Debates of the Senate (Hansard)
3rd Session, 40th Parliament,
Volume 147, Issue 81
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
The Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
The Senate met at 1:30 p.m., the Speaker in the chair.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, before calling for
Senators' Statements, I wish to draw the attention of all honourable senators to
the presence in the gallery of a group of women from Aglow International Canada,
a trans-denominational organization of Christian women: Miriam Miller, Florence
Pole, Edna Cammeron, Mary-Ellen Goslin, Lena Kowalski, Roberta Bell, Adele Holt,
Elizabeth Cox, Diana Fiege, Linda Riske, Phyllis Habermehl, and Donna Kenner.
These women are guests of the Honourable Senator Plett.
On behalf of all honourable senators, I welcome you to the Senate of Canada.
Hon. Michael A. Meighen: Honourable senators, with the death in London
on January 24, 2011, of Francis Peter Cundill, Canada lost one of its most
remarkable individuals, the investment world lost one of its most distinguished
and successful practitioners, and I lost a cherished friend of over 60 years.
Peter Cundill was born in Montreal and graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce
degree from McGill University in 1960. He became a chartered accountant and
subsequently received his designation as a chartered financial analyst.
Peter Cundill worked in the investment business initially in Montreal before
moving to Vancouver where, in 1974, he established his flagship Cundill Value
Fund, a fund that made him famous and richly rewarded thousands of investors,
not the least of whom were those with small resources and precious savings.
Peter was a deep-value investor, a disciple of the legendary American
economist and investor, Benjamin Graham. He also formed personal relationships
with Sir John Templeton and Warren Buffett.
Peter's record over 35 years as a global mutual fund manager was unrivalled.
In 2001, it earned him the Analysts' Choice Career Achievement Award in
recognition of proven superior performance and his lifetime contribution to the
financial community. His investment style was characterized by integrity and
patience. At his annual meeting in 1985, he astonished a packed hall when he
cautioned them, "We are having a difficult time finding anything we want to buy.
Don't send me your money!"
Peter Cundill was in no sense a one-dimensional man. Springing from his
innate curiosity, his interests were eclectic. He was a voracious reader on a
generous wide variety of subjects; a faithful diarist; an inveterate traveler; a
generous philanthropist; and a devoted runner, who completed 22 marathons,
including a "sub 3-hour" when over the age of 40. He relished sports and
physical challenges. Tennis, handball, squash, rugby, skiing, mounting hiking —
Peter did them all with skill and enthusiasm.
The iron discipline employed in his investment career was generally
replicated in his personal habits. Cigars? Yes, but only on Thursdays. Martinis?
Yes, but only on Fridays. However, that discipline did not extend to junk food
and ice cream for which he had an irrepressible craving.
Peter had an abiding interest in history, arising, some would say, from an
examination he failed at McGill in 1959. Traumatic though this experience was,
the more likely cause was his belief that it was only possible to comprehend the
present and arrive at a measured perspective about the future if we understand
the past. As a result, in 2008, he founded the Cundill International Prize in
History at McGill University, the largest in the world and designed to encourage
the writing of history for a general audience.
In a cruel twist of fate for one who was a physical fitness devotee for over
50 years, Peter was diagnosed in 2006 with an untreatable neurological condition
known as Fragile X. Not surprisingly, he never once complained or wallowed in
self-pity. Rather, he embraced the challenge of his condition with unwavering
cheerfulness and a determination to lead as full a life as possible.
His book, entitled: There's Always Something to Do: The Peter Cundill
Investment Approach, will stand as his enduring legacy. To his immense
delight, he received the first copy just two days before his death. When asked
recently in his last interview if he had any advice for ordinary investors,
Pick some first-rate money managers with whom you feel comfortable
because you have done your homework on them. Then stick with them. The
mantra is patience, patience and more patience. Think long-term and remember
that the big rewards accrue with compound annual rates of return.
While Peter Cundill has left us, his influence will continue to be felt for
many years through his contributions to the financial world, to philanthropy and
to the broader community. In the words of one of his long-time associates, "he
was a true global person and a renaissance man."
I feel fortunate to have known this unusual and extraordinary individual for
as long and as well as I did. Peter is survived by his step-daughter Evelyn,
step-son Roger, as well as his brother Grier to whom I offer my most sincere
Hon. Terry M. Mercer: Honourable senators, beginning February 11,
2011, thousands of athletes, coaches, volunteers and spectators will gather in
Halifax for the Canada Winter Games, the largest multi-sport competition for
young athletes in Canada.
Much participation has gone into these games, including the building of new
complexes and the upgrading of current infrastructure around the Halifax
Regional Municipality, such as the $40-million Canada Games Centre. The
governments of Canada, Nova Scotia and Halifax, along with the private sector
and the Canada Games Council, have worked hard to prepare Halifax for what will
be a memorable two weeks of competition and camaraderie.
Honourable senators, it is interesting to note that Halifax/ Dartmouth was
host to the very first Canada Summer Games in 1969, which left behind such
lasting memories as the Centennial Pool and Husky Stadium. I am sure this year's
games will have just as strong an impact on the Halifax Regional Municipality.
In fact, one of the greatest venues is the speed skating oval, which is built
on the North Common. The oval has already been available to thousands of skaters
since December. The Halifax Regional Municipality website tells us the oval is
the largest outdoor artificially-refrigerated ice surface east of Quebec City,
with approximately 55,000 square feet of ice area, more than three full-sized
NHL ice rinks. In fact, there has been a large push by the public that the oval
become a permanent feature for Haligonians, Nova Scotians and visitors to enjoy
in the future.
Halifax is already one of the most unique cities in Canada and at any time
throughout the year one can enjoy music, fine food and a culture that stands
apart from many other cities. I am sure the Canada Winter Games will provide a
fantastic addition to an already vibrant city, including the oval. It certainly
reveals the uniqueness of the City of Halifax and provides a venue to enjoy in
Honourable senators, the mission of the Halifax 2011 Canada Games Host
To deliver an exceptional national sporting event that celebrates sport,
engages community, and embraces diversity. The Games will support the dreams
of athletes, thereby building national pride and creating lasting legacies.
I know these goals will be achieved.
I take this opportunity to congratulate the 2011 Games management team, board
of directors, Games operations committee, sponsors and government support and
the hundreds of volunteers on a job well done, and I wish all of the athletes
and coaches good luck in their sports. I look forward to seeing first-hand the
tremendous success of these 2011 Canada Winter Games.
Hon. Percy Mockler: Honourable senators, it is quite an occasion to
recognize a person from New Brunswick.
Honourable senators, today I would like to congratulate Marie-Linda Lord on
her new position as President of the Board of Directors of TV5 Québec-Canada.
Her appointment was announced on January 3.
Honourable senators, I am sure that Ms. Lord's experience and knowledge will
ensure the quality and diversity of the programming within TV5.
Honourable senators, this network, which is known and appreciated around the
world and reaches over 185 million viewers, will benefit from her expertise and
many skills. Ms. Lord will also be able to carry out TV5's mission to promote La
Francophonie in all its diversity.
She is impressive, indeed. After graduating with a social sciences degree
from the University of Ottawa, Ms. Lord went on to earn a master's degree in
comparative Canadian literature from the Université de Sherbrooke and a
doctorate in French studies from the Université de Moncton.
Honourable senators, her professional experience is just as impressive. Ms.
Lord had a long career as a broadcaster for Radio-Canada Atlantique before
becoming a professor of information and communications at the Université de
Moncton. She also holds the Chair in Acadian Studies at that university.
Her work as a journalist and academic make her an authority on Acadian
culture and identity. That is why all francophones in New Brunswick were
overjoyed to hear of her appointment.
I have no doubt that, under her leadership, TV5 will continue to surprise us
with the quality and the richness of its programming for everyone. It is an
honour to wish Marie-Linda Lord all the best in her new position as President of
the Board of TV5.
Yes, New Brunswick, Acadia and all francophones are proud of you,
Marie-Linda. Hats off to you!
Hon. Serge Joyal: Honourable senators, I join our colleague, Senator
Michael Meighen, in highlighting the exceptional contribution made by the late
Peter Cundill, who recently passed away.
