Hon. Donald H. Oliver: Honourable senators, February is Black History
Month. It is a time of year that is very important to me.
First of all, I would like to congratulate Senator Pépin on the excellent
speech she made on this subject last week. Her speech was well received by the
African-Canadian community and the entire country.
This year marks the eighty-fifth anniversary of the first Negro History Week,
which was later expanded to a month-long celebration. In Canada, the event was
first celebrated in the 1950s in Toronto, but it was only 16 years ago that it
received national recognition.
In 1995, the House of Commons adopted a motion to recognize February as Black
History Month. The Senate needed to adopt a similar resolution and three years
ago, I tabled a motion to officially recognize Black History Month, which was
unanimously adopted by honourable senators.
In spite of these significant recognitions, most Canadians remain woefully
ignorant about the enduring contributions of Blacks to Canada's history. Black
History Month reminds us of what life in Canada was once like for Blacks and
other people of colour. Life was not always easy for people of colour and
although we have come a long way, we still have a long way to go.
During Black History Month, and throughout the year, we need to speak out
against racism; the racism that still affects Blacks and other people of colour;
the racism that continues to impede our progress and to stall the growth of
Canada as a diverse, inclusive and progressive society.
As the Prime Minister said this week in The Hill Times:
February is an opportunity to celebrate the values of perseverance and
dignity that have defined the Black community in Canada.
Honourable senators, above all, I believe Black History Month is a time to
discuss solutions for ending discrimination and that is exactly what I intend to
do throughout the month. I will engage a number of federal government
departments, public servants and students in open discussions about diversity
and racism in Canada. I will give several keynote speeches this month including
to Treasury Board Secretariat, the Department of National Defence, and National
Archives Canada for Canada Revenue Agency's Black History Month event. I will
also meet with high school students in Halifax and Dartmouth to raise awareness
of African heritage. In April, I will be the keynote speaker at the annual Harry
Jerome Awards in Toronto. This awards ceremony recognizes and honours excellence
in achievements in people of African-Canadian descent.
Honourable senators, celebrating Black History Month and acknowledging our
past offers much inspiration for the more than 800,000 Canadians of African
Honourable senators, my message is simple: We should look back with pride on
yesterday's achievements, but we must also acknowledge today's problems and look
forward to tomorrow with vision and hope, for as George Washington Carver once
observed, "Where there is no vision, there is no hope."
I invite all honourable senators to join me in the fight against racism and
discrimination in Canada during Black History Month and throughout the year as
we celebrate the International Year for People of African Descent.
Hon. Elizabeth Hubley: Honourable senators, on Saturday, February 5,
at the Confederation Centre Public Library in Charlottetown, I attended the
launch of a book entitled: I Know an Angel... The First 25 Years of Hospice
Palliative Care on PEI, 1985-2010. The book presents an historical review of
hospice palliative care in Prince Edward Island over the past 25 years.
Written by Eleanor Davies of Stratford, herself a founder and a 25-year
volunteer with hospice, the book chronicles how a small group of dedicated
Islanders who, recognizing the need for hospice palliative care, made a big
impact on the life of Islanders living with life-threatening illnesses. Their
motto became "Make each day count."
Volunteer chapters of hospice exist throughout the province. In the past 25
years, over 1,500 trained volunteers have provided in excess of 45,000 hours of
care in a variety of settings, including the community, patients' homes and
palliative care beds in acute and chronic care facilities. These volunteers are
an important component of the Integrated Palliative Care Program.
Honourable senators, hospice volunteers across the country are truly angels
who give of themselves to provide comfort and support to patients and to the
families of patients who are living with life-threatening illnesses.
I am proud to say that Eleanor Davies is my sister, and I remind all
honourable senators to make each day count.
Hon. Ethel Cochrane: Honourable senators, last week, in an
announcement that was live-streamed worldwide over the Internet, the Salvation
Army announced the election of their new world leader — a Canadian woman.
Commissioner Linda Bond, a Salvationist from Glace Bay, Nova Scotia, was
chosen to become the nineteenth general of the church. Nominated for the
position by her peers, Commissioner Bond was elected by the High Council of the
Salvation Army, a body composed of senior leaders from around the world.
General-elect Bond will officially become general on April 2.
It may be surprising to honourable senators that Commissioner Bond is the
third woman and only the fourth Canadian to hold this important position. It is
quite a remarkable story for a woman who was born the youngest of 13 children to
a British immigrant mother and a coal miner father.
In her new role, General-elect Bond will lead a church that is 1 million
followers strong and active in more than 123 countries. The church also has more
than 100,000 employees who communicate in over 175 different languages.
With 42 years experience in Christian ministry and leadership, Commissioner
Bond brings a wealth of experience and talent to her new role. In addition to
being a leader and ordained minister of religion, she has served in local church
ministry, on staff at national and regional headquarters, and as part of the
training staff for new officers.
Previously, Commander Bond led the Salvation Army in Canada and in Bermuda,
and held a range of leadership positions in the United Kingdom and the United
States. She currently leads the church in Eastern Australia.
Honourable senators, I applaud the general-elect for her lifelong commitment
to service and I offer her my prayers and best wishes as she leads her people in
the challenging years ahead.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the 2010-11
Supplementary Estimates (C), for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2011.
Hon. Rose-Marie Losier-Cool: Honourable senators, my question is for
the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Near the end of December, the
coastal areas of northern and eastern New Brunswick were ravaged by three
successive storms accompanied by breaking waves and very strong winds. Several
harbours and vessels were damaged, thereby compromising this year's fishery,
which should begin in May. Most of these small fishing harbours fall under
federal jurisdiction, but according to a CBC/Radio-Canada report on January 17,
2011, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans has a budget of only $25 million to
$30 million a year to all fishing harbours under its jurisdiction. That amount
is not usually enough, even in a normal year.
Could the Leader of the Government in the Senate ask the Minister of
Fisheries and Oceans for a list of the criteria that will be used by the
department to determine which ports in my province will receive assistance, and
could she table that list here in the Senate?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): I thank the
honourable senator for the question. Departmental staff officials have been
inspecting harbours to determine the extent of damage and the estimated cost of
Public safety, as honourable senators know, is our first priority. We are
working with all partners to secure sites and ensure that the most pressing
repairs are undertaken well in advance of the upcoming fishery season.
Senator Losier-Cool: I thank the Leader of the Government for her
response, for this is an urgent matter. Fishers want to get ready for this
year's season and are counting on the government to make additional emergency
funds available in order to repair the terrible damage caused by the storms.
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, as I indicated in my first
answer, this is absolutely the objective of the government. The government is
well aware of the extent of the damage and the cost to the coastal communities.
I will ask the department to provide a brief update on the status thus far so
that I can provide honourable senators with more detail.
Senator Losier-Cool: The storms also ravaged tourist attractions like
Parlee Beach and the Bouctouche dune, two of the most beautiful areas in Canada.
In order to rebuild, will those sites be eligible for assistance from the
Infrastructure Stimulus Fund, since it has been extended until October 2011? Do
those sites satisfy the criteria to benefit from additional assistance?
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, I visited some of the sites
that were affected and the extent of the damage is overwhelming.
With regard to the stimulus funding, as honourable senators know, the
announcement to extend the stimulus funding was for projects already under way.
Obviously, these repairs and all the work that is done in this area will be
coming from other sources, but I will clarify that for Senator Losier-Cool.
Hon. Catherine S. Callbeck: Honourable senators, my question is for
the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Last November, I asked her about
Health Canada's Sodium Working Group, which was an expert panel that had
recommended voluntary restrictions on the amount of salt allowed in packaged and
At the time, the leader said:
Sodium levels are extremely high in Canada. That is why, as the
honourable senator mentioned, we established the Sodium Working Group.
The leader also pointed out the fact that the minister had established the
working group as evidence of this government's commitment to the issue.
Now we hear that Health Canada has quietly disbanded the working group that
brought forward these recommendations. These experts will no longer be
monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of the restrictions.
Why did this government disband the expert panel, which had been working so
hard to improve the lives of Canadians?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): I thank Senator
Callbeck for the question.
Obviously, as I reported to honourable senators, this working group was
established because we are concerned, as are all Canadians, about the high level
of sodium in our food. We certainly thank the members of the group for their
hard work and we are pleased to endorse their interim goal for sodium reduction.
As a result of their report, we are now working with the provincial and
territorial governments and their health authorities to develop a strategy based
on the recommendations of the advisory group.
Senator Callbeck: I thank the leader for her answer. However, the fact
is that the work of this working group was not completed. Let me read to the
leader its mandate:
. . . the multi-stakeholder Working Group will develop, implement and
oversee a population-health strategy for the successful reduction of the
sodium content of the diets of Canadians . . .
The strategy was developed. The next step, specifically, was the
implementation and oversight, and this is clearly the responsibility of that
Sodium Working Group, according to the mandate.
My question is the following: The working group started the initiative, and
they are experts in their fields, so why does this government not let them
finish the job?
Senator LeBreton: Actually, honourable senators, the government is
letting them finish the job, because organizations that are also members of the
Sodium Working Group are now part of the advisory committee charged with
implementing the recommendations in the provinces and territories. We have not
simply shelved this report. We have their plan and the organizations that were
in the Sodium Working Group are now charged with implementing the plan that they
Senator Callbeck: With all due respect, I would ask the leader to
check into that, because the members of the working group are really not part of
the group that will be implementing this.
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, I will check into it, but the
people who were on the Sodium Working Group belong to organizations. I will have
to verify whether or not they are exactly the same individuals — they may not be
— but the organizations that they represented on the Sodium Working Group are
now part of the advisory committee charged with implementing the plan.
