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Debates of the Senate (Hansard)

3rd Session, 40th Parliament,
Volume 147, Issue 73

Thursday, December 2, 2010
The Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker


THE SENATE

Thursday, December 2, 2010

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

Prayers.

SENATORS' STATEMENTS

United Nations Convention on Cluster Munitions

Hon. Elizabeth Hubley: Honourable senators, two years ago, on December 3, 2008, in Oslo, Norway, Canada joined 93 other countries in signing the United Nations Convention on Cluster Munitions. This historic treaty not only prohibits the use, stockpiling and distribution of cluster munitions, but also aims to provide assistance to victims and affected communities.

Sadly, it is not difficult to recognize a community affected by cluster munitions. Across Asia, Africa and the Middle East, these communities are marked by loss: individuals missing arms and legs, and families missing loved ones.

Like land mines, cluster munitions are indiscriminate, small bombs. They lurk unexploded in farmers' fields, in backyards and along rivers and roads, posing an ongoing threat to civilians years after a conflict has ended. Moreover, as they are often brightly coloured, they are particularly dangerous to children, who often mistake them for toys.

Fortunately, progress is being made. To date, 46 countries have ratified the convention and 108 have signed it. Further to this, on August 1, 2010, the Convention on Cluster Munitions came into force as binding international law.

While the international community is moving forward to end the suffering caused by these devastating weapons, Canada is not. We have yet to ratify the convention.

I can only hope that, by this time next year, we will be not only celebrating the third anniversary of this treaty, but, finally, Canada's ratification of it as well.

Prevention of Violence Against Women

Hon. Nancy Ruth: Honourable senators, we are approaching Monday, December 6. We are approaching the moment when Bill C-389 will pass in the House of Commons. This is a good bill as it will expand human rights, transsexual rights in Canada, but it will give transsexual women a right that other women in Canada do not have. We must add all women to the Criminal Code in section 318(4).

Before the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women next year, the twentieth one, Parliament must honour those who have gone before and protect all women and girls by including them in the hate propaganda and genocide provisions of the Criminal Code.

Parliament declared this the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women in 1991. It marks the anniversary of the murders in 1989 of 14 young women at l'École Polytechnique de Montréal. They died because they were women.

The Government of Canada should be using every means at its disposal to reduce exploitation and violence against women and girls in Canada. By adding "sex" to the list of identifiable groups, men and boys would also be protected if targeted. It is perverse to exclude those who most need to be included.

Protection from hate propaganda and genocide is not a panacea; it is a symbol, a statement of our values and another usable public measure in an ongoing effort to protect women from violence.

I have made this statement as the house is about to pass Bill C-389, a good bill, expanding human rights in Canada. We must add all women to the Criminal Code. We must add "sex" to section 318(4) of the Criminal Code so that all women are covered.

The Late W. Keir Clark

Hon. Catherine S. Callbeck: Honourable senators, earlier this week, Prince Edward Island lost a prominent businessman, community leader and former cabinet minister, William Keir Clark passed away Sunday morning at the age of 100.

Born in Mount Stewart, Prince Edward Island, Mr. Clark attended Prince of Wales College and graduated from Dalhousie University with a bachelor's degree in commerce. In 1934, he opened one of the largest mercantile stores in the area, selling clothing, groceries and hardware. Clark Brothers was an anchor on Main Street for decades and provided employment for countless people over the years. Even today, former employees share stories of his willingness to lend a helping hand and support the people who worked for him.

Mr. Clark was also a long-time politician. He served as Mayor of Montague in 1941 and 1942. Provincially, he was elected an impressive four times as an MLA and represented the former riding of 3rd Kings from 1948 to 1959 and from 1966 to 1970. He served alongside his father, Russell, in the legislature from 1947 to 1959, which I do not think has happened very often in Canada.

He was also a member of the provincial cabinet, serving as Minister of Education from 1953 to 1959, as Provincial Treasurer from 1954 to 1955, and as Minister of Health and Municipal Affairs from 1966 to 1969.

Mr. Clark's contributions to the town of Montague and to the people of Prince Edward Island are countless. He was principled in his approach to life. He lived it as a real gentleman. He was always dressed smartly in suit, tie and hat, even when fishing or out on his daily walks. He was truly one of a kind.

I would like to offer my sincere condolences to his daughters, Marion, Gwen and Marjorie and to his many friends and neighbours. I am certain he will be sorely missed by all who had the good fortune of knowing him.

International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Hon. Vim Kochhar: Honourable senators, I stand here today to bring to your attention that tomorrow, December 3, is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. On this planet there are more than 650 million people who live with disabilities and often we are not aware of the challenges they face.

It was more than 30 years ago when I picked up the torch for the disability movement from an extraordinary woman, Marg McLeod. I remember at that time in Toronto, Bloorview was called the Crippled Children's Centre, and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health was called the Hospital for the Insane. I remember when the media called our Paralympians "crippled athletes." I remember when the only place for the severely disabled was to live in an institution or at home. I remember when any service to people who were deaf-blind was considered a waste of time and money.

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From the outset, we believed there was absolutely nothing that people with disabilities could not achieve and that they should be recognized for their achievements. We also believed that the wheelchair was no longer a symbol of disability but a symbol of freedom for those who could not walk.

This week, honourable senators, we pause to celebrate the many milestones we have established. We celebrate the opening of the Canadian Helen Keller Centre in Toronto, the only training centre for people who are deaf-blind in Canada. We celebrate the opening of Rotary Cheshire Homes where 16 people who are deaf-blind live barrier-free and independently in their own apartments. This is still the only facility of its kind in the world.

We celebrate the election victory of Minister Fletcher, who is a quadriplegic, and his appointment to the cabinet. We celebrate the appointment of David Onley, who is physically disabled, as the Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario.

We have not achieved everything in full measure, but we have redeemed enough to celebrate on December 3. Today, Canada is the best country in the world for people with disabilities. Please keep the International Day of Persons with Disabilities in mind this week, and we will continue to work together to make a difference in the way Canadians think about disability.

Chickasaw Nation

Hon. Rod A. A. Zimmer: Honourable senators, I rise today to draw your attention to a visitor in the gallery, Mr. Michael Chang, Vice-President, Global Gaming Solutions, of the Chickasaw Nation, in Ada, Oklahoma, United States of America. The Chickasaw Nation is a Native American tribe that extends over 13 Oklahoma counties. The Chickasaw Nation strives to build a strong, stable economy and self-sufficient community for the Chickasaw people by generating funds to their commerce division to provide services and programs to the Chickasaw community's family, youth and elders. Their slogan, United We Thrive, describes the mission of the Chickasaw Nation.

One of the top priorities of the Chickasaw Nation is to preserve and share the heritage of the Chickasaw history, language and culture that has been passed down from generation to generation through storytelling. The nation organizes programs designed to continue the process with the youth and elders of the tribe. Chickasaw people have always valued their communities and family and the Chickasaw Nation preserves this value by providing programs and services that benefit the Chickasaw families, children, youth and of course the elders, whom they consider living treasures.

The Governor of the Chickasaw Nation, Bill Anoatubby has initiated an impressive effort to focus on the potential of Chickasaw youth, the tribe's most valuable resource, as a means of preserving the tribe's culture and securing its future success. This is being done through a multitude of services and programs focused on youth in addition to upholding education as a top priority within the nation.

The nation's commerce division owns and operates 58 commercial businesses with 10,000 employees, and these businesses include 17 casinos, 2 of which are Oklahoma's largest casinos: Riverwind and WinStar.

The WinStar World Casino is one of the five largest in the world. In addition, they also own and operate hotels, restaurants, retail travel plazas, tobacco stores, a family entertainment centre, a chocolate factory, radio stations and a newspaper.

