Hon. Ethel Cochrane: Honourable senators, I am thrilled to say that I
come from a province that is led today by a strong and capable female premier,
the Honourable Kathy Dunderdale.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.
Senator Cochrane: As a matter of fact, we are unique in that all three
political parties in Newfoundland and Labrador are led by women. As honourable
senators are all well aware, it is an exciting and prosperous time for us.
Under the dynamic leadership of Danny Williams, the province has earned a new
place in the Canadian federation and in the consciousness of all Canadians.
Newfoundland and Labrador is a strong contributor, equal partner and commanding
voice on the national scene. The rest of the country now sees us as we have
always seen ourselves, and of this we are rightfully proud.
As premier, Danny Williams served Newfoundland and Labrador with a strength
and passion that inspired us all. He never backed away from a fight or bowed to
pressure, either from governments or from big business. In every sense of the
word, he is a politician with integrity. As we say on the island, he is a rare
Make no mistake about it: Danny Williams' achievements in political life are
many. While much attention has focused on his work in relation to the Lower
Churchill Project and the oil and gas industry, I also want to point out
another, perhaps less obvious achievement: the Poverty Reduction Strategy.
Created with a goal of making Newfoundland and Labrador the province with the
lowest poverty rates in Canada by 2014, the results since 2003 have been
dramatic. For example, the incidence of low income decreased from 63,000 persons
in 2003 to 33,000 in 2007. That remarkable result was achieved in only four
Over the same time, the depth of poverty decreased by $600 and is now the
lowest in the country. Today, Newfoundland and Labrador has the third lowest
level per capita in the country of persons living with low incomes. This
progress is incredible.
Throughout his political career, Danny Williams remained a man of the people.
He leaves the province well positioned and poised for even greater success. When
announcing his departure, he said, "We have come this far together and the best
is yet to come."
Honourable senators, I could not agree more. I thank Danny Williams for his
outstanding contribution to the lives of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, and I
ask honourable senators to join with me in congratulating Premier Kathy
Dunderdale as she begins her historic post as the province's first female
Hon. Lucie Pépin: Honourable senators, 21 years ago, 14 women were
killed at École Polytechnique in Montreal. On Monday, we remembered these young
students who were killed simply because they were women. Over time, December 6
has become a day for us to speak out in unison against violence against women.
Every day, Canadian women are victims of psychological, physical and sexual
violence. Very often, this violence is perpetrated by someone they know. Seniors
are twice as likely to be abused by a family member, as well. The rate of
spousal homicide among Aboriginal women is still much too high. Hundreds of
Aboriginal women and girls have disappeared and the authorities are indifferent.
This double standard is disturbing in a fair and egalitarian society like ours.
Immigrants are another category of women who are vulnerable to domestic violence
because of their economic dependence, language barriers and limited access to
Any type of violence has devastating physical, emotional and psychological
consequences. Many victims will never fully recover, not to mention the children
who grow up in that kind of environment.
These days, we are certainly more aware of violence against women. However,
there is still work to be done to ensure that our sisters and our daughters are
no longer persecuted or threatened because of their gender.
Acts of violence should not be tolerated or excused. When we work together,
we can effectively combat all forms of violence in our society. Let us not
Hon. Nancy Ruth: I stand today to tell honourable senators that the
United Nations has decided that it is okay to kill gays. The United Nations
General Assembly, at the Third Committee on November 16, decided to remove a
reference to sexual orientation from a resolution on extrajudicial arbitrary and
summary executions. For 11 years, the resolution has included sexual orientation
as one of the discriminatory reasons that killings have been committed and that
warranted investigation. Other groups identified at risk include persons
belonging to ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities.
However, an amendment jointly proposed by the African Group, the Arab Group
and the Organization of the Islamic Conference to remove a reference to sexual
orientation was adopted. The amendment means that the resolution no longer urges
states to protect against, and investigate, gay killings.
All extrajudicial, arbitrary and summary executions must be condemned, no
matter what their basis. However, certain groups are especially vulnerable, and
the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, LGBT, community is particularly at
Therefore, if honourable senators are travelling south in January to Cuba,
Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, Barbados,
Colombia, Trinidad and Tobago, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, they should
remember that those countries voted against, or abstained from, protecting gays,
and they will let gays be killed. If honourable senators want to change their
travel plans, they should head for Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic or Mexico.
Hon. Claudette Tardif (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable
senators, in 2008, when Nortel officials announced that the company had sought
bankruptcy protection, to say the world was shocked is an understatement. With
this announcement came a cloud of uncertainty that hovered over both the
country's economy and its politics. As more and more information became
available, it soon became clear to the entire country that stories about the
Nortel bankruptcy would continue to dominate news headlines.
However, no news story can dominate without some form of a human face. In the
case of Nortel, stories were centred on the numerous worries and concerns of the
thousands of Nortel employees across the country.
As honourable senators may know, Nortel workers were divided into four main
pension groups. Of these groups, three were unionized and one was not. While the
union sprang into action organizing various lobby teams and starting to plan
protests, those without a union umbrella wondered where to begin.
In a time of crisis, human instinct often has us turn to others for help,
whether it be one's family, friends or neighbours. In the case of Nortel, this
person was the Canadian government. Amongst all Nortel's employees, there was a
general belief that there was no way the government would let their pensions
fail. Surely, they said, the politicians would realize the implications and the
hardships these individuals would face if the pension fund collapsed. In
lunchrooms and coffee shops across the country, they hoped, all anxiously
awaiting news on the fate of their pensions — their livelihoods.
For months, Nortel's call for help remained unanswered, until word reached
the Congress of Union Retirees of Canada. "We will help," they said. "Please
tell us what you need."
Within a matter of months, they, along with Nortel's retirees executive
board, had organized three rallies: one on Parliament Hill and two in front of
Queen's Park. Buses were hired, speakers were found and a tiny ray of hope was
offered to all Nortel pensioners, union or non-union. To those caught in the
middle, knowing they had the support of the Congress of Union Retirees of Canada
was a comfort beyond words.
Nortel collapsed in 2009. To date, their pension fund is the largest pension
fund to have failed. Honourable senators, we have heard the stories of those who
are most at risk, notably those who are dependent on long-term disability
payments, which are finished as of December 31, 2010.
As senators, we have a responsibility towards our fellow Canadians in need.
Time is of the essence. Only 23 days remain for those dependent on long-term
disability benefits. The government has a responsibility to act.
Hon. Judith Seidman: Honourable senators, on Monday, we marked the
twenty-first anniversary of the École Polytechnique massacre in Montreal, during
which 14 young women were shot and killed because they were women.
Unfortunately, incidents like those are not uncommon around the world.
Statistics show that women and girls are more often the victims of violence and
assault. In Canada alone, close to 200 women or girls are killed annually in
acts of gender-based violence. Victims of sexual assault are almost six times
more likely to be female.
From November 25 until December 10, we are marking the 16 Days of Activism on
Violence Against Women.
Honourable senators, I hope that you noticed how, on Monday, all flags on
Parliament Hill were at half mast to mark the National Day of Remembrance and
Action on Violence Against Women. We must never forget the many women who have
been victims of violence or murder.
We also heard recently about the murder of a Toronto man by a crossbow. A son
killed his own father due to years of physical and emotional abuse suffered by
both him and his mother. Nora Fang, the abused mother, had a restraining order
against her husband. This was not enough to keep her safe.
What transpired between the father and the son was a tragic result of
violence against a woman — a mother.
This is only one recent example of violence against women in our society.
More than 100,000 women and children are admitted to Canada's shelters for
abused women across this country per year. There is a need for more public
awareness, vigilance, education and support for the victims.
Ending violence against women is one of our government's priorities.
Since 2007, we have approved over $30 million in Status of Women funding for
projects to end violence against women and girls. As a result, many community
projects are under way to help the women and girls who desperately need it.
We have also launched a citizenship guide through Minister Jason Kenney's
initiative to highlight Canadian principles of equal and fair treatment of women
Honourable senators, by working together on such projects, we hope to put an
end to all forms of violence against women and girls in Canada.
Hon. Terry M. Mercer: Honourable senators, on Monday, December 6, we
remembered a solemn day in Nova Scotia's history, for it was on that day in 1917
when the Halifax Explosion ripped through neighbouring communities, killing
2,000 people and wounding over 9,000. Everything within a two-kilometre radius
was destroyed, including the neighbourhood where I grew up many years later. A
tsunami with over 60-foot waves pounded at the shoreline.
A French cargo ship, the SS Mont-Blanc, was fully loaded with
explosives and collided with the SS Imo, a Norwegian ship, in Halifax
Harbour. To this day, the explosion is still the world's largest man-made
It was close to Christmas, and winter had arrived, so the population was
stocked up with fuel for heat and light. As a result of this fuel, the explosion
caused major fires throughout the city, most notably in the North End, where I
Entire streets were on fire and entire communities destroyed. What made the
disaster even worse was that a blizzard arrived the next day. At the school,
which I attended many years later, the gymnasium was turned into a morgue for
the bodies of the dead.
Honourable senators, during such disasters we often hear about acts of
heroism. We cannot forget the brave sacrifices made by the firemen, many of whom
lost their lives, and the hard work of the boatmen who helped in the harbour.
We also remember Vince Coleman, the railway dispatcher, whose telegraph
message stopped all incoming trains from arriving in the city, saving hundreds
of lives, even at the cost of his own life.
We cannot forget the work of the doctors, nurses and other aid workers who
worked as best they could to help save lives and care for the injured. Help came
from all over Eastern Canada, including Montreal. Even the City of Boston sent
workers to help, who arrived on a train the day after the explosion. They were
also the last to leave.
In 1918, Halifax sent a Christmas tree to the City of Boston to thank the
many doctors, nurses and volunteers who came to Halifax to help in the relief
efforts. This tradition was restarted in 1971. Since then, a Christmas tree has
been donated every year to the City of Boston. This year, a nearly 50-foot white
spruce was donated by Gary and Roseann Misner from North Alton, King's County,
Nova Scotia, and was lit in the Boston Common on December 2.
