Hon. Joseph A. Day: Honourable senators, I rise today to discuss the
Lunar New Year and its significance in Canada. While the Lunar New Year is often
referred to as the Chinese New Year, there are, in fact, many other countries
and regions that celebrate the Lunar New Year at this time.
This year, the Lunar New Year fell on February 3. In our Gregorian calendar,
the Lunar New Year may fall anywhere between January 21 and February 20, as
determined by the arrival of the second new moon after the winter solstice.
The lunar calendar is based on the cycles of the moon, which repeat
themselves every 12 years, honourable senators, and a system of animal signs to
date the years. The lunar calendar represents a cyclical concept of time and
life, which contrasts with our Western linear concept, an interesting difference
that may explain our different ways of looking at matters.
China, Korea, Vietnam, Mongolia and other Eastern countries all celebrate the
Lunar New Year on the same date. Combined, citizens descended from these groups
account for nearly 2 million Canadians.
Honourable senators, I believe it is important to be aware that many
Canadians, as well as others around the world, are celebrating what is an
important event to them. Collectively, these Canadians have helped to make
Canada the diverse and culturally rich country that it is.
Although the Western calendar has been adopted in many of these countries
since the early 1900s, the lunar calendar events are still celebrated, and
particularly the Lunar New Year.
Honourable senators, imagine the bridge that these Canadians can help Canada
make with the countries of their ancestors. Chinese-Canadians alone account for
nearly 1.3 million of our population, around 3.9 per cent of the entire Canadian
population. The third most frequently spoken language in Canada, behind English
and French, is Chinese.
Honourable senators, 2010 was an important year for Canada-China relations.
It marked the fortieth anniversary of diplomatic relations between our
The Lunar New Year is the Year of the Rabbit. The Year of the Rabbit is said
to be a year to slow down and relax. It is a year to negotiate and not use force
to resolve issues.
Honourable senators, given the issues facing this country, this seems to be a
wise path for this place to follow. It is important for us to work cooperatively
in our challenges, to perform our work here in the best interests of the people
and the regions we represent, and to deal with the issues calmly and logically.
Honourable senators, this evening, at 6:30 p.m., the Canada-China Legislative
Association will co-host a Chinese New Year's celebration, along with the Ottawa
Chinese-Canadian Heritage Centre. The event takes place at the Government
Conference Centre, across from the Château Laurier Hotel, and I hope many
honourable senators will be able to attend this important function for the Lunar
Hon. Roméo Antonius Dallaire: Honourable senators, I would like to
draw your attention to an extremely disgraceful side of humanity.
Honourable senators, I rise today to inform the chamber that February 12,
this Saturday, is the International Day against the Use of Child Soldiers. It
commemorates the day on which the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the
Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict entered
into force as international law. Canada ratified the optional protocol in 2000
and has been joined, to date, by 138 other countries in a commitment to protect
children from armed conflict and its impact. Canada has not, however, put that
Today we recognize the hundreds of thousands of children, of whom 40 per cent
are girls, who have been killed, maimed, raped, drugged and otherwise abused,
and forced to do the same to their families and communities while under the
direction of adult combatants.
Soldiering is not a noble career option for nine-year-olds, barely taller
than the gun she or he can even carry. This day exists for a reason. The task is
not yet complete. Children continue to be recruited and used as soldiers. They
continue to be exploited by adults, despite the prohibition that exists in
Currently, Côte d'Ivoire is recruiting former child soldiers from Sierra
Leone and Liberia to sustain that friction and potential
catastrophe-in-the-making. They continue to be used despite the obligation of
governments to protect children from involvement in and the effects of armed
Honourable senators, we know that children do not save their weekly allowance
to pay for flights to far-off places to fight wars. Generally speaking, children
do not save their earnings, made at their part-time jobs after school, to buy
AK-47s. The funding still comes primarily from blood diamonds and Canada's weak
support of the Kimberley Process is not abating that source.
If you buy a diamond, I must insist that you buy a Canadian diamond.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Senator Dallaire: They are clean. They are ethical. They are like the
oil exercise that is being used in this country.
Children do not start wars. They are intentionally used as weapons of wars.
Their involvement in armed conflict is not their violation against international
law. The violation has been committed against them by adults.
There was a time when Canada was on the forefront of developing an
international framework to protect children's rights. But we have regressed and
for too long we have even abandoned one of our own, despite the international
laws to which Canada subscribes. A former Canadian child soldier continues to
languish at Guantanamo Bay. On this important day, we have the duty to humbly
acknowledge Canada's position on the world stage and to make good on the
commitment we have made to children.
The use of child soldiers is a crime against humanity. Adults hire, recruit
and abuse child soldiers. Blood diamonds sustain these crimes. Buy Canadian
Hon. Tommy Banks: Honourable senators, I want to say a few words today
about the Honourable Doug Roche. I first met Doug in the late 1960s when he came
to Edmonton to be the editor of the Western Catholic Reporter. After a
successful tenure at that newspaper, he entered politics and was elected to the
House of Commons to represent one of Edmonton's constituencies as a Progressive
Conservative. He served there with distinction and then was called to the
Senate, where he also served with distinction.
I wish all honourable senators had a chance — as some of us were lucky enough
to — to know Doug Roche in his work here. He was the conscience of this place in
matters such as those that Senator Dallaire has just talked about, and many
other things. When it came to peace and disarmament, it was Doug Roche who kept
us from going off track and kept us on the straight and narrow.
Peace and disarmament, in fact, became Doug Roche's vocation. For over 40
years at the United Nations, he worked tirelessly for peace and disarmament. He
was Canada's Ambassador for Disarmament to the United Nations. In 1988, he was
elected chair of the United Nations' Disarmament Commission. His twentieth book
on the subject is due out soon.
Honourable senators, the International Peace Bureau was established in 1890.
In 1910, that organization won the Nobel Peace Prize. In the early years of the
last century, many members of the International Peace Bureau were also
recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize.
Doug currently lives in Edmonton with his wife Pat, where he has raised five
wonderful kids and has three grandchildren. Last Wednesday, Doug learned that
the International Peace Bureau has nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize. I
know you will all join me in congratulating him.
Hon. Wilfred P. Moore: Honourable senators, I rise today to pay
tribute to the late Brigadier-General Edward Alfred Charles "Ned" Amy, who
passed away on February 2, 2011, at Camp Hill Veterans' Memorial Building in
Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Born in Newcastle, New Brunswick, on March 28, 1918, Ned graduated from the
Royal Military College in Kingston, Ontario, in 1939. During World War II, he
was a feisty, fearless tank commander. Ned participated with distinction as an
officer in three Canadian armoured regiments — the Ontario Regiment, the King's
Own Calgary Regiment and the Grenadier Guards — the 22nd Canadian Armoured
Regiment — in the Allied invasions and liberations of Sicily, Italy, and the
Normandy to Germany campaign.
With the end of World War II, Ned commanded the Royal Canadian Armoured Corps
School, the Royal Canadian Dragoons, the 1st Canadian Contingent to the United
Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus, the 1st Canadian Infantry Brigade Group in
Calgary, and the 4th Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group in Germany. He served as
the 1st General Staff Officer to the Commonwealth Division in Korea, and as a
staff officer to both SHAPE and NATO headquarters.
At Canadian Forces headquarters in Ottawa, he served as Director of Armour,
Director of Operational Support Requirements, and as Director-General of Land
Upon his retirement in 1972, Ned marshalled his talents with immeasurable
energy into volunteer service. He was President of the Royal United Services
Institute of Nova Scotia, President of the Army Cadet League of Nova Scotia,
member of the Citadel Hill Army Museum board of governors, Honorary Colonel of
the Royal Canadian Dragoons, and Colonel Commandant of the Royal Canadian
He was a founder and active participant in the "Ko Canadian Unity Group," a
gathering of Canadian Forces veterans who, since 1995, have met regularly at
Ko's Restaurant in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia.