Peter Cundill, born in Montreal, educated at McGill University and very
involved in the world of financial institutions, has left us his unique
perspective based on his experience as an investor and financial advisor.
However, Peter Cundill was not only a successful businessman, he was also a
humanist. He held the strong conviction that in an ever-changing world where
technologies command continuous adjustments, where diversity of population
accelerates through the steady flow of immigration and where various ideologies
may appear to be in conflict, the knowledge and mastery of history is
fundamental to peace and respect of others.
Canadians generally do not even know the basic tenets of their own history.
Our fragmented education system does not teach history as a compulsory subject
but more as an optional choice. At the end of their school curricula, Canadian
students may graduate from a specialized school or even a university without
knowing anything, for instance, of the history of the 20th century — one of the
According to a survey conducted in 2009 for the Dominion Institute, only four
Canadians out of ten can recognize Sir John A. Macdonald as the first Prime
Minister of Canada, even though his picture and name appear on the $10 bill.
Peter Cundill was deeply convinced that Canadians had to be better aware of
the importance of history and that it must be made more accessible to them. To
that end, he proposed an initiative to establish an annual prize in history at
the level of the well-known prestigious Nobel Prize.
He spoke to his longstanding friend from McGill University, Senator Michael
Meighen, who shared his interest. Senator Meighen took the initiative to the
dean of the political science faculty at McGill, Mr. Christopher Manfredi, to
establish the Cundill International Prize and Lecture in History. Thanks to the
Cundill Foundation, the Cundill Prize in History was financed at the level of an
annual grand prize of US$75,000 and two Recognition of Excellence prizes of
US$10,000 each, making the Cundill Prize the world's richest prize in history.
The winning historians are selected by an independent jury of at least five
members selected by McGill University, drawn either from well-known professional
historians — for instance, from Germany, France, England, United States or
Canada — and from qualified persons having expressed, through their past
activities or publications, a genuine interest in history.
I served as a member of the jury for the first two years of Cundill Prize and
can testify to the enthusiasm of the contestants. The first year of the prize,
there were more than 190 different book submissions from six countries around
the world. The first recipient of the Cundill Prize in 2008 was the historian
Stuart B. Schwartz from Yale University for his work entitled: All Can Be
Saved: Religious Tolerance and Salvation in the Iberian Atlantic World.
In 2009, the American historian David Hackett Fischer from Brandeis
University received the second prize for his book entitled: Champlain's Dream,
on the life and thoughts of the first French explorer, Samuel de Champlain, so
important for his explorations and his writing on Canada, Quebec and the U.S.
The book is a library success and will be translated into French this year.
Thanks to the vision of Peter Cundill and the dedication of Senator Meighen,
history is now elevated to the level of knowledge essential to peace and respect
of others. As Peter Cundill reminded us:
You have to study the past to understand the present and predict the
Canadians will always remember Peter Cundill for his deeply held conviction
of the strategic importance of world history and the history of Canada.
Hon. Vim Kochhar: Honourable senators, I feel honoured to have had the
opportunity to be the friend of an extraordinary Canadian woman, Joyce Thompson,
who passed away on January 3, 2011, at the age of 77.
A long-time advocate and friend to the deaf-blind community, her
contributions and career spanned more than 35 years.
Deafness and blindness together represent a total darkness and isolation. She
was immensely moved by this dual disability when she first met a deaf-blind
person in 1976. She soon realized that most deaf-blind persons lived in unsafe
and inappropriate housing in severe isolation, with little or no access to an
intervener trained to act as the eyes and ears of a person who is deaf-blind.
In 1985, the Rotary Club of Toronto Don Valley raised sufficient funds to
help local organizations build an accessible home for the disabled. After a
compelling proposal from Joyce Thompson, Rotarians unanimously agreed to support
this little-known community.
Rotary Cheshire Homes, the world's only independent-living apartment building
for people who are deaf-blind, officially opened on May 1, 1992, and Joyce was
appointed the first executive director.
This was only the beginning. In 1998, Joyce assisted in opening the Canadian
Helen Keller Centre, Canada's only training centre for people who are
deaf-blind. Two years later, her efforts resulted in the Ontario government
declaring the month of June Deaf-Blind Awareness Month.
In 2003, Joyce founded JuneFest, an annual one-day festival that promotes
awareness of this dual disability. That same year, Joyce successfully supported
a human rights complaint against the Ontario government for inequity of resource
Last year, Joyce was awarded the one and only JuneFest award of excellence.
The award was named in her honour to be given annually to recognize Canadians
who demonstrate Joyce's vision and determination.
Joyce Thompson's passion is an inspiration for all Canadians. Her legacy will
continue to make a very real difference in the lives of Canada's deaf-blind
Hon. Patrick Brazeau: Honourable senators, I rise today to pay tribute
to the legacy of a most memorable Canadian whose recent passing has left
Canada's North in deep mourning.
Old wisdom suggests that if your actions inspire others to dream more, learn
more, do more and become more, you are a leader.
Honourable senators, Jose Kusugak describes perfectly that definition of a
leader. His is a legacy of a man whose contributions to build the true North
were as great and significant as those made by any leader throughout Canadian
As one of Canada's key Inuit leaders, Jose served on two separate occasions
as president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, one of five national Aboriginal
organizations recognized by the Government of Canada.
It was a pleasure to work with him at the time, as we both led our respective
Aboriginal organizations that served as national voices for our constituencies.
Thanks to Jose Kusugak, the Inuit of Canada could rest assured that their
environmental, social, cultural and political concerns and aspirations were
always at the forefront in Ottawa, both in Parliament and within the entire
machinery of government. Jose brought a certain distinction, humility and charm
to the Aboriginal political scene, and he will be sadly missed.
I experienced that first-hand time and again, and it left an indelible
impression upon me.
Jose Kusugak had a unique gift of always ensuring that the human element of
political endeavour was never forgotten, always emphasized and positively
positioned. However, the application of his many gifts was not only confined to
the political arena. He was an equally skilled teacher, linguist and
broadcaster. This was indeed a man for all seasons.
Honourable senators, Jose Kusugak was truly a northern light. He helped
define the identity of the Inuit people. He informed Canadians at large about
his people, their land and promise and, in so doing, made an immeasurable
contribution to the building of Canada's North and its socioeconomic
We owe a debt of gratitude to Jose Kusugak, and today we honour and give
thanks in his memory.
The Hon. the Speaker informed the Senate that a message had been
received from the House of Commons with Bill C-48, An Act to amend the Criminal
Code and to make consequential amendments to the National Defence Act.
(Bill read first time.)
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be
read the second time?
(On motion of Senator Comeau, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for second
reading two days hence.)
Hon. Dennis Dawson presented Bill S-227, An Act to amend the Canada
Elections Act (election expenses).
(Bill read first time.)
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be
read the second time?
(On motion of Senator Dawson, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for second
reading two days hence.)
Hon. Lillian Eva Dyck: Honourable senators, my question is for the
Leader of the Government in the Senate.
The state of Aboriginal women in Canada's prisons is very troubling. It is
appalling. Aboriginal women are significantly overrepresented in Canada's
prisons and they now account for one third of all federally incarcerated women.
This number has increased by 91 per cent since 2001. Additionally, about 80 per
cent of female Aboriginal inmates are held in maximum-to medium-security
prisons, while only about 20 per cent are in minimum-security prisons. In my
home province of Saskatchewan, which has one of the largest provincial
Aboriginal populations in Canada, Aboriginal women make up 87 per cent of the
female inmate population. In neighbouring Manitoba, the number is 83 per cent.
To compound the problem, about 30 per cent of incarcerated Aboriginal women
are said to have mental health problems at the time of imprisonment and cannot
access treatment programs. Of the Aboriginal women who are incarcerated, 90 per
cent have been victims of sexual, physical and/or emotional abuse. Experts agree
that the proposed crime legislation from this government will significantly
increase these numbers. More Aboriginal women will be incarcerated.
Aboriginal women are at a higher risk of reoffending because culturally
appropriate programs and services that are mandated by Correctional Service
Canada are not made available to most Aboriginal women.