Hon. Maria Chaput: Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader
of the Government in the Senate. Last week, it was announced that five Service
Canada offices in Nova Scotia, two of which provide services to Acadians in both
official languages, would be closing their doors. Since that time, I have
learned that 13 Service Canada offices in Newfoundland and Labrador will be
closed. This morning, I learned that some community offices in Ontario will be
closed and that changes will be made to the services offered by 50 community
offices in remote areas of the country.
Service Canada has over 19,000 employees, nearly 90 per cent of whom work in
some 300 offices and 14 call centres. Of these, there are 136 designated
bilingual service centres in four large regions: Western Canada and the
Territories, Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic.
Service Canada is a model for providing on-site services to remote rural
communities and linguistic minorities. Designated bilingual offices are found in
these communities. The Commissioner of Official Languages has already stated
that Service Canada has become a key player in the delivery of front-line
Given that 136 designated bilingual service centres can be found from one end
of the country to the other, did the government take into consideration its
obligations under the Official Languages Act and Regulations? Did it conduct a
study on the impact that these changes would have on official language minority
communities? If so, is this study available and can I have a copy?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): I thank the
honourable senator for the question. The government fully supports and
implements Canadian laws and one of the very important Canadian laws is the
Official Languages Act.
As a result of the honourable senator's question last week, I have made
inquiries. Obviously, Service Canada has been a great success story. It has
provided Canadians with timely access and services across the country when
dealing with the government.
The community offices that the honourable senator referred to in her question
last week did not have government employees working in them. Residents in those
areas could not get answers to inquiries and could not apply for benefits such
as OAS and CPP at these locations.
Instead, the government is implementing a scheduled outreach site for local
residents where they can apply for access to government services and all
benefits such as OAS, CPP and social insurance numbers. They will also continue
to have access to full Service Canada centres within reasonable distances and
can access services online and by phone.
I wish to stress that some of the community-based offices did not have
government employees and could not provide the services that now can be provided
through this new measure.
Senator Chaput: Was this reorganization planned in consultation with
the communities? Can the Leader of the Government in the Senate convey the
serious concerns we have about this to the Minister of Human Resources and
Skills Development? The question I ask myself is this: is this reorganization,
if we can call it that, the best way to support the vitality of communities?
Senator LeBreton: Absolutely, honourable senators, the government did
consult. Now, constituents in many rural and remote communities do not have to
drive all the way to a major centre to a Service Canada office to apply for
benefits. For the first time, residents will be able to apply for benefits and
services such as OAS, CPP and social insurance in their own communities.
I reiterate, honourable senators, that Service Canada has been a great
success story. As a government, we are working on that success story to improve
services. Some of the facilities did not have people who were able to provide
the government services Canadian citizens want and that is why the change was
made. Obviously, changes were made to benefit people who live in rural and
Senator Chaput: I am pleased to hear it is a success story; it is
actually one of the best success stories ever. The federal government should be
congratulated for having established this type of service. Therefore, honourable
senators, you will understand why I am greatly concerned by the reorganization.
We had not heard anything about it. This news has taken us by surprise. That is
why I am asking the Leader of the Government in the Senate to find out if a plan
has been prepared. Has the impact this will have on official language minority
communities been taken into consideration? Could I please obtain a copy of this
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, the purpose and the goal of the
government is to provide outreach service to all of our citizens. In my previous
work as the Minister of State for Seniors for three years, from the beginning
until the end, the one wonderful story I kept hearing was about the improvement
of services in both official languages through the offices of Service Canada —
so much so that when we had workshops for seniors, Service Canada sent their
regional or community employee to participate.
As I said in my first answer, honourable senators, the government fully
respects and implements the law, which is the Official Languages Act. However,
if there is more information I can provide on this subject, I would be happy to
get it for the honourable senator.
Hon. Pierre De Bané: Honourable senators, my question is for the
Leader of the Government in the Senate. Does the government realize that major
broadcasting issues are being or will soon be discussed at CRTC hearings, such
as the renewal of licences for French and English specialty services, the
renewal of the CBC/Radio-Canada licences, the vertical integration of
distributors and broadcasters and, finally, the acquisition of Bell Canada by
In view of the importance of these strategic matters, the government
published the selection criteria for the position of Vice-Chairperson
(Broadcasting), which has been vacant for more than five months, in the
Canada Gazette. This position commands an annual salary of more than
$220,000, and according to the government's official press release:
Reporting to the Chairperson of the CRTC, the Vice-Chairperson is
responsible for assisting the Chairperson in providing effective leadership
to the Commission, assuming responsibility for broadcasting issues, and for
providing executive support in the management of an independent regulatory
The Canada Gazette then provides a very detailed list of selection
criteria concerning experience, knowledge, abilities, and strong analytical
My question for the leader is the following: did Mr. Pentefountas, the face
of the ADQ in Quebec and a criminal lawyer, take part in the competition posted
in the Canada Gazette and send his curriculum vitae to the Assistant
Secretary to the Cabinet by July 28, 2010?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators,
Mr. Pentefountas was appointed as the CRTC vice-chair and the honourable senator
correctly read into the record the minister's announcement of his appointment.
This individual went through a thorough, independent, open selection process
through Canadian Heritage and was found to be completely qualified.
I am confident he will make a positive contribution to the CRTC. As the
government, we are proud of this appointment.
Senator De Bané: Madam leader, This full-time Vice-Chairperson
position has been vacant since August 31, 2010, when former Vice-Chairperson
Michel Arpin was told his mandate would be over, in March 2010. The government
announced it would issue a call for candidates. Mr. Arpin submitted his
application, but was never called to meet the selection committee.
Pierre Trudel, media law professor at the Université de Montréal, wrote the
following in La Presse yesterday, Monday, February 7, about Mr.
I find this appointment disturbing. Usually people in this position have
excellent knowledge of the industry and its rules. The CRTC makes a thousand
decisions a year. The government seems to want to undermine the CRTC.
Mr. Trudel continued:
I find it hard to understand how Michel Arpin can be replaced by someone
with a fraction of his experience.
My question, Madam minister, is this: why was Mr. Arpin not called for an
interview, since he applied for the position?
Senator LeBreton: I am not party to the process that Canadian Heritage
went through. However, I clearly explained to the honourable senator in my first
answer that this gentleman went through an independent, open selection process
through Canadian Heritage.
The honourable senator might have different views as to Mr. Pentefountas's
character. I do not know the gentleman personally, but when he went through the
selection process, he satisfied all the concerns and met the criteria they were
looking for. He is a skilled lawyer, as the honourable senator pointed out.
As I said in answer to the honourable senator's first question, the
government is confident that he will make a positive contribution to the board,
and we are proud to have appointed him as the vice-chair of the CRTC.
Senator De Bané: I assure the leader that there is no precedent to
this decision. When one looks to the past, there has never been a vice-president
of the CRTC who was not an expert in either telecommunications or broadcasting.
There are no exceptions in the history of the CRTC that we have appointed
somebody who must be a capable person in the field in which he practices but who
has absolutely no experience and no knowledge whatsoever about the different
Why has the government broken that wise tradition and not appointed somebody
who commands the respect of the entire industry? If I can put it another way,
why is it that in this country, when we appoint somebody to be in charge of food
safety, head of a department, chief of the military or head of a mission abroad,
we take the best?
In an industry so vital to Canada, where major decisions must be made in the
near future — the buying of Bell Canada by CTV, the vertical integration of
distributors and broadcasters, et cetera — why is it that this time we said,
"Forget the tradition that we have for all departments and government positions.
For this one, we will appoint someone who might give us some political payback"?
An Hon. Senator: Oh, oh!
Senator LeBreton: That last statement is regrettable. The honourable
senator makes what I believe to be incorrect assumptions that this individual is
not qualified to serve on this body. The honourable senator can make the
argument that people in that particular industry have certain biases one way or
the other. I would argue that an individual coming to the CRTC with a strong
legal background and a fresh set of eyes would probably serve the agency better.
Having said that, I think the honourable senator performs a great disservice
to Mr. Pentefountas and the people at Canadian Heritage. Again, this individual
went through an independent, open selection process at Canadian Heritage. I
suggest to the honourable senator that we give this gentleman an opportunity to
take up his position and work within the CRTC before we prejudge in any way
whether this person is suited for the job. Canadian Heritage thinks he is suited
This individual has a solid educational background and I think it is unfair
to prejudge anyone appointed by any level of government based on past practice —
that somehow the individual would not be fit to serve in certain capacities
within Parliament or the government. If we prejudged on that basis, the same
could be said perhaps regarding about half the people sitting in this Senate
Senator De Bané: Honourable senators, I have a great deal of respect
for the Leader of the Government. Obviously, some elements of this file were not
brought to her attention.
The deadline to present curriculum vitae for consideration was the end of
last June. In November, Mr. Robert Fife of CTV announced that Mr. Pentefountas
would be the new Vice-Chairman of Broadcasting of the CRTC. In December, Mr.
Lawrence Martin reported in The Globe and Mail that he had phoned Mr.
Pentefountas and asked if he had competed. Mr. Pentefountas said that no, he had
not competed in any way, shape or form. Something does not make sense here.
When someone is appointed to the judiciary, for example, the chief justice of
the court is consulted to know what abilities are required, whether they be
expertise in criminal law, administrative law, commercial law, insurance,
maritime law, et cetera.
In this case, was the Chairman of the CRTC consulted to know what abilities
were required? Mr. Pentefountas said in December 2010 that he had never competed
for the position or even submitted his curriculum vitae; and the competition was
closed at the end of June 2010. Something does not smell very good.