Perhaps his most beloved volunteerism was that as one of the Friends of the
Halifax Rifles. He led us in that campaign which achieved victory on September
5, 2008, with the reactivation of that historic regiment as an army reserve
Ned was one of Canada's three most-decorated soldiers. Ned proudly wore the
Distinguished Service Order, the Order of the British Empire, the Military
Cross, the Canadian Decoration, the Bronze Star of the United States of America
and the Cross of Chevalier of the Legion d'honneur of France. On November 14,
2007, I spoke in this chamber about Ned's battle heroics.
Predeceased by his loving wife, Jean, we express our heartfelt sympathy to
Ned's sons, Robert and Michael, and other members of his family. He will be
interred in the cemetery at Indian Point, Lunenburg County, Nova Scotia,
overlooking his beloved Mahone Bay.
Canada has lost a very special son. I am honoured to have been his friend. We
shall remember him.
The Hon. the Speaker informed the Senate that a message had been
received from the House of Commons with Bill C-389, An Act to amend the Canadian
Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code (gender identity and gender expression).
(Bill read first time.)
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be
read the second time?
(On motion of Senator Comeau, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for second
reading, two days hence.)
Hon. Roméo Antonius Dallaire: Honourable senators, my question is for
the Leader of the Government in the Senate. In Afghanistan today, 14 family
members of nine soldiers killed in combat are visiting Kandahar. Families find
it very moving to be able to visit the place where their loved ones spent their
Since 1997, it has been the policy of the Canadian Forces to repatriate the
bodies of soldiers killed overseas. The soldiers' bodies are brought home, but
the families' attachment to the battle sites is also very important. It was
announced today that next month will be the last opportunity for relatives to
travel to the area to remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.
Can the Leader of the Government confirm that all families who have lost
loved ones in action will have the opportunity to decide whether or not they
would like to go to Kandahar to take part in such a memorial for their loved
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators,
I thank Senator Dallaire for his question. I have not heard what the honourable
senator has just reported to this chamber. I am aware of the long-standing
National Defence policy that permits Canadian military families to go over to
Afghanistan. I realize that we are leaving Kandahar in a few scant months, but I
will seek information, honourable senators, and respond to Senator Dallaire's
question when I have an answer.
Senator Dallaire: Honourable senators, we still have troops in the
field, still in combat, still in war, and most of them from the garrison near
where I live in Quebec City. I raise this concern because of a media
announcement by the Vice-Chief of the Defence Staff, who is the resource manager
for the Department of National Defence. The announcement indicated that a series
of benefits and supports available to the troops and their families have been
put on hold. The benefits and supports have been stopped because of an internal
paperwork problem and they have not sought authority from the central agencies,
such as Treasury Board Secretariat.
Honourable senators, if this was a matter that occurred just last week, one
could say that someone messed up in getting a signature. Apparently, however,
this has been going on for five years.
Honourable senators, are the civilian bean counters who are responsible for
the financial dimension of National Defence now starting to take control? As we
have troops in the field, will they start cutting into benefits that those
troops need in order to sustain their commitment and the commitment of their
families to such a significant job as fighting our wars?
Senator LeBreton: As the honourable senator mentioned, that
administrative issue has reached the public's attention. The minister is
addressing this issue. It will be fixed as soon as possible, and soldiers and
their grieving families will not be affected. All previously covered travel for
grieving families will be paid. With respect to all other benefits, no money
will be recovered from Canadian Forces members during this period of review.
Senator Dallaire: The Department of National Defence employs a method
wherein when a soldier has been overpaid, the finance people simply cut the pay
and absorb it in one transaction. In some situations, soldiers have found that
they will not receive their pay because the finance people have clawed back the
discrepancy. There is a terrible history of such actions in the past.
I am seeking from the Leader of the Government in the Senate a guarantee that
this government will not retroactively obtain funds from the troops, their
families or the programs that have been used to support them in the field.
Honourable senators, imagine that we are having this discussion while we
still have troops in the field. It is bad enough that they have to worry about
the enemy in front of them, but imagine having to keep an eye out from behind
because of uncertainty of what is going on back home for support. Can the leader
provide us with that guarantee?
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, Senator Dallaire is repeating
the CBC's interpretation of the situation.
I have answered the senator's question. This is an administrative issue and,
as the honourable senator just pointed out, there have been incidents in the
I will only commit to what I said to the honourable senator earlier in
response to his first question, which is to get as much information as possible.
However, I did say that with respect to the benefits, no money will be recovered
from Canadian Forces members during this period of review.
Hon. Grant Mitchell: Honourable senators, it was quite striking to see
that the admiral would make an announcement of that nature, severing benefits
without having any solution, the kind of solution that the Leader of the
Government has mentioned today. Imagine — and I think we cannot — the message
sent to families and the military in the field right now.
Honourable senators, what is wrong in that department, that the admiral would
not think that he could settle this problem with the minister before an
announcement was made announcing the problem and the solution? Is the
relationship so bad in that department that the admiral simply did not feel he
could go to his political leader to solve it?
Senator LeBreton: I will not get into hypotheses, honourable senators.
Obviously, I sympathize with the families that are involved in this issue. I
have already answered the question in response to Senator Dallaire.
Hon. Terry M. Mercer: Honourable senators, on February 1, the House of
Commons Standing Committee on National Defence was in Newfoundland hearing
testimony on search and rescue response times.
Cheryl Gallant, the Conservative Member of Parliament for
Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke made some odd comments during that hearing. Here are
a couple of her strange comments from the transcript:
In Ontario, we have inland seas, the Great Lakes, and it would never
occur to any of us, even up in the Ottawa River, to count on the coast guard
to come and help us.
Ms. Gallant went on to say:
We have our province that actually has its resources deployed, and not at
the same time; it might be one part of a river, or one lake, or another
river on a given weekend. But we pool all our resources. Even the
municipalities put boats out, so that it's a community effort.
Ms. Gallant continued:
I know that it would be ideal to have the federal government be there in
the 30-minute response time 24 hours a day, but in practicality, we do have
to pool our resources.
It seems that the Conservative Party's new policy, when it comes to the
safety of Atlantic Canadians, should be the fend-for-yourself approach, when it
is clear that the federal government has responsibility to perform search and
rescue in the North Atlantic.
Honourable senators, there is a great deal of difference between the North
Atlantic and the Ottawa River. It appears dangerous for Newfoundlanders and
Labradorians to vote for the Conservative Party.
Would the leader kindly tell us whether the Conservative government is
pleased with this new approach to search and rescue?
The Hon. the Speaker: Order. Honourable senators, I have to draw your
attention to rule 46 of the Rules of the Senate of Canada, which provides
that it is quite proper to quote from a minister who has spoken in the other
place. However, honourable senators, the rule, as I read it, proscribes the
quoting of a member who is not a minister in the other place. Although one may
summarize, one may not quote. I want to make clear what our rule 46 provides.
Senator Mercer: I thank His Honour for that clarification; however,
had His Honour been paying closer attention, he would have heard that I was not
quoting from what the member of Parliament for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke said
in the other place. I was quoting from comments Ms. Gallant made at a committee
hearing in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Honourable senators, it appears that it is dangerous for Newfoundlanders and
Labradorians to put any faith in this government.
Would the leader kindly tell us whether the Conservative government agrees
with this new approach to search and rescue in the North Atlantic?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): I thank the
honourable senator. The member of Parliament in question was not speaking for
the government. Ms. Gallant has apologized for her remarks, not only to her
colleagues but also to officials in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Some Hon. Senators: Oh, oh!
Senator Comeau: Not good enough for you?