We cannot sit by and watch an already vulnerable population continue in a
cycle of offending and reoffending without the necessary help in Aboriginal
communities to reintegrate them and in prisons nationwide to rehabilitate them.
Could the Leader of the Government in the Senate explain why the government
continues to ignore the underlying issues of poverty, abuse, violence,
homelessness and drug abuse in Aboriginal communities that perpetuate a cycle of
offenders, and why the programs that are specifically for Aboriginal women have
not been made more widely available?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): I thank the
honourable senator for the question. This is, of course, a serious concern to
all people in government and society. The number of Aboriginal women in our
prison system, of course, is high. It is a very disturbing figure.
I must report to honourable senators that it is not only through Correctional
Service Canada and the Minister of Public Safety, but also through the
Department of Indian and Northern Affairs and Status of Women Canada, that a
significant number of programs are in place. We are working with the Native
Women's Association and a number of other organizations to get out into the
Aboriginal communities and offer all the assistance possible to the various
groups directly affected by the many factors the honourable senator pointed out.
With regard to Aboriginal women with mental health issues in prisons, as I
mentioned yesterday when I was asked a similar question about mental health and
the treatment of same, we are continuing to take significant action on the
entire issue of mental health. We have invested more than $50 million in funding
to Correctional Service Canada over the past five years. Correctional Service
Canada has increased access to services for inmates and invested significantly
in the training and retraining of staff so that they can better recognize and
treat mental health issues.
I must point out, honourable senators, that the resources we have provided to
deal with this serious issue have only been provided by our government; they
were not in place under any previous government.
Senator Dyck: In Maple Creek, Saskatchewan, near the Nekaneet First
Nation reserve, the Okimaw Ohci Healing Lodge provides culturally appropriate
programs for female Aboriginal offenders. This type of rehabilitation has been
successful; however, this is the only Aboriginal women's healing centre run
through Correctional Service Canada.
Does the government have plans to open more of these types of centres given
the effectiveness of such a program to reduce reoffending, which of course will
keep Canadian and Aboriginal communities safer?
Senator LeBreton: That is a good question. The government is always
interested in having programs that prove to be successful, such as the one that
Senator Dyck just mentioned.
Through Status of Women Canada and also the Department of Indian and Northern
Affairs, there are many programs. Specifically with regard to women,
Correctional Service Canada, as I mentioned a moment ago, has programs in place.
However, I would be happy, honourable senators, to ask my colleagues, the
Honourable Vic Toews and the Honourable Rona Ambrose, whether or not this very
successful project is being looked at with the possible conclusion of having
other similar programs.
Senator Dyck: According to the material from Correctional Service
Canada, there are plans under way to develop culturally appropriate
interventions that address the specific needs of First Nations, Metis and Inuit
men and women.
In particular, would the Leader of the Government in the Senate provide this
chamber with an update on what the government has done to, first, develop and
implement culturally sensitive classification and assessment tools for women;
second, develop and implement culturally sensitive programs for Aboriginal
women; third, develop and implement targeted interventions for Aboriginal women;
and, fourth, enhance the knowledge of Aboriginal women and effective corrections
for that specific population? Could we get an update on what the government has
done, what programs they have funded and where they are?
Senator LeBreton: Absolutely, honourable senators, I would be happy to
ask for updated information on the questions posed by Senator Dyck.
Hon. Sharon Carstairs: Honourable senators, while the Honourable
Leader of the Government in the Senate is gathering that information, would she
also gather the information as to how many incarcerated Aboriginal women
received culturally sensitive programs in the fiscal year 2010-11?
Senator LeBreton: I certainly will, honourable senators. I can say one
thing, that the figure will be higher than that of the previous government.
Senator Cowan: That is very helpful.
Hon. Terry M. Mercer: Honourable senators, prior to my question, I
wish to take a moment to welcome back colleagues who have been ill: Senator
Nolin, Senator Finley and Senator Gerstein. Welcome back. We are glad they are
here and hope they are feeling much better.
Honourable senators, in October 2007, Ottawa made a commitment to all four
Atlantic provinces with respect to developing the Atlantic Gateway through the
$2.1 billion national Gateways and Border Crossings Fund. The plan was to be
completed by October 2009. Here we are today, in 2011; where is the plan?
In a recent article in The Chronicle Herald of Halifax, it was
revealed that Nova Scotia has received $86 million for seven projects and that
New Brunswick has received $111 million for three projects. P.E.I. and
Newfoundland and Labrador, in comparison, have received nothing.
Could the Leader of the Government in the Senate provide us with a list of
projects that have been approved for Nova Scotia and New Brunswick? Has any of
the money actually been spent, or has it just been promised?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): I was wondering if
the honourable senator was intending to ask me a question about dredging Sydney
Harbour. However, I kind of knew he would not ask a question on that subject
because, of course, the government delivered.
Honourable senators, the government believes that the Atlantic region is
uniquely positioned to play a vital role in the Canadian economy. Our officials
have had extremely successful meetings with international partners, and they
continue to work with international partners and the various provinces on the
Atlantic Gateway Strategy. There has been no greater supporter of Atlantic
Canada than this government. We have committed tremendous resources and worked
to help Atlantic Canada create and save jobs, build key infrastructure, and
invest in vitally important areas such as education and health care.
Other than that, all I have to say, honourable senators, is that Senator
Mercer and I both know that Atlantic Canada has no better friend than this
Senator Mercer: I am trying to keep a straight face here, honourable
The leader brought up the dredging of the Sydney Harbour, which was in
response to pressure from Senator Cordy; myself; the member for Sydney—Victoria,
Mark Eyking; and the member for Cape Breton-Canso, Rodger Cuzner. That is what
happened. The honourable leader should not relate the dredging of Sydney Harbour
to the Atlantic Gateway, because the money did not come from the Atlantic
Gateway fund; it came from an old Devco fund.
Senator Cordy: No questions came from that side.
Senator Mercer: Not a single question came from that side worrying
about the good people of Nova Scotia and Cape Breton.
The article in The Chronicle Herald goes on to say that apparently
half of the $2 billion national fund has been committed, which includes, by the
way, $500 million for Ontario border crossings. However, again, where is the
plan they promised? A lot of money is apparently being promised and/ or spent
without a plan.
Let us do the math here. The three numbers that I have mentioned total $697
million. That leaves $1.4 billion remaining in the fund. It all seems very
confusing. Would the leader provide a complete list of the money already
promised that is coming from the Gateways and Border Crossings Fund?
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, I did not link the dredging of
Sydney Harbour to the Atlantic Gateway Strategy. Senator Mercer has overlooked
an individual who was crucial in supporting the dredging of Sydney Harbour; he
sits in this chamber in the person of Senator Michael MacDonald. He worked with
Minister MacKay; the member of Parliament for South Shore—St. Margaret's, Gerald
Keddy; Senator Comeau; and all the other representatives of Atlantic Canada who
made the case.
The fact is that we quietly get to work and get the job done; we do not shout
The amount of money spent on the various infrastructure programs in Atlantic
Canada not connected with the gateway is well known.
Honourable senators, regarding the honourable senator's specific question
about the plan and the results of the deliberations with our international
partners and provincial officials with whom we have been working, I will be
happy to provide a written response.
Hon. Grant Mitchell: Honourable senators, it is becoming increasingly
apparent that many business groups, from the Canadian Council of Chief
Executives to the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, are now urging
Ottawa to implement a carbon-pricing mechanism, a market mechanism to deal with
climate change, rather than using a heavy-handed regulatory approach.
Ironically, in spite of that input from these powerful business groups that,
one would think, would know about the markets, the government's new rookie
Minister of the Environment has just announced that he is going to regulate. Of
course, he is not the real Minister of the Environment; Mr. Harper is the real
Minister of the Environment, making this all the more paradoxical.
Could the Leader of the Government in the Senate tell us why we should not be
absolutely shocked that this hard-nosed, market-worshipping, business-friendly
Conservative government is turning around and imposing the regulatory,
big-government, command-and-control government approach over and above the
market-driven mechanism that business wants?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators,
I think the honourable senator is misrepresenting what business actually said.