Senator LeBreton: I can only repeat what I said earlier: An
independent and open selection process was held and Mr. Pentefountas was
considered to be the best candidate.
The honourable senator mentioned the media and Mr. Martin. I recall an old
saying attributed to Mark Twain: If you don't read the newspaper, you are
probably uninformed. If you do read the newspaper, you are probably misinformed.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, I have the honour of presenting three delayed answers to oral
questions: the first raised by Senator Sibbeston on October 26, 2010, concerning
Environment—Arctic Offshore Drilling Requirements; the second, raised by Senator
Fox on November 24, 2010, concerning Public Works and Government Services
Canada—Untendered Government Contracts; and the third, raised by Senator Banks
on December 15, 2010, concerning Transport—Rail Freight Service.
(Response to question raised by Hon. Nick G. Sibbeston on October 26,
Since the fall 2010, the National Energy Board has been meeting with
Aboriginal groups, Northern communities and Northern governments to gain an
understanding of their perspectives in the context of the Arctic review.
Further, the National Energy Board will provide up to $300,000 in funding
to assist with travel costs for participation at meetings to discuss and
comment on information gathered in the Arctic Review.
In addition, the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs is providing
$120,000 in funding to conduct focussed workshops in Northern communities.
(Response to question raised by Hon. Francis Fox on November 24, 2010)
Sole source contracts are entered into only when there is a rationale
that complies with the Government of Canada Contracting Regulations. These
Cases of pressing emergency;
When the nature of the work is such that it would not be in the
public interest to solicit bids;
Where only one person or firm is capable of performing the contract.
Based on the past ten years, an average of approximately 80% of all
contracts awarded by PWGSC were competitive.
During the period 2006-2009, 80% of non-competitive procurement by value
was because there was only one person capable of performing the work,
intellectual property or exclusive rights, or prototype or interchange parts
for an existing system.
While the percentage varies from year to year, the percentage of sole
source contracts decreased in 2008 by 2% compared to 2007 and again in 2009
by 2.9% compared to 2008.
(Response to question raised by Hon. Tommy Banks on December 15, 2010)
Canadian National Railway and Canadian Pacific Railway have established
extensive networks throughout Canada and into the United States. These
Canadian railways continue to invest significant capital in their networks
and equipment to increase efficiencies and to better serve Canadian
shippers. Where it makes economic sense to do so, they have reached
commercial agreements to allow another railway to run over their tracks.
There are a number of cases where shortline railways have agreements to run
over the track of Canadian National Railway and Canadian Pacific Railway.
The Asia-Pacific Gateway has benefited greatly by such agreements, which
have reduced congestion and decreased the time that it takes to move the
goods of Canadian shippers to port.
A running rights provision exists within the Canada Transportation Act.
A railway company may apply to the Canadian Transportation Agency for the
right to run and operate its trains over any portion of any other railway.
The Agency may grant the right and impose conditions on either railway
regarding the dual use of the tracks. The Agency may also fix the amount to
be paid by the guest railway to the host railway.
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Runciman,
seconded by the Honourable Senator Comeau, for the second reading of Bill
C-22, An Act respecting the mandatory reporting of Internet child
pornography by persons who provide an Internet service.
Hon. Jim Munson: Honourable senators, I rise at second reading as the
opposition critic on Bill C-22, An Act respecting the mandatory reporting of
Internet child pornography by persons who provide an Internet service. I am
grateful to be permitted time to reflect on this proposed legislation following
its introduction in December in this chamber.
Our colleague, Senator Runciman, introduced and first spoke in support of the
bill. He cited the honour and privilege we share as parliamentarians to "shape
Canadian society so that our children can grow, learn and thrive in a safe and
secure environment." I wish to thank Senator Runciman for these words and for
launching our study and discussions on Bill C-22 in this way.
Honourable senators, I, too, support the purpose of this proposed
legislation, which is to make it harder for child pornographers to operate; it
makes good sense.
Since its introduction to our lives, the Internet has presented us with
incredible, ever-emerging possibilities. It is difficult to imagine getting
along without it. Yet, as we all know, the Internet has an underside — a context
for crime and, as a consequence, for human beings to be harmed. In my mind,
there is no online criminal activity more heinous than child pornography. It is
bad enough that this industry exists at all. Add to this the fact that it has
been able to proliferate and to seemingly out-run our laws and the capacity to
Honourable senators, my primary concern is with the victims of child
pornography, specifically the children who are being violated, assaulted and
murdered as subjects for this atrocious material.
I have a little background on legislation in Canada. In the 2001 Speech from
the Throne, our government of the day committed to focus on safeguarding all
Canadians from criminals on the Internet and outlined steps to ensure that our
laws would protect children from those who could prey on their vulnerability.
Since then, Canada has continued its legislative enforcement and educative
efforts to deal with Internet child pornography. The challenge with the Internet
is keeping up. Developments are constant and they are rapid. Bill C-22
represents a necessary and timely advancement in our capacity to identify and
prosecute child pornographers. It sends a message to those who provide Internet
services to the public that they have a social, moral and legal obligation to
report pornographic material when they come across it.
I am hopeful that Bill C-22 will be referred to committee as I have some
questions on its content to be answered by the minister and other witnesses who
will appear. I have concerns about certain parts of the bill that warrant study
For example, why does the bill set up two distinct reporting requirements
depending on the circumstances? As I understand clause 3, if members of the
public were to advise an Internet service provider, an ISP, that they think
child pornography is available at a certain Internet protocol address, website
or webpage, they would have to report this Internet address to an agency to be
designated by regulation. However, clause 4 sets up a different reporting
obligation, whereby an Internet service provider that has reasonable grounds to
believe that its network is being used to transmit child pornography must report
its suspicions to the police.
The rationale for these clauses eludes me and begs a number of questions,
chief among them being: Why would the police not be notified in all cases? I
understand that we do not want Internet service providers to have to investigate
tips from the public, but we are, after all, talking about a possible offence
under the Criminal Code.
The wording of the bill tends to suggest that a member of the public might
not know what constitutes child pornography, but that an Internet service
provider should know. Is this a valid distinction to make?
As for this other yet-to-be-named organization, I question whether it is
appropriate to designate it by regulation. Who are the investigators within this
organization and how are they trained? What is their code of conduct? How will
information be dealt with and disposed of? Will this organization be a
government agency or an arm's-length one?
Why are we suggesting that investigative work normally done by police be
dealt with by an organization other than the police? Is this done in other parts
of the Criminal Code or for other offences?
In my view, honourable senators, these are far more than administrative
details. They affect the strength and viability of the bill, as well as a need
for accountability. The committee should explore these issues and, in the
process, assess whether some should be articulated within the bill rather than
dealt with through regulations. Honourable senators, I appreciate that this law
is urgently needed. However, I also think we will run into setbacks if we do not
engage parliamentarians appropriately.
Some of the contextual issues include preventative education. In addition to
what is inside the bill, I want to know more about its context. I had the
opportunity last week to speak with Marv Bernstein, Chief Advisor, Advocacy for
UNICEF Canada. He talked about Bill C-22 as one part of what should be a
coordinated approach to strengthening an overall child protection environment.
From the perspective of the United Nations International Children's Emergency
Fund, UNICEF, education is a crucial part of the picture. Children and youth
need to understand and reflect on activities like "sexting" and photo sharing.
We have a responsibility to educate and guide young people on the possible
implications of activities like these. They are not a game.
I would like a status report on preventive education programs for children on
the Internet. What is the government doing and what are the next steps, if any?
Mr. Bernstein is an excellent resource and I recommend that the committee
include him as a witness for the study of Bill C-22.
On the issue of civil liberties, this legislation imposes a new legal
obligation on Internet service providers. It requires Internet service providers
to function as agents of the state in police investigations. If they do not
perform this function, they can be prosecuted.
Imposing this legal obligation on the Internet service providers will better
able investigators to expose online child pornographers. However, we need to
have confidence that this legislation does not in any way undermine the rights
or freedoms of anyone impacted by it. A balance must be reached. I am confident
that the committee studying this bill will include a conscientious assessment of
its impact on legal and civil liberties.
In closing, as I said at the outset, I am pleased with the purpose of Bill
C-22. As a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the
Child, Canada has agreed to ensure the safety and dignity of children throughout
the world. I believe this legislation has the potential to enhance our ability
to live up to this obligation.
Today, I have identified what I consider the most significant issues related
to this bill, and I look forward to observing and providing comments as the
committee sets out to examine and, where necessary, resolve these and other
issues, so that at third reading we will all be satisfied.
The Hon. the Speaker: Are honourable senators ready for the question?
Hon. Senators: Question.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to
adopt the motion?
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Callbeck,
seconded by the Honourable Senator Poy, for the second reading of Bill
S-223, An Act to amend the Canada Pension Plan (retroactivity of retirement
and survivor's pensions).
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, I see that this is the 13th day of debate on this bill. Since I do not
want this item to die on the Order Paper, I ask that the debate be adjourned in
my name for the remainder of my time.
Hon. Gerry St. Germain moved second reading of Bill C-465, An Act
respecting a National Hunting, Trapping and Fishing Heritage Day.
He said: Honourable senators, I am pleased to rise and speak in support of
Bill C-465. This bill received all-party support in the other place and seeks to
establish a national hunting, trapping and fishing heritage day to be celebrated
each year in Canada.
I want to clarify that the intent of this legislation is not to create a
holiday, but merely a day of recognition.
I am proud to sponsor this bill. Before I continue, I wish to commend the
work of my colleague, the author of this bill, Rick Norlock, Member of
Parliament for Northumberland-Quinte West.
In the early days of this country, people made their living off the land.