Senator Mercer: I do not think it is good enough for the people of
Newfoundland and Labrador. Ms. Gallant should apologize to all Atlantic
Canadians. It is well known that when an emergency strikes in Atlantic Canada,
we are all there. When Swissair went down off Peggys Cove, people did not wait
for the Coast Guard, but got in their boats and went out on the ocean to try to
help the victims of the disaster. Unfortunately, there was no help to be given
because of the magnitude of the disaster.
Honourable senators, we do not need to be lectured by people from Upper
Canada about search and rescue.
Honourable senators, let me talk about the testimony provided by the
Honourable Shawn Skinner, Minister of Natural Resources and Minister Responsible
for the Forestry and Agrifoods Agency in Newfoundland and Labrador. Mr. Skinner
appeared before the committee, and he said that 193 fish harvesters have lost
their lives in the Atlantic since 1979. He also stated that the current search
and rescue response times provided from DND — and please pay particular
attention to the numbers I will give you — are 30 minutes between the hours of 8
a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday to Friday, and at two hours, outside of those hours and
on statutory holidays.
How many Atlantic Canadians' lives are at stake when the Department of
National Defence goes on a break or takes a vacation?
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, I think that Senator Mercer's
comment is a gross insult to DND and members of the Coast Guard.
With respect to Canadian Forces and our search and rescue operations, as the
minister has stated on many occasions, these assets are optimally located to
provide the most rapid response to areas where, historically and statistically,
incidents are most likely to occur. We are constantly assessing the search and
rescue needs and capabilities, and we are committed to providing effective
search and rescue services for all Canadians. Obviously, the people who live
along our coasts are historically and statistically in more danger, and,
obviously, that is where a good part of the search and rescue missions are
focused, although we do have search and rescue capabilities in other parts of
the country as well.
Senator Mercer: Honourable senators, I do not care if the people at
the Department of National Defence are insulted by my comments because my
question relates to the safety of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians and Atlantic
Canadians who are out on the water. Those people are insulted by the lack of
Honourable senators, can you imagine that we will have to tell the fishers to
schedule any catastrophes between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.? Perhaps someone at DND
should understand that when fishers go out on the Grand Banks, they go for weeks
and months at a time. It takes hours to get there. They do not get there in a
few moments; it takes a long time. To have to say, "We will have to wait to have
our accident until after 8 a.m. Hold it, now. Don't let anything happen before
eight o'clock in the morning because search and rescue is unavailable until that
time," is an insult to Atlantic Canadians and to those good men and women
working on the waters of this country. DND should be ashamed of itself, not the
other way around.
Could the leader tell me when this government will address the issue of
search and rescue times so that we in Atlantic Canada can depend on search and
rescue being able to respond in a reasonably quick time to help save those
people who find themselves in distress on the water?
Senator LeBreton: I repeat, honourable senators, that I think the
honourable senator has done a great disservice to our Canadian Forces and to the
search and rescue people. To suggest that people's lives are at risk while the
search and rescue people are off having coffee breaks or holidays or weekends is
highly insulting. As the honourable senator knows full well, the search and
rescue operation operates on a 24-7 basis.
We are always looking at ways to improve service, following areas where
historically and statistically there are more incidents. I repeat what I said: I
would take great offence if I were a member of the Canadian Forces, and part of
search and rescue, to think that a parliamentarian would think I would rather go
for a coffee break or have a holiday than save a life.
Senator Mercer: It is your responsibility, minister, as a member of
the government, to manage the departments that fall under the government. One of
those departments is the Department of National Defence.
The people who are not there at the time to respond are working to schedules
established by the people who run the departments. The last time I checked,
Peter MacKay, the Minister of National Defence, was responsible for that
department, not some warrant officer or sergeant in Gander.
The schedules and rules are drawn up to make available the proper personnel
and to provide enough personnel to perform this job. The schedules and rules are
the responsibility of the minister and the management of the Department of
The good people who work in search and rescue do a terrific job and we are
happy to have them. We are thankful to have them, but what we do not have is
enough of them, and we have poor management by this government.
How many more Atlantic Canadians are going to or could die because of the
Senator LeBreton: The honourable senator's remarks are clearly on the
record, but I point out that we have vastly increased the resources and the
number of people in the Canadian Forces, unlike the government of the previous
13 years. I invite the honourable senator to go back and check the record. When
his party was in government, it would not even provide the Canadian Forces with
decent helicopters to go out and save people.
Hon. Roméo Antonius Dallaire: Honourable senators, the information
provided by Senator Mercer on the availability of search and rescue is at least
shocking. However, we are talking about the air force; I will not go any further
but it is inappropriate.
That being one element, the helicopters that have come in were initiated by
the previous government and moved forward, but the issue of fixed wing aircraft
for search and rescue has not been resolved. It is stalled within the process of
procurement and decisions on benefits and so on.
The leader's government has been at it for five years. Could she tell us when
those aircraft will appear on the horizon, please?
Senator LeBreton: Senator Dallaire has tried to cover the fact that
the search and rescue mission operation was severely set back by the actions of
the previous government on the whole issue of the acquisition of the
With regard to the fixed wing, I will take the question as notice and send
the honourable senator a written answer.
Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette: Honourable senators, my question is for
the Leader of the Government in the Senate. The coalition of the Conservatives
with the separatists, the Bloc Québécois, recently managed to come to an
agreement in order to pass a bill to prevent any form of early release for
financial criminals, also known as white-collar criminals.
The bill will be fast-tracked and the legislation will apply retroactively.
This is another example of the invention of a new procedure in order to avoid
the usual process.
Apart from the fact that it is never a good idea to legislate based on one's
emotions about an item in the news, no matter how villainous it may be, this
agreement goes against our legal and democratic principles.
Furthermore, while the Conservative government and the Bloc members are
acting tough, they are not mentioning the fact that Canadians will be paying to
keep these people in jail, rather than having them do useful community work.
Finally, it is completely unacceptable to amend our entire parole system —
retroactively and in contempt of Parliament — in order to play petty politics
based on two isolated albeit tragic cases that played out in my province.
Can the Leader of the Government in the Senate perhaps tell us when — after
five years in power — her government will stop micromanaging and decide to
govern in the interest of all, with respect for our democratic institutions and
for the good of our children's future?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): We have many pieces
of legislation tabled before Parliament on a host of matters with regard to our
justice system. On the particular piece of legislation that the honourable
senator refers to, as the government is a minority government, for all
legislation that is tabled in the other place, we seek the support of its
As was the case last night on a motion, the Liberals supported the
government's position. In other instances, the NDP supports the government's
position. On this particular matter, the members of the Bloc Québécois supported
the government's position.
When the government tables legislation, the aim is to pass the legislation
through Parliament. We appreciate the support of any of the opposition parties
who choose to support the government's legislation.
On the piece of legislation the honourable senator refers to, this
legislation is going through the parliamentary process. Everyone will have a
chance to have their say, but I dare say that if I were a victim of Mr. Jones, I
would not think of that individual as a stellar citizen.
Senator Hervieux-Payette: Honourable senators, I would like to point
out to the Leader of the Government in the Senate that I was speaking about
sound, long-term management and not making decisions on a case-by-case basis and
then amending the Criminal Code based on a specific case.
Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette: Honourable senators, I would also like
to point out, in keeping with the theme of sound management, that in an
interview on RDI Économie, broadcast on February 1 on the RDI network,
Luc Godbout, a researcher with the Chair in Taxation and Public Finance at the
Université de Sherbrooke, explained that Quebec is the only province, out of the
six that have harmonized their sales taxes, to have received no compensation.