Honourable senators, net income from the commerce division, in particular Chickasaw Nation casinos, provides the Chickasaw people with the opportunity to receive vital and essential services, including health care; aging, youth and family, education; and transportation services. Such revenues offer the nation the opportunity to invest in yet other businesses and industries that together will create stable, quality jobs and a self-sufficient community of the Chickasaw people for years to come.

Honourable senators, I am proud to introduce Mr. Chang to you today, as he is a dear friend of mine.

Visitor in the Gallery

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I call your attention to the presence in the gallery of our distinguished visitor, Mr. Michael Chang.

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

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.

International Day for the Abolition of Slavery

Hon. Consiglio Di Nino: Honourable senators, I rise today to bring to your attention a day that should never have been. Before we welcome in 2011, we are reminded that on December 2, 1949, a resolution was brought forward at the three hundred and sixty-fourth plenary meeting of the General Assembly of the UN Convention for the Suppression of Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others.

December 2 marks the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery. However, honourable senators, slavery is alive and well today. Each year, some 600,000 to 800,000 people, mostly women and children, are trafficked across borders worldwide. That is roughly the same number as the population of the city of Mississauga.

We have seen throughout history that slavery continues to be a problem around the world. Greed, empowerment, enslavement and treachery are the driving forces for the slave keepers. When we think of slavery, we generally see shackles confining innocent people against their free will. Today it is much more disturbing than we can imagine.

Typically, the victims are forced, defrauded or coerced into sex service industries or situations where their labour is exploited. Underground markets and supply chains treat lives like a commodity.

We can stop this by raising awareness, ensuring the world realizes that slavery continues to exist and strengthening and enforcing laws that will deal with the people responsible for the awful suffering of these innocent people. Canada must continue to strengthen its efforts to investigate and prosecute trafficking offences and convict and sentence the offenders.

This is a day to remind everyone that those being trafficked are not chattels but mothers and fathers, aunts and uncles, daughters and sons, brothers and sisters. Let us today redouble our efforts to eliminate this persistent cancer.

Diamond Industry

Hon. Roméo Antonius Dallaire: Honourable senators, the world's attempt to control blood diamonds is teetering on the brink of collapse as nations squabble over how to regulate the lucrative trade from Zimbabwe's violence-plagued diamond fields.

The sensational Zimbabwe diamond discovery, which could represent up to 25 per cent of the world's supply of rough diamonds within two years, has massive implications for the world's diamond industry, in which Canada is now one of the top producers.

If no agreement is reached, it will further damage the credibility of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme for Rough Diamonds that aims to eliminate blood diamonds. Canada was one of the main architects of the Kimberley Process.

This could be a final chance for the seven-year-old Kimberley Process. If its 75 member countries fail to settle the Zimbabwe question and fail to deal with the growing list of producers that smuggle diamonds to avoid the certification scheme, the process could be doomed.

The term "blood diamond" comes from the use of illegal diamonds by illicit trade or by certain countries in continuing war, internal conflict and massive abuses of human rights. The term "blood" also comes from the fact that children who are used to mine those diamonds mine in open holes, holes that resemble the battlefield holes we saw of World War I. Many of the children digging up those diamonds drown in the water at the bottom of those holes. Blood diamonds are exactly what the name implies. They are from the blood of children and from massive abuses of human rights of an enormous population by people who are neither being held accountable in front of the International Criminal Court nor being pursued to be held accountable by nations like Canada, a founding member of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme.

Honourable senators, if you wish to buy a diamond, buy a Canadian diamond.


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[Translation]

ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

Study on Provisions and Operation of DNA Identification Act

Ninth Report of Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee—Government Response Tabled

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government response to the ninth report of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, entitled: Public Protection, Privacy and the Search for Balance: A Statutory Review of the DNA Identification Act.

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Canada Consumer Product Safety Bill

Thirteenth Report of Social Affairs, Science and Technology Committee Presented

Hon. Art Eggleton, Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology, presented the following report:

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology has the honour to present its

THIRTEENTH REPORT

Your committee, to which was referred Bill C-36, An Act respecting the safety of consumer products, has, in obedience to the order of reference of Thursday, November 18, 2010, examined the said bill and now reports the same without amendment.

Respectfully submitted,

ART EGGLETON P.C.
Chair

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

(On motion of Senator Eggleton, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for third reading at the next sitting of the Senate.)

Criminal Code

Bill to Amend—Thirteenth Report of Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee Presented

Hon. Joan Fraser, Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, presented the following report:

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs has the honour to present its

THIRTEENTH REPORT

Your committee, to which was referred Bill C-464, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (justification for detention in custody) has, in obedience to the order of reference of Tuesday, June 22, 2010, examined the said Bill and now reports the same without amendment.

Respectfully submitted,

JOAN FRASER
Chair

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

Hon. Tommy Banks: Honourable senators, I should like to impose on the courtesy of this chamber for a moment in order to thank the chair and deputy chair of this committee. This is a short bill, but it is not in its implications a simple bill.

I want to thank all members of the committee for their courtesy. In particular, I wish to place on the record my gratitude to Senator Carignan for his assistance in ensuring this bill goes forward. I am grateful to the honourable senator.

(On motion of Senator Banks, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for third reading at the next sitting of the Senate.)

Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources

Budget—Study on Current State and Future of Energy Sector—Eleventh Report of Committee Presented

Hon. W. David Angus, Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources, presented the following report:

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources has the honour to present its

ELEVENTH REPORT

Your committee, which was authorized by the Senate on Thursday, March 11, 2010 to examine and report on the current state and future of Canada's energy sector (including alternative energy) respectfully requests the release of supplementary funds for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2011.

The original budget application submitted to the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration and the report thereon of that committee were printed in the Journals of the Senate on June 17, 2010. On June 22, 2010, the Senate approved the release of $14,000 to the committee. The supplementary budget application submitted to the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration and the report thereon of that committee were printed in the Journals of the Senate on October 21, 2010. On October 26, 2010, the Senate approved a partial release of $30,040 to the committee. The report of the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets, and Administration recommending the release of supplementary funds is appended to this report.

Respectfully submitted,

W. DAVID ANGUS
Chair

(For text of budget, see today's Journals of the Senate, Appendix, p. 1046.)

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this report be taken into consideration?

(On motion of Senator Angus, report placed on the Orders of the Day for consideration at the next sitting of the Senate.)

[Translation]

Canada-China Legislative Association
Canada-Japan Inter-Parliamentary Group

Annual Meeting of the Asia Pacific Parliamentary Forum, January 17-22, 2010—Report Tabled

Hon. Joseph A. Day: Honourable senators, pursuant to rule 97(3), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian delegation of the Canada-China Legislative Association and the Canada-Japan Inter-Parliamentary Group respecting its participation at the 18th Annual Meeting of the Asia Pacific Parliamentary Forum held in Singapore, Republic of Singapore, from January 17 to 22, 2010.

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The Senate

Membership of Standing Committee on Conflict of Interest for Senators

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I move, seconded by the Honourable Senator Cowan:

That pursuant to rule 85(2.1) the membership of the Standing Committee on Conflict of Interest for Senators be as follows:

The Honourable Senators Andreychuk, Angus, Cordy, Joyal, P.C., and Stratton.

(Pursuant to rule 85(2.1), the motion was deemed adopted.)


QUESTION PERIOD

Seniors

Income Support

Hon. Catherine S. Callbeck: Honourable senators, my question is to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Last week, the latest statistics on seniors and poverty were released by Campaign 2000. These figures show that the number of seniors living below the poverty line increased by roughly 25 per cent between the years 2007 and 2008. The report shows that women are the hardest hit; 80 per cent of that increase is among senior women.

It is unacceptable in a country like this that so many seniors are living in poverty. Why has this government allowed so many seniors to fall through the cracks?