Hunting, trapping and fishing were the mainstays of the early Canadian economy,
and their impact helped to establish this country as the nation we know and
Established in Canada by the Europeans, the fur trade dates back more than
400 years and predates Samuel de Champlain's post at what is now Quebec City.
The fur trade marked many firsts. It was the backbone of our first economy; it
was the major commodity of our first trades with our neighbour, the United
States; and it helped to establish the border with our friends to the south. It
was also the main point of interaction between the Europeans and our country's
The Europeans may have carved the first economy out of the riches of the
land, but it was the Aboriginal people who lived off the land, and did so for
many centuries prior to European contact. For the Aboriginal peoples, the land
is paramount to their cultural identity. Sourced from the land are the main
elements of life: food, water and shelter.
It is because of this relationship that the Aboriginal peoples established
themselves as the original conservationists. Their respect for the land is
founded on their cultural practices and is part of their way of life. Their
philosophy is simple but meaningful: if they take from the land by fishing,
hunting, trapping or some other means, then they must, in some way, give back.
Honourable senators, I think we would all be better off, as citizens, to
adopt this outlook. The bill before us will act as a useful tool in promoting
this important and long-standing part of our heritage.
I believe that Canada must remind its citizens of who they are and where they
came from so that our history and cultural identity is not lost on future
generations. The creation of a day respecting these traditional Canadian outdoor
activities will be welcomed by folks like me and many others — in this place as
well — who still take part in them.
There exists hundreds of thousands of Canadians in each of our ten provinces
and three territories who avidly hunt, trap and fish, and they are proud of the
fact that they do. Most of these people, like the Aboriginal people, take pride
in the land and give back what they take. They never take more than they should
to continue the propagation of the species.
Some of these people are members of conservation groups such as Ducks
Unlimited or the B.C. Wildlife Federation in my home province of British
Columbia, which boasts over 38,000 active members.
Honourable senators, I must dwell for a moment on one particular member of
the B.C. Wildlife Federation. A long-time friend of the B.C. wilderness, and a
personal friend of mine for many decades, the late Bill Otway, was a tireless
fighter for sound outdoor management practices. He also served as executive
director of the B.C. Wildlife Federation.
Bill dedicated his life to ensure that all Canadians could enjoy a good day
out in the wilderness. I know he would be proud to hear that a day dedicated to
honouring the causes he championed is nearly a reality. Many others like him
will be pleased to see this bill passed.
Honourable senators, there are still many Canadians today who rely on the
land to meet their needs. Most of Canada's farmers are also hunters. Some hunt
to protect their lands and crops from predators; others hunt to feed their
families. Across the ranchlands of Alberta and in B.C.'s Cariboo Chilcotin
region, hunting and trapping come hand-in-glove with the territory.
This way of life has been passed down by the early pioneer ranchers of
Western Canada, who relied on the proceeds of hunting and trapping to see them
through the winter months when livestock sales were sparse or there were none.
Today, this way of life continues, albeit in a smaller capacity. On the
coasts of this country and throughout Canada's vast system of lakes and rivers,
there exists a vibrant fishery.
Most of us here in this chamber can likely say that we have cast a hook at
least once in our life and taken part in recreational fishing. Many Canadians
look forward to this opportunity every summer, and some fish year round as
commercial fishermen. Commercial fishing on all three coasts contributes
millions of dollars to the Canadian economy. This industry is perhaps the
largest economic contributor of the three industries recognized by this bill.
On the B.C. coast, of which I am most familiar, commercial fishing employs
thousands of people and is represented by a fleet of hundreds of fishing
vessels. Halibut, rockfish, hake, herring and salmon are the main fisheries,
with shellfish playing a supporting role. Last year, B.C.'s famous sockeye
salmon fishery posted one of its best runs of the last century.
Honourable senators, when an opportunity came up to speak to this bill, I
decided to speak to it for many reasons. One of them is because I have a
personal connection to what this bill seeks to recognize. My father was a Metis
trapper in Manitoba. As a young child, I developed an early appreciation for the
land as it helped to feed our family.
My father, every spring, went out trapping muskrats and beaver, and in the
winter he trapped wild mink. When he trapped muskrats, the Metis people from the
community, who were basically destitute and extremely poor, would line up for
the meat from the skinning of these animals that my father trapped.
Hunting was a mainstay of our survival. A story used to go around that if you
could not clear a six-foot fence by spring from eating deer meat, there was
something wrong with your hunting habits.
I recall vividly one day when I was about nine years old and I was with my
father. We were along the Assiniboine River. He was after a beaver. The beaver
somehow broke loose in the trap so he shot it. The beaver dove into the water,
and it was icy water in the spring, with my father right after it. I was
shocked. I did not know what to do. He disappeared, and he came up with a beaver
in his hand.
I said, "What in God's name are you doing, dad?"
He said, "Well, if he had gone down there, he would have secured himself to
the bottom and we never would have got him. The last thing you ever want to do
is shoot something, fish something, and not use it, if it is at all possible."
It is easy for me to stand here and talk, honourable senators. This bill
seeks to recognize three important traditional activities that were part of my
life; that helped to shape the fabric of our country. The activities continue to
take place today in not one but all the regions of Canada.
I believe the bill, if passed, creating a day in recognition of hunting,
trapping and fishing, will not only seek to preserve the historical significance
of these industries to our country, but will also be used to promote further
conservation efforts to protect our vast Canadian wilderness for generations to
come. The bill will give a better understanding to many young people that,
instead of sitting in front of computers, there is more to this world and its
I encourage all honourable senators to lend their support to this bill. It
will cost you nothing, as far as resources are concerned, but will help keep our
country's history at the forefront.
I thank you, honourable senators. I hope we have your support to go forward.
The Senate proceeded to consideration of the eighth report of the Standing
Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce (Bill S-206, An Act to establish
gender parity on the board of directors of certain corporations, financial
institutions and parent Crown corporations, with a recommendation), presented in
the Senate on February 3, 2011.
Hon. Michael A. Meighen moved the adoption of the report.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is it your pleasure,
honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette: I move the adjournment of the debate.
Hon. Lowell Murray: Honourable senators, I thought perhaps the chair
of the committee would speak at this point to argue in favour of his report. If
not, I, of course, will defer to the Honourable Senator Hervieux-Payette, who is
not only the sponsor of the bill but apparently is the chief opposition
spokesperson on the matter.
I want to make some remarks on this report. With Senator Hervieux-Payette's
permission and if the house agrees, I can make them now or I can wait until a
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Senator
Hervieux-Payette, you started to make a motion to adjourn. Do you object to
having Senator Murray speak now?
Senator Hervieux-Payette: I agree, and then I will take the
Senator Murray: Thank you, honourable senators. I do not intend to
address the substance of the bill. I may say, in passing and for the record,
that I am not inclined to support the bill for some of the same reasons outlined
in the report that is before us and for some of the reasons put forward by
Senator Massicotte in a rather more nuanced intervention at the committee on
My concern in rising is with the process that was followed in the committee
to produce the result that is now before us. My contention is that the committee
manipulated several rules of the Senate in such a way as to create a danger that
the integrity of the legislative process is being compromised. I say that
particularly with an eye to the precedents that are being set, and have been
set, and may be carried into the future.
The committee report, as honourable senators know, recommends that the bill
should not be proceeded with further in the Senate. This procedure is provided
for in our Rules of the Senate, specifically rule 100, which reads:
When a committee to which a bill has been referred considers that the
bill should not be proceeded with further in the Senate, it shall so report
to the Senate, stating its reasons. If the motion for the adoption of the
report is carried, the bill shall not reappear on the Order Paper.
I take that to mean not to reappear on the Order Paper during that session of
This procedure of a committee recommending that a bill not be proceeded with
further is resorted to infrequently in the Senate. Indeed, as His Honour pointed
out in a ruling last December 1 in a similar if not identical case, that of Bill
S-216, as he put it, "There are relatively few instances in which Senate
committees have used this process. . . ." His Honour said at the time, "Research
had identified eight cases since 1975 . . ." Bill S-216 in December was number
nine, and this report, if it is adopted, will be number 10. That would make 10
cases in over 35 years, two of which will have recently appeared within a
two-month time frame. What that may portend for the future I do not know, but I
think it should give us pause lest this procedure be more frequently resorted to
by a majority in a committee or in the Senate chamber.
Honourable senators, the background to this recommendation in this report is
a motion moved by Senator Frum in the Banking Committee on February 3, to be
found at page 27 of the unrevised transcript. Senator Frum moves:
. . . that we not proceed to clause by clause but move in camera to
consider a draft report.
Honourable senators, I said that the committee was manipulating rules. Right
there are two rules that are being manipulated. I do not want to put a
pejorative cast on the word "manipulated." What has been done is within the
Rules of the Senate of Canada, unfortunately. My suggestion will be that our
Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament ought to
revisit some of these rules with a view to clarifying and perhaps tightening
them up. I could not have risen on a point of order because I do not have one.
In any case, Senator Frum moved that the committee not proceed to
clause-by-clause consideration of the bill but move in camera to consider a
The first rule that is being manipulated is rule 96(7.1), which states:
Except with leave of its members present —
— that is to say, except with unanimous consent —
— a committee cannot dispense with clause-by-clause consideration of a
Senator Frum did not move to dispense with clause by clause; she moved that
we not proceed with clause by clause but rather go in camera.
Honourable senators, the intent of rule 96(7.1) is clear, that it should take
unanimous consent for a committee to dispense with clause by clause. The
difference between dispensing with clause by clause, which would take unanimous
consent, and not proceeding with clause by clause, which can apparently be done
by a majority vote, is the finest of fine lines. What Senator Frum's motion
accomplished, as did a previous motion in the case of Bill S-216, was to
circumvent rule 96(7.1).