The Atlantic provinces received almost $1 billion in compensation under the
Liberal government, Ontario received $3.4 billion, and British Columbia was
given $1.6 billion. Quebec is claiming $2.2 billion in compensation from the
federal government for harmonizing its tax in 1992, and it has yet to be
Since the government has just shown that it can form a coalition with the
Bloc Québécois separatists, can the Leader of the Government in the Senate tell
us whether this coalition will at least put an end to the unfair treatment of
Quebec and this double standard by including the amounts owed to Quebec in the
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): We have been in
government for five years and we have moved considerable legislation through
Parliament using a process of cooperation in the other place by one or other of
the opposition parties. Joining together and signing an agreement, that is a
coalition. Seeking support from the opposition is a meaningful way of trying to
move our legislation through Parliament.
With regard to white-collar crimes, this piece of legislation is not
specifically designed for a few cases in Quebec. If the honourable senator
checks the record, as part of our policy platform, we indicated our interest in
dealing with white-collar crime long before these cases happened.
I can understand the honourable senator's concern when her party in the other
place decides they are on the side of grow-op operators and drug pushers who
damage our children. I can well understand it.
With regard to the sales tax in Quebec, I will repeat what I have said and
what the Minister of Finance has said on many occasions. He is continuing to
negotiate in good faith with his counterparts in Quebec, and we, as the
government, hope to reach a successful outcome after these negotiations.
Hon. Catherine S. Callbeck: Honourable senators, my question is to the
Leader of the Government in the Senate. On Tuesday, I asked the leader why the
federal government disbanded the Sodium Working Group before the group completed
its mandate. At that time, the leader indicated there was a significant overlap
between the working group and the Food Regulatory Advisory Committee, which is
the group that the government has now charged with implementing and monitoring
the sodium reduction strategy.
I have checked into this matter and there is not a significant overlap. In
fact, there is very little overlap between the two groups.
The Sodium Working Group is made up of experts in their field. They started
the initiative. They had the mandate to develop, implement and monitor the
strategy. They have already developed it, so why will the government not let
them complete their mandate?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators,
as I said when I answered the honourable senator's question a few days ago, it
is clear that sodium levels in Canadian food products are high. That is why we
established the Sodium Working Group. The group looked at ways to reduce the
amount of sodium and encourage Canadians to reduce their sodium intake. There
was a considerable amount of media interest around their reports.
As I said, we thank the Sodium Working Group for their hard work. At the
health ministers' meeting last summer, the ministers of health adopted a goal of
reducing sodium intake by one third by 2016. Following on these reports,
Minister Aglukkaq will continue to work with her provincial and territorial
colleagues and all other stakeholders in this area to ensure that this strategy
is implemented to the benefit of all Canadians.
Senator Callbeck: The Sodium Working Group was set up to develop,
implement and oversee this strategy. That was their mandate. They started it.
They worked for three years. They developed a strategy. All of a sudden, the
Sodium Working Group has been disbanded and the government has given the
implementation and the oversight of this strategy to the Food Regulatory
Why did the government disband the Sodium Working Group, which is composed of
experts in their fields? The group includes Health Canada, Agriculture and
Agri-Food Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada, the
Federal-Provincial-Territorial Group on Nutrition, scientists, health
professionals, health and consumer groups like the Heart and Stroke Foundation
and the food manufacturing and food service industries.
The group spent three years developing this strategy. As I said, their
mandate was to develop, implement and monitor. Why will the government not let
them implement and monitor this strategy?
Senator LeBreton: The participants in the Sodium Working Group
completed their work. We thank them for their work and now the strategy will be
implemented through the ministers of health for the various provinces and
territories. I think we are speaking from the same side of the page, Senator
The Sodium Working Group was set up. They provided good work. They provided
good research. There was a lot of media attention around their findings. The
Minister of Health took this work to her counterparts in the provinces and
territories and they are working to implement a sodium reduction plan to reduce
intake by 2016. I do not know what more I can say.
Senator Callbeck: I still do not have an answer to my question. A
number of the people around the Sodium Working Group are speaking out and are
concerned about the future of this strategy.
They had a mandate to set up the strategy, implement it and monitor it.
Suddenly, the government has taken the implementation and monitoring from the
working group and given it to another group called the Food Regulatory Advisory
Committee. Why did the government do that?
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, I have not seen any of the
people who are questioning this move referred to by the honourable senator. The
group provided good work, they completed their work, we thanked them for their
work and we have turned this strategy over to the people who are in the best
position to implement it; namely, the various health authorities in the
provinces and territories.
Hon. Pierre De Bané: Honourable senators, my question is for the
Leader of the Government in the Senate.
When we had our exchange, the leader said something that astonished me. I
argued that the new vice-chair of the CRTC is a person who has never been
involved in any matter related either to broadcasting or telecommunications. The
leader made the argument that having someone appointed to such a critical
position without any experience in that field —
The Hon. the Speaker: I regret to inform honourable senators that the
time allotted for Question Period has expired.
I am therefore obliged to call for Delayed Answers.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, I have the honour to table a delayed response to an oral question
raised by Senator Dallaire on December 13, 2010, concerning National
Defence—Military Family Resource Centres.
(Response to question raised by Hon. Roméo Antonius Dallaire on December
Military Family Resource Centres work tirelessly to support families at
Canadian Forces bases, wings and stations across the country, in the United
States and in Europe. Their job, in short, is to bolster the resilience of
families and ensure the services are in place to meet the unique demands of
the Canadian Forces lifestyle.
The Military Family Services Program, and the Military Family Resource
Centres who deliver the Program, are the most visible demonstration of our
support for the families of Canadian Forces members. Recognizing that
individual and family well-being has a significant impact on military
readiness and operational effectiveness the Military Family Resource Centres
provide a number of services to Canadian Forces personnel and their families
to support their ability to be ready for duty.
The heightened operational tempo that has been the mainstay of Canadian
Forces operations since 2002 has emphasized the critical contributions of
families to the operational effectiveness of the Canadian Forces. The
research is clear: the capacity of military families and their support of
the Canadian Forces contribute positively to the recruitment, retention,
readiness and deployability of Canadian Forces personnel. Military Family
Resource Centres are a critical enabler of operational effectiveness.
With respect to the specific question concerning the Valcartier Military
Family Resource Centre, the situation is quite to the contrary of what the
Honourable Senator has suggested. First, the Valcartier MFRC has not
terminated any employees as a cost-saving measure. Second, since 2007, the
Valcartier MFRC has seen increases to both its core, public funding and the
local funding provided by the base.
It is clear that the many services provided by the Military Family
Resource Centres are critical to maintaining a military force that is
operationally ready and effective. That is why, for over 20 years Military
Family Resource Centres have been a hub of activity for providing services
that help military families tackle the challenges of their unique lifestyle.
The Minister of National Defence is confident that they will be able to
continue to provide these services and give our Canadian Forces personnel
and their families the support that they deserve.
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Carignan,
seconded by the Honourable Senator Demers:
That the Senate concur in the amendments made by the House of Commons to
Bill S-6, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and another Act (Serious Time
for the Most Serious Crime Act); and
That a Message be sent to the House of Commons to acquaint that House
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, I take this opportunity to address the issue raised yesterday by
Senator Nolin about the amendments to Bill S-6 and the two new proposed
subsections both referred to as subsection (2.7). I thank the Honourable Senator
Banks for moving the adjournment to provide us with time to review this matter.
Upon review, it has been established that this matter can be treated as an
error in the amendment message; that is to say, a minor typographical error that
can be corrected by the law clerks of the two houses acting together before
Royal Assent. Such corrections, unfortunately, are required from time to time to
correct what Driedger called "an obvious typographical error or slip of the
By such means, the second proposed subsection (2.7) would be renumbered
subsection (2.8) before Royal Assent. This means would avoid the need for a
formal amendment to the message to be sent back to the House of Commons to seek
agreement of the house.
The Hon. the Speaker: Are honourable senators ready for the question?