Minister Kent, the Minister of the Environment, has discussed the regulatory
approach. Minister Kent has just taken over this portfolio and he has obviously
gotten off to a great start. He is working hard and has a good understanding of
all the issues on the environmental front. I will pass on Senator Mitchell's
comments about what he thinks the minister should be doing in his position as
Minister of the Environment.
Senator Mitchell: Honourable senators, perhaps the leader could also
pass this along this information to the new minister. The Cement Association of
Canada, Suncor Energy, Inc., Encana Corporation, the Canadian Association of
Petroleum Producers, and The Mining Association of Canada, among many other
business groups, business people and companies, are saying they do not want
heavy-handed, command-and-control regulation because it will cost much more than
a market mechanism.
What will Minister Kent tell all these business groups and business people?
How will he explain to them why he wants to cost them more money, when clearly
the solution is to rely upon a clean, simple, straightforward, market-driven
solution to climate change action?
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, our government has worked
harder than any other government to address the concerns of all businesses.
Obviously, these businesses are major employers and provide jobs for Canadians.
This government, unlike the promises of the party opposite, will not do anything
to hinder Canada's growth or our ability to create jobs and strengthen the
Honourable senators, concerning Minister Kent's response to the business
leaders, I will take the question as notice.
Senator Mitchell: Honourable senators, perhaps the leader could take
this comment back to Mr. Harper. On January 13, when he announced his Red Tape
Reduction Commission, Prime Minister Harper said that he would fight regulation
and red tape and that he would make a no- or low-regulation nirvana for business
in this country. Mr. Harper said that Canadian businesses spend billions of
dollars each year adhering to regulations.
Honourable senators, barely two weeks later, the Minister of the Environment
turned around and said that their government will do something on climate
change. I thank Minister Kent for saying that his government will do something;
however, it will be regulation. What is this? Is this just a case of Minister
Kent not really going to do anything at all, or is this a case of him not
listening to Mr. Harper? Is this a case of the right hand not knowing what the
proverbial left hand is doing?
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, the approach of the government
has not changed concerning climate change. We will align ourselves with the
United States and take a regulatory approach that will deliver results without
threatening Canada's economic recovery. We have already started this process in
the transportation sector, and we are continuing this process in terms of
regulating coal-fired electrical generation.
All these measures, honourable senators, will be taken with our focus clearly
trained on Canada's economic recovery and, through that recovery, we will create
jobs for Canadians.
Senator Mitchell: The approach of the government has not changed. Five
years ago, the government cancelled everything that the Liberals had put in
place. Then the government said it would put a made-in-Canada policy in place.
Then the government said it would do what the U.S. does, which is cap and trade.
Then, when the U.S. said it would regulate, the government said it would not
regulate, and now the government is saying it will regulate. What part of
"nothing has changed in your approach" does the government not understand?
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, the litany that Senator
Mitchell just cited is all within the confines of his own skull.
An Hon. Senator: That is not unusual.
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, Senator Mitchell makes the
statements and then he asks the questions; and somehow, miraculously, he
transfers them over as if they were the programs of the government. Of course,
the honourable senator knows that is not true.
We have had a consistent environmental plan from the beginning of our
mandate. We have made significant progress on the environment. What we did not
do, and would not do, was to sign on to accords to do things that we had no
intention of delivering on.
Senator Cordy: What is your plan? No plan.
Senator LeBreton: It is better than your plan.
Hon. Claudette Tardif (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable
senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate.
Yesterday, we learned that the Department of Canadian Heritage deprived
linguistic minorities of much-needed funds because of a backlog of unprocessed
The Commissioner of Official Languages has confirmed that these delays in
renewing funding are having a negative impact on the development and vitality of
a number of official language minority communities, which leads him to believe
that the department has failed to meet its obligations under Part VII of the
Official Languages Act.
These delays have had a severe impact on the operation and activities of many
organizations that provide services to linguistic minorities. How does the
Department of Canadian Heritage explain this unequal treatment of Canada's
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): I thank the
honourable senator for her question. First, the report to which Senator Tardif
refers is a report as to what transpired in the past. The Commissioner of
Official Languages, himself, stated in that very same report that he is
satisfied with the measures our government has taken to improve the situation.
Honourable senators, we have already taken steps. Community groups are
receiving more stability and encountering less red tape. For example, for
2010-11, 90 per cent of the official languages groups received confirmation of
funding before the fiscal year began on April 1. For 2010-11, approximately one
half of official languages groups are receiving funding through multi-year
grants, and a 24-week service standard has been implemented, as well as shorter
processing times and a single application deadline for all groups.
If honourable senators read the report, they will find that the Commissioner
of Official Languages, himself, stated that he is well satisfied with the
measures we have taken to address these concerns.
Senator Tardif: Honourable senators, for a number of years, the
Commissioner of Official Languages has noted the delays at Canadian Heritage.
These delays affect English- and French-language minority communities alike. For
example, the Quebec Community Groups Network has expressed its disappointment
and frustration for experiencing delays in signing accords, as well as other
francophone minority groups across the country.
The Commissioner of Official Languages has recommended that Canadian Heritage
report by March 31, 2011 the measures it will take under its action plan to
speed up the signing and implementation of financing for organizations
representing official language minorities.
Will Canadian Heritage accept these recommendations and execute them?
Senator LeBreton: I thank the senator for the question, but I think I
answered it in my first response when I said that the Commissioner of Official
Languages expressed satisfaction with the measures that the government has taken
in order to ensure that community groups are receiving more stable funding.
To repeat, for 2010-11, 90 per cent of official language groups received
confirmation of funding before the fiscal year began on April 1. For 2010-11,
approximately one half of official languages groups are receiving funding
through multi-year grants. One of the complaints in the past was that they would
have to reapply each year. In addition, a 24-week service standard has been
implemented as well as shorter processing times and a single application
deadline for all groups, which reduces red tape and ensures fairness across the
As the Commissioner of Official Languages stated in that same report, he is
satisfied that the government is taking measures to improve the situation.
Senator Tardif: The Leader of the Government in the Senate indicated
that 90 per cent of the groups have received notification. However, I think that
is different from the recommendation of the Official Languages Commissioner, who
asks that the department indicate what action it will take. That is quite
different from saying that some people will be notified. What actions will the
government take to ensure that this does not occur in the future? What is the
Senator LeBreton: I thank Senator Tardif for the question. I will seek
further clarification from my colleague, the Honourable James Moore, the
Minister of Canadian Heritage.
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Greene, seconded
by the Honourable Senator MacDonald, for the second reading of Bill C-14, An
Act to amend the Electricity and Gas Inspection Act and the Weights and
Hon. Tommy Banks: Honourable senators, I hope that someone will take
the adjournment of this debate. I know that senators are on tenterhooks waiting
to hear what I have to say about this bill because the bill contains the word
"inspector." I am happy to say that this bill does what all of those other bills
about which I have complained in the past should have done. This bill says that
the minister shall appoint inspectors, but then says in clause 16:
(1.1) The Minister shall ensure that, for each particular sector, all
persons designated under subsection (1) are trained and qualified in the
same manner and that all examinations made by these persons are conducted
The bill goes on to demonstrate the qualifications of those inspectors who
will work under this act. That is exactly what all of those other acts ought to
have done and did not.
Further, in clause 17:
(2) The Minister shall provide the inspector with a certificate of their
designation, and on entering the place, the inspector shall . . .
— present it, et cetera. These are all good things that ought to have been in
all the other bills that give inspectors unreasonable powers of search and
I will leave it to others to look at clause 17 of Bill C-14 to determine
whether the powers of search and seizure under it are appropriate. Otherwise,
this is a good piece of legislation.
(On motion of Senator Cowan, debate adjourned.)
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Lang, seconded by
the Honourable Senator Brown, for the second reading of Bill C-475, An Act
to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (methamphetamine and
Hon. Larry W. Campbell: Honourable senators, I am pleased to speak
today as the critic on Bill C-475, An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and
Substances Act (methamphetamine and ecstasy).
This bill establishes the distinct offence of possessing, producing, selling
or importing anything if the person involved knows that it will be used to
produce or traffic crystal meth or ecstasy. Generally speaking, the "anything"
refers to those substances that are called "precursors." Precursor chemicals are
chemicals that are essential to the production of the controlled substance.