I cannot hear the interjection of the Honourable Senator Segal from his seat.
Perhaps Senator Segal would like to adjust the volume or I could put on my
earphone, perhaps, to hear what he has to say.
Senator Segal: Honourable senators, I said that there are two good
angels dancing on the same pin, very much to Senator Frum's credit.
Some Hon. Senators: Order.
Senator Murray: Yes, I have studied the question of angels dancing on
pins, and Senator Segal is quite correct. They have circumvented this rule.
Honourable senators, let me pause for a moment to say something about the
committee stage of a bill. The essence of the committee stage is not, as some
would suppose, to hear witnesses. Hearing witnesses is extremely useful but a
relatively recent add-on. The essence of the committee stage is to study a bill
that has already received second reading clause by clause, so that honourable
senators who wish to amend or change a clause have an opportunity to do so
Our old friend and former colleague, Senator John Stewart, who was an expert
on these matters, used to say that what is sent to a committee after second
reading is really a shell. A principle has been agreed to, and there is a shell
there. The question that the committee chair puts — namely, "Shall clause 2
carry" or whatever — should really be, "Shall clause 2 form part of the bill."
The committee builds the bill in committee, and the committee has an opportunity
to make whatever changes it desires. That is the essence of the committee stage,
and I think we toy with it and try to manipulate it at some peril.
I quite agree — whether or not I agree with His Honour is irrelevant. His
Honour in his ruling stated that it would be "inconsistent" and "contradictory"
to go to clause by clause when a previous motion has been made not to proceed
further with the bill. Here we come across two problems. First, the motion not
to proceed with clause by clause precludes an honourable senator from proposing
an amendment to a clause at committee stage.
Senator Massicotte, when he spoke in the public session that took place after
the in camera session, expressed a number of reservations about the bill and
then went on to say that if they had gotten to clause by clause, he would have
moved an amendment. I quote from page 37 of the unrevised transcript:
If we would have gotten to clause by clause of the bill, I would have
made the amendment that 50 per cent is too severe.
Then he went on to develop his argument. A bit later Senator Massicotte says:
The other thing I would have done is given them more time. I would
probably have added 60 years.
Senator Massicotte went on to develop that argument. The point is that he was
precluded from making those motions and amendments in clause by clause because
the rule about dispensing clause by clause was circumvented by a majority vote.
That is something we have to reflect on.
Honourable senators, the second rule that is being manipulated is the in
camera rule. It is very clear the general rule is that all committees must meet
in public. However, a committee may decide to hold an in camera meeting to
discuss its business only when the agenda deals with any of the following, such
as contract negotiations, other personnel matters and so forth. Then there is
rule 92(2)(f) of the Rules of the Senate of Canada, which includes:
(f) consideration of any draft report of the committee.
I think we all know what that means in general. A "draft report" refers to
the kind of lengthy narrative that is prepared by officials and placed before
senators when we are discussing a policy matter or commenting on government
estimates and so forth.
In this case, the committee went in camera, supposedly to draft a report, but
what they did in camera was kill the bill. I recognize that after the committee
came back into public session there was a pro forma motion made to accept the
report, but what happened in camera? Did the honourable senator who made the
motion put forward his or her reasons? Did another honourable senator debate it?
What arguments were deployed? No one knows the answers to these questions
because the meeting was held in camera and no transcript of the proceedings was
Honourable senators, even allowing for the fact that they managed to
circumvent the rule on clause-by-clause consideration, at a minimum I think what
should have happened is that a motion should have been made in public that the
bill not be proceeded with further, that it should have been debated and that it
should have been voted on. At that point, officials could have been instructed
to prepare a draft, or if an honourable senator just happened to have one in his
or her vest pocket, they could have gone in camera to discuss it at that point.
I hope honourable senators get the message I am sending, which is that a
vital part of the legislative process was conducted behind closed doors.
I will not take any more of your time except to say that I think the remedy
for all of this is that our Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of
Parliament ought to review these rules and practices and try to tighten the rule
with regard to clause-by-clause study. I believe this rule should be tightened
so that it cannot be circumvented and it cannot be used to preclude any
honourable senator from moving an amendment to a clause of the bill in the
committee stage of the bill. Second, the committee should also tighten the in
camera rule in such a way that no part of the legislative process is conducted
in secret; and third, clarify our rules and practices with regard to keeping
transcripts of in camera meetings. I think there is nothing much in the Rules
of the Senate of Canada about it, if anything, but the practice tends to
vary from one committee to the next, and I think the same is true in the other
place. However, I think we should give serious consideration to the conditions
and circumstances under which it would be permissible not to keep a transcript.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: I regret to advise
Senator Murray that his 15 minutes have expired.
Would you like to ask for more time?
Senator Murray: I can say what I have to say in less than 30 seconds.
Senator Comeau: Five minutes.
Senator Tardif: Five minutes.
Senator Murray: Do I have to fill five minutes?
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: There may be questions
Senator Murray: We ought to define more carefully the circumstances
under which it is permissible not to keep a transcript of an in camera meeting.
Under other conditions, transcripts should be kept, if only for the information
of all honourable senators.
Hon. Hugh Segal: Would Senator Murray take a question?
Senator Murray: Yes.
Senator Segal: Honourable senators, Deferring as I do to Senator
Murray's profound understanding of the Rules of the Senate of Canada, for
which the dean of this place deserves respect in every context, and without
commenting on the salience of the legislation itself, would Senator Murray be of
the view that in his judgment, Senator Frum's motion was in fact consistent with
the Rules as they now exist, which, to be fair, I think I heard him say? Second,
while the recommendations that Senator Murray has made for changes to the
Rules of the Senate of Canada should, I think, embrace a broad swath of
senators who would be supportive, certainly in principle, as I would be, is the
senator of the view that a committee should not have the right to kill a piece
of legislation when the majority on that committee believes that it is in the
public interest to do so?
Senator Murray: To answer the second part of the question first, of
course it would be possible for a committee to recommend killing the bill if the
majority of the committee members want to kill the bill. My objection to what
was done in the present case is twofold; first, that essentially it was done in
secret; and second, that it was done in a way that precluded an honourable
senator from attempting to move amendments to several clauses of the bill, which
Senator Massicotte said he wanted to do.
As to the first part of the question, yes, if I thought that anything that
was done there, by my reading of the transcript, was contrary to the Rules of
the Senate of Canada, I would be standing on a point of order. It is fairly
clear to me, based on the way the Rules were manipulated, as I say, and based on
His Honour's decision of early December, that what was done was unfortunately
within the Rules of the Senate of Canada.
Hon. Michael A. Meighen: Would Senator Murray accept another question?
Senator Murray: Yes.
Senator Meighen: Without getting into the question of whether the
vote, which happened to be seven-to-five, was conducted in public or not, is it
Senator Murray's position that in no case should clause-by-clause consideration
be obviated by rule 100? Rule 100 seems to me to be very clear. In my reading, I
see nowhere that there must be clause-by-clause study before rule 100 can be
Is it the honourable senator's position that it would be preferable to have
clause-by-clause consideration and then, if the committee so decides, to proceed
under rule 100?
Senator Murray: Honourable senators, I would like to hear what the
Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament has to say
about that after mature reflection. A fair statement of my position is that the
essence of committee stage is clause-by-clause study, and so long as any
honourable senator wishes to move an amendment to a clause of the bill,
clause-by-clause consideration should not be dispensed with or not proceeded
with except with unanimous consent. That is my somewhat offhand but general
opinion on the matter, subject to what the committee may think at a later stage.
I am willing to be convinced of a different formula, if there is one.
Senator Meighen: To follow on Senator Segal's question, if the
committee felt that the bill was not in the public interest, the honourable
senator's preference seems to be, nevertheless, to go through clause-by-clause
consideration and defeat each clause, or to defeat each proposed amendment to
each clause, after which you are left with nothing, and then proceed under rule
100 to defeat nothing.
Senator Murray: I am terribly sorry if my honourable friend finds this
ancient parliamentary practice onerous, as chairman of the committee, but the
short answer to his question is yes. It may well be that the question he raises
of whether a bill is in the public interest or not is better clarified after a
clause-by-clause examination. I come back to my original point. The essence of
the committee stage is clause-by-clause consideration of a bill.
(On motion of Senator Hervieux-Payette, debate adjourned.)
The Senate proceeded to consideration of the second report of the Standing
Committee on Conflict of Interest for Senators (budget—mandate pursuant to
rule 86(1)(t)—power to hire staff), presented in the Senate on December 9,
Hon. Terry Stratton moved the adoption of the report.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted, honourable senators?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to
adopt the motion?
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Tardif, seconded
by the Honourable Senator Hubley:
That, at the end of Question Period and Delayed Answers on the sitting
following the adoption of this motion, the Senate resolve itself into a
Committee of the Whole in order to receive the Commissioner of Official
That the Committee of the Whole report to the Senate no later than one
hour after it begins.
Hon. Maria Chaput: Honourable senators, I rise today in support of
Senator Tardif's motion. I believe that, in the current circumstances, it is
absolutely necessary for the Commissioner of Official Languages to appear. To be
fair and as a sign of respect, we must give the commissioner the opportunity to
respond, here in this chamber, to the criticisms that have been made against
As an officer of the Parliament of Canada, the Commissioner of Official
Languages has a very important role to "ensure respect for English and French as
the official languages of Canada and ensure equality of status and equal rights
and privileges as to their use in all federal institutions."