Hon. Lowell Murray: Honourable senators, I do not see Senator Nolin in
his seat. The explanation the Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate has
given sounds to me to be perfectly reasonable and sensible. However, it was
Senator Nolin who raised the matter. I think it would be better if we waited
until he is back in his seat to see whether that explanation is satisfactory to
If my friend opposite can say that he has already consulted privately with
Senator Nolin, that consultation, of course, would also be acceptable.
Senator Comeau: I find Senator Murray's suggestion highly irregular
that we wait for a senator to be in the chamber to deal with this issue. Senator
Nolin asked a perfectly legitimate question yesterday, and I imagine he placed
extreme urgency on it. We gave a response and the response is legitimate, as the
honourable senator suggested a moment ago.
I do not think we have to wait for Senator Nolin to be back in the chamber to
give either his assent or to demonstrate his continued concern. Honourable
senators, this bill has been kicking around for a long time. We have been
advised by the law clerks of both houses that typographical errors happen from
time to time, and that this means is a perfectly legitimate way of solving the
I suggest that we continue with the debate and then proceed to the final
denouement of this bill.
Senator Murray: Honourable senators, I am seeking a simple matter of
courtesy from the government towards one of its members. The explanation all
sounds reasonable to me. I want to know that Senator Nolin is satisfied with the
explanation. He can indicate his satisfaction privately to my friend or he can
come in here and do so for the record.
I do not see what we have to lose by waiting until another sitting to send a
message to the House of Commons as to our agreement. I do not think we have
prorogation or dissolution staring us in the face this weekend.
My friend suggests that we should continue the debate. I would move the
adjournment of the debate.
The Hon. the Speaker: I know that another senator is prepared to speak
now. Does the honourable senator wish to move the adjournment later?
Senator Murray: Thank you, Your Honour. Yes, I do.
Hon. Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu: Honourable senators, today I am speaking
to Bill S-6 because, unfortunately, I heard a word in this chamber that always
gets a reaction out of me when it is used in the context of rejecting a bill
that meets the expectations of the families of victims of crime, namely, the
To properly express my thoughts and provide my opinion on the bill to abolish
the faint hope clause, I would like to share the story of the murder of my
Julie was a young woman full of life. She was 27 years old. Julie had an
incredible future ahead of her. She had life ahead of her.
A few months before her murder, she was promoted to manager of the Aldo store
in Sherbrooke. That was Julie's dream job. She was kidnapped in downtown
Sherbrooke, unlawfully confined, raped and strangled by a man who, on the night
of June 23, 2002, was a predator on the hunt for a woman to rape.
Despite Julie's pleas not to be killed after she was raped, her attacker did
not give her the first chance, let alone a second chance to live.
Honourable senators, I do not know whether or not Senator Carstairs, who said
that this bill is about vengeance, has met many families who have had a loved
one murdered. I encourage her to do so. She will discover that very few of them
are about vengeance, no more so than this bill is about vengeance against
We have to stop thinking of victims' families as vengeful. Those I have met
are concerned about justice and public safety. Their primary concern, of course,
is that the murderer is punished for his crime, but they also want to ensure
that he never has a chance to create more victims. These victims' families are
asking for only one thing: that justice is served and respected; that the
sentence handed down by the court is respected. That is the very foundation of
Honourable senators, I cannot tell you often enough in this chamber that
these families are motivated by mutual compassion and by an obvious concern to
prevent such tragedies from ever happening again.
Is kidnapping, raping, attacking and killing a woman not a serious crime in
your view? Releasing a criminal convicted of such acts after only 15 years in
prison is certainly not a very serious sentence.
Honourable senators, I remember November 30, 2004, when the judge asked the
criminal to stand while the sentence that the jury had decided on was read out:
life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years. When it was read out, we
were not necessarily pleased with the sentence; we were simply satisfied that it
was fair and proportionate to the crime, as set out in the Criminal Code of
Canada. You can imagine my surprise when I learned, two years later, that we
have a parallel justice system in Canada that allows sentences handed down by
our judges to be reduced. The criminal therefore had the possibility of being
released after having served only 15 years of his life sentence.
Our family's legal battle went on for nearly seven years. The offender's
request for a new trial went as high as the Supreme Court of Canada, but
obviously it was denied. In 2016, five years from now, seven years after the end
of the legal proceedings, our family will have to relive this painful past
because Julie's murderer will be able to start his release process. He can do
this every two years.
That is why, when I was chairman of the Murdered or Missing Persons'
Families' Association, our association fought hard to eliminate such privileges,
in order to ensure that criminals would serve their entire court-imposed
sentences for premeditated murder.
All partisan comments aside, I would like to remind you that this privilege,
which was implemented by the Liberal government at the time, follows the same
philosophy as automatic parole after one sixth of a sentence. These measures
have been openly condemned by the public and prove to victims that the Liberals
often put criminals' rights ahead of victims' rights.
For five years, our government has been trying, with bills such as this one,
to put rigour and accountability back into our prison system. These values have
disappeared over the past 30 years. All too often over the past 30 years,
Liberal legislation has transformed criminals' privileges into rights that the
majority of them now benefit from.
Some would like criminal laws and victims' rights to be kept apart, to be
separate and impenetrable; but that cannot happen because we live in a society
founded on the rule of law. We cannot systematically separate the human dignity
of victims from the need to see the most dangerous of criminals punished.
The underlying principles of criminal law are deterrence and punishment,
which ensure that the most despicable actions are condemned. Criminal law
revolves around mens rea, with criminal intent forming the basis for
Canadian criminal law. Therefore, it is proper to severely judge those who have
intentionally ended the life of a human being.
If we are here today, sitting in the same seats occupied by our predecessors
in the Senate, it is because we have been given the responsibility of passing
laws to ensure peace, order and good government. The aim of Bill S-6 is to
ensure that we preserve the values of our society. Respect for others and
respect for human life are pre-eminent values. Honourable senators, that is the
true sense of the justice we wish to re-establish in the Canadian justice
system. Criminals must recognize and accept the consequences of their actions.
This bill will achieve that purpose.
I will close by quoting a great philosopher of the 19th century, John Stuart
Mill, who said:
That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over
any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to
Honourable senators, I urge you to lend your unqualified support to Bill S-6,
on behalf of the families of murder victims and all Canadians.
Hon. Daniel Lang moved second reading of Bill C-48, An Act to amend
the Criminal Code and to make consequential amendments to the National Defence
He said: Honourable senators, I am pleased to speak today in support of Bill
C-48, the Protecting Canadians by Ending Sentence Discounts for Multiple Murders
I say this because I am speaking on behalf of 34 million Canadians who are
outraged that a multiple murderer like Clifford Olson has the right to apply for
parole every two years. Canadians believe that this right should be abolished
because it makes a mockery of the law and everything our country stands for.
Honourable senators, one need only listen to what Sharon Rosenfeldt,
President of Victims of Violence, said to a committee in the other place as she
described having to relive the horrors of the murder of her son during parole
hearings. She said:
On a personal level, I can tell you one thing: it's tough. It's tough
after 29 years, it's tough after 26 years, and I'm not sure why we have to
go through it.
One can only imagine what this right of appeal for mass murderers does to the
families of the victims who are forced to relive the past. We need only refer to
the earlier comments of our colleague.
Thirty-four million Canadians, along with Sharon Rosenfeldt and other
victimized Canadians, expect us to rectify this obvious major flaw in our
Bill C-48 proposes to amend the Criminal Code and make consequential
amendments to the National Defence Act. It would authorize a judge to order that
convicted multiple murderers could serve separate, 25-year periods of parole
ineligibility to account for the second and each subsequent victim of their
crimes. Most importantly, these additional 25-year periods would run
consecutively to the period of parole ineligibility imposed for the first
In exercising this new authority, judges will have regard to criteria in the
Criminal Code with which they are already familiar in the context of setting
parole ineligibility periods for convicted murderers.