Honourable senators, especially during the Christmas season, we should
remember the sacrifices of all those who helped in the aftermath of the Halifax
We should all aspire to sacrifice of ourselves to help others, for is that
not truly the meaning of Christmas?
Hon. Terry Stratton: Honourable senators, pursuant to rule 104, I have
the honour to table, in both official languages, the first report of the
Standing Committee on Conflict of Interest for Senators, which deals with the
expenses incurred by the committee during the Second Session of the Fortieth
Parliament and the Intersessional Authority.
(For text of report, see today's Journals of the Senate, p. 1063.)
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, I give notice that, at the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:
That following the completion of the Orders of the Day, Inquiries and
Motions on Thursday, December 9, 2010, the sitting be suspended, if either
the Leader or Deputy Leader of the Government so request, to resume at the
call of the chair with a fifteen minute bell; and
That, when the sitting resumes, it be either for the purpose of
adjournment or to receive messages from the House of Commons.
Hon. Jane Cordy: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in
both official languages, the report of the Canadian parliamentary delegation of
the Canadian NATO Parliamentary Association to the Visit of the Committee on
Civil Dimension of Security to the Observer Programme of Exercise `Armenia
2010', held in Yerevan, Armenia, from September 16 to 17, 2010.
Hon. Jane Cordy: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in
both official languages, the report of the Canadian parliamentary delegation of
the Canadian NATO Parliamentary Association to the Visit of the Sub-committee on
East-West Economic Co-operation and Convergence, held in Prague, Czech Republic,
from September 29 to October 1, 2010.
Hon. Sharon Carstairs: Honourable senators, pursuant to rule 58(1)(i),
I give notice that, one day hence, I will move:
Whereas the Senate of Canada recognizes that brain conditions, including
developmental, neurological and psychiatric diseases, disorders, conditions
and injuries, are a priority health, social and economic issue threatening
the well-being and productivity of Canadians;
Whereas 5.5 million Canadians are living with a neurological disease,
disorder, or injury and an estimated one in three Canadians will be affected
by a neurological or psychiatric disease, disorder or injury at some point
in their life;
Whereas the federal government has a leadership and coordination role
with regards to health care in Canada; and
Whereas a targeted, coordinated National Brain Strategy developed in
collaboration with government, non-profit and private sector stakeholders
and focusing on innovative approaches to address research, prevention,
integrated care and support, caregiver support, income security, genetic
discrimination and public education and awareness would minimize the impact
of brain conditions in Canada;
Be it resolved that the Senate of Canada urge the Government to provide
funding for the development of a National Brain Strategy for Canada;
And that a message be sent to the House of Commons requesting that House
to unite with the Senate for the above purpose.
Hon. Terry Stratton: Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the
next sitting of the Senate, I will move:
That the papers and documents received and/or produced by the Committee
on Conflict of Interest for Senators during the Second Session of the
Fortieth Parliament, and Intersessional Authority be referred to the
Committee on Conflict of Interest for Senators.
Hon. Terry Stratton: Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the
next sitting of the Senate, I will move:
That, for the duration of the current session, the Standing Committee on
Conflict of Interest for Senators be authorized to sit even though the
Senate may then be sitting and that rule 95(4) be suspended in relation
Hon. Art Eggleton: Honourable senators, my question is to the Leader
of the Government in the Senate.
I have a letter from Helen Ma of Calgary, Alberta.
To All the Senators
Do you have parents who are elderly, in retirement and receiving
What do you think would happen to them, if they were being cut-off from
those payments? How do you think they would eat, pay their medical bills
from aging illnesses and cover utilities to warm and light their home? You
would see the hardship that they would be thrust into. Being that they are
your family, you would do what you could to help them.
I am a Nortel disabled employee who is essentially losing her pension!
It is a direct relation, because I am too young to retire and I am unable
to work because of my illness. I need to worry about all those same things
that your aging parents would have to worry about, except with the important
addition of my children to feed, keep healthy and warm and, most important,
to continue to trust in me as a parent to keep them safe.
I am not asking for the world. I am merely asking for your compassion to
help me keep my family from living in poverty and possibly on the streets.
Please look deep into your hearts and see us as family, your fellow
Bill S-216 would only mean a little less profit for creditors but would
mean life or death for us, the LTDers.
You have the power to determine our destiny.
How does the government respond to Helen Ma?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators,
obviously, with respect to the situation Senator Eggleton has described in that
letter, I am certain that all senators, myself included, would be doing
everything we could to help our family members. However, honourable senators,
one thing I would not do is hold out false hope that a piece of legislation I
brought in would in any way change the situation for these unfortunate victims
of the situation at Nortel.
All senators sympathize with these unfortunate people; however, witnesses
before our committees have told us that the bill will not help Nortel long-term
disability recipients and instead will lead to endless litigation to the
detriment of all involved. This situation is the result of a court-approved
agreement between the parties enacted under the legislation in effect at the
time, and yesterday my colleague Senator Greene in his excellent remarks here in
the Senate succinctly put the facts on the record.
Those are the facts. It does not lessen our concern for these individuals.
However, for the honourable senator and for anyone else to suggest to Nortel
pensioners that his bill would in any way help their situation is, as he knows,
quite wrong and does a great disservice to these people.
Senator Comeau: No conscience.
Senator Tkachuk: You are the ones exploiting them, not us.
Senator LeBreton: As Senator Greene pointed out yesterday, this is a
shameless act. These people are in a very difficult position. Obviously, we all
understand and sympathize with their dilemma. The honourable senator is wrong to
suggest that his bill would change their situation. Furthermore, the Ontario
government is the primary government responsible for pensions of this type.
This is not something from which any of us gets any joy. All senators receive
these letters and I am as upset by them as anyone else. However, I would not do
what Senator Eggleton is doing and have these people believe that the actions of
this place can change their situation in any way, because Senator Eggleton knows
that is not the case.
Senator Eggleton: The leader still has not answered the question on
what the government would do, but I will say that she is absolutely wrong. False
hopes? That is ridiculous.
Honourable senators, this bill was drafted after consultation with experts in
the field of corporate business law, commercial law and bankruptcy law. The
leader talks about the provincial government. This is an amendment to the
Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act and the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act,
which are federal laws.
The only witnesses who indicated opposition to this were the ones
representing the self-interests of the Canadian Banking Association. Do you
expect them to get up and say we want more regulation? Did they justify their
opposition? No, they did not. The expert witnesses who appeared before committee
said that this bill could do the job. The leader does not respond to the facts;
she and her colleagues give political spin. That is all.
Let me bring it closer to the floor since she will ignore Helen Ma of
Calgary. Let me talk about six senators who sit on the other side with the
leader. In the Banking Committee on November 25, after they put forward that
terrible report we will vote on later today, those honourable senators very
quickly said that they wanted to have a letter sent to the Honourable Tony
Clement because they wanted to go on record as saying that something should be
done for these people.
The letter said:
. . . all members of the Committee are urging you to develop and
implement a solution to rectify what some believe is a grave injustice. Time
is of the essence, and we look forward to hearing from you about a solution
that will ensure revenue for them beyond the end of December 2010.
That letter was sent based on a resolution put forward by Senator Greene,
supported by Senator Dickson, Senator Kochhar, Senator Mockler, Senator Plett
and Senator Ataullahjan. Those six Conservative senators said, yes, let us write
to Minister Clement because something needs to be done for these people. What
does the leader say to them?
Senator LeBreton: I will say what I said yesterday, what I have said
in this place and what my colleagues have said. The situation that former
employees of Nortel are facing is very serious. We know that.
Senator Eggleton: You are doing nothing about it.
Senator Tkachuk: How do you know?
Senator LeBreton: We also said that this is an issue of great concern
to the government, and that is why —
Senator Eggleton: When?
Senator Tkachuk: When we were ready. No false hopes.
Senator LeBreton: — we made a commitment in the Speech from the Throne
to better protect workers when their employer goes bankrupt. That is why we are
currently looking at ways to better protect employees on long-term disability in
the event of bankruptcy.
An Hon. Senator: How?
Senator LeBreton: I am sorry if honourable senators opposite think we
are not doing this, because we are, in fact, doing this.
Senator Tkachuk: You were on the Banking Committee. You did not do it.
Senator LeBreton: My colleagues signed the letter; that is exactly
what the government is trying to do.
An Hon. Senator: Bully us.
Senator LeBreton: Oh, bullying us, he says.
An Hon. Senator: You should take this seriously.
Senator Eggleton: Honourable senators, what the leader just said has
some consistency as to what was done in 2007 with the Wage Earner Protection
Program Act. In that act, the government moved wages up into a super-priority
category. Why can the government not do something for these people?
The leader says she is looking at it. This bill was presented on March 25. I
saw Minister Clement at around that time, and he said his department would work
on it. Here we are towards the end of the year, when time is running out for
these people, when the current court arrangement will go into effect at the end
of the year and these people will be cut off. Why is something not done in a
timely fashion to be able to deal with these sick and disabled people?
Senator Harb: Show some compassion.
Senator LeBreton: I thank the honourable senator for that question. My
colleague Senator Greene yesterday put the situation on the record. I urge
honourable senators to read his speech, particularly on page 1531 where he
discusses "retroactive" and "retrospective" law.
Honourable senators, no one who knows these individuals who are affected by
the bankruptcy of Nortel gets any joy out of this. As I pointed out yesterday, I
do not recall anyone from the previous government stepping in and doing anything
for these individuals who were affected by the bankruptcy of Nortel when all of
this was happening.
Senator Tkachuk: You did not get it done.
Senator Mercer: After six years, are you not responsible for
something? Shame on you. Shame on you.
Senator LeBreton: Actually, Senator Mercer, yelling at the top of your
lungs will not help these individuals.
Senator Mercer: That was not the top of my lungs. Stick around.
Senator LeBreton: We have something to look forward to, do we?
Senator Mercer: Do not challenge me.
Senator LeBreton: The government, in a commitment in the Speech from
the Throne in this very chamber, acknowledged the seriousness of this situation,
and we are seeking solutions —
Senator Harb: You are doing nothing.
