the point I am trying to make; we
can do our job here if we look at proposed amendments and then, rather than
determining they must be bad because they are being proposed by the other side,
instead determine they are interesting but perhaps can be improved upon by doing
certain things. That, honourable senators, would have been a helpful process.
I proposed 16 amendments at that time on behalf of my colleagues. I do not
have a magic wand on the best wording. I can highlight the problems as I see
them, and then we can deal with them.
To my surprise and disappointment, the Conservative committee members voted
almost unwaveringly against each and every one of the amendments. Even the
technical ones passed, at best, on division. I say "almost unwaveringly" because
some honourable senators from the other side at least did not vote on a
particular matter; abstaining allowed the matter to pass.
Honourable senators, throughout this time, the government has been actively
engaging publicly in the media and quietly behind the scenes, pushing us to pass
the bill without amendment immediately. I regret to tell you that sometimes
emotions are permitted to overtake, and indeed oust, reasonable discourse.
The Minister of Health told Canadians that under our amendment — and she said
it twice, once in an interview and once with Evan Solomon — the Minister of
Health said that with respect to the amendments I proposed, a child would have
to die before the government could act. She stoked fear among Canadian parents
saying Canadian mothers and parents should be worried if the legislation was not
passed in time to protect children before the Christmas holiday, and that was
last year. She conveniently did not mention how many months the government had
delayed the bill, including the repeated prorogations.
Honourable senators, let me state absolutely and without equivocation that
there is no amendment that I would propose to this chamber for legislation to
apply to the people of Canada that would require a child to die before the
government acts. I am a parent and, as a legislator who takes my responsibility
to Canadian families extremely seriously, I would never support any such
Not surprisingly in the circumstances, the committee's report and people in
this chamber were influenced by those statements. When those 16 amendments were
reported back here, they were defeated at report stage in this chamber. However,
some time was allowed to pass and, at third reading, honourable senators had a
chance to reflect on some of these matters. Senators Furey and Banks put forward
amendments at third reading which were, in fact, passed.
The amended bill passed third reading here on December 15, 2009, 10 days
before Christmas last year. The other place had adjourned for the Christmas
holiday, but of course it was well within the power of the government to recall
the House of Commons to consider our amendments. There were only two of them.
The government chose not to do so. In fact, on December 30, the Prime
Minister proceeded to prorogue Parliament once again. This time, the pundits and
others suggested the reason was to avoid uncomfortable questions with respect to
The bottom line, from the point of view of this discussion today, honourable
senators, is that the bill died another death. The Minister of Health's repeated
protestations of concern for imminent threats to the health and safety of
Canadians and Canadian children apparently were not shared by others in her
Following that unfortunate episode, the bill, now numbered C-36, was
reintroduced on June 9, 2010, but the government did not bring it forward for
second reading until October 7, 2010, almost ten months after the other bill
died and fully seven months after Parliament returned from prorogation.
Evidently, the bill was not as pressing a concern for the government as
Canadians were led to believe in the previous statements by the minister.
I also must express my personal dismay that the government chose to wait so
long, especially given, as we now know, that months earlier — possibly even
before the Prime Minister chose to prorogue Parliament — Health Canada had
discovered dangerously high levels of cadmium in children's jewellery. When the
minister finally acted, just a few weeks ago, she said that her powers were
limited because the bill was not in force. However, honourable senators, why did
she not at least take the step of developing a voluntary recall of products that
were clearly causing a problem or potentially causing a problem for our youth?
Given that Health Canada knew of the serious danger to Canadian children, why
did the government wait so many months to bring in Bill C-36?
Those are a few of the bumps and a few of the disappointments that I referred
to. Honourable senators, we did a lot of work on Bill C-6, the previous
legislation to this.
Notwithstanding the many protestations last December that amendments gutted
the previous bill, Bill C-36, as it was tabled by the government in the other
place, actually adopted a good number of the major points we had made during the
debate on its predecessor, Bill C-6.
An Hon. Senator: So we were right.
An Hon. Senator: Thank you.
Senator Day: I will take the "thank you," senator. I am sorry that we
had to have a prorogation in order to achieve the results that we have achieved,
but the most important amendment of all that is reflected in this legislation is
one that was rejected by this chamber and that is that the minister, the one who
is accountable to Parliament, is the one who will order recalls. That was our
most important amendment that we asked for last year, which was said to be
gutting the legislation.