Also, Bill C-48, as introduced by the government, would require the
sentencing judge to give reasons for the decision not to impose consecutive
periods of parole ineligibility on a convicted multiple murderer in a particular
case. This would be of benefit to the families and loved ones of murder victims
who have long said that they are left in the dark as to why certain decisions
are taken during the trial and sentencing process.
The measures proposed in this bill have been brought forward because of the
compassion Canadians feel for the families and loved ones of murder victims.
This issue is not new to Parliament. Ten years ago, a Liberal member of
Parliament, who still sits in the other place, tried to address this wrong by
way of a private member's bill. Ten years later, the government has brought it
forward for our consideration.
Let us be clear: This bill targets criminals who have committed the most
horrific of crimes. For these most depraved criminals, we are talking about
incarceration, not rehabilitation.
The discretionary authority granted to judges by this bill will allow them to
impose consecutive periods of parole ineligibility for a multiple murder. In
these cases, judges will have the new power to effectively eliminate the need
for victimized families to suffer through a series of parole applications that
too often do little more than stir up painful memories.
I refer honourable senators to what the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of
Crime told the committee in the other place. Susan O'Sullivan said:
Bill C-48 addresses two specific concerns that victims have raised again
and again: the need for accountability for each life taken, and the anxiety
and emotional toll victims face when an offender is granted a parole
She went on to say:
. . . anybody who has suffered a loss as a result of murder will be
scarred for life.
Honourable senators, Bill C-48 is yet another example of the commitment of
this government to address the concerns of crime victims and all Canadians that
convicted murderers should serve the time in prison that their crimes merit.
In this regard, Bill C-48 should be seen as companion legislation to Bill
S-6, the Serious Time for the Most Serious Crime Act, which will effectively
repeal the faint hope regime for all future murderers and help to ensure that
they serve the full time to which they were originally sentenced.
The bill is based on the straightforward proposition that taking the lives of
more than one person reflects a higher degree of moral guilt and must allow for
a higher penalty.
In conclusion, these proposed amendments will protect the families and loved
ones of multiple murder victims from being forced to re-hear the details of
these crimes at parole hearings.
Bill C-48 proposes to reform the approach to sentencing multiple murderers in
a way that balances respect for the principles of sentencing with respect for
the rights of victims and their families. For this reason, honourable senators,
it deserves your careful consideration and support. Thirty-four million
Canadians expect no less.
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Mitchell,
seconded by the Honourable Senator Banks, for the second reading of Bill
S-221, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (carbon offset tax credit).
Hon. David Tkachuk: Honourable senators, I would like to rewind the
clock on behalf of Senator Comeau.
(On motion of Senator Tkachuk, for Senator Comeau, debate adjourned.)
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Tardif, seconded
by the Honourable Senator Rivest, for the second reading of Bill C-232, An
Act to amend the Supreme Court Act (understanding the official languages).
Hon. Joan Fraser: Honourable senators, I will continue the remarks
that I began yesterday on the point of order raised by Senator Cools in
connection with the need or otherwise for Royal Consent to this bill.
I confess that I have not had the opportunity to consult more of the words of
Sir John A. Macdonald, so the quotation that I used yesterday about being a
British subject will have to stand, although, of course, I am a Canadian and
proud to be so.
To the subject matter, I have had the opportunity to consult some authorities
and past Speaker's rulings, and I find them to be very instructive. I note, for
example, a ruling of October 25, 2001, on a point of order about Bill S-20,
which concerned changes to the system for appointment to certain high public
positions, changes involving consultation with an advisory panel. Although the
bill concerned appointment to a number of high public positions, including, I
think, the Senate, the Speaker's ruling was confined to its implications for
appointment of the Governor General. The Speaker ruled that in that case, Royal
Consent would be needed.
On November 17, 2004, the Speaker also ruled on Bill S-13, which was
presented by our esteemed Deputy Speaker today, although he was not yet Deputy
Speaker. The bill concerned a proposal to elect the Speaker of the Senate. The
Speaker ruled that that bill also would require Royal Consent and, from a lay
position, that makes sense. Both of these bills affected things that the
Governor General actually does, or the Queen actually does, in the case of the
appointment of the Governor General on the advice of the Prime Minister.
Royal Consent was given to Bill S-34 in April 2004, which was a bill
concerning the ceremony of Royal Assent. That, again, concerns something that
the Governor General actually does. Royal Consent was also given to Bill C-20,
the Clarity Act, in 2000. However, as many senators will recall, there was a
sense at the time on the then government side that Royal Consent was not needed
for that bill but that it would clarify matters should anyone have any doubts.
As honourable senators will recall, as Senator Boudreau reminded us in that
debate, no less eminent a person than Professor Patrick Monahan had told the
committee studying the bill that it had absolutely no impact on the Crown
Prerogative. I thought at the time, and still think, that the provision for
Royal Consent for that bill was not necessary.
Honourable senators, perhaps more interestingly, the Speakers have ruled over
the years on a number of cases where they said Royal Consent was not needed. On
March 8, 2005, the Speaker ruled that Bill C-6, which would abolish the position
of Solicitor General, did not need Royal Consent. His Honour ruled on February
26, 2008 that Bill S-224, concerning time limits for the filling of vacancies in
Parliament, including the Senate, did not require Royal Consent.
Honourable senators, I found this example most interesting: On September 24,
2003 the Speaker ruled that Bill C-25, which abolished the Oath of Allegiance to
Her Majesty for some public servants, did not need Royal Consent even though the
Oath of Allegiance is to the Queen. That did not need Royal Consent. Presumably
alluding to the fact that 400 or 500 years ago, the abolition of such an oath
would have required Royal Consent, the Speaker said: "No such prerogative exists
in Canada today."
That leads me to something that was said in a Speaker's ruling on March 8,
2005: "Prerogative powers, despite their long history, need not be forever
immutable. They can be abolished or limited by statute."
Honourable senators may like to know that Professor Peter Hogg, perhaps our
most eminent constitutional expert, said in Constitutional Law of Canada,
. . . the prerogative could be abolished or limited by statute, and, once
a statute had occupied the ground formerly occupied by the prerogative, the
Crown had to comply with the statute. All of these rules, and especially the
last (displacement by statute), have had the effect of shrinking the
prerogative powers of the Crown down to a very narrow compass. The conduct
of foreign affairs, including the making of treaties and the declaring of
war, continues to be a prerogative power in Canada. So are the appointment
of the Prime Minister and other Ministers, the issue of passports, the
creation of Indian reserves, and the conferring of honours such as Queen's
Counsel. But most governmental power in Canada is exercised under statutory,
not prerogative power.
That passage is found on page 119 of that edition of Hogg; and in the same
edition, on page 8.2, he addresses himself more particularly to the case before
us, which is of the Supreme Court of Canada, which was, as we know, established
by statute in 1875. Hogg says:
The Supreme Court of Canada's existence, and therefore the details of its
composition and jurisdiction, depend upon an ordinary federal statute. . . .
over the years there have been many changes in its composition and
jurisdiction, and these have been accomplished by federal statutes.
Indeed, Your Honour, I have been unable to find any indication that Royal
Consent was sought, let alone obtained for the Supreme Court Act. The Library of
Parliament has checked amendments to the Judges Act back to 2001. I believe
there have been five of them, if my memory serves. Although all had a Royal
Recommendation, none had Royal Consent. Therefore, Your Honour, I would argue
that by strong precedent, there is no need for Royal Consent on this bill
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Hon. Hugh Segal: Honourable senators, I wish to associate myself with
the comments made on the issue of the role of this place relative to advice to
Her Majesty, which were opened so eloquently by Senator Cools yesterday. I do so
again without regard to the substance or content of the bill, but to the notion
of prescribing Her Majesty's options as the reflection and representative of the
state relative to the kinds of appointments that are dealt with in the
legislation proposed before us in Bill C-232.