Senator Tkachuk: How do you know?
Senator LeBreton: — to assist those individuals who happened to work
for a company that goes bankrupt who are on long-term disability.
Hon. Marie-P. Poulin: Honourable senators, my question is to the
Leader of the Government in the Senate. On November 23, the Parliamentary
Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage raised the spectre of the
government killing off our public broadcaster, CBC/Radio-Canada. At a meeting of
the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage in the other place, he publicly
suggested that the parliamentary allocation to CBC/Radio-Canada should be
diverted instead into production of content only.
Will the Leader of the Government in the Senate assure Canadians that the
government has no intention of getting out of the public broadcasting business
and that it fully supports public broadcasting?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): The honourable
senator would know this better than I because she was with the CBC. The CBC is
receiving $1.1 billion of taxpayers' money this year, the highest amount of
funding ever given to the CBC.
Senator Harb: Money well spent.
Senator Tkachuk: There you go — action, not words.
Senator LeBreton: We look forward to working with the CBC in carrying
out its mandate. The honourable senator may not want to acknowledge this because
of her connections with the CBC, but it was her government that cut $414 million
from the CBC.
Senator Comeau: Shame. From your friends.
Senator Poulin: I have a supplementary question. This year, the CBC is
celebrating the seventy-fifth anniversary of its official founding under the
Canadian Broadcasting Act. A pall has been cast over this occasion — the spectre
of getting out of public broadcasting. Is this what Canadians can look forward
Honourable senators, I agree that with the investment of $1.1 billion in the
unique — and I do repeat, madam leader — the unique link that connects Canadians
from coast to coast to coast through its radio networks, its television
networks, its Internet services in both official languages, eight Aboriginal
languages and closed captioning for people who are deaf and hard of hearing. We
have always agreed that this was an essential service to Canadians across the
Is the intention of the government to support the public broadcaster or not?
Senator LeBreton: Today would have been a good time for television to
be in the Senate, because that question would have been the perfect
advertisement for the CBC.
Senator Tkachuk: Exactly.
Senator LeBreton: In any event, as I have said to Senator Poulin
before, CBC received $1.1 billion of taxpayers' money this year. Senator Poulin
talked about the importance of the CBC and the links from coast to coast to
coast, as she said, so I will ask her, if it were the other way around, why then
did her government cut $414 million from the CBC?
Senator Tkachuk: Exactly. She was probably on the board then. Was she
on the board then?
Senator Poulin: We are looking and moving forward. Our world is
becoming more complex, and I ask the leader, simply and directly, a clear
question: Will the government support the public broadcaster in its mandate?
Senator Mercer: Yes or no?
Senator LeBreton: I think $1.1 billion is a good indication of the
Senator Tkachuk: It is more than her government ever gave. They had 13
Hon. Lucie Pépin: Honourable senators, Canadian Forces Ombudsman
Pierre Daigle says that he is frustrated with the manner in which the Canadian
Forces treat the families of fallen soldiers. Since 2005, he has been deploring
the fact that grieving families do not receive enough support and information.
The Department of National Defence has been informed of this several times,
but the problem has yet to be resolved. Could the leader tell us why the
families of fallen soldiers have to wait for years to find out more about the
death of their loved ones? Do they really have to fight to get this information?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): I thank the
honourable senator for that serious question. It deserves a serious answer. Of
course we are well aware of the ombudsman's report about the deaths of these
Canadian soldiers, going back to 2003, now almost eight years ago.
The ombudsman gave his report, and Minister MacKay indicated that the
government will do everything possible to provide Canadian Forces families with
the support and information they need with regard to the death of their loved
Minister MacKay designated an official, Colonel Blais, who was put on each
and every file specifically. Colonel Blais contacted and spoke to each of the
families that had raised concerns.
Senator Pépin: Honourable senators, I would like to accept the
leader's response, but these families deserve concrete action. The ombudsman
proposed that families sit on the boards of inquiry into the death of soldiers.
He even suggested a national policy to support the families of fallen soldiers.
These concrete actions would cost absolutely nothing. Why, then is the
government taking so long to review the recommendations for helping military
families better understand and accept the death of their loved ones?
Senator LeBreton: Minister MacKay responded directly to the ombudsman
on December 2. I do not have full details of what was in the letter, but
Minister MacKay indicated that he has directed officials of the Department of
National Defence to ensure that all outstanding matters pertaining to the issues
of these families be resolved as quickly as possible.
With regard to the specific recommendation about families sitting on the
oversight boards, I will be happy, honourable senators, to take that question as
notice and seek further information from the Department of National Defence and
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I draw your attention to
the presence in the gallery of members of the Saudi-Canadian Parliamentary
Friendship Committee of the Majlis Ash Shura (Consultative Council) of the
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Numbering in the membership is Dr. Tarek Ali Hasan Fadaak, Chief of the
Delegation; Dr. Abdullah A.H. Al Abdulkader, who is also Chair of the Committee
on Financial Affairs; Dr. Abdullah Y. Bokhari; engineer Mohammed H.A. Al Nagadi;
and Dr. Mazen Fuad M. Al Khayatt.
They are accompanied by the distinguished Ambassador of Saudi Arabia. As you
can see, honourable senators, our distinguished visitors have braved the
Canadian winter to come here from their warm climate.
My colleagues and I wish to extend to our distinguished colleagues from Saudi
Arabia a warm welcome. On behalf of all senators, I welcome you to the Senate of
Hon. Wilfred P. Moore: Honourable senators, my question is for the
Leader of the Government in the Senate. According to the documents in the
Pentagon, the United States Department of Defence estimates that the Canadian
share of industrial spin offs from the F-35 fighter jet purchase to be about
$3.9 billion. Meanwhile, the Conservative government maintains that $12 billion
will be awarded to Canada. Can the leader account for this discrepancy?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): I think, honourable
senators, the $12 billion figure was given as evidence before a committee in the
other place, and it was the industry talking about the direct benefits to Canada
and what it would mean not only for the aircraft that we are purchasing, but,
because we are in on the ground level. Thanks to the decision of the previous
government to commit Canada to this program, the spin offs and the accessibility
for Canadian industries would apply not only to the planes we have in Canada,
but also to the worldwide manufacture of the aircraft.
It is beyond me, honourable senators, why anyone would not be in favour of
this project, which is so vital not only to our Armed Forces, but also to our
industries, especially our aerospace industries in Quebec, Nova Scotia and New
Senator Moore: I ask the leader to table in the Senate the documents
on which the government bases its estimates of the industrial regional spin-offs
from the F-35 fighter project.
The United Kingdom has reduced its order from 138 airplanes to 50 and,
likely, in the latest discussion, to 40 units. That number is 25 less than what
Canada has committed to purchase, and yet it is already receiving more
industrial spin-offs than Canada.
I have not seen, and maybe I missed it, any evidence that the government has
attempted to leverage a lower price per jet or guaranteed benefits for industry.
The price of the jets has risen from $50 million per unit to $112 million. Today
in the paper, the figure is $150 million.
The numbers are jumping dramatically. I do not know if the leader provided
for a doubling of the cost in her budgeting. I do not know where that cost is,
but I want to know how the leader can justify such a lopsided deal for
Senator LeBreton: I think the lopsided deal for Canadians is the
80,000 jobs in our aerospace industry.
Senator Moore: The leader will have to do better than that. She is
talking about driving the deficit even higher. Assuming that she provided for
the $50 million per unit, now we are into $112 million, maybe $150 million, so
who is doing the adding and subtracting here?
Senator Mercer: The plane does not even work.
Senator LeBreton: It is clear, if one goes back to the beginning of
this project, when the decision was made, that Canada was to be part of the
competitive process to acquire a new aircraft when the use of the CF-18s came to
This process that the previous government conducted was a good one. This
process was competitive in that other aircraft companies expressed an interest.
The only company that could build this aircraft, as decided by the previous
government, was Lockheed Martin.
I watched the testimony in the other place and listened to people who work in
the aerospace industry, whether in and around the Montreal area or in Winnipeg.
I heard a witness answer a question from Dominic LeBlanc, who was also
questioning this aircraft. The answer was that a company in his own riding was
already involved in providing parts for this aircraft.
I can indicate to Senator Moore only that I will be happy to refer his
question to the Department of National Defence and ask them to provide all the
information they have and which they are able to reveal, to list for the
honourable senator all the benefits of this project, including the 80,000
workers. The bases for these aircraft will be in Bagotville, Quebec, and in Cold
Senator Moore: Has the Conservative government considered the recent
arrangement or alliance with Great Britain and France with respect to defence
spending? Everyone in the Western world seems to be having economic problems,
including those two countries, and including Canada.
The only justification for these aircraft that I have heard is to defend the
North. I have visited the U.S. base at Anchorage, Alaska, where they have F-18s
and F-22s. There are 20-some Canadian officers embedded there, working in
Why are we endeavouring to take on more than we can handle financially? We
have an opportunity to work jointly. We are working jointly now with personnel.
The Americans are now purchasing more F-18s, the Super Hornets, and, at $35
million a unit, these aircraft can do the exact same job.
Who are we fighting? What do we need these aircraft for? We can do other
things. We can work with other people. We can acquire another aircraft to do the
exact same job.
Senator LeBreton: If that is not a typical Liberal defence policy
strategy, I do not know what is. The government made this decision based on many
years, going back to the previous government's recommendations. This purchase is
a good policy. This purchase is the best aircraft. This purchase will provide
jobs for an estimated 80,000 aerospace workers. It will benefit the whole
country, including engine aircraft builders. This purchase is good policy and it
is good for the country. Why anyone would want us to withdraw from the world,
basically — because we are part of a worldwide program here — and not have our
capable aerospace industries competing with the best, is beyond me.
Hon. Roméo Antonius Dallaire: Honourable senators, my question is for
the Leader of the Government in the Senate.