The legislation said that an inspector, who is one of the people working
within the Ministry of Health and whom the minister appoints — we do not know
with what qualifications, because none are outlined — is the one who could order
recalls and who could put thousands and thousands of people out of work. We said
the minister should do this, and that is in the legislation.
Honourable senators, a number of us were very concerned that Bill C-6 would
authorize inspectors to do a number of things, such as entering private property
and not be responsible for any damage that they did. We said that wording is not
acceptable. If they act reasonably and under authority, then that is fine, but
they would never get authority to be reckless and cause damage negligently or
recklessly. There would never be that kind of authority under any criminal law
legislation, so why is the government asking for it under this administrative
law? That was rejected by this chamber, but the minister has seen fit to pick up
that amendment and it is now no longer in this legislation. Honourable senators
will be pleased to know that.
Senator Furey pointed out at third reading of Bill C-6 that inspectors could
enter private homes simply by saying that they wanted to verify that some
activity might be going on in there, in this home, where a consumer product is
stored. Senator Furey said he wanted to see the amendment read "stored for
sale," because everyone has teddy bears or kid's toys stored in the basement. It
was far too broad wording. The government has accepted that particular
suggestion of making an amendment saying that the word "stored" does not include
"stored for personal use." That is a logical amendment that solves a potential
problem and we are very pleased that the government saw fit to respond to that
I am pleased to tell honourable senators that the government also put forward
amendments in committee in the other place specifically to address some of the
technical problems. This was after they introduced Bill C-36 in the other place.
They actually proposed technical amendments that are reflective of what we
raised here a year and a half ago. However, in the end, honourable senators, the
amendments have been adopted.
That, more than anything else, is the important point.
The technical amendments are so difficult to go through. They are difficult
to go through here and they are difficult to go through in committee. However,
they relate to items, such as I mentioned earlier, of the minister having to
"establish" — which makes the minister both the inspector and the judge — as
opposed to the normal legal wording, where the minister must be "satisfied."
That kind of wording has now been adopted, based on our proposals.
There are many others like that that have been picked up, and that will make
it easier for us at committee. However, many others have not been picked up,
honourable senators, and we will have to deal with those in committee. We will
have to determine which ones are important: private information being made
public; what are the checks and balances there; private, confidential corporate
information that will be made public; due diligence defences — okay if you are
going the criminal route, not okay if you are going the other route; and
I wanted to see some explanation of voluntary recall. If senators look at the
recall of any product, virtually every one is a voluntary recall. That means the
government inspectors or the minister's department and the company importing,
manufacturing or selling the product have gotten together and issued a voluntary
recall on this product, as opposed to bringing down the big hammer. That,
unfortunately, was not accepted along the way.
Honourable senators, on balance I believe that the bill has been improved
upon substantially and Senator Martin will be pleased to know that we on this
side believe there have been substantial improvements to this bill. This is a
review of the bill in principle so the bill can go to committee and be studied
so we can study those other points that are still outstanding, and I know there
are some. Now, of course, once again we will be asked to bring in various people
who will be impacted by this legislation.
I want to hear from the Privacy Commissioner on the changes that have been
introduced to meet one of our concerns. One change is that this bill is subject
to the Privacy Act and they felt that wording would satisfy the concerns we have
with respect to private personal information being made available to foreign
government officials, with no obligation on their part to not divulge that
information to anyone else. What possible ramifications can there be to that
Personally, I plan to support second reading of this bill, honourable
senators, based on principle and then to do my job, once again: listen to
witnesses; study the provisions; and work to ensure that this legislation, like
all that comes before us, is the best that it can be for all Canadians.
Hon. Tommy Banks: Honourable senators, I concur with everything
Senator Day has said. I too plan on voting for this bill at second reading to
send it to committee because second reading —
Senator St. Germain: You should not make a mistake this time; get it
Senator Banks: We are telling you up front. This is notice because I
agree with Senator Day. We support this bill on principle. No one could argue
with the principle of this bill. The questions that still obtain to it have been
referred to by Senator Day, some of which have been fixed, and we are grateful.
This is how it is supposed to work. We are the quality control department of
Parliament. We take out the dents and scratches, and it is gratifying to know
that sometimes the government, now, pays attention to that.