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Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): I thank the honourable senator for the question. The government takes the issue of seniors, seniors' welfare and their financial health very seriously through the Old Age Security and Guaranteed Income Supplement programs. We provide $33 billion per year to about 90 per cent of Canadian seniors. We increased the GIS earnings exemption from $500 to $3,500 so that seniors who choose to stay in the workplace can keep more of their money without a reduction in benefits. This meant more money for about 1.6 million seniors. We are ensuring that seniors have more money in their pockets out of consideration for the fact that many seniors live on fixed incomes. There has been no decrease in the OAS or GIS rates, which are tied to the consumer price index. Even if the CPI decreases, the rates remain the same for the OAS and the GIS and do not decrease.

In 2007, the government passed Bill C-36 to allow eligible seniors to apply once for GIS benefits rather than year after year. Our government is committed to ensuring seniors get their benefits in a timely manner. Between 2006 and 2008, we invested $12.7 million on awareness campaigns to encourage Canadians to contact Service Canada for information on federal programs and services, including the GIS.

As the honourable senator knows, a few years ago many seniors did not have access to a facility like Service Canada. This has greatly improved the services and money flowing to seniors. When seniors call Service Canada, they are directed to the programs that help them the most.

Senator Callbeck: Honourable senators, certainly I am glad to hear that the services to seniors through Service Canada have improved. However, while the leader can talk about what the government has done, the fact is that in one single year, between 2007 and 2008, almost 25 per cent more seniors were living below the poverty line. That is the largest increase of any group. Seniors helped to build this country. They worked hard over a lifetime and they deserve to live better than they are living.

My question is: What will the government do to address the needs of Canadian seniors who are living in poverty?

Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, there is no question that the period of economic downturn, which Senator Callbeck cited, impacted directly on seniors. I wish to point out that Canada still enjoys one of the lowest rates of poverty amongst seniors in the world. I have outlined many of the programs before, including access to the OAS and the GIS. The government is very concerned about the report that came out, and is committed to ensuring that our seniors have a proper standard of living so that they may live out their senior years in relative good health and with a reasonable level of income.

The government has provided more money by moving more seniors off the tax roll. There is nothing to indicate that we will not continue on this same track. As the honourable senator pointed out, seniors helped to build this country and it is in every government's interest to ensure that seniors live out their final years in good health and with some financial security.

Hon. Art Eggleton: Honourable senators, my question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. All honourable senators take a great deal of pride in what has been done by both Liberal and Conservative governments with respect to improving the income support systems for seniors. For example, we went from a high of 36.9 per cent of seniors living below the poverty line in 1971 down to 4.9 per cent in 2006. That is a great achievement. The leader has cited some of the programs and the work that has been done in this area.

We are finding out with the latest information that the 4.9 per cent has jumped to 5.8 per cent, which is an increase of almost 25 per cent over a couple of years. Many of those people are women. I have a specific question that arises from two reports adopted unanimously, I believe, by the Senate.

Will the government adopt the recommendation first proposed in the Senate report on aging and echoed in the recent Senate report on poverty, housing and homelessness to increase the Guaranteed Income Supplement for seniors to ensure that seniors are not living below the poverty line?

Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, as I indicated to Senator Callbeck, the government will continue to examine ways to assist seniors who truly live in difficult circumstances and who rely on the Old Age Security and the Guaranteed Income Supplement.

As the honourable senator pointed out and as I pointed out to Senator Callbeck a few moments ago, Canada has one of the lowest poverty rates among seniors in the developed world. Currently, we are ranked second by the Conference Board of Canada. The OAS and the GIS benefits provide $33 billion per year to about 90 per cent of Canadian seniors. The GIS was increased in 2006 and in 2007. Our government increased the GIS earnings exemptions from $500 to $3,500, which means more money for 1.6 million seniors.

To the senator's specific question about future changes to the GIS, that is something for the Minister of Finance and others to review in the budgetary considerations. However, it is clear that the government has increased the GIS twice. The decision will be up to the Minister of Finance when planning the budget for next year, when many people will make that same recommendation and ask that same question. I can promise to make the Minister of Finance aware of Senator Eggleton's question and the suggestion that the GIS figure be looked at.

Senator Eggleton: I thank the minister. Indeed, it is that time when the Minister of Finance will be hearing from a number of people. I am glad that the minister will draw this matter to his attention. Although we have done very well, there are still more people falling between the cracks.

Honourable senators, I have a supplementary question from another angle. The rise in poverty among seniors poses particular problems for their adult children, who will be expected to bridge financial gaps for their parents while supporting their own families. This is the so-called "sandwich generation." They are caught between the twin pressures of having children in higher education and parents requiring additional care because of failing health.

Will the government support tax measures to help low-and middle-income family caregivers who provide essential care to a family member at home?

Senator LeBreton: I thank Senator Eggleton for the question. When I was the minister responsible for seniors, I encountered many individuals across the country who were part of this sandwich generation. They were paying for their children to attend school or university while looking after their aging parents. They truly were caught in a sandwich; there is no doubt about it.

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The government improved the EI system to support this group. In June 2006, our government expanded the number of family members and others who can access compassionate care benefits, and for the first time 2.6 million self-employed people have access to EI sickness and compassionate care benefits. That was a policy that we committed to and have delivered on.

In terms of middle class families, we are proud of our record of lowering taxes, which has put more money into the pockets of middle-income taxpayers, mostly those caught in the sandwich generation. Of course, they then use that money to look after members of their family, whether children or elderly parents.

As I said in my last answer to the honourable senator, I will be very happy to bring these concerns to the attention of the Minister of Finance for consideration when he is working on the budget for 2011.

Hon. Terry M. Mercer: Honourable senators, I have a supplementary question to the minister. As the leader mentioned, she was the minister responsible for seniors for some time; indeed, for part of the period covered in this report referred to by my colleagues Senator Callbeck and Senator Eggleton. She talked about making compassionate care benefits more available.

Should the nearly 25 per cent increase in the number of seniors below the poverty level not sound an alarm somewhere, a call to action by this government to respond, and respond quickly? It is not very often that we get a report that is so dramatic, especially when, over the years, as Senator Eggleton so ably pointed out, we have had a steady decline in the numbers. This reversal is a little startling. Senator Eggleton referred to the report of the Special Senate Committee on Aging. There are a number of references in that report to the people caught in the sandwich situation, the volunteers out there assisting seniors and the seniors themselves out there volunteering. This issue needs to be moved quickly up the priority scale of this government.

Senator LeBreton: I agree with Senator Mercer that it is an alarming report, and the government takes the report very seriously. As well, the economic downturn has certainly impacted on our seniors. Honourable senators, pointing out that we still enjoy, in comparison to the rest of the world, a good situation, does not in any way diminish the fact that there are some serious concerns in this country over people living below the poverty line, especially women, and the government takes the situation seriously. The Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, the Minister of Finance and other departments in the government are all well aware of the problem. All of these factors will be considered when the Minister of Finance is preparing the budget for 2011.

Finance

Economic Stimulus Programs

Hon. James S. Cowan (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. It has to do with the government stimulus package.

When the government introduced its infrastructure stimulus package, Canadians accepted it because the government said that it would create jobs. We on this side repeatedly urged the government to put in place a tracking system similar to that in the United States so that we and all Canadians could track the success of the program in creating jobs. Your government flatly refused that suggestion. On numerous occasions since, we have asked for progress reports to determine how the job creation process is going.

We now know why the government refused to provide either that tracking system or the progress reports. According to the report issued yesterday by the Parliamentary Budget Officer, this government has failed miserably in the number one objective of job creation. Only one third of respondents said that the stimulus fund had increased employment. One half said it had had no effect and one fifth said that for some reasons the program had actually increased unemployment. In other words, jobs were actually lost because of the government's program.