Canada currently employs about six Canadians of Afghan origin who help our
military personnel both culturally and operationally in Afghanistan and who
explain how the Afghan government works. These employees have been in their
positions for three years. We have just learned that they will be dismissed for
the simple reason that if someone is employed for more than three years, he or
she must become a permanent member of the public service, thus for an
There are still 2,600 soldiers in Afghanistan, and our operations have not
yet concluded. These employees will lose their jobs next month because a
regulation has not been changed, even though we are fighting in a war overseas.
The public service decided not to change that regulation, even though these
employees are just as essential as our Leopard tanks and Cougar armoured
vehicles and all other military equipment. Can the Leader of the Government give
us a positive response regarding changing that regulation?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators,
I could not help but notice the honourable senator's opening remarks. He
obviously does not agree with the question of his colleague. I happen to know
that the honourable senator is publicly on record as supporting the purchase of
With regard to the people working in Afghanistan, I read an article the other
day about the concerns vis-à-vis these individuals. I will find out what the
policy is and respond to the honourable senator as quickly as possible.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, the time for Question
Period has expired.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, since I am on my feet, I would like to raise a point of order. While
listening to Senators' Statements today, I heard Senator Tardif, the Deputy
Leader of the Opposition, raise the issue of the Nortel long-term disability
workers. Rule 22(4) of the Rules of the Senate of Canada says that
Senators' Statements are reserved for items that:
. . . need to be brought to the urgent attention of the Senate. . . . and
for which the rules and practices of the Senate provide no immediate means
of bringing the matters to the attention of the Senate.
The rule further states that:
. . . a Senator shall not anticipate consideration of any Order of the
Day. . . .
We do have before the Senate the Nortel long-term disability issue, and we
will vote on this matter later today. I do not raise this point of order because
I wish to nitpick. That is not the case at all.
Senator Mercer: Oh, no, not you.
Senator Di Nino: Why don't you listen with a little respect sometime?
Senator Comeau: The two sides have discussed this issue on a number of
occasions and we agreed that we would monitor our side. Once in a while this may
happen, but we monitor our side. We ask senators to stay away from matters that
are a subject matter under consideration in the Senate under Orders of the Day.
I presumed the other side was monitoring this situation, but now I am starting
to question — since the Deputy Leader of the Opposition raised this subject —
how seriously they take this matter.
I raise this issue as a point of order. I think I am right on this point,
that items that are before the Senate should not be introduced under Senators'
Hon. Sharon Carstairs: Honourable senators, it is interesting that
this particular point is raised today. I listened carefully to the Honourable
Senator Tardif's comments. She was speaking almost entirely about retired
persons. That has never been the subject of the debate that is before this
house. That is another issue in its entirety.
The other thing that I find interesting is that the purpose of that rule, I
would suggest, is that it should not anticipate debate. Debate cannot be
anticipated on this particular issue today, because it is a deferred vote. There
will be no discussion of this issue today. There will only be a vote on this
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.
Hon. Joan Fraser: I think Senator Carstairs is entirely right, Your
Honour. I would add to her observation that I also listened carefully to Senator
Tardif's statement. The point of her statement, which was contained in her last
line, was that it is time for the government to act on this matter. The report
killing the bill, on which we shall vote later today, is not a call for
government policy; it is a call for change in legislation.
Senator Comeau: I have just one final point. If, in fact, Senator
Tardif was not in any way referring to the issue of the disability, LTD — that
is, if it is an issue of retirement, which is a different issue — then I would
withdraw my point of order. However, Senator Carstairs and I may not recall
exactly what Senator Tardif did say. We might ask His Honour to refer to the
statements that were made today in Hansard and come back with a response.
I am more than willing, if in fact I erred, to withdraw my point of order.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I should like to deal with
this matter now.
I want to begin by thanking Senator Comeau for raising the matter because I
had intended to rise, under rule 18, to express certain disquiet from the chair
on both Senators' Statements and Question Period. The rule on Senators'
Statements that we all understand is clear. We cannot anticipate items that are
on the Order Paper. Sometimes statements are made that cannot help but come
close to the line. I think there is enough generosity in the chamber to
However, equally, during Question Period, while we do not have an equivalent
to rule 22(4) which as Senator Comeau cited does not allow us to anticipate
items on the Order Paper, we ought not to be raising questions around items that
are on the Orders of the Day.
I would like to recall, from the parliamentary procedural literature,
paragraph 410 in Beauchesne's 6th Edition, at page 122, dealing with "Oral
Questions." Item 14 states:
(14) Questions should not anticipate an Order of the Day although this
does not apply to the budget process.
As all honourable senators know, there have been a number of questions in the
past little while that did deal with bills or other items on the Orders of the
Day. I simply wish to conclude by saying that I invite all honourable senators
to be careful about the statements and to give some reflection to what the
procedural literature suggests. Whether or not this is something that the Rules
Committee might want to look into and specify in the rules will be a judgment
that the committee can make.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government), pursuant to
notice of December 7, 2010, moved:
That, on Thursday, December 9, 2010:
(a) if the Senate is sitting at 3:45 p.m. it shall suspend and
resume no later than 5 p.m., after a fifteen minute bell;
(b) if a standing vote on a debatable motion is requested
before 3:45 p.m. and cannot be completed before that time, it shall be
deferred until after the sitting resumes in accordance with paragraph
(a) and the bells for the vote shall start ringing only after the
sitting resumes, with the vote to take place fifteen minutes later;
(c) if a standing vote on any other motion is requested before
3:45 p.m. and cannot be completed before that time, the sitting shall be
suspended until the time provided for in paragraph (a), and the bells
for the vote shall ring in accordance with the provisions of paragraph
(d) the application of rule 13(1) shall be suspended, and the
sitting shall continue past 6 p.m. if required.
Hon. Patrick Brazeau moved third reading of Bill C-3, An Act to
promote gender equity in Indian registration by responding to the Court of
Appeal for British Columbia decision in McIvor v. Canada (Registrar of Indian
and Northern Affairs).
He said: Honourable senators, I am pleased to stand before you today to
reiterate and affirm my support for Bill C-3, the proposed Gender Equity in
Indian Registration Act.
First, I want to thank you, honourable senators, for your serious
consideration of this legislation. Your careful deliberation has been very
valuable in affirming the bill before us today. Equally encouraging, your prompt
attention to this bill acknowledges that time is of the essence and that Bill
C-3 is an appropriate response to the court's ruling that it addresses.
The honourable senators who sit on the Standing Senate Committee on Human
Rights had the opportunity to listen to the testimony of the Minister of Indian
and Northern Affairs, Sharon McIvor, representatives of Aboriginal
organizations, the Canadian Bar Association and other witnesses.
Their testimony and submissions provided a very interesting perspective on
the repercussions of this bill and highlight the importance of continuing with
discussions about the provisions of the Indian Act pertaining to Indian
registration and other related matters.
As honourable senators know, Bill C-3 proposes to amend the Indian Act and
eliminate a cause of gender discrimination that has had a negative impact on
First Nations for far too long.
The proposed legislation now before us responds directly to a decision
rendered by the Court of Appeal for British Columbia that two paragraphs in
section 6 of the Indian Act are contrary to the Canadian Charter of Rights and
In order to allow Parliament time to take action to resolve this issue, the
court suspended the effects of its decision until April 6 of this year, and
explicitly called on Parliament to enact an effective legislative solution.
Even though the Court of Appeal responded favourably to both of the
government's requests for extensions, first until July 5, 2010, and more
recently until January 31, 2011, I believe all honourable senators recognize the
importance of resolving this issue as quickly as possible.
The court indicated that the issue was to be settled without any further
delays. I am therefore pleased that honourable senators have been so diligent in
studying this bill in order to meet the latest deadline set by the court.
We are all aware that if no solution is in place by January 31 of next year,
paragraphs 6(1)(a) and 6(1)(c) of the Indian Act dealing with an individual's
entitlement to registration for Indian status will, for all intents and
purposes, cease to exist in the province of British Columbia. This would create
uncertainty. Most importantly, this legislative gap would prevent the
registration of individuals associated with British Columbia bands.
Let me explain how the proposed amendments would affect the rules that
determine entitlement to Indian status in Canada.
Essentially, Sharon McIvor, the plaintiff in the original case, alleged that
the 1985 amendments to the registration provisions of the Indian Act, still
referred to as Bill C-31, constitute gender discrimination as defined in the
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Ms. McIvor, a married Indian woman, had a child with a non-Indian. Her son
married and had children with a non-Indian. Under the Indian Act, however, these
children — Ms. McIvor's grandchildren — are not entitled to Indian status.
Part of the problem stems from amendments to the Indian Act that were
included in Bill C-31 and came into effect in 1985.
These amendments tried to end the discrimination experienced by specific
groups. In its decision, the Court of Appeal for British Columbia stated that
Bill C-31 "represents a bona fide attempt to eliminate discrimination on the
basis of sex." However, the approach adopted in Bill C-31 inadvertently
introduced a new level of complexity.
The legislation now before us proposes to change the provision used to confer
Indian status on the children of women such as Ms. McIvor. Instead of proposed
subsection 6(2), these children would acquire status through proposed subsection
6(1). This would eliminate the gender-based discrimination identified by the
Court of Appeal for British Columbia.
Honourable senators, we must not lose sight of the fact that the Court of
Appeal for British Columbia has identified a source of injustice and called on
Parliament to rectify it. Bill C-3 is a direct and tightly focussed response to
the court's ruling.
As the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights heard, once enacted, Bill
C-3 will eliminate a cause of unjust discrimination and ensure that Canada's
legal system continues to evolve alongside the needs of Aboriginal peoples.
Bill C-3 complements the collaborative approach adopted by the Government of
Canada on many issues that affect the lives of Aboriginal peoples.
The bill, as well as the exploratory process that will continue the dialogue
on other issues, strengthens the bond between Canada and its Aboriginal peoples.
As we proceed with the last stage of the process to pass Bill C-3, the
government is also preparing to embark on the exploratory process on Indian
registration, band membership and citizenship. The passing of Bill C-3 will mark
the official start of the exploratory process.
The exploratory process is an Aboriginal-led initiative that is meant to
examine and discuss the broader issues relating to Indian registration, band
membership and citizenship that go beyond the scope of the Bill C-3 amendments.