Precursor chemicals also have a wide legitimate use in the production of
consumer goods such as pharmaceuticals, fragrances, flavouring, petroleum
products, fertilizers and paints. For example, ephedrine and pseudoephedrine,
commonly used in cold and decongestant medications, are precursor chemicals that
are used to produce methamphetamines. Another precursor is P2P, which is used
primarily in the production of ecstasy, also known as MDMA, as well as
Quoting from Wikipedia:
Chemicals critical to the production of . . . synthetic drugs are
produced in many countries throughout the world. Many manufacturers and
suppliers exist in Europe, China, India, the United States, and a host of
One of those countries is, of course, Canada.
Historically, chemicals critical to the synthesis or manufacture of illicit
drugs are introduced into various venues by legitimate purchases by companies
that are registered and licensed to do business as a chemical importer or
handler. Once in the country or state, the chemicals are diverted by rogue
importers or chemical companies, by criminal organizations and individual
violators, or, more typically seen in an overseas environment, acquired as a
result of coercion on the part of drug traffickers.
In response to stricter international controls, drug traffickers have
increasingly been forced to divert chemicals by mislabeling the containers,
forging documents, establishing front companies, using circuitous routing,
hijacking shipments, bribing officials, or smuggling products across
In the news in the past year we have heard that Canadian officials, both
police and border guards, have made numerous seizures of precursors coming into
Canada. For the most part, these chemicals were either mislabeled or hidden to
This bill will serve to restrict the availability of ecstasy and
methamphetamines by giving police agencies the opportunity to bring charges
against the manufacturers themselves.
Coming from a law enforcement background, I recognize the importance of
giving our police agencies across the country better tools to target individuals
and organized crime groups who have profited greatly from drug production in the
past. By limiting the ability to manufacture highly addictive drugs that are
targeted toward our youth, this bill will assist us in ensuring that this
dangerous and potentially lethal drug is controlled.
I remember when the drug MDA was made illegal in the United States. Cookers,
those who make speed, simply changed the molecules and came up with a drug
called MMDA. This was the start of what we came to know as designer drugs. We
know that simply listing a drug as illegal does not take care of the problem,
because good cookers can simply change the formula and put it back into the
system in a different format.
Lawmakers realized that there was an infinite number of ways to make
speed-type drugs and moved to control the precursors.
In some quarters, there is a fear that innocent citizens could find
themselves under investigation as a result of this bill. While it is true that
many of the precursors can be found in a household, for example ephedrine and
pseudoephedrine in cold tablets, it is also true that for a charge to be laid,
there must be evidence that the substances were collected with the intent to
In many investigations, precursors are kept separate from one another. In and
of itself, each precursor does not indicate any type of offence. However,
through surveillance and the gathering of evidence, one is often able to pull
all those precursors together to show that they will be used to make
methamphetamines and ecstasy.
Honourable senators, I support this bill. However, we must not lose sight of
the fact that, while law enforcement is one of the tools in our arsenal to
prevent the use of drugs, prevention is the best tool. Education, factual
information and honesty must be used to ensure that our citizens, young and old,
realize the dangers of drug use. My views on drug policy are well known. I will
not bore honourable senators with yet another dissertation on the advantages of
the four-pillar approach. Time and again, however, we are presented with
evidence that a dollar spent on prevention is incrementally more effective than
a dollar spent on any other action to lessen drug use.
Honourable senators, the changes proposed by Bill C-475 are an important step
toward reducing the production of crystal meth and ecstasy in Canada. For this
reason, I support this bill.
(On motion of Senator Carstairs, debate adjourned.)
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the consideration of the seventh report (interim) of
the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade
entitled: A Workplan for Canada in the New Global Economy: Responding to
the Rise of Russia, India and China, tabled in the Senate on June 28,
Hon. Suzanne Fortin-Duplessis: Honourable senators, the Standing
Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade produced this report
after three years of hearings in Ottawa and fact-finding missions to Russia,
China and India.
In November 2007, we undertook a study that was motivated by an interest in
how and to what extent Canada could benefit from the impressive economic growth
of these three countries. Their rise in the new global economy holds significant
domestic, bilateral and global implications for Canada's prosperity.
My remarks today concern the report on the rise of Russia, India and China,
but more particularly the latter two countries, which I had the pleasure of
visiting as a member of the committee. In order to fulfil our mandate, our
committee met 49 times, heard 87 witnesses and took three trips, visiting the
following cities: Khanty-Mansiysk and Moscow in Russia; Beijing, Shanghai,
Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Hong Kong in China; and New Delhi, Hyderabad and Mumbai
Three reports were tabled as part of this study: the first in March 2010, the
second in June and the third in December, completing the study.
First, I would like to thank those who worked so hard to make our report a
success. I would like to thank the chair, the Honourable Raynell Andreychuk, her
predecessor, the Honourable Consiglio Di Nino, and the former deputy chair, the
Honourable Peter A. Stollery, and all the members, for their dedication to this
committee and especially to this study.
I also want to thank members of our staff and the Library of Parliament's
Parliamentary Information and Research Service for its help, particularly
Natalie Mychajlyszyn and her former colleague Jennifer Paul. We also need to
thank the dedicated committee clerk, Denis Robert, who has just retired, and the
support staff and team of translators who have all helped us see this study
Our report underscores to what extent Southeast Asia is both a major
geographic crossroads and a unique crossroads of civilizations. After centuries
of one population wave after another, a unique mosaic of ethnicities, cultures
and religions has formed that is both the wealth and weakness of this region.
Among these many currents, two major influences have intersected in Southeast
Asia and have progressively adapted to one another. China and India have laid
the foundation for the Southeast Asian identity which continues to take shape
over the decades despite the very significant differences between these two
India and China were global economic superpowers in the 1720s. India's
development, like China's, has been complicated over the past two centuries.
With one-fifth of the world's population, India now wants to reclaim what it
considers to be its rightful place. Over the next 25 years, India will be an
economic giant and Canada will have to deal with it.
Our trip to India helped us understand just how complex its domestic politics
are. We discovered that, with the last general election in the spring of 2009,
the visibility of social minorities in India's public arena has increased. This
change is seen in the growing number of political parties and has led the
Congress to focus more on social justice issues.
China's political agenda in 2010 was dominated by economic issues and in
particular by the tension between the desire to develop a new growth model —
based on domestic growth — and the goal of stability, more likely to be achieved
in the short term through an export-based model. The 2008 Olympic Games were a
great success and were followed by the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai. During that
international event, the Canadian pavilion welcomed and entertained no less than
6.4 million visitors.
And as an aside, I should say that rediscovering China after a few years was
a pleasant surprise for me. The first shock was arriving in Shanghai and feeling
the boundless energy and the terrific drive that carries you along. In many
ways, that drive reminds me of New York.
During our meetings with the Chinese authorities, I noticed that the
Politburo Standing Committee of the Communist Party of China also includes
younger members who have gained considerable economic management experience in
the provinces where they were based.
If China is the "workshop of the world," as one of the many witnesses in our
report stated, then India has become its laboratory. Honourable senators know
that the Indian economy is experiencing strong growth that has reached record
levels in the past 10 years. India already represents a key market for Canadian
businesses and should, within the next 20 years, become one of the top four
However, this study shows that India remains a developing country in many
The GDP per capita remains low, and despite the emergence of a dynamic middle
class, a large part of the population still lives below the poverty line, facing
unsanitary conditions and often social structures linked to the caste system.
One out of three Indians lives on less than $1 a day.
In that context, the government has committed to reforms that would support
growth, modernize economic structures and fight poverty by implementing major
In China, the situation is rather similar, and while most economies in 2010
were slowly recovering from the global financial crisis, the Chinese economy
appeared to be strong. This strength does not diminish the major challenges
facing the authorities, who must develop the growth model in a country that is
experiencing significant internal unrest.
China's development method is consciously focused on exports and driven by
investments, which in turn have spurred domestic activities. The experts who
testified in committee agreed that, although China opened up to the market
economy, this was combined with state control over important sectors of the
economy. This growth model has a positive track record: the average income
increased eight-fold, poverty decreased and life expectancy increased.