Today, the government announced an extension of the stimulus program to October 31, as we have been pushing for. This is certainly welcome and we are glad they took our advice; but will the government now, with respect to the extension, put in place the tracking system so that Canadians can judge for themselves the success or failure of the program?

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, again, Senator Cowan is basing his question on a report that was released yesterday. Jobs and the economy are the government's number one priority. Canada's Economic Action Plan is keeping our recovery on track. I think the evidence is clear. Canada's economy has grown for the past five straight quarters, and since July of last year nearly 430,000 net new jobs have been created. Our work-sharing programs alone protected 260,000 jobs during the global recession. To quote Berry Vrbanovic, the Vice-President of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities: "Study after study shows infrastructure is by far the best short-term job creator." He said that yesterday, December 1, 2010.

All of this to say, honourable senators, our government will continue to focus on our job-creating, low-tax plan, unlike the coalition group on the other side who wants to dramatically raise taxes and halt our great recovery in the economy.

Senator Cowan: I would point out to the leader that there are numerous instances, and I need only point to the deficit projections and to the estimates of prison expansion costs as a result of the government's program, where time after time when comparing figures that came from the government and figures that came from the Parliamentary Budget Officer, the Parliamentary Budget Officer has proved to be far more accurate than the government's rosy projections.

However, there was another report released yesterday. This report found that the richest 1 per cent of Canadians are benefiting most from the economy. In fact, they are taking more of the gains from economic growth than ever before in Canadian history. A recent study quoted in the report showed that by the end of 2009, 3.8 per cent of Canadian households controlled $1.78 trillion of financial wealth or 67 per cent of the total.

All Canadians need jobs, not just the wealthy. I ask again: Will the government put in place a system so that Canadians can see for themselves the concrete effect of government programs on much-needed jobs for regular Canadians?

Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, the government's economic forecasts and job forecasts are a result of a cross-section of economists and are not from someone sitting in a government department. The government relies on economic experts across a wide field to come up with the forecasts and predictions.

The senator claims that the Parliamentary Budget Officer has been correct more often than not. I think there is ample evidence that that is not necessarily the case. Actually, I did see the report that the honourable senator referred to. I saw Linda McQuaig, the author, last night on the CBC talking about this report. I found it rather one-sided. I will quote someone who actually is in partnership with the government in creating jobs, and that is Hans Cunningham, President of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. He said:

The Economic Action Plan was a partnership between governments to protect Canadians during a global crisis — and that partnership has delivered results.

He continued:

Municipalities are co-funding $10 billion worth of stimulus projects that will keep 100,000 Canadians on the job and supporting their families.

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That is not the government talking. That is one of the people with whom the government partnered as we expended stimulus dollars in cooperation with the municipalities and the various provincial governments.

While I am on my feet, I will read another quote, this one from the much respected Wall Street Journal. "Emerging From the Shadow" is the title of the article and it appeared two days ago, on November 30. Referring to Canada, the Wall Street Journal article stated:

The country has pulled through the downturn in better shape than most of its peers, with the healthiest banking system and strongest economic recovery in the Group of Seven wealthy nations. And that solid performance is fueling a growing assertiveness in a country often known for its reserve.

There is much proof, despite the doom and gloom Senator Cowan seems to want to spread from his side, that the government had the right program, did create the jobs, and did provide meaningful jobs to the tune of almost 430,000. With job-sharing, the government made sure that people did not lose their jobs. One cannot argue with success and we have had great success with the Economic Action Plan.

Senator Cowan: The question is simple. The taxes collected by the government from Canadians are used to provide stimulus and a wide variety of infrastructure projects. Why can the government not put in place a system that enables the government and Canadians to see how many jobs are created project by project, as the Government of the United States has done?

Do not muddy the issue by talking about overall figures. We are asking for a tracking system that will enable Canadians to judge whether specific projects in fact create the number of jobs claimed by this government. That is all we are asking for. It is being done elsewhere. Why can it not be done in Canada?

Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, the example of the United States is not a good one to use. I can only rely on the words of experts and the people we have been dealing with, and who better than the head of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, who has given a figure of 100,000 as the number of jobs that have been created directly by the work we have done with them.

I think 430,000 jobs should be proof enough that the actions of the government, through the Economic Action Plan, worked. Despite the predictions of the Parliamentary Budget Officer — if I remember correctly a year ago, March, he was predicting an unemployment rate of 10 per cent — the fact is that the Economic Action Plan and the various programs of our government have directly contributed to reducing our unemployment rate. We need only look around our own communities to see that there have been numerous projects.

Honourable senators, this is necessary work that had to be done. Why not do it at a time of economic downturn, as we had in 2008, 2009 and into 2010, to provide those jobs? One cannot argue against the numbers: 430,000 new jobs and our unemployment rate.

Human Resources and Skills Development

Student Summer Employment Program

Hon. Jane Cordy: In the summer of 2008, there were 129,000 students who did not have employment, and this was the highest number since statistics were kept. In 2009 and 2010, the government put $10 million into the summer jobs program and that created about 3,000 jobs, which was a drop in the bucket, nonetheless it was 3,000 students who otherwise would have been unemployed.

This was part of the Economic Action Plan, part of the stimulus program. Will the government continue to put this $10 million into the student summer employment program, or will that program be over as of the end of March 2011?

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I thank the senator for the question. Like all these programs, the government will consider the recommendations and the various factors that go into planning a budget.

I would dare say that Senator Cordy's question falls into the line of questioning that Senator Eggleton presented. I will be happy to express not only to my colleague Minister Finley, but also to my colleague the Minister of Finance, that there was an interest in the Senate to have this program continued.

To be specific, however, I am not in a position to answer, since I am not the Minister of Finance and I am not drawing up the budgetary figures, but I will be happy to express an interest to my colleagues that Senator Cordy would wish to see this program continued.

[Translation]

Public Works and Government Services Canada

Quebec City Armoury

Hon. Roméo Antonius Dallaire: My question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I am sure she will want to get some answers from her cabinet colleagues. My question is about this country's national heritage, which we want to preserve and promote. Quebec City recently celebrated its 400th anniversary. Right in the heart of the capital city, there is an important historical building used by both civilians and the oldest French-Canadian regiment in the country, the Quebec Voltigeurs, whose band played O Canada for the first time in 1880, on Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day, in fact.

There have been promises to restore this historic armoury at the heart of a city that has been declared a UNESCO world heritage site. We have some numbers, but we do not have a date. Is there a date sometime this decade when we can expect the government to invest in restoring one of this country's historic gems?

[English]

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Senator Dallaire asked this question before and I believe I provided a written response, but I will ask for an update. I do not have that information at my fingertips.

Senator Dallaire: This leads me to ask about the whole concept of infrastructure for a significant portion of our Armed Forces that are being bloodied on battlefields still today, and that is the reserves. In the stimulus package, where there are reserve units in nearly every major town in this country, where they are essentially living in early 1900s infrastructure, such as the building that burned down, there would have been a significant gesture of operational effectiveness, stimulus in these cities and pride in upgrading, if not modernizing, these armouries because they are shovel ready.

Why was that not part of the overall package?

Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, there were a significant number of federally-owned and federally-controlled projects that the government did undertake where it was not required to have the agreement of the municipalities and the provinces because they were solely the responsibility of the federal government and there is quite a list of them. I will be happy to provide that to Senator Dallaire.


ORDERS OF THE DAY

Federal Sustainable Development Act and Auditor General Act

Bill to Amend—Message from Commons

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, a message from the House of Commons has been received to return Bill S-210, a bill entitled: An Act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act and the Auditor General Act (involvement of Parliament), and to acquaint the Senate that they have passed this bill without amendment.