During the process, there will be support provided to national First Nations
and other Aboriginal organizations, as well as to First Nations treaty and
regional organizations that wish to lead activities under the process on behalf
of their membership or constituencies.
The exploratory process, itself is designed to be inclusive by encouraging
the participation in activities of First Nations, Metis and other Aboriginal
groups, and organizations and individuals at the national, regional and local
The government recognizes the importance, to the First Nations and other
aboriginal groups, of the issues to be examined and discussed in the exploratory
process. The government hopes that the dialogue will be productive and will
enable it to collect the information required to proceed with the next steps to
resolve these complex issues.
Today, we have an opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to upholding our
parliamentary responsibility to address a cause of gender discrimination that
the Court of Appeal for British Columbia has identified as unconstitutional.
I would like to take this time to thank and commend Ms. Sharon McIvor for her
patience, her hard work, her endeavours and her principles to leading to
potentially over 45,000 Aboriginal people to regain what was lost from them —
their Indian identity.
Honourable senators, I urge you all to join me in supporting the timely
passage of Bill C-3.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is Senator Brazeau
prepared to take a question?
Senator Brazeau: Yes.
Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, I would like to commend
the Honourable Senator Brazeau for his leadership on these matters. As he
commented, it has taken Sharon McIvor 20 years to have this bill come here
Would Senator Brazeau agree with me that, even after this bill is passed,
there will still be sex discrimination for Aboriginal women?
Senator Brazeau: I thank Senator Jaffer for her question. Absolutely.
This bill does not get rid of all the gender inequities in the Indian Act, in
the same vein that the 1985 amendments did not eradicate them, even though some
at the time may have thought they did so.
That is why it is important that the Government of Canada fund Aboriginal
organizations and communities to create this exploratory process so that First
Nations communities can start talking about citizenship, band membership and the
registration under the Indian Act, which is a really important process and the
first time it has ever been done and announced by any government.
I can say with certainty that many groups, even though some may be critical
of this bill, are looking forward to the exploratory process because it has been
a long time coming.
Senator Jaffer: From Ms. McIvor's testimony, I understood that even if
this chamber passes Bill C-3, her brother gets status under 6(1) and she is
still discriminated against. She gets status under proposed section 6(2), so she
still does not have equal status even after this bill has been passed; is that
Senator Brazeau: In answer to the question, I am not quite sure what
will happen to Ms. McIvor's brother in terms of his status. As far as I
understand, I was under the impression that he already had 6(1) status, unless I
am mistaken, but this bill will rectify the gender discrimination for
grandmothers who lost status because of marriage. Those grandmothers and the
children will be eligible to apply for status.
We must not lose sight that this bill specifically responds to the decision
of the B.C. Court of Appeal, which, whether people agree with it or not, was
narrower than the B.C. Supreme Court decision. We must not lose sight of the
fact that the government is responding to that specific court decision.
Senator Jaffer: I understand, and the minister made it very clear that
they were responding to the Court of Appeal, and I believe that universal rights
in our country should apply to all women. Even after this bill goes through,
Aboriginal women will still be discriminated against. Why would the government
not have corrected this situation and given equal rights to all Aboriginal women
at this time?
Senator Brazeau: Honourable senators, the answer to Senator Jaffer's
question is simple. As a former national leader of an Aboriginal organization, I
always said that it should be First Nations people themselves who decide on who
shall be members of their own communities and their own First Nations. Having
said that, again, the government did respond to the Court of Appeal decision,
and this is why we are going to be conducting the exploratory process so that
hopefully — and I say "hopefully" — we will get out of the Indian Act and First
Nations peoples will be able to determine the citizens of their nations.
Hypothetically — and I hate to deal in hypotheticals — if the government had
responded to a more broad definition under the Indian Act, that may still not
have pleased Aboriginal groups because, again, we would have remained under the
purview of a federal Minister of Indian affairs deciding who is a First Nations
person and who is not.
Hon. Sandra Lovelace Nicholas: Honourable senators, I want to thank
Todd Russell for his work as critic on Bill C-3, and also the witnesses who
appeared before the Human Rights Committee on Monday, December 5, in particular
Sharon McIvor, who has worked tirelessly to bring justice to Aboriginal women.
I said in my speech at second reading that I support this bill in principle,
but it does not go far enough to accommodate Aboriginal women and their
descendants. The injustice to the standing of women in their communities has
been intolerable. The bill is unfair to the next generations, as it has been
under Bill C-31, which was passed in June 1985.
It is 25 years since Bill C-31 was passed, and we have another "take it or
leave it" bill from the government with no amendments. Bill C-3 does not address
all aspects of gender discrimination. It is unjust and irresponsible, and it is
a bandage solution to an old existing problem for Aboriginal women in Canada. It
will create dissension and chaos in our communities.
The problem will not go away. It will cause inevitable consequences for the
next generation and for the government.
Honourable senators, if Bill C-3 is passed, then Sharon McIvor will be forced
to walk down the same long and lonely path that I once travelled. Sharon McIvor
said at the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights on Monday: "The bill . . .
is a piece of garbage."
As an Aboriginal woman, I experienced the injustice of living in my own
community without full recognition of my status, which is my birthright.
Under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Canada recognizes human
rights for its people in all walks of life and even for our new immigrants from
around the world. Canada is a country that ensures that the rights of a woman
are equal to those of a man. However, where is the equality and justice for
Canada's First People, Aboriginal women?
Honourable senators, I apologize to my people and their descendants that the
Government of Canada will let Bill C-3 pass without amendments. As far as I can
remember, honourable senators, all Aboriginal women and their issues are always
at the bottom of the totem pole.
The Senate proceeded to consideration of the amendments by the House of
Commons to Bill S-215, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (suicide bombings):
1. Page 1, clause 1: Replace line 7 in the French version with the
"(1.2) Il est entendu que l'attentat suicide à la bombe"
2. Page 1, title: Replace the long title in the French version
with the following:
"Loi modifiant le Code criminel (attentats suicides à la bombe)".
Hon. Linda Frum moved that the Senate concur in the amendments made by
the House of Commons to Bill S-215, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (suicide
bombings); and that a message be sent to the House of Commons to acquaint that
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Are honourable
senators ready for the question?
Hon. Sharon Carstairs: Honourable senators, I have a question for
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Will the Honourable
Senator Frum take a question?
Senator Frum: Yes.
Senator Carstairs: In my quick reading of the amendments, it seems
that the amendments only bring the French and English versions into line. Is
that how the honourable senator understands the amendments?
Senator Frum: That is exactly correct.
Hon. Art Eggleton: Honourable senators, I want to indicate my support
of Senator Frum's motion. This matter has been before this chamber for a long
time. As well, this bill has spent time in the other place and has been returned
to the Senate with these simple amendments because the French word for "bombing"
was determined in the house to be incorrect. They made that minor change. This
bill, now sponsored by Senator Frum and previously sponsored by Senator
Grafstein, has had many numbers and has been before the Senate many times in the
past. Bill S-215 will give greater certainty to the law in dealing with the
question of suicide bombing and, in particular, in dealing with those who help
to perpetuate such acts through financing, organizing and teaching others how to
commit these terrible acts against humanity. It is time to finalize the matter
and pass Bill S-215 into law.
Hon. Claudette Tardif (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable
senators, I know that there is general support for this bill, but I would like a
final chance to review it; therefore, I move the adjournment in my name.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is it your pleasure,
honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Hervieux-Payette,
P.C., seconded by the Honourable Senator Carstairs, P.C., for the second
reading of Bill S-225, An Act respecting the reorganization and
privatization of Atomic Energy of Canada Limited.
Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette: Honourable senators, at a previous
sitting, to my great surprise, the Conservatives were so interested in this that
I have only two minutes left to answer questions.
I appreciated the questions. I can say that so far I have had very positive
responses from the financial community and Atomic Energy of Canada Limited in
Do honourable senators want to move adjournment or would they rather continue
debating the bill?
Hon. Mac Harb moved second reading of Bill S-224, An Act to establish
a national volunteer emergency response service.
He said: Honourable senators, I am pleased to rise today to discuss Bill
S-224, An Act to establish a national volunteer emergency response service.
Around the world, we have witnessed disasters, from 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina
to the Indonesian tsunami and the earthquake in Haiti — disasters in which too
many citizens have been overwhelmed due to inadequate preparation and response.
Here at home, we do not have to look far to find examples of devastating
incidents involving floods, epidemics, forest fires, hurricanes, power blackouts
and ice storms.
I have read that the only difference between an emergency and a disaster is
preparedness. It begs the question: Is Canada prepared?
An American psychologist wrote an article in the Ventura County Star
in 2008 which states:
Whether disasters come from Mother Nature or a terrorist attack, major
disasters occur. Hurricane Katrina dashed all illusions that the cavalry
will quickly show up to save the day. . . . in an overwhelming disaster, the
public must become part of the solution . . .
This quote, honourable senators, may sound familiar. It appeared in a report
adopted without division and tabled in 2008 by our own Standing Senate Committee
on National Security and Defence. The report was entitled: Emergency
Preparedness in Canada. It was a follow-up to a 2004 report addressing
issues arising from 9/11.
I would like to commend the members of that committee: Senators Kenny,
Tkachuk, Banks, Day, Mitchell, Meighen, Moore, Nancy Ruth and Zimmer.
After hearing from more than 110 witnesses over a seven-year period, this
committee did a superb job of producing a report that not only highlighted areas
where government at every level were unprepared in the event of an emergency,
but it also drew attention to the important role of volunteers in the event of a
crisis. In the report, the committee noted the tremendous community response to
the wildfires in San Diego, California, in 2007. Allow me to quote from their
Thousands of volunteers worked tirelessly to support public officials and
non-governmental agencies in assisting people threatened by the wildfires. .
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was so impressed with the commitment and
compassion shown by volunteer[s] . . . that he has directed aides to
initiate plans to help improve emergency assistance programs across the
state. . . .
Later, volunteer agencies pointed out that the government could
encourage even more voluntary help if there were an identification
system for volunteers (showing they had the skills needed to assist in
dangerous situations. . . .