According to section 56 of the Official Languages Act:
It is the duty of the Commissioner to take all actions and measures
within the authority of the Commissioner with a view to ensuring recognition
of the status of each of the official languages and compliance with the
spirit and intent of this Act in the administration of the affairs of
federal institutions, including any of their activities relating to the
advancement of English and French in Canadian society.
That is the commissioner's duty.
It was suggested that Bill C-232 "has nothing whatsoever to do with the
Official Languages Act," and that the commissioner had gone outside his mandate
by supporting this legislative initiative, which would ensure that all judges
appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada understand both official languages,
But a seasoned expert on the matter told me, and I quote:
The Commissioner of Official Languages must promote the rights of the
defendant and equal access to the services of the Supreme Court. He should
intervene to force the government to not make exceptions to the equal status
of languages with respect to their use in an institution as fundamental as
the Supreme Court.
It has been said that Bill C-232 "clearly goes against the principles of the
Official Languages Act and the constitutionally protected rights of Canadians."
I would suggest that Bill C-232 is an affirmation of the principle of the
substantive equality of the two official languages, pursuant to the Official
Languages Act and the constitutional rights of Canadians.
A prominent legal scholar recently explained to me that:
Institutional bilingualism . . . means that the entire judicial or
government machinery must be able to meet the demand for service delivery
equally in both official languages across the entire organization; that
Parliament clearly can require that judges speak both official languages as
a condition of their appointment and can force them to use both languages;
and that this is done in other multilingual countries and does not violate
any Canadian laws.
It has also been suggested that "the commissioner publicly justify" his
decision to support Bill C-232. I think that is an excellent idea and I
completely agree. There would be nothing unusual about it.
As a result of a motion by the Honourable Senator Comeau, the Senate did
resolve into a Committee of the Whole on October 4, 2006, in order to receive
Graham Fraser regarding his appointment as Commissioner of Official Languages.
On that occasion, Mr. Fraser graciously answered our questions and gave his
point of view on several topics related to official languages. He said, and I
As you know, the commissioner has six roles or functions in the
enforcement of the Official Languages Act — a promotion and education role,
a monitoring role in terms of the impact of government initiatives, a
liaison role with minority communities, an ombudsman role in dealing with
complaints, an auditing function in terms of the public service and a
judicial intervention function.
Some have alleged that the commissioner has overstepped his mandate as set
out by law. I think it is time we heard from the Commissioner of Official
Languages so he may respond to the criticisms that have been levelled against
him and so he may explain his expertise regarding this issue.
It is clear that some confirmation is needed and, therefore, it would be only
logical for the Senate to resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole in order
to welcome Mr. Fraser again, so he may respond to the questions that have come
up recently in the Senate.
I thank Senator Tardif for having moved this motion and I encourage all
honourable senators to support it so that the Senate may resolve itself into a
Committee of the Whole in order to receive Mr. Fraser again.
Hon. Hugh Segal: Would the honourable senator take a question?
Senator Chaput: Yes.
Senator Segal: Accepting in good faith the legislative comments made
earlier and the procedural comments made by our colleague, Senator Tardif, and
expressing my general support for anything that constitutes progress in terms of
bilingualism and to assure our French-speaking colleagues and constituents that
the Government of Canada, the federal government, respects their rights, I want
to ask a question about the mechanism proposed by Senator Tardif.
I want to talk about the mechanism of inviting an officer of Parliament to
the Senate Chamber, to a Committee of the Whole, not a committee considering
legislation, but the Senate in Committee of the Whole, to discuss and answer
basic questions before the Senate has approved in principle the bill before us.
If the bill is referred to a committee, I imagine the first witness invited
to that committee would be the Commissioner of Official Languages. He will be
very seriously involved in the detailed discussion of the content of the bill,
and that is good for those of us who will be present. I have great fondness for
the Commissioner of Official Languages. He is a friend and very competent.
Nonetheless, I take issue with the principle that an officer of Parliament,
whether it be the Auditor General or the Commissioner of Official Languages, can
be called before a Committee of the Whole before a bill is even approved at
second reading stage.
Does it not bother my colleague, from a procedural standpoint, to have an
officer of Parliament, appointed by us and the other place, by the government
and by the Privy Council, intervene before we have made our decision, as a
chamber, and before anyone from either side wanting to speak to the matter has a
chance to do so?
Senator Chaput: Honourable senators, I hope I have properly understood
the spirit of the intervention as well as the nature of the question asked.
I humbly believe that the Commissioner of Official Languages, who would be
invited to speak to the Senate sitting in Committee of the Whole, would appear
in his capacity as an officer of Parliament to explain, by answering senators'
questions, his understanding of his mandate and his responsibilities as they
pertain to the Official Languages Act.
I understand that the criticism concerning the commissioner's position is
based on the fact that the bill is still before the Senate and has not yet been
sent to committee. However, I was expecting that the commissioner's presence, in
his official capacity, would allow us to determine, on the basis of what he
would say, whether he has the right to make the comments he has made and the
right to take a position on a bill.
It is true that I do not have Senator Segal's experience, and I certainly do
not have his knowledge of the judicial process, but that is what I was
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, Senator Chaput indicated, in her reply to Senator Segal, that the
invitation extended to the Commissioner of Official Languages is related to the
Official Languages Act.
I agree completely with Senator Chaput that the commissioner can comment on
matters pertaining to the Official Languages Act, as that is part of his
The commissioner himself has said in the past that Commissioners of Official
Languages have made statements on bills that affect the Official Languages Act.
For example, his predecessor, Ms. Adam, made a statement and comments on Bill
S-3, which was sponsored at the time by Senator Jean-Robert Gauthier.
Senator Chaput spoke of a bill directly related to the Official Languages
Act. We could expect the Commissioner of Official Languages to comment on such a
bill, and I believe that it would fall under his mandate as he presently views
In any case, Bill C-232 is not a bill that pertains to the Official Languages
Act, and that act is not mentioned anywhere in the bill.
The bill simply states that Supreme Court judges must be able to understand
and hear cases without the help of an interpreter. It has nothing to do with the
Official Languages Act. This bill does not offer any protection to people who
will be subject to the new act if it becomes law; it does not offer any
protection to judges who will be appointed; and it does not even mention how the
linguistic qualifications of these judges will be assessed.
I would like Senator Chaput to tell us where she sees a distinction because
for me it is simple: either it has to do with the Official Languages Act or it
has nothing to do with it.
Bill C-232 has nothing to do with the Official Languages Act.
Would Senator Chaput care to comment?
Senator Chaput: Honourable senators, as I mentioned in my speech, I
consider Bill C-232 to be a demonstration of the principle of the subtantive
equality of the official languages. Perhaps, as honourable senator understands
it, the bill is not directly related to the Official Languages Act; however, it
stems from the Official Languages Act and from our constitutional rights.
I am not an expert on the Constitution or legislation. I am telling
honourable senators how I see this bill and I am sharing the comments that were
made to me in response to questions I asked during some of the consultations I
I see a link between the Official Languages Act and Bill C-232. In my
opinion, the crux of the matter is whether the Commissioner of Official
Languages overstepped his rights and responsibilities under his mandate by
taking a stand on this bill. It then becomes an issue of what the commissioner's
mandate is and how he sees that mandate, which is surely not the same way the
Honourable Senator Comeau sees it. This is the principle that encouraged me to
support Senator Tardif's motion.
It seems to me that it would be completely fair and equitable to be able to
hear the commissioner in this chamber so that he can explain how he sees his
mandate and what led him to openly support a bill that — I do understand — is
still before the Senate and has not yet been sent to committee.
I have less experience than Senator Comeau, but that is my opinion.
Senator Comeau: Honourable senators, either Bill C-232 concerns the
Official Languages Act or it does not. If it concerns the Official Languages
Act, let the Commissioner of Official Languages say so publicly. He is
surrounded by plenty of staff and has access to incredible resources. He need
only tell me I am wrong and why. If this is part of his mandate, let him prove
it to me. It is very simple.
However, I believe that Senator Segal was right in raising a concern that has
come about in the Senate, namely, that this is an invitation to the Commissioner
of Official Languages to come speak and explain his support for a bill that
Parliament has not yet passed at second reading.
This type of witness is usually invited to committee. I have no problem with
having the Commissioner of Official Languages come and speak about his mandate.
That does not worry me at all.
It would worry me if he came to speak with us at this stage, when we are at
second reading of a bill that does not even mention the Official Languages Act,
to explain why he supports the bill. I believe that we need to proceed very
cautiously on this issue.
If officers of Parliament start to intervene at second reading of legislation
in the Senate, then where do the parliamentarians fit in?
In the future, will we invite other officers of Parliament to come and get
involved in debates, for any kind of bill, even if it has nothing to do with
their mandate? Second reading of legislation is part of the role of
The Commissioner of Official Languages has full access to the media and
communications. I know that there are people who do not like what I am saying,
but I will say it just the same.
Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Oliver calling
the attention of the Senate to the state of Pluralism, Diversity and Racism
in Canada and, in particular, to how we can develop new tools to meet the
challenges of the 21st century to fight hatred and racism; to reduce the
number of hate crimes; and to increase Canadians' tolerance in matters of
race and religion.
Hon. Claudette Tardif (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable
senators, this inquiry was adjourned in Senator Andreychuk's name. I suggest
that it again be adjourned in her name once I have finished my speech.
Honourable senators, I rise today to continue the excellent inquiry by
Senator Donald Oliver, who called the attention of the Senate, on October 19,
2010, to diversity, pluralism and racism in Canada. I am enthusiastic about
participating in this debate. We must have an open dialogue on these issues so
that we can develop ways to fight hatred and racism, reduce the number of hate
crimes and increase tolerance and respect in Canada.