(1430)

Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act and Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act

Bill to Amend—Sixth Report of Banking, Trade and Commerce Committee—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Hervieux-Payette, P.C., seconded by the Honourable Senator Tkachuk, for the adoption of the sixth report of the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce (Bill S-216, An Act to amend the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act and the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act in order to protect beneficiaries of long term disability benefits plans, with a recommendation), presented in the Senate on November 25, 2010.

Hon. Stephen Greene: Honourable senators, I would like to put my notes together on this topic. As Senator Eggleton made some excellent comments in his last speech, I believe they deserve a reply. In addition, senators on both sides could use a full explanation of where we are on this particular bill, and I would be happy to do that. I am putting my notes together and would like to adjourn the debate in my name for the balance of my time.

The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to —

Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Some Hon. Senators: No.

Hon. Art Eggleton: We have had enough debate. People want a decision on this matter. I would hope we would take the vote today.

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, the motion that was put to the house is as follows:

It was moved by the Honourable Senator Greene, seconded by the Honourable Senator MacDonald, that further debate on this item be adjourned to the next sitting of the Senate. There is no debate on an adjournment motion, so this is the question before the house.

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 saying "nay."

Some Hon. Senators: Nay.

The Hon. the Speaker: In my opinion, the "yeas" have it.

And two honourable senators having risen:

The Hon. the Speaker: Call in the senators.

Senator Cowan: You have had months to speak.

The Hon. the Speaker: The whips are advising the house that there will be a one-hour bell. The vote will take place at 3:30 p.m. Do I have permission to leave the chair?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(1530)

Motion agreed to on the following division:

YEAS
THE HONOURABLE SENATORS

Andreychuk Kochhar
Angus Lang
Ataullahjan LeBreton
Boisvenu MacDonald
Braley Manning
Brazeau Marshall
Brown Martin
Carignan Mockler
Champagne Murray
Cochrane Nancy Ruth
Comeau Neufeld
Cools Ogilvie
Demers Patterson
Di Nino Plett
Dickson Rivard
Duffy Runciman
Eaton Segal
Fortin-Duplessis Seidman
Frum Stratton
Greene Tkachuk
Housakos Wallace
Kinsella Wallin—44

NAYS
THE HONOURABLE SENATORS

Baker Joyal
Banks Losier-Cool
Callbeck Mahovlich
Carstairs McCoy
Chaput Mercer
Cordy Merchant
Cowan Moore
Dallaire Munson
Day Pépin
Eggleton Peterson
Fairbairn Poulin
Fox Poy
Fraser Ringuette
Furey Robichaud
Harb Rompkey
Hervieux-Payette Smith
Hubley Tardif
Jaffer Zimmer—36

ABSTENTIONS
THE HONOURABLE SENATORS

Nil

Study on Current State and Future of Energy Sector

Seventh Report of Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources Committee Adopted

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Angus, seconded by the Honourable Senator Stratton, for the adoption of the seventh report (interim) of the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources entitled: Attention Canada! Preparing for our Energy Future, tabled in the Senate on June 29, 2010.

Hon. Tommy Banks: Honourable senators, I am pleased to speak today in favour of the Senate's adoption of the seventh interim report of the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources, entitled: Attention Canada: Preparing for our Energy Future.

(1540)

Our distinguished chair, the Honourable Senator Angus, has already told you that this interim report is, and its several successful successors will be, cogently important to Canada's future. It will be particularly important — it must be particularly important — to those of us who will, in one way or another, have a hand in determining the role that energy, writ large, will have in that future.

The most important aspect of our thinking in that respect that must derive from these reports, and from our committee's subsequent reports in this series, will be to understand how little we — society, industry, academe, and most significantly, we in government — know about how that future will be. Some aspects of that future will be fraught with problems and challenges; of that there is no doubt.

Those problems and challenges may not come from where industry sees them coming, may not come from where environmental advocates see them coming, or from where government sees them coming. That is because, if we are going to manage, adapt, cope and deal with those challenges, we must first understand the overall landscape in which they exist.

Honourable senators, we, society, industry, academe and government, all have a deficiency in our understanding of the big picture, about how all of those elements having to do with energy, production and consumption interrelate, about how they all affect each other, about how if you push in here, it bulges out over there.

Your committee seeks to provide some assistance to look at the synergies and encumbrances that we might face in our understanding the big picture. Most importantly, in our understanding of the fact that all projections are wrong, that everyone who says anything about energy consumption or production, that they know the truth is either a charlatan or a dupe.

To give you an idea about how wrong we have been in the past about, for example, oil reserves, let me remind you that in many times past well-meaning people, experts all, and all relying on what they believed to be the best available information at the time, have warned us in the most alarming terms that we are in big trouble because we are running out of oil.

In 1882, the United States Institute of Mining Engineers estimated there are about 45 million barrels of oil left, enough to last about four years. In 1914, the United States Bureau of Mines announced that the United States was down to its last 6 million barrels of oil. In 1920, the director of the U.S. Geological Survey said that U.S. oil production was about to peak. In 1951, the U.S. Department of the Interior warned that, by the mid-1960s, we would be out of oil. In 1970, Jimmy Carter said:

We could use up all of the proven reserves of oil in the entire world by the end of the next decade.

In 1971, the world's proven oil reserves were 612 billion barrels. Since 1971, we have produced and used more than 800 billion barrels. If the 1971 prediction had been right, we should have run out of reserves more than five years ago, but we did not.

Today's proven remaining reserves are about 1,000 billion barrels, which is 416 billion barrels more than they said we had left in 1971, and we have been burning it at an ever-increasing rate ever since.

How are all these things possible? Because all predictions are wrong.

It is not that all the well-intended alarmists had to do with oil. Off we go into the wild green yonder at the first Earth Day celebration in 1969, environmentalist Nigel Calder warned that the threat of a new ice age must now stand alongside nuclear war as a likely source of wholesale death and misery for mankind.

C.C. Wallén, of the World Meteorological Organization said, at that time:

The cooling since 1940 has been large enough and consistent enough that it will not soon be reversed.

In 1968, Professor Paul Ehrlich, the guy who was former Vice-President, Al Gore's hero and mentor, predicted a major food shortage in the United States and said that in the 1970s hundreds of millions of people would starve to death. Mr. Ehrlich forecast 65 million Americans would die of starvation between 1980 and 1989, and that by 1999 the U.S. population would have declined to 22.6 million.

Mr. Ehrlich's predictions about England where were gloomier. He said:

If I were a gambler, I would bet even money that England will not exist in the year 2000.

In 1972, a report for the Club of Rome warned that, because of our profligate consumption, the world would run out of gold by 1981, of mercury and silver by 1985, of tin by 1987 and of petroleum, copper, lead and natural gas by 1992.

Gordon Taylor, in his 1970 book, The Doomsday Book, said Americans were using 50 per cent of the world's resources, and that by 2000, the Americans will, if they are permitted to, be using all of them.

In 1975, the Environmental Fund took out full-page ads warning:

The World as we know it will likely be ruined by the year 2000.

Harvard University biologist George Wald, in 1970 warned:

. . . civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind.

That was the same year Senator Gaylord Nelson, in the United States, warned, in Look magazine, that by 1995, somewhere between 75 per cent and 85 per cent of all the species of living animals in the world would be extinct.

It is not just latter day doomsayers who have been wrong. Doomsayers have always been wrong. In 1885, the U.S. Geological Survey announced there was little or no chance of finding any oil in California. A few years later they said the same thing about Kansas and Texas. In 1939, the Interior Department said American oil supplies would last another 13 years. In 1949, the Interior Secretary said the end of availability of oil was in sight.

Having learned nothing from its earlier erroneous claims in 1974, the U.S. Geological Survey advised that the U.S. had only a 10-year supply of natural gas. According to the American Gas Association there is now a supply that will last somewhere between 1,000 and 2,500 years, at projected rates of consumption.