Voluntary help would be enhanced if there were better insurance
programs for volunteer groups so people wouldn't worry about stepping in
to help. Another aid would be having coordination templates in place to
assure volunteers are dispatched in a way that ensures they help, rather
The report concluded that "An alert and prepared citizenry is going to have
to be part of Canada's capacity to respond." However, the report asked an
important question: Would people in the average Canadian community be able to
respond as well as these volunteers in San Diego?
In testimony to the Senate committee, Tom Sampson, who was Chief of Emergency
Medical Services for the City of Calgary at the time, said:
When we met recently with the federal government around pandemic
preparation, their response was, "YOYO 24." I do not know whether you have
heard that one before, but it means: "You're on your own for the first 24
He went on to say:
We have looked at the federal government preparedness capacity, and we
think it is YOYO 7 days.
That means that you are on your own for seven days.
Can Canada learn from the lessons of California, a state that is leading the
way in citizen volunteer emergency response measures? Are there measures the
federal government could take to improve Canada's volunteer capacity? Given the
research done by our own Senate committee and the findings included in their
report, I believe that the simple answer is "yes." I also believe that this
proposed legislation is the logical step to follow up on the excellent work done
by our Senate committee.
My personal interest in this topic, honourable senators, arose after 9/11
when I was a member of the other house. I was approached by a concerned
Canadian, Mr. Steve Lerner. Mr. Lerner has dedicated much of his life and time
to a wide variety of community and charitable causes, from the fight against
cancer to helping the YMCA. He is typical of the kind of Canadian who will step
forward if given the opportunity to help out in a time of crisis.
After 9/11, Mr. Lerner drafted an impressive plan for a civil protection and
participation service that would empower Canadians in the event of an emergency.
His concept inspired an earlier version of this bill that I tabled in the other
place. Unfortunately, it was interrupted prior to debate due to my appointment
to this honourable chamber.
I am committed, honourable senators, to build upon Steve Lerner's initiative
and to continue my efforts on his behalf. I therefore put before you today a
bill to establish a national program that would allow individual Canadians to
add their efforts to the emergency response capacity in our country.
Fundamentally, Bill S-224 will establish a dynamic link between professional
emergency responders and Canadians who would like to volunteer in an emergency
situation. This bill will increase surge capacity by improving the way emergency
management offices and professional responders manage and utilize both trained
and spontaneous volunteers prior to, during and following an emergency or
disaster. It would also empower individuals and strengthen Canada's civil
Let us look at the current situation, honourable senators. Echoing our own
Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence report, an October
2010 internal government audit revealed that the Public Health Agency of Canada
is not adequately prepared to handle emergencies such as natural disasters,
pandemics or terrorist attacks.
Even as government agencies work hard to improve capacity, it is apparent
that Canadians will have to step up in the event of a crisis. The government is
warning Canadians that they need to be better prepared for being on their own
for at least 72 hours following a major crisis. Experts warn us that we may be
on our own for even longer.
While some local and even provincial volunteer response teams are up and
running, there is currently no legislation in place that could establish a truly
national volunteer emergency response.
I would now like to speak about the purpose of the bill. A national volunteer
service would add critical capacity to public agencies that are strained in
times of crisis.
Canadians spontaneously volunteer to help one another, but adequate training
and preparation would increase their effectiveness.
It is time to put a national structure in place that ensures that those who
volunteer receive the necessary training to prevent, mitigate and respond to a
This trained body of Canadians could then direct the efforts of other
Volunteer resources are not currently integrated into emergency management
plans. They are scattered throughout numerous different organizations and
programs, and they vary depending on the mission. This bill could create a
framework to help integrate volunteers into all levels of emergency management
Some may ask why we need a national service. While catastrophes are generally
local, the federal government ultimately has lead responsibility for emergency
preparedness and management, in partnership with its provincial, territorial and
The service would be established at the federal level with infrastructure at
the local, provincial and federal levels, so that the appropriate level of
government would be able to call upon the appropriate chapters, depending on the
nature of the catastrophe.
The creation of a national volunteer emergency response service would ensure
consistent nation-wide standards of training, resources, communication and
The federal government also has a role to play in promoting and facilitating
the capacity of the volunteer sector and encouraging a strong civil society. A
national volunteer emergency response service offers citizens the opportunity to
participate, to be involved and to be proactive.
We know that volunteerism is a positive force for responsible citizenship,
quality services, healthy communities and civil societies. The promotion of
volunteerism and citizens' engagement in civil society falls under the federal
government's jurisdiction and mandate.
I think it was said best in a phrase used by Steve Lerner, the constituent I
mentioned a little earlier. Mr. Lerner felt that mobilizing willing volunteers
would turn "impotence into pro-action, anxiety into self-confidence." That was
George Haddow, an American professor who is the former Deputy Chief of Staff
with the United States Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA, was quoted in
a report prepared by the Canadian Centre for Emergency Preparedness. I think his
words are worth repeating as well:
. . . there is a need for the government to do more to get the public to
take action . . . People need more than information; they need to be part of
a community-wide effort to make their homes and neighbourhoods safer.
I know honourable senators are aware of the importance of volunteerism and
the need for the government to promote the capacity of the volunteer sector.
Honourable Senator Mercer quoted interesting statistics in April 2009 when he
called on the government to establish a Senate committee or expert panel to look
at the challenges of recruiting and training volunteers. At that time, Senator
Mercer pointed out that 12 million Canadians contribute almost 2 billion hours
of their time in volunteering each year. However, over three quarters of the
time is attributed to only 11 per cent of Canadians.
Honourable senators, the 2010 Throne Speech included a commitment to create
the Prime Minister's award for volunteering to foster volunteerism in this
country. I believe a national volunteer emergency response service will not only
motivate more Canadians to offer their time and service for emergencies but that
this service will have spin-off benefits by fostering involvement in other
volunteer sectors as well.
It is important to note that the national volunteer emergency response
service would be an organization of Canadian volunteers working with the
appropriate organizations and existing emergency services for training and
service. Reallocation of existing resources could cover much of the costs.
Donations from volunteer, non-profit organizations as well as philanthropic
organizations could help cover some costs, such as those of the national office
of the Commissioner of the NVERS.
I emphasize that the use of a volunteer service to augment first responders
in a crisis is cost-effective. For example, the Ontario Volunteer Emergency
Response Team operating in the Toronto area has 100 volunteers who spend an
estimated 12,000 person-hours per year on operations and training. To have a
similar standing, trained and paid force with the police or fire service would
cost hundreds of thousands of dollars or more, even though the team may be
called out only a few times in a year.
By encouraging and linking emergency response volunteers into our emergency
preparedness strategies, we can bump up capacity cost-effectively when it is
needed most and, in the meantime, facilitate the training and civic
participation of more and more Canadians.
There are examples of other national volunteer services. In the United
States, for example, they have accomplished a great deal with the nation-wide
Community Emergency Response Team program, most notably in California. In
Sweden, they have the Swedish Civil Defence League. In the Middle East, the
United Arab Emirates have Sanid, a program which is an excellent example of what
can be accomplished by leveraging the efforts of trained and spontaneous
Canada's broad network of search and rescue organizations, many of which are
already developing capabilities to assist in the case of large-scale emergencies
or disasters, along with groups such as the Canadian Red Cross, St. John
Ambulance, Canadian Administrators of Volunteer Resources, Volunteer Canada and
Campus Emergency Response Teams will be vital partners and, ideally,
beneficiaries of our efforts to increase citizen participation in emergency
We do not need to reinvent the wheel, honourable senators. Much good work is
being done. What is needed is a way to link these individuals with these
existing voluntary resource organizations and professional first responders to
ensure Canadians are prepared, so that those who want to help are identified,
trained and able to contribute their time and skills when needs arise.
I have been in touch with key stakeholders in this area, and I know that much
can be done to increase surge capacity by empowering individual Canadians,
helping dedicated non-profit organizations and easing the pressures on our
professional emergency teams when a crisis arises.
In conclusion, honourable senators, Canada has many giving, passionate and
dedicated volunteers. We also have many other individuals who want to
contribute. By putting a national volunteer emergency response service in place,
we can mobilize and coordinate our volunteers, integrate them into our emergency
management plans, and ensure that Canada is better prepared for any emergency or
crisis that may arise.
Hon. Terry M. Mercer: I move the adjournment of the debate.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Hold on. It
has been tradition in this place that when one side moves a bill, the other side
takes the adjournment to allow 45 minutes for both sides. We did not object at
all to Senator Harb using most of the time. A tradition on both sides has been
that the other side takes the adjournment rather than the same side quickly
jumping up to move the adjournment.
We have no objection at all if Senator Mercer wishes to speak to the bill at
any time, provided we can take the adjournment on it.
I move the adjournment.
Senator Mercer: I moved the adjournment of the debate because I saw no
one on the other side standing, and I did not want the debate to stop.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Are you prepared to
withdraw your motion?
Senator Mercer: That is fine with me.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: It has been moved by
Honourable Senator Comeau, seconded by Honourable Senator Eaton, that further
debate be adjourned until the next sitting of the Senate. Is it your pleasure,
honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Hon. Tommy Banks moved third reading of Bill C-464, An Act to amend
the Criminal Code (justification for detention in custody).
He said: Honourable senators, Bill C-464 is a bill which, if we pass it into
law, will call the attention of Crown prosecutors and judges to the question of
determining whether judicial interim release ought to be granted with the
likelihood of that having any effect on any children who might be affected by
that release. The bill has been supported unequivocally by all members on all
sides, and I look forward to the happy prospect of it being passed into law.
I have taken great pleasure, therefore, in moving its passage at third
reading today, and I thank you.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, on this side of the chamber, we support the bill. It is an excellent
bill. A lot of work was done on it, and we would like to congratulate all those
However, there are a few issues that we would like to examine more
thoroughly. Therefore, I move adjournment of the debate.
Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Segal calling
the attention of the Senate to the seriousness of the problem posed by
contraband tobacco in Canada, its connection with organized crime,
international crime and terrorist financing, including the grave
ramifications of the illegal sale of these products to young people, the
detrimental effects on legitimate small business, the threat on the
livelihoods of hardworking convenience store owners across Canada, and the
ability of law enforcement agencies to combat those who are responsible for
this illegal trade throughout Canada, and the advisability of a full-blown
Senate committee inquiry into these matters.
Hon. Tommy Banks: Honourable senators, I undertake that I will speak
to this tomorrow, given time. Therefore, I ask that the debate be adjourned in
Hon. Joan Fraser, pursuant to notice of December 7, 2010, moved:
That the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs be
authorized to examine and report on the provisions and operation of the
Act to amend the Criminal Code (production of records in sexual offence
proceedings), S.C. 1997, c. 30; and
That the committee report to the Senate no later than June 30, 2011 and
retain all powers necessary to publicize its findings until 90 days after
the tabling of the final report.
She said: Honourable senators, I have just a couple of words of explanation.
In case there is a little window of opportunity for the Standing Senate
Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs before new bills are referred to
it after we dispose of the bill now before us, the committee has approved that
we try one more time to catch up on the long backlog of bills where statutory
reviews are required but have not been conducted.
This particular statutory review is something like 10 years overdue. If there
is time before bills reach the committee, the committee thought it would be a
good idea to do said statutory review, with your approval.
The Hon. the Speaker: Are honourable senators ready for the question?
An Hon. Senator: Question.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to
adopt the motion?
Hon. Art Eggleton, pursuant to notice of December 7, 2010, moved:
That the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science, and
Technology be permitted, notwithstanding usual practices, to deposit with
the Clerk of the Senate its report on Canada's pandemic preparedness, by
December 31, 2010, if the Senate is not then sitting; and that the report be
deemed to have been tabled in the Chamber.
The Hon. the Speaker: Are honourable senators ready for the question?
An Hon. Senator: Question.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to
adopt the motion?
Hon. Consiglio Di Nino, pursuant to notice of December 7, 2010, moved:
That the Senate of Canada call upon the Chinese Government to release
from prison, Liu Xiaobo, the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize Winner.
He said: Honourable senators, this Friday, December 10, Liu Xiaobo will
become the first Chinese citizen to win the Nobel Peace Prize, unless we include
His Holiness, the Dalai Lama.
Mr. Liu is being awarded this prestigious award in recognition of his
tireless efforts and personal sacrifices to advance the cause of human rights in
China. Specifically, he is being recognized for his role in drafting what is
known as "Charter 08." The primary goal of Charter 08 was simply to remind the
Chinese government of its domestic and international obligations to human rights
for Chinese citizens, as explicitly stated in the Chinese constitution. In
addition, the Charter pointed to the International Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights, to which China is a signatory nation.
Let me quote Jean-François Julliard, who is the secretary-general of
Reporters without Borders:
We think this prize is useful and will help those who are struggling to
open up a democratic space in China. Twenty-three retired senior officials
have signed an open letter calling for the implementation of the free speech
and media freedom guarantees in article 35 of the Chinese constitution.
That's exactly what Liu is calling for!
Unfortunately, Mr. Liu will not be in Oslo to receive this well-deserved
recognition, as he is currently in a jail cell with five other inmates somewhere
in a remote part of China. This, despite the popularity of Charter 08 among the
Chinese populace, having been signed by nearly 10,000 people and endorsed by
prominent scholars, cultural figures and even politicians.
The reason that Liu Xiaobo is incarcerated is that the Chinese government
sees him as a threat to their power and, as a result, in 2009 he was found
guilty of "inciting subversion of state power."
Honourable senators, the fact that Liu Xiaobo has been awarded the Nobel
Peace Prize while in prison is significant for two reasons. First, he becomes
the third person to receive such an award while in prison, joining Germany's
Carl von Ossietzky and Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi. Second, in awarding Liu
Xiaobo the Nobel Peace Prize, the selection committee served as a stern rebuke
to China and its oppressive policies on fundamental rights and freedoms.
What distinguishes Liu Xiaobo from others and makes him a true Nobel Peace
Prize laureate is the fact that he does not hold his captors in ill regard. Even
after his guilty verdict, Liu Xiaobo, in a statement released two days before
his sentence, remained gracious and optimistic. He said:
I have no enemies and no hatred. None of the police who monitored,
arrested, and interrogated me, none of the prosecutors who indicted me, and
none of the judges who judged me are my enemies. While I'm unable to accept
your surveillance, arrest, prosecution or sentencing, I respect your
professions and personalities . . .
Let me now also quote Mr. Teng Biao, a lawyer and human rights activist who
teaches law at the University of Law and Politics in Beijing:
Freedom of expression does not exist in China. Many journalists and
writers are in prison . . .
Liu Xiaobo has nonetheless been fighting for peace, democracy and human
rights. He has kept it up for 20 years. He enjoys a great deal of prestige
among Chinese who aspire to democracy . . .
The Nobel Committee's decision is going to accelerate the process of
bringing peace to China. All of the Chinese who possess this intuitive
awareness thank Liu Xiaobo from the bottom of their heart.
While the work of Mr. Liu must be praised and commended, China's attempts to
discredit and suppress his work and the Nobel Peace Prize award must be
condemned. China has gone through great lengths to ensure that Liu Xiaobo does
not receive the recognition he deserves. The Chinese government has attempted to
discredit him. They have threatened to cut ties to Norway and have repeatedly
stated that in awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to a convicted criminal, such as
Liu Xiaobo, the award has now become, and I quote, "a farce." Failing to gain
any traction in the international community with this line of argument, the
Chinese authorities have also censored all Internet searches of his name and
blocked any media coverage of the award.
To top this all off, the authorities in China have placed his wife, Liu Xia,
under house arrest and denied her permission to attend the ceremony in Oslo. In
fact, the Chinese government has not only banned his family members but has
additionally halted the travel of several well-known Chinese figures for fear
they may be "endangering national security" by attending the awards ceremony.
All told, it has been reported by the Associated Press in a recent article
that only 1 of about 140 Chinese activists who have been invited by Mr. Liu's
wife to attend the ceremony will actually be able to travel to Norway on Friday.
This is a true shame and leaves China in a very bad light.
Honourable senators, supporters of Mr. Liu will not be the only ones
conspicuously absent at Friday's award ceremony as China, using its size and
economic clout, has threatened many nations with trade penalties if they choose
to attend or criticize the Chinese government. It has even been reported by
The Times of India that the Chinese foreign ministry has indicated to the
Indian government that they expect 100 countries, including India, to be absent
from Friday's ceremony. China has suggested to these 100 nations that failure to
comply with China's demands would likely harm the bilateral relations of the two
Through this example, it becomes obvious that China does not limit its
dictatorial and oppressive behaviour to only its citizens, but rather attempts
to extend it across the globe, threatening any nation that seeks to engage in
dialogue or disagree with their policies. These bully tactics, for the most
part, have worked on some smaller countries that are dependent on funding and
trade with China.
Honourable senators, it is incumbent upon us to stand up for what is right,
to stand up for people like Liu Xiaobo, whose only dream is to have the sort of
freedoms that we take for granted every day. All peoples of the world deserve no
less. For, as Kwame Appiah of the Laurance S. Rockefeller University, Director
of the University Center for Human Values at Princeton University and President
of PEN American Center, so eloquently stated in his nomination of Liu Xiaobo for
the Nobel Peace Prize:
To fail to challenge the Chinese government on Liu Xiaobo's imprisonment
is to concede this argument internationally, at enormous peril to peaceful
advocates of progress and change not just in China but all around the world.
Therefore, it is vital that we, as Canadians, take a leading role in calling
not only for Mr. Liu's immediate release but also for a sweeping change to
China's oppressive treatment of its population.
I would like to end my statement by quoting John Ralston Saul, President of
PEN International, who, in his editorial in Monday's Globe and Mail,
stated that Mr. Liu Xiaobo:
. . . is in jail because he believed in the Chinese government and
It is apparent, honourable senators, that despite signing international
documents, freedom of speech in China is only approved if it props up the
authorities rather than hold them accountable. It is approved only if it seeks
to promote the government rather than point to areas of social growth. This,
colleagues, is freedom of speech, Chinese style.
In closing, it is with great honour and sense of urgency that I urge my
fellow senators to support this motion to ensure that Mr. Liu Xiaobo's personal
sacrifices and unwavering commitment to human rights are not in vain, and that
those like Liu Xiaobo will continue to count Canada as a voice on the global
stage when they cannot speak for themselves.
Hon. Percy E. Downe: Would the honourable senator take a question?
Senator Di Nino: Absolutely.
Senator Downe: Senator Di Nino mentioned in his speech the countries
that are not attending the ceremony. Does he happen to know who is representing
Canada at the ceremony on Friday?
Senator Di Nino: My understanding is that Canada will be attending.
Senator Downe: Does the honourable senator know the ambassador who
will be attending?
Senator Di Nino: I do not know. This situation has only developed in
the last couple of days, as honourable senators know, and I did not seek to find
out who was attending. My understanding, however, is that Canada will attend. I
believe there are 18 countries that will not be attending, including some of the
Central Asian countries and some of the smaller countries around the world, as I
said, who I believe are doing this for economic reasons.
Senator Downe: I have seen a very disturbing news report that the head
of the United Nations Human Rights Commission has refused to attend. Do you know
if the Government of Canada will protest to the UN on that?
Senator Di Nino: I do not know, but I will certainly suggest that they
Senator Downe: If we are giving suggestions, could I make a small
suggestion as well, that the Conservative caucus has, in Senator Di Nino, an
outstanding spokesperson on this matter. He has been at this for a number of
years. If I were at the Conservative caucus meeting on Wednesday, I would
suggest that Senator Di Nino should attend as part of the Canadian delegation,
and I hope someone will take that up.
Hon. Jim Munson: Honourable senators, I was in Tiananmen Square, and I
would not mind attending with Senator Di Nino as well.
I do have a few words in response. I commend the honourable senator for what
he has just said. Mr. Liu is a very brave man. In fact, I met Mr. Liu, and it is
hard to believe that it was 21 years ago in Tiananmen Square. He is a very
gentle man and a very brave man.