All of us in this place, if we look at our orders of commission, are
commissioned as advisers to Her Majesty; here at the express direction of the
Crown through its representative. The government in the other place, the first
minister and his colleagues, are constituted as advisers to Her Majesty and to
Honourable senators, every time we seek, for even the best of purposes, to
prescribe the appointment process that Her Majesty has through her
representative, we diminish not only the Royal Prerogative but the process by
which the state actually expresses itself in this kind of parliamentary
government, as opposed to the kinds of government we find elsewhere, for
example, to the south.
Honourable senators, at a Commonwealth meeting in London, I found myself with
a former first minister from Kiribati, a small island state in the South
Pacific. We were commenting on why there had been riots in the streets of Paris
after certain austerity measures were defined and why student riots had not yet
occurred in London. Someone in the car offered that it was because there is a
difference between life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and peace, order
and good government, at which point the ears of my South Pacific friend perked
up and Sir Jeremiah said, "Peace, order and good government, we have that in our
Constitution." I said, "Sir Jeremiah, that is because it was boilerplate, coming
out from the colonial office on a regular basis, but it was all about the
supremacy of the Crown." It was all about politicians not taking unto
themselves, elected or otherwise, powers that are vested in the state and the
Crown to make important decisions.
I believe that the point of order raised by our colleague commends itself to
His Honour's most careful consideration, and positive consideration, because
every time, willingly or otherwise, for the best of purposes, we prescribe that
expression of who we are, how we are governed and our constitutional history, we
diminish that constitutional framework in a fashion that reduces our identity,
our sovereignty and the nature of who we are as a society. We are different on
the northern half of this continent from our friends to the south, and we share
that difference with our Commonwealth brothers and sisters around the world. We
are different from other republican styles of government. That was not the
intent of the author of this bill; I respect that. However, that may be the
unwitting result if we proceed without giving this point of order the most
Hon. Claudette Tardif (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Your Honour,
although Senator Cools presented us with an interesting historical overview
yesterday, there is no valid point of order here. Senator Cools is asking us to
ignore the procedural authorities and to overturn a series of earlier Speaker's
Rulings in an attempt to prevent all of us here from debating a matter of public
importance. Senator Cools claims that Bill C-232, which we received from the
House of Commons in April, 2010, requires Royal Consent and that it must receive
that consent before we move any further with the legislation.
Let me remind honourable senators that there have been a number of recent
decisions by the Speaker in this chamber, and Senator Fraser referred to some of
them, indicating that no Royal Consent was required. Three of those decisions
were points of order raised by Senator Cools herself. I refer to decisions of
September 24, 2003, May 7, 2002, and October 29, 1998. In the decision rendered
on May 7, 2002, the Speaker noted:
While I do not dispute the accuracy of the Senator's references and
examples, I do question their binding relevance to modern practice. All
Senators can appreciate that the law of Parliament is not static; it changes
and evolves to suit the needs of Parliament and its members.
Yesterday, Senator Cools made the following statement:
Bills that seek to amend that royal power need royal attention and royal
agreement even to be debated in Her Majesty's Senate and House of Commons.
Senators have no power to even debate, far less to adopt, Bill C-232
without the Royal Consent.
Colleagues, this proposition is startling. We are members of a legislative
body whose freedom and ability to conduct rigorous debate is protected by
parliamentary privilege; yet, Senator Cools would have us accept that there are
certain matters that we cannot discuss out loud in this chamber without the
express permission of Her Majesty.
Let me repeat her words. She said:
Senators have no power to even debate . . . Bill C-232 without the Royal
Living in a 21st century parliamentary democracy instead of an 11th century
absolute monarchy makes it difficult for me to accept that I need the express
permission of a hereditary monarch to debate any question of public importance
in our Parliament.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.
Senator Tardif: Perhaps my views would have been different a thousand
years ago during the reign of Ethelred the Unready, who reigned from 978 to
1016, but I am not living 1,000 years ago. We are living in a mature
parliamentary democracy, where Canadians expect their parliamentarians to debate
all issues of public importance and to do so freely.
Beauchesne's sixth edition, at citation 727, states:
The consent of the Crown is always necessary in matters involving the
prerogatives of the Crown. This consent may be given at any stage of a bill
before final passage. . . .
Are we anywhere near final passage? The answer is no, unfortunately. Final
passage is third reading. We have not even completed second reading, let alone
moved on to committee stage to hear the views of Canadians.
The members of the other place examined Bill C-232 and concluded that it
deserved support. They gave passage to this legislation and sent it to us for
consideration because, in their view, it was a matter of important public
Honourable senators, not only is Beauchesne clear that a bill requiring Royal
Consent needs to obtain that consent only prior to final third reading passage,
but successive rulings by the Senate Speaker, which were never challenged, made
the same point.
For example, in 2004, Senator Oliver had a bill before the Senate designed to
permit the election of the Speaker of the Senate. On November 4, during second
reading debate, questions were raised about whether the Governor General's
consent was required because Royal Prerogative could be affected by the bill.
This point of order was raised by Senator Murray. In the ensuing debate on
his point of order, Senator Cools reminded everyone how Royal Consent was given
by the government leader, Senator Boudreau, in 2000 to the Clarity Bill at the
third reading stage. Senator Cools went on to say:
. . . the practice as set by the Speaker has been in this chamber for
quite some time that a bill is given second reading and is referred to
committee. Thereafter, if the Royal Consent is required, someone else,
especially if it is an opposition bill, figures out how to approach Her
Majesty's representative to observe the Royal Consent.
The opposition leader also argued on that day that Beauchesne's and precedent
did not support the proposition that the question of Royal Consent needed to be
finalized at the second stage. He said:
Our precedents are very clear that the debate can continue.
That point is exactly the one I am arguing today. Whether or not Bill C-232
requires Royal Consent need not be determined until third reading, and, until
then, debate should be allowed to continue.
In her remarks yesterday, Senator Cools said that my actions to try to
advance this bill "suggest that she wishes us to carry this bill through all its
stages without Royal Consent."
Let me assure Senator Cools that my sole intention at this time is for the
debate to continue at second reading, for the bill to receive second reading and
for it then to be referred to committee, where the views of Canadians can be
heard. I am confident that vigorous committee hearings will persuade the
government that this bill is in the public interest.
Honourable senators, the point of order raised by Senator Cools rests on
several assumptions, a number of which I hope will come true. Since the
procedural authorities and previous rulings made clear that the question of
Royal Consent becomes an issue only at third reading, she must assume or
anticipate that this bill will receive second reading. She must also assume or
expect that the subsequent committee hearings will so impress committee members
that they will recommend to the Senate that the bill be adopted without
amendment. Otherwise, there would be a committee stage to deal with amendments
or, even worse, a recommendation from the committee that the bill not be
Although Senator Cools may have confidence that Bill C-232 will proceed
smoothly to third reading, at which time Royal Consent may, and I stress "may,"
be an issue, I am not willing to prejudge what senators may decide at any of the
intervening stages. That is for the Senate to decide.
However, my contention is that the Senate should have a chance to debate the
merits of this proposal that we have received from the elected members of the
other place and then to decide whether we wish to hear from Canadians on the
bill without being stopped from doing so.
If there is a problem with Royal Consent, why did it not arise in the other
place as Bill C-232 went through its three readings? I would say it is because
it was judged that it was not necessary. That is a moot point, because the bill
is before us now.
With all respect, whether Bill C-232 requires Royal Consent before the third
reading question is put is also moot because we are still at second reading.