Honourable senators, that does not mean to say, however, that the bill before
us has been fixed perfectly. While we are grateful for those changes that have
been made, because I am not a member of the committee to which the bill will be
sent, I want to call the committee's attention to a couple of things to which
Senator Day has referred.
I will only call the attention of honourable senators to only one thing. I
want to call this particularly to the attention of those senators who would
style themselves as being Conservative, because Conservatives, as a general
rule, are taken to be interested in matters of personal rights of Canadians.
Some things that had to do with that issue that were introduced, as Senator Day
has said by amendments in the last iteration of this bill, have been taken care
of. There is one fundamental one that has not.
I have had the pleasure and privilege of having a letter from the minister,
addressed to me, in respect of one of my concerns, and the pleasure and
privilege of having met with officials of her department yesterday, about some
of my concerns. Some of them have been allayed but one has not, and it has to do
with personal rights. I refer to clause 15 of the bill.
Clause 15 of the bill is the part that deals with the disclosure by the
minister, by the government, of confidential information about Canadians and
about Canadian corporations to foreign governments. We are assured by the
officials that the governments to whom this information will most likely be made
known and disclosed are our close friends: the United States, the United
Kingdom, Australia perhaps, and some members of the European Union perhaps.
However, when working here as senators, we must deal not with what policy is,
and not with what this government, this minister or these officials might do
with respect to the application of this act because we are making a law here or
not. The governments, the ministers and the officials who will apply this law
will not be here. This government will not be here. It will be a different
government. It may be the same stripe but it will be a different government. One
hopes not. It will be a different minister and different officials, and
different circumstances will obtain than we can now contemplate. We are making a
law that will survive all those things so we have to pay attention to what the
While we have assurances sometimes from officials that, "Oh well, we wouldn't
do that," we have to look at what the law says. The law says the places to which
the government can disclose private, confidential information about Canadians
and Canadian corporations are described in clause 2 of the bill as:
. . . a government of a foreign state or of a subdivision of a foreign
(f) an international organization of states.
Well, when we are disclosing confidential information about Canadians and
about their corporations to those people that I have just described, we want to
take certain precautions. With respect to the disclosure of confidential
business information by the government to those places, a protection is built
in. It is in clause 16 of the act, which says that when the minister discloses
confidential business information the minister may do so:
. . . if the person to whom or government to which the information may be
disclosed agrees in writing to maintain the confidentiality of the
information and to use it only for the purpose of carrying out those
That is good; we need to be able to do that. The minister needs to be able to
do that to protect the interests of Canadians.
However, clause 15 talks about the disclosure of personal, private
information. It contains no such circumscription, no such guarantee, no such
obtaining an undertaking in writing that the information will only be used for
those purposes. The answer is: "Well, that is taken care of by the Privacy Act."
Is it? Let us look at the Privacy Act. The act says its purpose is to protect
the privacy of individuals and to provide individuals with right of access to
information that the government may hold on them. Subsection 8(1) of the Privacy
Act then says that:
Personal information under the control of a government institution shall
not, without the consent of the individual to whom it relates, be disclosed
by the institution except in accordance with this section.
Subsection 8(2) states:
Subject to any other Act of Parliament, personal information . . . may be
disclosed . . .
Subsection 8(2)(b) states:
for any purpose in accordance with any Act of Parliament or any
regulation made thereunder that authorizes its disclosure;
Therefore, the Privacy Act does not constrain the capacity of the government
to provide private and personal information to other governments or institutions
of other governments. In fact, it permits it.
The suggestion that we are protected by the Privacy Act is a great big
circle: We look at the Privacy Act; the Privacy Act says the government can do
this if an act of Parliament says so; this act of Parliament says so. There is
no protection of private information.
Honourable senators, I will be pursuing that matter, among others, when this
issue goes before committee for study and, if necessary, at third reading. I
thank honourable senators for their kind attention and I hope others will join
with us in voting that this bill be sent to committee for further consideration.
Hon. Suzanne Fortin-Duplessis (The Hon. the Acting Speaker): Are
honourable senators ready for the question?
Hon. Senators: Question.
The Hon. the Acting Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators,
to adopt the motion?
(Motion agreed to and bill read the second time.)
The Hon. the Acting Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this bill
be read the third time?
(On motion of Senator Martin, bill referred to the Standing Senate Committee
on Social Affairs, Science and Technology.)