I thank my honourable colleague for bringing awareness to this topic of great
concern. As Canadians, we need to address the issue surrounding racial, cultural
and ethnic diversity comprising our country. We need to instil positive values
in our youth — those of understanding, accepting and appreciating those
differences that form the fabric of Canadian life.
I would like to begin by sharing a few statistics about Canada's demographic
reality. Each year, Canada welcomes approximately 250,000 new permanent
residents from around the world. The 2006 census revealed that people from more
than 200 ethnic origins make Canada their home, with visible minorities
accounting for 16.2 per cent of the total population, which is up from 11.2 per
cent in 1996.
A report published by Statistics Canada predicts that by 2031, about
one-third of Canada's population will be from a visible minority and about one
in four Canadians will be foreign-born. Simply put, the size of the visible
minority population will double in Canada in the decades to come. These changing
demographics demonstrate a significant, recent growth in the country's ethnic
and religious diversity. It goes without saying that Canada's population is
varied, diverse and constantly changing.
As the demographic realities of Canada are changing, so are those of my
native province of Alberta. It is estimated that by 2031, visible minorities
will account for 38 per cent of Calgary's population, more than the anticipated
national average, and for 29 per cent of Edmonton's population.
Immigrant and cultural diversity play a key role in the vitality of the
province of Alberta. This diversity also contributes significantly to the
growing strength and diversity of the province's francophone communities.
Indeed, only 3 out of 10 Franco-Albertans were born in Alberta and nearly 15
per cent of the French-speaking population in Alberta came there as immigrants.
Saskatchewan, Alberta and Manitoba welcome many immigrants of African origin,
representing 25.3 per cent, 26.9 per cent and 27.8 per cent of all
French-speaking newcomers in those three provinces. In addition, nearly 2,700
Franco-Albertans belong to one of the First Nations.
Let me remind honourable senators that Canada has had a Multiculturalism Act
in place since 1988. The goal of this legislation, which includes the
Multiculturalism Policy of Canada and provides a legal policy framework to guide
federal responsibilities and activities with regard to the advancement of
multiculturalism in Canada, is to preserve and enhance multiculturalism in
Canada, to assist in the preservation of culture and language, to reduce
discrimination, to enhance cultural awareness and understanding, and to promote
culturally sensitive institutional change.
Most Canadian provinces also have multiculturalism policies that invite all
Canadians to accept cultural diversity and encourage everyone to be full members
of Canadian society. Quebec prefers a policy of interculturalism between groups
of different cultures. Interculturalism is the preferred means of raising
awareness of cultural diversity. It is based on the assumption that the host
society will actively participate in the integration of newcomers and that there
is mutual knowledge and understanding of cultural differences. More
specifically, interculturalism suggests that the dominant culture of the host
country or region will be adopted and that commonalities will be identified
while preserving individual differences. The Quebec policy of interculturalism
is based on three key elements: French as the common public language the
participation and contribution of all in a democratic setting; and a pluralistic
and open society to the extent made possible by democratic values and
Some scholars of late maintain that multiculturalism should be struck from
our national vocabulary. They maintain that Canada needs to refocus the debate
by replacing the term "multiculturalism" with the concept of pluralism, a
concept that articulates a sense of citizenship through the idea of
This change, according to Rudyard Griffiths, co-founder of the
Historica-Dominion Institute, will encourage people to define themselves as
individuals and have their rights recognized, all while reinforcing the need to
take their civic roles more seriously.
The goal here is to build a successful society around the concept of
citizenship so that newcomers become familiar with the symbols and institutions
rooted in Canadian history and the fundamental Canadian values of freedom and
democracy, as well as the contributions made by groups of people more recently
No matter what definition is used, the fact remains that the principle of
racial and cultural equality has the force of law in Canada, which means that
all organizations, departments and Crown corporations have a responsibility to
enforce this law by promoting cultural diversity in all Canadian sectors. In
addition, there are a number of other legal texts that help fight racism in
Canada, including the Human Rights Act, the Canadian Charter of Rights and
Freedoms, the Employment Equity Act and a number of provincial policies, just to
name a few.
Diversity is also one of our Canadian values. In a survey published in 2003
by the Centre for Research and Information on Canada (CRIC), 54 per cent of
those surveyed stated that multiculturalism made them very proud to be Canadian.
However, despite having formal federal laws in place to promote tolerance and
diversity in Canada, as well as having an increasing diversity in our country,
incidents of racism and intolerance continue to occur in Canada.
A recent 2011 survey conducted by the Association for Canadian Studies and
the Canadian Race Relations Foundation found that 46 per cent of respondents
agree that racism is on the rise in Canada; 45 per cent of respondents disagreed
with this statement. The survey also found that 38 per cent of the respondents
had witnessed an act of racism within the last year.
This survey demonstrates that Canadians have contrasting views when it comes
to experiences with racism in Canada, and that many are not aware of its
significance or occurrence. It takes little more than to open a newspaper or
turn on a television to notice that discrimination happens on many levels.
I was disheartened to read an internal report this summer about the alarming
and systemic rates of racial profiling within the Montreal Police Service. The
report, done by criminologists who had been with the Montreal Police Service
since 2006, stated that Black youth in the northern part of Montreal were
stopped by police approximately 40 per cent of the time, as compared to 5 or 6
per cent for White youth. The report also showed that random stops of Black
citizens more than doubled between 2001 and 2007, and that Black citizens were
more likely than their White counterparts to be stopped for vague and
Another indicator of the racial discrimination that persists in Canada is the
level of integration of visible minorities, measured through labour market
participation, education, income, housing, political and civic involvement and
health. According to a report by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada,
visible minorities and Aboriginals are seriously disadvantaged in all these
areas. The report notes large gaps between labour market prospects for visible
minority and non-visible minority populations. The employment rate is lower and
the unemployment rate is higher for visible minorities than for non-visible
minorities. The demands for labour market flexibility have disproportionately
exposed "racialized" groups to contract, temporary, part-time, and shift work
with poor job security and low wages and benefits. The rate of university degree
attainment among Aboriginals is significantly lower than that of
non-Aboriginals. The average employment income of Canadian visible minorities is
approximately 86 per cent of the general population's. Newcomers to Canada and
visible minorities are significantly overrepresented in high poverty
A recent finding by the Conference Board of Canada also suggests that
Canada's failure to properly use the skills of immigrants costs this country $5
billion a year in lost productivity. This is but one example of how
discrimination negatively affects the country's economy.
These alarming data reveal the deeply rooted discrimination in our
institutions, our systems and our culture. Senator Oliver listed a number of
indicators of discrimination and racism in Canada, and in his wise words,
"equality is still not a reality."
Yet there is hope, honourable senators. I truly believe that education is the
key to cultivating tolerance and understanding, embracing cultural diversity and
bringing awareness to prejudice and discrimination. According to UNESCO,
building tolerance requires access to education. Intolerance is often rooted in
ignorance and fear: fear of the unknown of "the other" — other cultures, other
religions and other nations.
I would like to speak about the pedagogical efforts and initiatives of
several organizations in my home province of Alberta, namely those of the
Tolerance Caravan of Alberta and of the John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human
In 1995, the first Tolerance Caravan visited five schools in Montreal and the
Laurentians after the Comité Rapprochement Québec launched an awareness program
in high schools about prejudice, discrimination and genocide. The Tolerance
Foundation, a non-profit organization, was founded to direct the Caravan, which
was a great success with youth. That organization was founded by one of our
former colleagues, Senator Goldstein.
Since then, the Tolerance Foundation has been actively working to encourage
high school youth to be open to difference by developing teaching tools and
offering activities, workshops and initiatives to fight against racism and
The Tolerance Caravan of Alberta, inspired by the Montreal-based caravan that
travels throughout Quebec, has been organizing activities in numerous
francophone and French-immersion schools in my home province since 2006. The
Tolerance Caravan of Alberta is one of Alliance jeunesse-famille de l'Alberta
Society's signature initiatives, an Alberta-based not-for-profit organization
whose mission is to prevent crime among French-speaking immigrant youth and
families and to facilitate their integration into Alberta's social and
professional life. It plays a key role in teaching Albertan youth about the
effects of racism, discrimination and prejudice by promoting intercultural
exchanges and interactive discussions.
May I have an additional five minutes, please?
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Yes.
Senator Tardif: Alberta's Caravan of Tolerance primarily aims to
reinforce and encourage partnerships between schools, youth, the police, media
and the community. The Caravan's workshops are targeted at 9- to 17-year-olds
and are based on exchange, dialogue and meetings.
Similarly, the John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human Rights is a
non-profit organization in Edmonton that envisions a world that manifests a
culture of peace and human rights in which the dignity of every person is
respected, valued and celebrated. Its mission is to advance a culture of peace
and human rights through educational organizations and activities, community
collaboration and relationship building guided by the principles of the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The Edmonton-based centre is named after John Peters Humphrey, a Canadian and
principal drafter of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The declaration
was born from the ashes of World War II and the Holocaust. It was a global
rejection of the notion that what is right is determined by who is in power, and
it was drafted by men and women of various nations, ideologies and religions.
The declaration was ratified on December 10, 1948. In 1995, in the fiftieth
year of the United Nations, Pope John Paul II would hail it as one of the
highest expressions of the human conscience in our time.
The beauty of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is in its
commonality: It speaks to all people, regardless of race, religion, geography,
gender or social class. It has survived for 58 years as the moral blueprint of
the world precisely because it has the uncanny ability to resonate with each of
us, despite our differences and diversity, in a manner that seems directly
tailored to our individual beliefs and aspirations.