In the summer of 2008, a decrease in economic activity led the Chinese
authorities to abandon the tight monetary policy in favour of a "prudent and
active" macroeconomic policy. In November 2008, a $541 billion budgetary support
plan was announced. Government investments were the primary component of this
plan, although an effort was made to support the social system.
The increase in economic activity was surprisingly quick and strong.
In India, according to the testimony of the Minister of Road Transport and
Highways and of the Indian High Commissioner to Canada, New Delhi's foreign
policy priority is to maintain stability and regional peace, in order to provide
the right conditions for its development.
The second priority is to position India as part of East and Southeast Asia,
the regional driving force for economic growth, under the "Look East Policy"
begun in the 1990s. This will translate into strengthened ties with Japan,
normalized relations with China and the development of relationships with other
Southeast Asian countries and regional organizations focused on cooperation and
The attacks in Mumbai in November 2008 only increased tensions in the already
difficult relations between India and Pakistan. This has been a constant source
of concern for India since partition in 1947.
As for China's foreign policy, our study has shown that Chinese diplomacy is
becoming more active every day. While its priorities continue to be regional
stability and support for the country's economic growth, its actions are taking
on an increasingly global dimension. When faced with questions about the
consequences of its increasing strength, China continues to emphasize its status
as a developing country and its desire for "peaceful development," although it
remains determined to defend its interests.
China is the most populous country in the world, a permanent member of the UN
Security Council, a nuclear power and soon the second largest economy in the
world, ahead of Japan. China is asserting itself as an essential partner in
meeting the major global challenges in a multilateral framework.
Canada and India have longstanding bilateral relations, built upon shared
traditions of democracy and pluralism and strong interpersonal connections. The
bilateral relationship is supported by a wide range of bilateral agreements in
fields such as agriculture, energy, mutual legal assistance, and air services.
In November 2009, Prime Minister Stephen Harper visited India and met with
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
In November 2009, the Prime Ministers of Canada and India announced the
conclusion of negotiations on a Nuclear Cooperation Agreement. They agreed to
intensify the economic and trade relationship by announcing the setting up of a
joint study group to explore the possibility of a Comprehensive Economic
Partnership Agreement between India and Canada. They set a combined annual trade
target of $15 billion to be reached in the next five years.
Prime Minister Singh visited Canada in June 2010 and attended the G20 Summit
As in the case of India, bilateral cooperation with China is strong: many
Canadian government departments have productive cooperation programs and
memoranda of understanding with their Chinese counterparts, and hold regular
exchanges at various levels. Both countries enjoy an active working relationship
in international forums.
Our committee heard many times that strong ties exist between the people of
the two countries: over 1.3 million Canadian residents are of Chinese origin.
Mandarin is Canada's third most spoken language, and immigrants born in China,
including Hong Kong, form one of the largest groups within Canada's immigrant
I would like to emphasize the vital importance of Prime Minister Harper's
visit to China in December 2009, which contributed to strengthening bilateral
ties and enhancing dialogue between Canada and China. The Canada-China Joint
Statement signed on this occasion identified the priorities of the Canada-China
relationship. During the visit, the opening of a new Chinese Consulate General
in Montreal and China's granting of Approved Destination Status for Canada were
announced, which together will allow for an increased flow of tourists, students
and business people between the two countries. This visit also resulted in the
signing of bilateral agreements on climate change, mineral resources, culture
and agricultural education. Both sides concurred on the importance of frequent
exchanges and therefore agreed to enhance the role of the strategic working
group, a bilateral mechanism established in 2005 to facilitate high-level
During his visit to Canada in June 2010, President Hu Jintao reaffirmed
China's commitment to developing a strategic partnership with Canada and
strengthening economic and trade cooperation between our two countries.
Will the Honourable Speaker grant me an additional five minutes?
The Hon. the Speaker: Yes.
Senator Fortin-Duplessis: As described in detail in our report, these
success stories are the result of genuine reform in China and India. The two
countries have chosen a progressive development approach, as opposed to the
shock approach taken by Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
In contrast with India, China's development has been led by a strong State and
has involved tiered implementation. Most of these reforms are the result of
experience and, as Deng Xiaoping said, "We must cross the river by feeling the
Our report indicates that the long-term goal for China's economy remains the
reduction of its dependence on exports and investment. For the well-being of its
people, China must also focus on the reform of health, education, labour law and
environmental protection, as well as on job creation.
Recovery of growth in China has been driven by strong stimulus policy and
bank loans to counterbalance the decrease in exports last year. Despite excess
capacity in the steel and concrete industry, for example, China still has great
growth potential and there are many opportunities on the horizon for Canadian
Both countries rely heavily on imported energy and seek to invest in other
countries to secure additional sources of energy.
In this period of recovery, it will be interesting to see how China and India
will invest in economic, business and social structures characteristic of more
mature and advanced economies. Will India one day catch up to China? It may be
just a matter of time.
To conclude, I would like to highlight some recommendations that I believe to
be of particular importance. In my view, the first priority is to continue to
strengthen our political and economic co-operation. To benefit from the momentum
established by recent high-level visits, especially that of the Prime Minister,
the Government of Canada should increase such visits.
Given that the future lies in education, the second priority is to promote
university exchanges. According to the figures submitted, by 2025, India and
China will account for 50 per cent of the demand for higher education abroad, or
some 3.6 million students. Despite this vast pool of potential applicants, there
are currently only 6,000 Indian students attending Canadian colleges and
universities. In 2009, Canada accepted approximately 50,000 Chinese students who
chose to come to Canada for their education. To improve Canadian education
services, our government should adopt an international recruitment strategy for
foreign students in order to increase the number of Chinese, Indian and Russian
students in post-secondary institutions by emphasizing Canada's scholastic and
vocational expertise and other comparative advantages.
Thus, when students return to their own countries, they become ambassadors
for Canada. They are our best representatives. They are our best salespeople,
because they understand Canada and are proud of the time they have spent here.
(On motion of Senator Tardif, debate adjourned.)
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the consideration of the eighth report (interim) of
the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural
Resources entitled: Facts Do Not Justify Banning Canada's Current
Offshore Drilling Operations: A Senate Review In the Wake of BP's Deepwater
Horizon Incident, deposited with the Clerk of the Senate on August 18,
Hon. Daniel Lang: Honourable senators, I move the adjournment of this
item in my name as I intend to speak another day.
(On motion of Senator Lang, debate adjourned.)
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the consideration of the fourth report of the Standing
Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce, entitled: Canadians
Saving for their Future: A Secure Retirement, tabled in the Senate on
October 19, 2010.
Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette: Honourable senators, I intend to move
adoption of the report of the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and
Commerce, entitled Canadians Saving for their Future: A Secure Retirement.
A number of expert witnesses testified and greatly helped our committee's
work. It was enriching, and I think I can speak for my colleagues when I say
that we were pleased to have input that will help the provinces as well as the
federal government. This issue touches both jurisdictions.
I would like to make a few comments on our recommendations because my
honourable colleagues may not have an opportunity to read the entire report.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, the honourable Senator
Hervieux-Payette indicated that she intended to move a motion. Perhaps that
motion should be moved now.
Senator Hervieux-Payette: Honourable senators, I believed we were
going to vote after I had made my comments. However, if the vote must take place
immediately, so be it.
The Hon. the Speaker: You may continue, but the question will be on
Senator Hervieux-Payette: We may vote right away.
The Hon. the Speaker: It was moved by the Honourable Senator
Hervieux-Payette, seconded by the Honourable Senator Pépin, that this report be
adopted. The Honourable Senator Hervieux-Payette has the floor.
Senator Hervieux-Payette: Honourable senators, I asked the advice of
the Speaker's experts and I will follow his rules.
Honourable senators, I wanted to make a few comments on our recommendations:
low-income Canadians and high-income Canadians are nonetheless well protected.
It is middle-class Canadians who will have to make an effort when they retire.
Our committee had a very specific, very narrow mandate. We looked at two
measures: the Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) and the recently
established Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA). Obviously it takes more than just
those two measures to ensure a comfortable retirement for all Canadians and it
was not our intention to suggest otherwise.