In 1970, when environmentalists were making predictions of man-made global cooling and the threat of an ice age and millions of Americans starving to death, what kind of government policy should we have undertaken to prevent such a calamity? When Mr. Ehrlich predicted in 1970 that England would not exist in the year 2000, what steps should the British Parliament have taken to prevent that happening?

In 1939, when the Interior Department warned that the U.S. only had oil supplies for another 13 years, what actions should President Roosevelt have taken?

Finally, what makes us think that either environmental alarmism, on the one hand, or outright denial of anthropological effects on our ecology are any more correct now than they have ever been? Everyone, on all sides of these kinds of questions — there are not really two sides, there are many — can trot out evidence, and statistics, and projections, and statistics, and computer models and human intelligence, and statistics, and direct experiential evidence and scientific certainties and charts and graphs, and, worst of all, statistics, to prove their diagnosis and their prognosis. And they are all probably wrong.

All projections are wrong. At least we want to be careful before we bet the farm on any of them. We need to use the precautionary principle. We need to know the odds and we need to place our bets carefully so as to reduce, to the extent we are able, the possibility of doing harm to ourselves and our descendents, and to this little ball on which we live.

Our committee's effort is and will be to improve, however modestly, our understanding of the big picture to make us better informed as to where and how to place our bets on our future. We here in this place have a certain responsibility in that regard, and it is in the interests of our being better able to discharge that responsibility that I commend your careful attention to this report.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Motion agreed to.)

(1550)

Importance of Canada's Oil Sands

Inquiry—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Eaton calling the attention of the Senate to the benefits of Canada's oil sands.

Hon. Hugh Segal: Honourable senators, the challenge with any public policy, as we reflect on the oil sands, further to the inquiry launched by my colleague Senator Eaton, is that if, in the first instance, we fail to discern how things actually are before deciding how they ought to be, we will be in difficulty. It is a kind of significant first step. If in trying to decide on the right policies to achieve how things ought to be one confuses reality from what one hopes for, then one starts from a deeply flawed point of departure.

Canada's oil sands are a classic example. They are not perfect zero emitters of unhelpful emissions. Neither is the U.S. coal industry, the rest of the petroleum industry, our use of automobiles, how we heat our homes and even how we manufacture environmentally constructive technologies and machines. I remember in the 1970s when Premier William Davis of Ontario invested, along with Alberta's leadership position and Premier Lougheed, in Syncrude in search of a new energy technology to meet our needs.

I fear that many of the well-intentioned opponents of the oil sands, such as U.S. companies that decide to exclude oil sands energy from their energy use, are confusing the fantasy world of fact-free aspiration from the real world of making the best rational choices possible. I assume that Avon, Old Navy, Walgreens or Levi Strauss and other users of electricity who shun the oil sands as an energy source will also shun U.S. electricity sources based on coal-fired generating stations because those stations are far worse than the oil sands. I assume they will also shun, around the world, electricity or transportation fuel based on essentially repressive regimes like Venezuela, Iran or Saudi Arabia. If they do, and tell their employees and door-to-door representatives not to use CITGO stations in the U.S., which are a wholly owned subsidiary of Petróleos de Venezuela, the national oil company of Venezuela, then there might be some coherence to their stance. If they do not, then they are just imposing a fantasy world, non-tariff barrier on their Canadian neighbours. Canadians might want to reflect on this when considering the products and services from these companies and their fellow travellers.

The oil sands are above all a national security asset. By "national security asset," I mean a vital asset fundamental to the continuity and resilience of Canadian society, in fact North American society, for many years to come.

If the oil embargo of the Carter years taught us anything, it is that an international crisis elsewhere, for example in the Middle East, the Strait of Hormuz as a result of Iran's nuclear intentions, any destabilization of the Saudi or Gulf states, can and will produce supply interruptions here in North America. These are of strategic and security impact of the most serious kind. The oil sands with their substantial forward reserves reflect an important countervail to this threat and constitute a vital national security asset.

Ezra Levant's rhetorical question in his recent compelling book on the oil sands as an ethical source of oil, compared with most of the other sources, is apt and constructive. He asks: If pumps at American gas stations were labelled "Iran, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and Canada," which do we think our American neighbours and allies would pick if given free choice?

Senator Lindsay Graham on his recent visit to Alberta referred to Alberta as "a national treasure for Canada and the United States." He continued:

It's a clear win-win. We've got shared values, but we've also got shared needs.

In a world where Russia is, to the best of their ability, using its energy reserves to shape and manage European politics and dominate their neighbours, in a world where our Chinese friends are seeking to acquire energy resources worldwide and are often delighted to sustain anti-democratic regimes in the process, in a world where rogue state initiatives from North Korea to Hezbollah threaten instability of the most serious kind, we need to reassure, expand and preserve a national security asset like the oil sands with every ounce of political will we can muster. Diminishing their prospects and unduly diluting their value is truly akin to letting the perfect be the enemy of the good, and that would be profoundly against our economic and security interests as a vibrant mixed economy democracy.

The American Council on Foreign Relations in a recent report in May of 2009 indicated that there is a point of constructive reconciliation between security and climate change concerns. Clearly, it is in all our interests to work diligently for a rational effort to achieve that balance as soon as realistically possible, but imposing unrealistic constraints on the oil sands and their development will not help. It will in fact weaken this national security asset at a time when we need it the most.

Do I want to live in a low-emission, tiny carbon footprint world? Of course I do. Do I want to ignore the growth of emissions in China and India, the growth of the Chinese navy in the Pacific, the growth of the nuclear threat from Iran, the repression of women in Saudi Arabia, the threats to Canadian sovereignty and energy reserves in the Arctic in order to do so? Honourable senators, I do not, and neither do most Americans or Canadians. We must deal with the world as it is and try to make it better. Confusing reality as we find it with what we hope for is the ultimate folly.

The oil sands are an engineering success and technology advance of which Canadians can be proud. Further technological steps are ahead on carbon sequestration. This is the Canadian can-do experience at its very best. Understating the environmental challenges serves no purpose, but overstating the ecological footprint of the oil sands also serves no purpose. NGOs and others who have chosen the latter path have every right to do so, just as we have the right to see through that overstatement and ensure that its influence is measured.

We take national security for granted at our peril. It is our first duty to all Canadians. That duty means that we must mobilize, protect and enhance resources and capacities that prevent Canadians from being threatened, intimidated or attacked in a way that threatens our way of life, and that way of life underlines values such as democracy, the rule of law, human rights, gender equality, peace and order, and freedom. It is not only about secure borders or our judicial system or the presumption of innocence or defence intelligence and security forces. It is also about our strategic resources and their protection. The oil sands are a vital, core part of the strategic national security.

We all owe a debt to Senator Eaton for putting this item on our agenda for reflection and discussion. It is a vital national security asset. We should understand that in a world of harsh realities for all of us in North America, this asset has never been more important than it is today.

(On motion of Senator Comeau, debate adjourned.)

(1600)

The Senate

Motion to Urge Government to Revise Twenty Dollar Banknote—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Joyal, P.C., seconded by the Honourable Senator Banks:

Whereas the $5, $10 and $50 Canadian banknotes represent Sir Wilfrid Laurier, Sir John A. Macdonald and W.L. Mackenzie King respectively, and whereas each of these bills clearly mention in printed form their name, title and dates of function;

Whereas the 20$ banknotes represent a portrait of H.M. Queen Elizabeth II but without her name or title;

The Senate recommends that the Bank of Canada add in printed form, under the portrait of Her Majesty, the name and title of H.M. Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada, to the next series of $20 Canadian banknotes to be printed.

Hon. Michael L. MacDonald: Honourable senators, this motion by Senator Joyal has been adjourned in Senator Di Nino's name, and I ask that it be adjourned in my name to a later date.

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

(On motion of Senator MacDonald, debate adjourned.)