The declaration has had a tremendous influence upon the lives of millions
around the globe. No greater example exists than in Canada, which followed the
United Nations' path in enshrining and guaranteeing fundamental human rights
through the adoption of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
As Madam Chief Justice McLachlin has noted, the adoption of the Charter of
Rights and Freedoms in 1982 elevated basic human rights, Aboriginal rights and
equality to the status of supreme law against which all government actions,
regulations and legislation must be assessed. The Charter stands as Canada's
ultimate expression of our commitment to freedom and human dignity.
As I conclude my speech, I am very hopeful. I believe that tolerance,
understanding, respect and openness to Canadian diversity are part of a project
that is already under way.
Transforming one's fears into understanding, acceptance, openness and
embracement are the goals and initiatives of many organizations across this
great country. To quote Nelson Mandela, as I have tried to convey throughout my
contribution to Senator Oliver's inquiry, "Education is the most powerful weapon
which you can use to change the world."
A recent article in the journal, The Ismaili, speaks to the space and
freedom that is given in Canada to the negotiation of the plurality of
This uniquely Canadian idea of citizenship tells us that it does not
matter where we come from or what the colour of our skin is and that what
makes us up, individually and collectively, are our spiritual, moral,
ethical, educational and cultural experiences and insight.
A society which emphasizes uniformity, as former Prime Minister Pierre
Elliott Trudeau once said, is one which creates intolerance and hate.
Honourable senators, we need to be vigilant and continue our efforts to
ensure that in our policies and programs diversity is recognized as a basic
cultural value in Canadian society.
(On motion of Senator Andreychuk, debate adjourned.)
Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Carstairs, P.C.,
calling the attention of the Senate to the Impact of Dementia on the
Hon. Terry M. Mercer: Honourable senators, when Senator Carstairs
first introduced this inquiry, I was again hopeful that everyone in this place
would listen carefully. Senator Carstairs is known for her dedication on these
subjects, and I thank her for the leadership she has provided over many years on
the topics of aging, dementia and palliative care.
Dementia is the deterioration of a person's ability to learn and think but is
not necessarily confined to one disease. It can take many forms, occur at
different times in a person's life, and progress slowly or quickly. While
terminal, a person suffering from whatever form of dementia can live for many
years after their diagnosis. This characteristic is a large part of the reason
why it is so important to detect signs of dementia early and try to prevent them
Honourable senators, I do not think there is a person in this chamber who has
not been affected by, or does not know someone who has been affected by,
dementia. According to the Alzheimer Society of Canada, the estimated number of
Canadians living with Alzheimer's disease in 2007 was 300,000. In January 2010,
the Alzheimer Society of Canada released a new study entitled: Rising Tide:
The Impact of Dementia on Canadian Society. It stated that the numbers of
Canadians suffering from Alzheimer's disease or related dementias is now
500,000. That number is expected to more than double in little over a
Honourable senators, we have heard these statistics before, but I think they
bear repeating. Senator Carstairs and other senators have told us that the
Alzheimer Society study reports that by 2038 the economic burden will increase
from $15 billion to $153 billion. The number of hours that Canadians will
provide care to their loved ones will be 756 million hours per year, an increase
from 231 million hours. These statistics are astounding. The question is: Are we
prepared for it?
As we all know, the health care system in Canada is already burdened by long
wait times, an inadequate number of doctors and nurses and not enough short-term
and long-term care beds. We also know that improving preventative care now can
have significant benefits in the future, even with dementia. Before I elaborate
on the Alzheimer Society report, I will give honourable senators examples of how
other jurisdictions are tackling this problem.
In February 2009, the United Kingdom released a report entitled Living
Well With Dementia: A National Dementia Strategy. The strategy identified 17
key objectives for improving the quality of services provided to people with
dementia. According to the report, there were 700,000 people in the UK with
dementia at a cost of £17 billion per year. In the next 30 years, the number of
people with dementia will double to 1.4 million with the cost rising to over £50
billion per year.
Some of the objectives the UK government identified include improving public
and professional awareness and understanding of dementia; early diagnosis and
intervention; information for those with dementia and their caregivers; and easy
access to care and support following diagnosis.
In May of 2006, the Australian Health Ministers' Conference met to plan their
National Framework for Action on Dementia for 2006-2010. In 2006, 200,000
Australians had dementia, and it was predicted that by 2016, dementia will be
the major cause of disability for Australians, overtaking cardiovascular
disease, cancer and depression. Some estimates suggest that by 2050, nearly
750,000 Australians will have dementia.
To combat this problem, the Australian health ministers identified five key
priority areas: care and support; access and equality; information and
education; research; and workforce and training. This information all sounds
Honourable senators, Canada is no different and will face a major crisis if
we do not act soon. The aforementioned new study by the Alzheimer Society lays
out similar plans for how to deal with dementia in Canada. Of course, we will
not be able to help solve the problems associated with dementia if a support
system is not in place to do so. Caregivers, such as spouses, children and
grandchildren of dementia sufferers, need support. We recommended similar
approaches in the report of the Special Senate Committee on Aging chaired by
In my eyes, preventative measures are always the most effective. Just as
education can take people on the path out of poverty, so too can preventative
medical techniques solve some of our health care problems. More exercise and a
healthy diet and lifestyle are always helpful to prevent the onset of many
medical problems, including dementia.
This advice sounds like common sense to me, but if we do not encourage these
things, how can they be helpful? Are we even able to diagnose the early symptoms
The following statistics are directly from the report of the Special Senate
Committee on Aging, Canada's Aging Population: Seizing the Opportunity.
The report states:
Although the number of geriatricians almost doubled from 111 to 211
between 1995 and 2007, this was still far short of the 538 that were
estimated to be needed in 2006.
Of the 211 geriatricians, however, the Committee heard that many have
other responsibilities, reducing the number of active fulltime equivalencies
to probably less than 150. Even more alarmingly, the number of internal
medicine residents entering geriatric medicine programs has decreased
dramatically over the last 10 years.
The problem is becoming worse. The report continues:
The Canadian Geriatric Society reports that in 2007 there were only five
trainees in English-speaking programs for the entire country. Likewise, Care
of the Elderly family medicine training programs have many vacancies, and
there are only 140 physicians with this training in Canada.
Honourable senators, if my math is correct, for 2007 there were 150 geriatric
doctors for 300,000 Alzheimer's patients. That ratio is 2000:1. I believe that
statistic says it all. Honourable senators, we need more research, more
preventive measures and more doctors and nurses. We need a lot of things, but
how will we pay for them? Does the government have a plan?
As many senators have already stated, the cost of dementia care will increase
from $15 billion to $153 billion. This is staggering.
Canadian families also want the option of caring for loved ones who have
fallen ill at home. Our rapidly aging population is putting increased pressure
on our health care system. Family caregivers are responsible for 80 per cent of
Canada's home care services. One can well imagine the stress on these caregivers
when dementia is taken into account. The Special Senate Committee on Aging heard
stories firsthand from families who had exhausted their personal time, and even
their health and finances, to care for loved ones.
While it appears government has no plan, it seems some people have been
listening to these statistics. To help families care for their loved ones, the
opposition in the other place, the Liberal Party, has a plan to invest $1
billion annually in a new family care plan to help reduce the pressures faced by
hundreds of thousands of Canadian families. The Liberal plan will introduce a
new six-month "Family Care Employment Insurance Benefit" so that more Canadians
can care for their ill family members at home. The plan also offers a new family
care tax benefit which would help low- and middle-income family caregivers to
compensate for the cost of providing care to a family member at home.
Combined with further government support, loved ones with dementia can be
taken care of at home by family members, with the help of professionals, for a
longer period of time. Not only does this save money in the long term in the
health care system, but it also gives dignity to the person with dementia and
As I said, everyone here has a story to tell about a family member, a
relative, a neighbour, or someone they know who has suffered from dementia.
Honourable senators, my own mother, in the last few months of her life, suffered
from the symptoms of dementia. We only discovered later that it was not
dementia, but a brain tumour. However, she had the classic symptoms of dementia.
I salute my family members who provided the care to her over those last few
months. As well, I salute a couple of her grandchildren. On the final Christmas
my mother lived, we visited my sister for Christmas. We were going there on
Christmas Eve and my son and my nephew drove my mother up to my sister's
cottage. At that time, because of her problem, my mother needed to stop at every
washroom along the way. Thank God there are so many Tim Hortons restaurants in
Nova Scotia; conveniently, there is one almost at every interchange. Here were
these two young men, aged 29 and 30 years old, with this 89-year-old woman in
tow, stopping at Tim Hortons establishments along the way, taking her into the
men's washroom, taking her into the cubicle and helping her to use the
facilities. While I mentioned my son and my nephew, that is the kind of care
that is being given by hundreds of thousands of Canadians right across the
country every day.
This morning, I made a phone call to another relative of mine who was
recently diagnosed with early stages of dementia to find out how he was doing. I
was encouraged — and this is a positive story — because he has been put on a
regimen of new drugs. Amazingly, it has helped to stabilize his condition and
has helped him to come back so that he is able to participate more in his
day-to-day life and has been able to maintain his ability to drive, which is
important. He lives in an extremely rural part of Nova Scotia. Without his
ability to drive, he would probably be institutionalized, which would be
disastrous for both him and his family. This has dramatically improved his
quality of life.
Honourable senators, there are things we can do to help prevent a
catastrophic rise in health care costs associated with dementia. I only hope the
government benches have listened to what honourable senators have said regarding
this inquiry. Again, I thank Senator Carstairs for leading this discussion and
hope that she will continue to do so.
(On motion of Senator Cowan, debate adjourned.)
(The Senate adjourned until Wednesday, February 9, 2011, at 1:30 p.m.)