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Carignan,
seconded by the Honourable Senator Fortin-Duplessis, for the second reading
of Bill S-12, A third Act to harmonize federal law with the civil law of
Quebec and to amend certain Acts in order to ensure that each language
version takes into account the common law and the civil law.
Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette: Honourable senators, I am pleased to
speak to a matter that may be technical but, in the end, reflects the soul of
our country and its ability to integrate rather than exclude, to harmonize
rather than divide, to respect rather than despise.
Bill S-12 is the third bill to harmonize federal law with the civil law of
Quebec. It clearly shows the openness of our confederation with respect to the
two founding peoples, the anglophones and the francophones. This is an important
bill that will protect the values and interests of Quebec within the Canadian
Canada has the advantage of being one of the few countries in the world, if
not the only one, to preserve a bijural and bilingual system. In a presentation
entitled "Bijuralism in Canada," the Honourable Michel Bastarache, a Supreme
Court Judge at the time, had this to say:
There are relatively few countries where two fundamentally different
legal systems co-exist. Canada is one of these countries. Canadian
"bijuralism" refers to the co-existence of English common law and French
civil law traditions within a federal state.
This legal and linguistic duality is evident primarily at the Supreme Court
of Canada where three of the nine judges must be members of the Barreau du
Québec. The bijural nature of our legal system is therefore ensconced in our
fundamental law and I would add that the bilingual nature of that system is at
the very heart of the spirit of this law.
The coexistence in Canada of two major Western legal traditions, civil law
and common law, is the expression of our history and the will of our founding
fathers. In 1774, the Quebec Act upheld French laws and customs with regard to
property and civil rights in the province. Neither the Constitution Act, 1791,
nor the Act of Union of 1840 amended the rights recognized in 1774. And when
Canada's federal union was created, this bijuralism was enshrined.
Under the Constitution Act, 1867, private law became an exclusive
jurisdiction of the provinces, which allowed Quebec to build its civil law on
the Civil Code of Lower Canada — based on the Napoleonic Code — whereas the
other provinces could continue to be governed by common law.
As Senator Gérald-A. Beaudoin said:
In 1867, Westminster recognized the right of Canadian provinces to
legislate property and civil rights. This was the most important power to be
given provincial legislatures and it later formed the foundation for
provincial autonomy. The original four provinces were joined by six others.
Only the Province of Quebec is governed by a private law regime of French
origin. The other provinces are governed by the common law system. Eugene
Forsey was quite right when he wrote: Quebec is not, has never been, and
will never be a province like the others; it is the citadel of French
In 1995, Justice Canada approved its policy on legislative bijuralism. The
policy is designed to ensure that each language version of acts and regulations
reflects the legal system used in each province and territory. In 1997, Justice
Canada established the Program for the Harmonization of Federal Legislation with
the Civil Law of the Province of Quebec. However, harmonization of federal
legislation with the civil law of Quebec has been an issue for a long time,
since federal acts and regulations used to be drafted essentially on the basis
of common law.
In 1978, the federal government began drafting its bills and regulations
using a team of two drafters — generally an anglophone jurist, usually a common
law drafter, and a francophone jurist, usually a civil law drafter. However, the
switch from the Civil Code of Lower Canada to the Civil Code of Quebec on
January 1, 1994 — a major overhaul for the province — is what prompted changes
of all types, resulting in serious gaps in the connections between federal and
civil law. Changes in terminology, formulation of new concepts, establishment of
new institutions and reformation of the existing rules all had the effect of
separating the two systems.
This bijural and bilingual system is both a challenge and an asset for
Canada. It is a challenge because the federal law maintains complementary ties
with civil law, and therefore it is important to re-establish harmonization
where there are gaps and to rectify contradictions.
Bijuralism is an asset because it requires us to become experts in solving
problems arising from the juxtaposition of legal rules stemming from two
It is also an asset because we are better able to understand the laws in
effect in countries we interact with. In fact, common law and French civil law
prevail in nearly 80 per cent of the world's countries. As Senator Beaudoin
In this era of the globalization of markets and the internationalization
of individual rights and freedoms, our two legal traditions of common law
and civil law lend weight to us on the international scene.
Canada is internationally recognized as a living laboratory for the
harmonization of these two legal systems.
Honourable senators, Bill S-12 gives us the opportunity to show our
commitment to a bijural system, to show our commitment to two official languages
and to show our respect for Quebecers.