Environment and Human Rights

Inquiry—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Mitchell calling the attention of the Senate to the relationship between the environment and human rights.

Hon. A. Raynell Andreychuk: Honourable senators, I want to address this inquiry, but I seek your indulgence for more time, so I am simply asking to adjourn it.

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

(On motion of Senator Andreychuk, debate adjourned.)

Edmonton's Bid for Expo 2017

Inquiry—Debate Adjourned

Hon. Tommy Banks rose pursuant to notice of November 24, 2010:

That he will call the attention of the Senate to the decision by the Government of Canada in respect to Edmonton's bid for the 2017 World Expo.

He said: Honourable senators, this is a case of striking while the iron is hot, and it is hot.

Honourable senators, this is an inquiry into a government decision that can be accurately described as nothing less than a blatant betrayal. The Prime Minister, the government and the Heritage Minister have slapped Edmontonians and Albertans in their collective face with an insult, an insult that will be a long time used in political science classes in Alberta as an example of how regional political loyalty is so often repaid with absolutely nothing.

The event to which I refer is the death sentence the federal government delivered last week to the hopes, dreams and collective vision of hundreds of thousands of Edmontonians and Albertans when it announced that it had decided not to back Edmonton's bid for the 2017 Expo, a bid which might have brought that prestigious event to our country during our one-hundred-and-fiftieth national birthday celebrations.

In order that honourable senators fully understand what has led to the emotional outpouring in my city, allow me to provide a little background against which one can measure the cynicism of the government's decision.

From its very beginnings in 1795, Edmonton has been one city in which vision, self-confidence, a strong sense of community and plenty of plain old hard work came together and paid off. Our entire history has been one of that community, vision and hard work.

Visionaries in Edmonton saw the enormous strength that our city has in volunteerism and channelled it into securing major national, continental and global events for Edmonton, events that demonstrate our self-confidence and established our competence on a much larger stage. Through the work of these visionaries, we have hosted the British Commonwealth Games, World University Games, the World Championships in Athletics, the World Masters Games and many more sports and other kinds of events and other life pursuits. Each time, honourable senators, we were left with no debt, and each time we were left with a substantial legacy.

A little more than two years ago, it was such a group of community visionaries that came together in Edmonton and committed to go after yet another global event, Expo 2017, They chose a theme that is particularly suited to Alberta, namely "Energy in Our Time." Where else would such a theme make so much sense?

The bid committee envisioned the construction of nearly $1 billion worth of national and corporate pavilions, buildings that would be converted to university use as only one aspect of the fair's legacy. The academic, scientific and industrial dialogues that would have occurred would have lasted for decades. It would have set new standards for environmental sustainability. A $100 million dollar legacy fund would have provided theme-related educational programs and scholarships at universities all over the world for many years to come.

It would have provided a global focus for the beginning of a decade-long global conversation about what Senator Segal has just spoken to us about, the environmental sustainability of our massive oil sands deposits — an industry that benefits all of Canada and whose production results in huge royalties paid directly to the Government of Canada.

All told, the bid organizing committee projected it would be staged for $2.3 billion in 2017 accelerated dollars. The committee looked first to the Province of Alberta and then to the Government of Canada for help in that funding. Edmonton became the Canadian bid city. We were it. The province's premier needed no convincing. He saw the benefits to Albertans of the event and of its theme. The province made a financial commitment that would make it the largest contributor to the funding of the fair, which left the Government of Canada's participation as the next and most critical building block in the march towards a successful bid.

Earlier, the committee had been thrilled, when in April of 2009 the federal Heritage Minister wrote a letter urging competitive bids for Expo 2017. The letter stated that "to meet the deadline (of spring, 2011) and take advantage of upcoming opportunities to promote Canada's candidacy, the process to select a city as Canada's candidate must begin now."

It also stated the following:

International expositions play an important role in providing a forum for intercultural encounters. They are also a wonderful venue to showcase our country's rich heritage, cultural and natural diversity and our achievements to the world.

Mr. Moore's letter acknowledged that 2017 was Canada's one-hundred-and-fiftieth birthday and connected that fact with a pitch to the value of our country of hosting an Expo. The minister could not have delivered a clearer challenge, a clearer message: "Go head," he said. "Think big. Create a good bid, and Canada will back you."

Well, as I described, Edmonton did put together a bid. It contacted the federal government and, all through that early process, every time that members of the bid organizing committee met with federal and provincial government officials, they got positive response and further encouragement. Every indication said that it was clear sailing.

However, when dollars and bottom lines became apparent to each of the governments, we got two different reactions.

From the province — a province that, by the way, was facing its own unexpected multi-billion dollar deficit problems — we got a big thumbs-up. Premier Stelmach and his government still believed in the future, and he knew that his financial position would be better in eight years than it was in 2009.

From the federal government, it is hard to say what we got. What we did not get was any kind of normal response, because all we got essentially was silence. No one on the federal side said, "Wait a minute. You want a bunch of money from us, but we cannot afford that much." No one asked questions. No one suggested taking a second hard look. No one said, "Let us look at our options together and see if we can figure out another way." I am told that from the very day that Expo's business plan landed in Ottawa, no one from the federal government, at any level, discussed or debated the bid committee's proposed contribution breakdown.

No one said it was wrong. No one said it was inflated. No one said it was unreasonable, so the bid committee continued its work. They continued spending its money, resources and the time of all the volunteers, because no one at the federal level ever said, "Hold on. We have a problem here." Until last week, that is, and even then what we got was not a discussion. What we got was an axe.

Honourable senators, the Expo bid organizing committee's business plan called for a meaningful contribution from the feds, but let us be absolutely clear about when the federal contribution was to be made. It was back-loaded. In the next few years, it was very small. It would increase a little towards 2014 and 2015, but by far, the majority of the federal contribution was needed after 2015, the year when the Prime Minister tells us we will have achieved elimination of the deficit. By the way, the years with the largest federal contributions would have come after its commitment to the 2015 Toronto Pan Am games, so the cash flow would not be a problem.

As an aside, I must point out that the government came up easily with $500 million to cover a commitment to the three-week long Pan Am Games, despite the fact that most of that money will have to be spent before the government's 2015 zero-deficit deadline.

Maybe the government is now telling us that they will not be able to wrestle the deficit down by 2015.

It is painfully clear that the fiscal capability issue raised by the Heritage Minister and the Edmonton regional minister is blown to smithereens by plain, simple obvious facts. The deficit argument, "we can't afford it," for leaving Edmonton high and dry is simply a political ruse, a smokescreen, a slick talking-point diversion designed for 10-second media clips.

The Heritage Minister and his echo, Minister Ambrose, said they fear that extra security costs caused by even a low-threat security event during Expo 2017 could send federal costs towards the billion-dollar mark — 100 times more than the budget agreed to by all the players. Last week, I said it was 1,000 times more. I was wrong. Arithmetic is not my strong suit. It is only 100 times more. My apologies. It is 100 times more than the budget agreed to by all the players — federal, provincial and municipal.

(1610)

Expo is hardly a G20 summit. Anyone in the security business knows that Expos are on a much lower threat level than a G20 summit. This Expo would have been held on a single site, located in what is probably Canada's most securable piece of relatively central urban land, surrounded on all sides by wide fields and by a ravine, unlike the Pan Am Games, which will be held at venues scattered all through Toronto and are expected to cost the federal government close to $1 billion for security. Edmonton's cost would have been minimal.

In fact, a little less than three weeks ago, as I mentioned to honourable senators last week in my question to the government leader — and, this was before the Heritage Minister threw up this brick wall — bid organizing officials organized a two-day local, provincial and federal police and security agencies meeting, all of whom would have had responsibility for security at the event. Those experts, municipal, provincial and federal, walked through the site and they flew over the site in a helicopter. All agreed, in the end, that the $91 million in escalated 2017 dollars that had been budgeted for security was realistic.