However, we have gone beyond those two measures. We have made comments about
Canadians' knowledge of the financial sector, which is fairly closely regulated,
and their knowledge of the profession of financial adviser. As we have seen in
the past few years, the financial advisers may have failed in their duties,
through a lack of skill or experience in certain areas.
The first recommendation was that the government should keep the ceiling on
the annual contribution to registered retirement savings plans at 18 per cent.
Our committee had no intention of increasing the ceiling, which is $22,000.
However, we should ensure that employees who have contributed have access to
multi-employer pension plans. There was a time when we started working for a
company at 18 and did not leave it until we retired. Today, not only do we
change companies throughout our lives, but quite often we change careers and
roles. It is important to have the flexibility to change jobs while keeping any
money that has been set aside and ensuring that the employer's contribution
We have proposed legislative changes to ensure that withdrawals from RRSPs
remain taxable and that the withdrawal can be paid back in full.
The third recommendation was to increase the age from 71, as is currently
stipulated, to 75, which would be phased in over an eight-year period. We will
see in the next budget whether the Minister of Finance makes that possible. One
of the reasons this issue was examined was that there are more and more people
who do not retire at the age of 70, but who keep working, and this measure would
help with the transition.
The fourth recommendation is interesting. It has to do with young people and
TFSAs. The maximum amount in such an account would be $100,000, which would be
indexed as time goes on. We decided on this amount to take into account the
possibility of an inheritance or a windfall that an individual would want to put
into savings for retirement. This account could reach a maximum of $100,000 and
the interest would be tax-free.
With respect to financial education for Canadians, we believe that the
government could do more when it comes to educating the public about choosing a
financial advisor. How can people make that choice and make sure they are fully
aware of the risks?
Every expert on the matter says that we should not make the same investments
at age 50 as we did at 25. During the recent financial crisis we saw pension
funds melting like spring snow and people taking a much less comfortable
retirement even though they had saved during their entire working lives. It is
important for this sector to be examined closely.
Another concern is that management fees for certain funds are much higher
than those in other countries, the United States in particular. It is good for
the fund managers, but unfair to the people who will be retiring and do not earn
the same lucrative salaries as the managers.
We think the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada should provide indicators
that people could verify.
As far as education is concerned this is a matter for the federal government,
which administers the Canada Pension Plan, and Quebec, which has its own plan,
the Quebec Pension Plan. We will have to ensure that there is monitoring,
supervision and innovation. We proposed that funds be supervised by the federal
government but managed by the private sector, while respecting very strict
limits and rules in order to ensure that people get a good return and are given
the flexibility to change jobs.
For those following this debate, we hope the provinces and the federal
government will reach an agreement very soon. In the coming years, we must take
precautions to ensure that the measures recommended by all the working groups
are implemented as soon as possible. Supporting this impartial committee report
would be a positive outcome for a Senate committee.
(On motion of Senator Comeau, debated adjourned.)
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Callbeck,
calling the attention of the Senate to the need to adequately support new
mothers and fathers by eliminating the Employment Insurance two-week waiting
period for maternity and parental benefits.
Hon. Pamela Wallin: Honourable senators, I want to thank the
opposition for their agreement to allow me to sit temporarily in this spot and
to be allowed to speak. The broken foot and trying to get around in the
wheelchair has meant the time in my office has been very limited. I have not
done the necessary work to respond to this inquiry. Thus, I would ask that the
debate be adjourned in my name for the remainder of my time.
(On motion of Senator Wallin, debate adjourned.)
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Finley calling
the attention of the Senate to the issue of the erosion of Freedom of Speech
in our country.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, given that Senator Cools does not intend to speak to this inquiry,
which would essentially remove it from the Order Paper, I wish to adjourn the
debate in my name.
(On motion of Senator Comeau, debate adjourned.)
Hon. Donald H. Oliver rose pursuant to notice of November 30, 2010:
That he will call the attention of the Senate to the "Chiapas
Declaration" which was adopted by consensus at the International
Parliamentary Conference on "Parliaments, Minorities and Indigenous Peoples:
Effective participation in politics" in Mexico on November 3rd, which urges
every parliament to:
- Hold a special debate on the situation of minorities and indigenous
peoples in their country;
- Recognize the diversity in society; and
- Adopt a Plan of Action to make the right to equal participation and
non-discrimination a reality for minorities and indigenous peoples.
He said: Honourable senators, in my capacity as the head of the Canadian
delegation of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, IPU, and as an elected member of
its executive committee, I recently attended the International Parliamentary
Conference in Chiapas, Mexico. The conference brought together parliamentarians
from 34 member states of the IPU, including Australia and New Zealand, to
discuss issues surrounding the effective participation of minorities and
indigenous peoples in parliaments and national decision-making processes.
The conference was organized jointly by the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the
Mexican Congress of the Union, the Government of the State of Chiapas in
partnership with the United Nations Development Programme, the United Nations
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the United Nations
Independent Expert on Minority Issues and the Minority Rights Group
Participants at this conference adopted by consensus the Chiapas Declaration,
an important document that calls for action by parliaments around the globe.
This declaration puts forth the rights of minorities and indigenous peoples to
equal participation in parliamentary and regional decision-making processes, and
encourages parliaments and political parties to support those rights through a
variety of potential legal and policy initiatives. By engaging in dialogue on
this important subject in the Senate chamber, honourable senators have already
taken positive action towards the implementation of the principles brought
forward in the Chiapas Declaration.
This dialogue is an important first step that will hopefully generate more
thought and discussion around the issue both within and outside of the Senate
chamber. We should begin this endeavour by asking important questions about the
potential factors affecting equal participation of minorities and indigenous
people in the political decision-making processes, and our role as senators in
generating solutions to address problems and remove barriers.
In particular, we must ask: What can the Senate do to facilitate the equal
participation of minorities and indigenous peoples in the democratic process?
What are the current barriers to equal participation? What needs and concerns in
this regard do visible minorities and Aboriginal communities themselves
articulate? What tools do the Senate and senators have to address these
In my remarks, I wish to provide information on international developments
relating to the effective participation of minorities and indigenous peoples in
democratic processes. I will next speak about Canada's experience with
diversity, followed by an overview of mechanisms for the political participation
and representation of indigenous people and minorities in this country. Lastly,
I will speak to the potential for greater innovation on these issues within our
parliamentary system and throughout the system of Canadian democracy.
The right of minorities and indigenous peoples to participate in decision
making is enshrined in numerous international instruments. Success stories from
around the world demonstrate that adequate representation of minorities and
indigenous peoples in societal decision making is instrumental to breaking the
cycle of discrimination and exclusion suffered by members of these groups in
sharing disproportionate levels of poverty and related impediments to the full
enjoyment of many cultural, economic, political, social and civil rights.
The Chiapas Declaration articulates the right of minorities and indigenous
people to "full and equal membership of our nations." The exercise of this
right, in turn, requires the effective participation of minorities and
indigenous peoples at all levels of government and, in particular, in regional
and national parliaments.
The declaration notes that public policies must be sensitive to the
situation, needs and aspirations of indigenous peoples. In addition, measures to
ensure the effective participation of minorities and indigenous people should
include prior consultation on public policies.
The articulation of rights entails responsibilities to ensure their
protection and implementation. In this regard, the Chiapas Declaration calls on
both political parties and parliaments to promote the effective participation of
minorities and indigenous peoples. The declaration notes that it is the
responsibility of political parties to reflect the concerns of these groups in
their party programs. The declaration urges parliaments to take specific steps
within the next two years towards ensuring the effective participation of
minorities and indigenous peoples.
In particular, parliaments are encouraged, first, to hold special debates on
the situation of minorities and indigenous people nationally; second, to adopt
the plan of action on the right to equal participation and non-discrimination
for minorities and indigenous peoples; and third, the declaration equally urges
parliaments to adopt and implement laws, or evaluate existing laws, to end
discrimination and provide for effective participation of indigenous people and
minorities in decision making. Parliaments are also encouraged to take positive
steps to ensure that the legislative process is transparent and accessible to
minorities and indigenous peoples.
The Chiapas Declaration builds on other international instruments that call
on national governments to implement rights to political participation for
minorities and indigenous peoples. The Declaration on the Rights of Persons
Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities was adopted
by the United Nations General Assembly in 1992. Article 2 of the declaration
articulates the right on the part of minorities to "participate effectively in
cultural, religious, social, economic and public life."