The problem of harmonization existed long before the Civil Code of Quebec
came into force. Parliament has not always adequately included the civil law
system and its language when establishing any new private law standards.
Furthermore, there were occasions when a provision in the legislation was
only drafted in terms of the common law. In other cases, the legislator may have
taken the civil law system into account in the French version of the legislation
but not in the English version.
Bill S-12 will help correct these imperfect situations, and that is why this
bill is so important to ensure the quality of Canadian bijuralism and defend
bilingualism in our country. This bilingualism, which we inherited from our
founding peoples, allows Canada to belong to both the Commonwealth and La
As André Morel, a professor of law at the Université de Montréal, said, in
order to respect these cultures, it is imperative that:
. . .everyone, regardless of his or her language and of the legal system
of his or her province or territory, must be able to find the terminology
and wording that are respectful of the concepts and institutions proper to
the legal system in effect in his or her jurisdiction.
The policy of legislative bijuralism involves the need to rewrite the French
versions of the legislation in order to reflect the common law, to ensure that
the statutes can be applied in true harmony with the civil law tradition in
Professor Morel added:
. . . [T]he complementarity of federal law and the civil law, natural as
it may be, . . . must constantly be maintained and re-affirmed, if not
reinvented, if it is to continue to thrive.
I would add that Justice Canada, which is responsible for the quality of our
laws, has two divisions and two deputy ministers that look after legislation:
one from the civil law tradition and one from the common law tradition. But the
objective is even more ambitious because, although the harmonization initiative
aims primarily to enable Quebecers to identify more with federal legislation, it
is also an opportunity to ensure that there are no major discrepancies between
the common law of the various provinces and federal laws.
So all Canadians benefit from the harmonization of federal legislation with
the civil law of Quebec. This is a necessary, unavoidable process that enriches
both our legal systems and helps strengthen Canadian unity while respecting each
province's cultures and institutions.
That is why, honourable senators, I am pleased to recommend that you give
your unqualified support to Bill S-12 introduced by our colleagues.
The Hon. the Acting Speaker: Are senators ready for the question?
An Hon. Senator: Question.
The Hon. the Acting Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators,
to adopt the motion?
(Motion agreed to and bill read second time.)
The Hon. the Acting Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this bill
be read the third time?
(On motion of Senator Carignan, bill referred to the Standing Senate
Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs.)
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Smith, P.C.,
seconded by the Honourable Senator Fraser, for the adoption of the second
report of the Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of
Parliament (study on questions of privilege), presented in the Senate
on April 27, 2010;
And on the motion in amendment of the Honourable Senator Carstairs, P.C.,
seconded by the Honourable Senator Fraser, that the report be not now
adopted, but that it be referred back to the Standing Committee on Rules,
Procedures and the Rights of Parliament for further study and debate.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, I see that Senators Cools is absent at the moment. I know she plans to
take part in the debate on this bill. Therefore, with your leave, I would like
to adjourn the debate in her name.
(On motion of Senator Comeau, for Senator Cools, debate adjourned.)
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Carstairs, P.C.,
calling the attention of the Senate to the Impact of Dementia on the
Hon. Terry M. Mercer: Honourable senators, I started my speech on this
inquiry yesterday. However, as His Honour declared it was four o'clock, I
intended at that time to say these words: I adjourn the debate in my name.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to
adopt the motion?
(On motion of Senator Mercer, debate adjourned).
Hon. Carolyn Stewart Olsen, for Senator St. Germain, pursuant to
notice of November 16, 2010, moved:
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.
The Hon. the Speaker: It was moved by the Honourable Senator Stewart
Olsen, seconded by the Honourable Senator Runciman, that notwithstanding the
Order of the Senate adopted on June 2, 2010, —
An Hon. Senator: Dispense!
The Hon. the Speaker: Are honourable senators ready for the question?
Is it your pleasure to adopt the motion?
(Motion agreed to.)
Leave having been given to revert to Government Notices of Motions:
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, with leave of the Senate and notwithstanding rule 58(1)(h), I move:
That when the Senate adjourns today, it do stand adjourned until Tuesday,
November 23, 2010, at 2 p.m.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to
adopt the motion?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
(Motion agreed to.)
(The Senate adjourned until Tuesday, November 23, 2010, at 2 p.m.)