People like to think of Tiananmen as three days, June 2, 3 and 4, but it was
building up long before that. Mr. Liu was part and parcel of a group that was
trying to negotiate something very peaceful in Tiananmen, and was trying to
avoid the massacre in the square, which I witnessed. I saw hundreds of students
It was not easy to watch him at that particular time, 21 years ago, living in
real time, one person trying to say actually trying to live within the
constitution of China. All of his work is coming out of the right to free speech
in China, allegedly, within their constitution.
This is not, as sometimes the Chinese government would talk about, a
troublemaker, someone wanting to overthrow government. He just wants to make
government more open, transparent and make it work.
I do have some written notes here for this very brave man. As Senator Di Nino
noted, he will receive the Nobel Peace Prize, in spirit, on December 10. Our
human rights critic, Irwin Cotler, will be present. It is important that the
Canadian government also be present. I sincerely hope that there is some
For 20 years, Mr. Liu has advocated peaceful political change within his
country. I remember being in Tiananmen Square, in the rainstorms and dust storms
during his hunger strike, and watching him go about doing his work there. As
reporters at that time, we knew we were living a moment in history. However, at
the same time, we felt that China had its own history and that the government
would crack down on these young men and women sooner or later.
For two decades, Mr. Liu has endured a succession of arrests. Throughout
years of persecution, he has continued to petition the government and convey his
ideologies in writing. As Senator Di Nino mentioned, Mr. Liu helped to author
the manifesto emphasizing the need for free speech and free thought. In December
2008, one day before the manifesto was released on the Internet, Beijing
authorities arrested and imprisoned Mr. Liu and, of course, he remains in prison
today. I have been outside that prison, but I was never allowed to look inside
to see what goes on there. Since being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, the
Beijing authorities have been holding Mr. Liu's wife under house arrest.
I think back 21 years and I remember another dissident, Professor Fang Lizhi.
He was sort of the Andrei Sakharov of China. When we tried as reporters to talk
to him, it was amazing to watch, as he quietly talked to students on campus and
to watch the secret police surrounding him and watching him. Sooner or later, he
would be arrested, but he obviously found his way outside the country and I
believe he now lives in the United States.
It is not just one man or one woman; it is hundreds of thousands of men and
women in China who simply want to have the same voices that we have as members
of Parliament, and the same voices that we hear outside of Parliament
demonstrating for what they believe in. Goodness knows, we do not have to agree
with many of the protesters who come to Parliament Hill, but we respect their
right to be heard. They are allowed to be heard and they are not thrown in
prison for what they say.
Like the manifesto Mr. Liu helped to create, China's own constitution
outlines a commitment to respect and protect human rights. However, in my
opinion, the Chinese government does not follow its own rule of law.
With its new economic strength, China has relieved millions of Chinese from
poverty. Although the Chinese people may be better off in financial terms, they
remain deprived. Their government denies them a valid system of justice. Mr. Liu
speaks the truth and, if heard, his ideas could well prompt the millions of
ordinary men and women who have built modern China to pursue political reform.
In an article published in Monday's Globe and Mail, John Ralston Saul
gets at the heart of China's treatment of Mr. Liu. He stated:
Freedom of expression, while it can guarantee nothing, is nevertheless
the key to making reform possible.
At the end of the day, the Nobel Peace Prize committee has chosen to honour
Mr. Liu for his moral courage. This should be a time for the Chinese to
celebrate Mr. Liu, as should Canadians and citizens of countries throughout the
world celebrate him. We should likewise demand, as Senator Di Nino has said,
that Mr. Liu be freed.
This is a reflection of another time, but I can never forget this. I feel
honoured and privileged. In 1989, I ran through Tiananmen Square, listening to a
woman as I ran. Just before that, an armoured personnel carrier had run over
four or five Chinese. People were standing there with their fists up, saying,
"Long live democracy." I then turned to my left and the person was gone. You
look and you want to be sick, but then you are running to the square. As you run
to the square, the people beside you say, "Please tell the world what is going
on in our country." One has to remember that everything was cut off. We were
sending out news tapes via students to Hong Kong, and even those tapes were
being intercepted. The Chinese secret police were looking at these tapes to see
who was on the tapes, because once it is on the air, everyone knows.
At the end of the day, I never thought that I would be standing in the Senate
of Canada — at least I did not think that 21 years ago — and having the
opportunity and the position such that I can speak on behalf of Mr. Liu and his
wife in this country, because it is so important. It is important never to
forget. It is so important that a person like Mr. Liu be allowed to stand up and
speak. In the end, I simply ask this question: What is the Chinese government
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.
Senator Di Nino: I thank the honourable senator. A year and a half
ago, we held an event to mark the twentieth anniversary of Tiananmen Square.
Senator Munson attended and he was as eloquent then as he was today. I want to
thank him for that as well.
My question is a simple one. I would like to urge our colleagues to see if we
can deal with this motion, if not today, then tomorrow, so that we can have it
completed before Friday when the ceremony will take place. I wonder if the
honourable senator would join me in that as well.
Senator Munson: I thank the honourable senator for the question. As
Senator Di Nino knows, and as I certainly know, the whip has a certain amount of
power here, but not a lot of power. However, in this regard, I would hope that
we could come to a unanimous decision. The honourable senator's motion simply
states that Mr. Liu should be freed from prison. I do not think that is
complicated. I would wholeheartedly endorse that concept, and I hope that my
fellow senators would agree.
Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: I would like to thank Senator Munson once
again for bringing to our attention the issue of Tiananmen Square. This is one
way in which the honourable senator is helping those people he saw in China, by
keeping the issue alive. I thank Senator Munson, and I also thank Senator Di
Nino for his motion.
I have a question for Senator Munson. In light of all he knows, what advice,
if asked, would he give to our government as to how we can help to get this
individual released from jail?
Senator Munson: I thank the honourable senator for the question. There
are, of course, diplomatic boots that are employed in pursuing this kind of
When I left China after five years of living there, I had a lot of anger and
sorrow. Nevertheless, I fully believe there is only one way to bring about
change. This is not about interference, but the words I have always used in my
life are: engage, engage, engage.
We need to engage our Chinese counterparts, whether through the Canada-China
Legislative Association, of which I am proud to be a member, or through our
foreign minister. To me, this matter has reached a point where there should be
some intervention and a request for meetings with the foreign ministry and the
highest levels of government in China.
I have discovered that the last thing one wants to do in this world is to
point a finger and say, in harsh terms, that what someone has done is wrong. The
way I like to look at this is that what they have done is not right.
At the end of the day, China is a wonderful country and a beautiful place. I
once spoke with the Chinese ambassador who has recently left his post here.
About a year or so ago we were having a debate in a meeting of the Canada-China
Parliamentary Association. We talked about Tiananmen Square and about all these
issues. We did not specifically talk about Mr. Liu, but we talked about several
things and he mentioned how wonderful it was that we were having this
I agreed that we had come a long way, but I pointed out that the conversation
was happening in a parliamentary restaurant anteroom with 10 members of the
Canadian-China Parliamentary Association and officials. I also said to the
Chinese ambassador that if we were to have the same conversation on the issue of
human rights and talk about specific citizens on China Central Television at 7
p.m. on a Thursday night, then to me that would be the day China comes of age on
the issue of human rights, but engagement is what we must have.
Hon. Rose-Marie Losier-Cool: Honourable senators, I also want to thank
Senator Di Nino for moving this very important motion. Since Senator Munson has
the floor, I will ask him my question.
Senator Di Nino's motion says, "That the Senate of Canada call upon the
Chinese Government." Should the motion not say, "That the Senate of Canada call
upon the Canadian Government" in order to give the motion more teeth? Can the
Senate of Canada call upon the Chinese Government?
Could Senator Munson tell us how we could include "the Government of Canada"
as well as "the Senate of Canada" in this motion? We usually say "That the
Senate call on the Government of Canada."
Senator Munson: One day, I will be back in government. Today is not
the day, so I will defer to Senator Di Nino to answer this question.
The Hon. the Speaker: Senator Di Nino cannot answer under our rules.
Senator Di Nino: May I ask a question of Senator Munson?
Does Senator Munson remember some years back when we had a similar motion? I
do not believe it was in relation to the Chinese government, it was for some
other issue. The motion we were discussing was a motion that asked the
Government of Canada to do something on our behalf, and the discussion was a
long one. Although the issue was not totally resolved, it was felt that the
Senate of Canada should do this on its own by saying we, the Senate of Canada —
this is not a law, this is not a resolution — urge the Government of China to
release this man. That is my recollection of a discussion we had some time ago.
Does the honourable senator remember that?
Senator Munson: Yes. Honourable senators, I believe what Irwin Cotler
said to our caucus today — I may be breaking caucus privileges but he was
talking about good things here — is that he was going to Copenhagen. I talked
about what was happening in the Senate with Senator Di Nino's motion and that I
did not know how far the motion would go today. After caucus was over, Mr.
Cotler said that for me to carry messages in my pocket to Oslo from different
institutions would be a strong statement, and the more messages from separate
institutions, the better. As a separate institution, it would be rare but
important that we agree today or tomorrow on Senator Di Nino's motion for
calling on the Chinese government to have Mr. Liu Xiaobo released from prison.
Hon. Joseph A. Day: Honourable senators, there are many interesting
points here. The question and the propriety of an institution and part of
Parliament asking for someone to be released from prison in another country is
something that I want to reflect on. I ask for the indulgence of honourable
senators in the adjournment of the debate in this matter.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, this brings us to the end
of our Order Paper. As we all know, there is an order that we will have a vote
at 5:30 p.m. The bells will start ringing at 5:15 p.m. We shall therefore
interrupt our proceedings and suspend until 5:30 p.m., with the bells ringing at
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.
Motion agreed to and report adopted on the following division:
THE HONOURABLE SENATORS
THE HONOURABLE SENATORS
THE HONOURABLE SENATORS
(The Senate adjourned until Thursday, December 9, 2010, at 1:30 p.m.)