Honourable senators, the federal government was being asked to support only $11 million — $10.9 million, to be exact — of that security budget as part of its overall commitment. That is a touch over 10 per cent of the overall security budget, or 0.6 per cent of Expo 2017's total cost. That is a long way from the $1 billion bogeyman budget that the Minister of Heritage and Ms. Ambrose were throwing in the media's face when the government turfed Edmonton's bid. The second major argument for not supporting Edmonton's bid was also a flack screen — a reason that exposes a political arrogance of colossal proportions.

Honourable senators, the Prime Minister began his long political ride to 24 Sussex Drive by echoing the clarion call that Alberta and the West want in. He and many other Albertans repeated over and over that, through the decades, Alberta had paid into Confederation many billions of dollars more than they had received back from federal government, and that is true. What goes around comes around, though, because when in past times Alberta needed help, it sometimes came from other parts of Canada. However, in more recent times, Alberta has more than paid that back and in spades. These days, Alberta is, in many respects, keeping Canada afloat.

Alberta has also been extremely loyal in continually sending MPs to Ottawa who support this Prime Minister and who supported his predecessors from both sides of the present Conservative coalition. However, the Prime Minister said in a newspaper interview that those elected MPs, the Conservative caucus, were clear in their view that not funding Edmonton's bid was the right move — so much for having a seat at the table. The government encouraged the city to bid. They reacted positively, giving the bid organizing committee every reason to anticipate some help. Right down to the wire, they led the city on.

Honourable senators, there are ways in which governments deal with each other; ways in which a government can appropriately signal its concern over budgets and security costs. There are ways in which and times at which a government can say "No," or "Yes, but not that much." However, not a hint of those ways, not a single signal or budgetary or security concern was expressed or given to the bid organizing committee. There were no negotiations, no discussions, nothing.

An Hon. Senator: Shame.

Senator Banks: Honourable senators, I have been wracking my brain trying to make logical sense and political sense of the government's decision and the way in which it delivered its decision.

Logically, as I have, I hope, convinced you, the denial does not make any sense. The budget deficit argument is phoney. The real meat and potatoes of the federal contribution would not start until after the government wrestles the deficit to zero. The province was kicking in significantly more than the feds were being asked for, and Edmonton has an unbroken, unsullied, pristine record of delivering these kinds of events on time, on budget and leaving a legacy behind — not debt, legacy.

Honourable senators, the security argument is also a smokescreen. The site is uncommonly securable. All the experts say that the security can be done for $91 million 2017 dollars, of which the government was asked for $10.9 million. The Conservative government seems to have found no problem providing a far more expensive G20-type of security for the Pan Am Games, which we want. It is not a mug's game. I am not playing that mug's game argument of odious comparisons. I am simply pointing out that the security landscape for an international multi-venued, multi-sited athletic competition is a big apple, and an Expo 2017 level fair is a little orange. Logic does not point to the government's motivation. The answer, therefore, must lie in politics. The government must be politically misguided.

Senator Moore: It must be. Is that possible?

Senator Banks: Sometimes it is. Sometimes it lacks the warmer human qualities, I guess.

An Hon. Senator: Humour, too.

Senator Banks: They have humour sometimes, but "human" I am not sure.

The only sense that I can make out of the government's decision is that the Prime Minister is yet again playing wedge politics. With even the slimmest political majority in his sights, the Prime Minister has shown many times over that he is willing to fly in the face of fact, science, logic and even, sometimes, of widespread condemnation and ridicule to show a narrow band of right-wing, single-issue guys that he is their guy. Now he has done it again. The only political logic I can see in the government's decision is that the Prime Minister is hoping that those bunch of hard right, government hating, tax hating, kill the deficit come hell or high water voters will throw their next vote to him.

The betrayal that Edmontonians and Alberta has experienced from their Prime Minister, from their regional minister, from most of their MPs, I guess, and from rest of the federal government is the very same kind of betrayal that the former Reform Party and its successor were initially dedicated to eradicate, except this time, honourable senators, the betrayal is not the betrayal of the West by the minions of the Central Canadian Golden Triangle; this time it is the betrayal of the West by their own. That is, by the Prime Minister, by the Minister of Canadian Heritage, by the regional political minister — Westerners all. In betraying Edmonton's bid, northern Alberta's bid, Canada's bid for Expo, he was laying odds that he could win more support for his decision elsewhere in Canada than he would lose in Alberta. That is how wedges work, senators. Here a wedge, there a wedge, everywhere a wedge-wedge. Pretty soon, all those little wedges are supposed to add up to just enough support to get you over the top. The only problem with wedge politics is that people get hurt.

Honourable senators, may I have one minute?

Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Senator Moore: Take all day; this is really good. Keep going.

Senator Banks: In this case, however, the people who got hurt were those who had been very loyal to the people who did the hurting.

I cannot help but point out that under the previous government, honourable senators, the Edmonton minister, Anne McLellan, showed what it actually meant to have a seat at the table. Some current Alberta members of the House of Commons with seats at the table may have worked hard to support the Edmonton bid, but the result speaks for itself. In Anne McLellan's day, the support of Edmontonians was not taken for granted. She did not always say yes, but she knew when and how to say no. There are ways to say no. There are times to say no. There are times during a process to say, "Stop. Wait a minute. We have to talk about this." Senators, the way this was done was not the time and this was not the way.

(On motion of Senator Tardif, debate adjourned.)

[Translation]

Official Languages

Committee Authorized to Extend Date of Final Report on Study of Application of Official Languages Act and Relevant Regulations, Directives and Reports

Hon. Maria Chaput, pursuant to notice of November 30, 2010, moved:

That, notwithstanding the Order of the Senate adopted on Wednesday, March 24, 2010, the Standing Senate Committee on Official Languages, which was authorized to study the application of the Official Languages Act and of the regulations and directives made under it, be empowered to extend the date of presenting its final report from December 31, 2010 to March 31, 2011; and

That the Committee retain until June 30, 2011 all powers necessary to publicize its findings.

She said: Honourable senators, I would like to explain why the committee is seeking permission to extend the date for tabling its final report.

The Standing Senate Committee on Official Languages has decided to study anglophone communities in Quebec and their particular strengths and challenges. In the interest of time, your committee went to meet with communities at the beginning of September, during the week before the Senate resumed.

That is a first. This study of the anglophone community in Quebec — an official language minority community, do not forget — sparked a lot of interest and raised many expectations.

(1620)

When the work of the Senate resumed in September, the committee wanted to meet with representatives of all the anglophone groups and associations in Quebec that had asked to appear before our committee. We had to allow a little more time than planned to hear the witnesses. We still need to hear from two groups of witnesses, as well as a minister and the President of the Treasury Board. All the work will be concluded before the holidays.

The report outline was approved by the Subcommittee on Agenda and Procedure, and when we return after the Christmas break, we will focus on the drafting the report. We hope to table the report by the end of February at the latest.

That is why I am seeking permission to extend the deadline for tabling the report.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Motion agreed to.)

[English]

Social Affairs, Science and Technology

Committee Authorized to Extend Date of Final Report on Study of Accessibility of Post-Secondary Education

Hon. Art Eggleton, pursuant to notice of November 30, 2010, moved:

That notwithstanding the order of the Senate adopted on March 18, 2010, the date for the presentation of the final report by the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology on access to post-secondary education in Canada be extended from December 31, 2010 to March 31, 2011 and that the date until which the committee retains powers to allow it to publicize its findings be extended from June 30, 2011 to September 30, 2011.

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

Some Hon. Senators: Question.

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

(Motion agreed to.)

[Translation]

Adjournment

Leave having been given to revert to 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, December 7, 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, December 7, 2010, at 2 p.m.)