I am proud to state that, on November 12, 2010, the Government of Canada
endorsed the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
This declaration contains several statements on the right of indigenous people
to participate in decision-making processes. For example, Article 5 of the
Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain and strengthen their
distinct political, legal, economic, social and cultural institutions, while
retaining their right to participate fully, if they so choose, in the
political, economic, social and cultural life of the State.
Another statement of indigenous peoples' rights to participate in the
decision-making process is found in Article 18:
Indigenous peoples have the right to participate in decision-making in
matters which would affect their rights, through representatives chosen by
themselves in accordance with their own procedures, as well as to maintain
and develop their own indigenous decision-making institutions.
The Assembly of First Nations, AFN, in particular has spoken in support of
Canada's endorsement of this declaration. The AFN National Chief has stated
The Declaration provides a guide and framework for First Nations, the
federal government and all Canadians to continue our work together in ways
that respect and implement Aboriginal and Treaty rights in the relationship
between First Nations and Canada.
The national chief also noted that the endorsement of the declaration
"presents an opportunity to press the `reset' button on the relationship between
Indigenous peoples and the rest of Canada."
Australia and New Zealand, both members of the Inter-Parliamentary Union,
have also taken steps to strengthen the participation of their indigenous
population in the electoral systems and the affairs of the state. For example,
the Government of Australia in 1990 established various forums for the political
participation of indigenous Australians. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander Commission, in operation since 1990 to 2005, was authorized to allocate
budgetary resources for Aboriginal affairs and to play a role in policy
development and implementation.
The Government of Australia later created a National Indigenous Council,
which was in operation from 2005 to 2007. The council, comprised of indigenous
members appointed by government, was an advisory body with no representative
In 2008, the Government of Australia undertook consultations on a national
indigenous representative body to provide a voice at the national level for
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
In May 2010, the National Congress of Australia's First Peoples was
incorporated. Comprising 120 individuals elected by indigenous Australians, the
Congress will advocate for the rights and interests of Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander peoples in Australia. In addition, in November of last year, the
Government of Australia announced a process to frame a referendum question to
recognize constitutionally Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
New Zealand has made strides in ensuring the representation of their
country's indigenous population through a legislated system of guaranteed seats
in the national parliament. The legislative framework in respect to national
elections, which includes the 1867 Maori Representation Act, guarantees separate
electoral seats to represent Maori ridings that span the entire country. The
number of these guaranteed seats may vary depending on the number of Maori
voters registered in the Maori electoral roll. For example, the number of
guaranteed Maori seats was set to five in the 1995 general election and seven in
the 2008 general election.
What is the Canadian experience? In brief, honourable senators, Canada, as
you know, is one of the most ethnically diverse and multicultural countries in
the world. Diversity is a fact of life in Canada and has become a basic cultural
value and a characteristic by which we define ourselves as a nation.
Canada was originally home to the Aboriginal peoples — First Nations, the
Metis and the Inuit people. Great cultural, linguistic and spiritual diversity
is evident among the myriad Aboriginal nations in Canada. We also owe our
diversity to a relatively long history of immigration. European settlement began
in the 17th century, and several waves of immigrants have since come to Canada
from all corners of the globe. The 2006 Census data show that Canadians
represent more than 200 different ethnic groups.
Legal rights to political participation for Aboriginal and minorities have
been strengthened over time. Across Canada, governments have taken many steps
towards promoting effective participation of minorities and indigenous peoples
in governmental decision-making processes. Visible minorities have
constitutional and legislative protection from discrimination in all facets of
our public life. Aboriginal peoples also have the rights, enshrined in
constitution, to be consulted on matters that might affect them, including
legislation proposed by Parliament. All Canadians are invited to participate in
the democratic process by, for example, exercising their democratic right to
vote or by seeking election to the House of Commons.
In my time remaining before honourable senators today, I will speak of two
important aspects for the rights of minorities and indigenous people to full
membership in our democracy. The first aspect is political participation in the
democratic process and the second is political representation in all levels of
I will skip the first part and say that over the course of the last decade,
it is clear that special care has been taken to ensure that more visible
minorities were appointed to important roles in our parliamentary system. For
example, the role of Governor General, the Queen's representative in Canada, was
filled by Adrienne Clarkson, followed by Michaëlle Jean, both visible minority
women who came to Canada as children. Additionally, several lieutenant,
governors of our provinces are, or have been, visible minorities and Aboriginal
More recently, in my home province of Nova Scotia, the Conservative
government of Premier John Hamm passed legislation in 2000 that set aside on
provincial school boards a number of seats for Afro-Canadians in electoral
districts with a high percentage of Blacks. The Province of Nova Scotia has also
conducted numerous studies and consultations to look into the creation of an
Aboriginal or Black seat in the legislature.
Most recently, the Mayor of Halifax has agreed to meet with Black residents
to discuss the creation of a seat for blacks on the Halifax Regional Council.
There are currently 24 members of the council, none of which are either an
Aboriginal or a visible minority.
There is also an opportunity to participate in the legislative process as an
elected official. Canadians have elected three provincial premiers of
non-European decent: two in Prince Edward Island and one in British Columbia.
Since 1991, every premier of Nunavut and the Northwest Territories has been of
Aboriginal descent. At the municipal level, the first visible minority and the
first Muslim mayor of a major Canadian city was recently elected in Calgary.
Honourable senators, I do not want to give the impression, however, that the
situation in the country is without blemish; certainly, problems remain. Racism
is a fact of life and immigrants to Canada and Canada's Aboriginal peoples do
not always have all the chances to which they should be entitled.
Our Parliament still does not adequately reflect the diversity in Canadian
society. For example, although Aboriginal peoples in Canada account for about 4
per cent of the population, only five members of the House of Commons are of
Aboriginal descent, about 1.5 per cent of the total seats in the House of
Commons. Aboriginal representation in the Senate is more balanced. Currently,
six senators are of Aboriginal descent, accounting for about 5 per cent in this
Visible minorities are also seriously under-represented in Parliament. As I
noted previously, visible minorities represent 16 per cent to 20 per cent of the
total Canadian population; however, 22 visible minority candidates were elected
in Parliament in 2004, representing only 7 per cent of the total seats in the
House of Commons. The figures from the 2008 election were reportedly similar. In
addition, visible minority senators represent some 5 per cent in this chamber.
Political parties also play a part in the political representation of visible
minorities and Aboriginal peoples through their choice of candidates.
Honourable senators, could I have two or three more minutes?
Senator Comeau: Five minutes.
Senator Munson: Five minutes.
Senator Oliver: Another topical example of engaging minorities in the
political process is the participation of non-resident citizens — new immigrants
to Canada who have not yet received their citizenship and do not have the right
to vote — in Canada's major political parties through official membership in the
party and participation in the selection process to choose candidates for
Karen Bird, professor of political science at McMaster University in Ontario,
. . . the openness of the candidate selection procedures in Canada
arguably allows for significant input from ethnic minorities. . . .
Political parties in Canada have made efforts and inroads into increasing the
representation of minorities on their rosters of candidates. However, if a truly
representative Parliament of Canada is to become a reality, all political
parties must do a better job at recruiting and retaining candidates to run for
Honourable senators, in countries with citizens of diverse ethnic backgrounds
such as Canada, it becomes all the more important that all citizens are able to
contribute to and benefit from society's growth. We must work to avoid some
citizens being prevented from full participation because of their ethnic origin,
their religion, or the colour of their skin, and strive to ensure that all
members of society benefit from the same access to education, employment,
promotion and justice. It also means that we must strive for truly inclusive
parliaments with greater civic engagement. That is to say all groups, regardless
of gender, language, creed, heritage or ethnicity must have equal chances of
participating in the political decision, making process.
Honourable senators, in conclusion, let me say that I hope that the special
inquiry on the issues raised by the Chiapas Declaration will be the basis for
further discussion and action by the Senate of Canada — indeed, by the entire
(On motion of Senator Di Nino, debate adjourned.)
(The Senate adjourned until, Thursday, February 3, 2011, at 1:30 p.m.)