Debate should continue, honourable senators. The question is hypothetical at
this time, and we should not prejudge what the Senate will do in the weeks
That said, I do not think that Bill C-232 requires Royal Consent since the
authority of the Governor-in-Council to appoint judges to the Supreme Court is
not in jeopardy. The bill simply further specifies the criteria for appointing
judges. Furthermore, this has nothing to do with royal power because it applies
only to names submitted by the Prime Minister. The Governor General does not
judge or choose a candidate, and either way, constitutional convention dictates
that he cannot deny his consent.
Even the Governor General himself must respect the Supreme Court Act and the
Official Languages Act. The addition of a qualifying requirement in this case is
no more subject to royal approval than any other position that is filled by
order-in-council; it is a law like any other.
The bill in question would ensure that speakers of both official languages
have equal access to justice. It would implement section 16 of the Charter of
Rights and Freedoms and does not violate the conventions or the common law
because they must both be in accordance with the Charter.
Senator Cools claims that Bill C-232 restricts the size of the pool of
candidates eligible for appointment as judges to the Supreme Court. As Senator
Fraser said yesterday, and I quote:
We have in legislation many rules that the Parliament of Canada has
adopted about qualifications for various high positions. Frequently, the
higher the position, the more stringent the qualifications set out in
legislation. In the precise case of judges, we are quite picky about them;
and justly and rightly so. We require that judges be lawyers. We require,
among other things, that like senators they retire at the age of 75, which
disqualifies a large number of extremely qualified persons. We require by
law in the case of judges who are not members of the Supreme Court that the
court be capable of hearing and understanding proceedings in both official
languages without the aid of an interpreter. In other words, we require that
a significant number of judges of the lower courts be able to do that,
which, by extension, disqualifies a large number of Canadians, even if they
are lawyers and under the age of 75, from filling those positions. The same
is true for many positions determined by the Parliament of Canada.
In addition to the restrictions to the nomination of judges that I have
already identified, let me highlight two other restrictions contained in the
Supreme Court Act. Section 6 requires that at least three judges be appointed
from Quebec and section 8 requires all the judges of the Supreme Court of Canada
to reside in the National Capital Region, or within 40 kilometres of its
Both these provisions restrict the size of the pool from which Her Majesty
may choose. Both these provisions were modified by Parliament in 1974, in the
First Session of the Thirtieth Parliament, by Bill S-2. I have been informed by
the Library of Parliament that Bill S-2 did not receive Royal Consent. It did,
however, pass both chambers and received Royal Assent. Are we now to question
the validity of the changes that were made at that time to these two provisions?
I think not.
The Supreme Court Act is a law that was passed by Parliament and therefore it
is the right of Parliament to modify this law. Changing a criterion of
nomination by way of legislation, in my humble opinion, is within the right of
Parliament and does not necessitate Royal Consent.
Parliament has the sovereign power to amend its legislation.
Honourable senators, in my view, there is no procedural impediment to our
continuing to examine and debate Bill C-232 at this time and there is no valid
point of order.
Hon. Claude Carignan: Honourable senators, I think Senator Cools has
raised a very astute question. I think it deserves some careful reflection and a
very carefully considered decision on the part of our Speaker.
I had a few hours to examine the soundness of this point of order and took
the opportunity to read some past Speaker's rulings, particularly a ruling made
on October 25, 2001, by Speaker Hays regarding a point of order raised on June
5, 2001, by Senator Joyal concerning Bill S-20, An Act to provide for increased
transparency and objectivity in the selection of suitable individuals to be
named to certain high public positions.
Honourable senators, I obtained a copy of the Journals of the Senate
and the question raised by Senator Joyal reads as follows:
If I understand the objective of this bill, it is to provide that, in the
future, the positions listed under Schedule, Part 1 . . .
Schedule, Part 1 referred to Supreme Court justices.
. . . of the bill will be the subject of compulsory procedures for
any minister of the Crown who proposes the appointment of a person to fill
one of those positions. Most of those positions are covered by the
Constitution Act. For instance, the lieutenant governor of a province is
appointed under section 58 of the Constitution Act. Senators are appointed
under section 24 of the Constitution Act. Judges on the second part of the
annex are appointed under section 96 of the Constitution Act.
A little later, Senator Joyal stated:
That issue could be taken under advisement and the Speaker could inform
this chamber, at the proper time, of his decision. We would be taking
an important initiative that is of a constitutional nature, because all of
these positions are covered by the Constitution of Canada in one way or
Coming back to Speaker Hays' ruling, which cites authorities such as
Beauchesne, sixth edition, paragraph 726, the paragraph preceding the one cited
by Senator Tardif, he states:
726.(1) The consent of the Sovereign (to be distinguished from the Royal
Assent to Bills) is given by a Minister to bills (and occasionally
amendments) affecting the prerogative, hereditary revenues, personal
property or interest of the Crown. Journals, April 26, 1978, p. 696.
The Speaker also referred to page 643 of the House of Commons Procedure
and Practice, by Marleau and Montpetit:
Royal Consent . . . is part of the unwritten rules and customs of the
House of Commons of Canada. Any legislation that affects the prerogatives,
hereditary revenues, property or interests of the Crown requires Royal
Consent, that is, the consent of the Governor General in his or her capacity
as representative of the Sovereign249.
And Bourinot, on page 413, fourth edition,
. . . the consent may be given at any stage before final passage, and is
always necessary in matters involving the rights of the Crown, its
patronage, or its prerogatives.
What is Royal Prerogative? It was also defined in the ruling by citing
Blackstone, who describes it as "that special pre-eminence which the King hath,
over and above all other persons, and out of the ordinary course of the common
law, in right of his real dignity."
The Speaker also quoted Dicey, who described prerogative as:
. . . the residue of discretionary power left in the hands of the Crown.
— and continued:
. . . every Act which the executive government can lawfully do without
the authority of an act of Parliament is done in virtue of this prerogative.
How does prerogative apply here? It is the power to appoint judges, but not
just any judges: Supreme Court judges. This power is the exercise that comes to
us directly from section 96 of the British North America Act.
That power is vested in the Governor General. In the Letters Patent of 1947,
in which the Queen set out the Governor General's mandate, Article IV says:
And We do further authorise and empower Our Governor General to
constitute and appoint, in Our name and on Our behalf, all such Judges,
Commissioners, Justices of the Peace, and other necessary Officers
(including diplomatic and consular officers) and Ministers of Canada, as may
be lawfully constituted or appointed by Us.
I also want to refer to Article VIII of the Letters Patent, in which it
states that Supreme Court justices, in particular the Chief Justice, and in his
absence, the senior judge, would replace the Governor General in his absence or
in a case of invalidity.
The Supreme Court justices who are mentioned here are also a substitute for
the Governor General in his absence.
In his decision, Speaker Hays stated that Royal Consent is required. That was
based solely on the Governor General and went no further than the others. He did
not speak about the justices because he felt it is enough to say that the
Governor General needs to be consulted. However, he did not rule it out entirely
and he did not respond to Senator Joyal's question about judges, and Supreme
Court justices in particular.
The other question, which Senator Fraser raised, is this: does the fact that
a law is passed infringe on the Royal Prerogative or does the law become the
source of power to appoint judges? That would mean that the power to appoint
judges would no longer come from the Royal Prerogative but from the law and the
Royal Prerogative would not be affected by amending the law.
I humbly submit to you that none of the Supreme Court sections in the Supreme
Court Act state that the law has become the basis for appointing Supreme Court
justices. On the contrary, section 4 of the Supreme Court Act sets out that the
court be composed of a chief justice, called the Chief Justice of Canada, and
eight puisne judges. It also governs the appointment of judges, which happens
through letters patent from the Governor-in-Council under the Great Seal.
It uses the exact wording used in the Letters Patent of 1947, which is the
wording for the exercise of the Royal Prerogative found in section 96 of the
British North America Act.
The conditions of appointment are specified, that is true. The conditions for
appointment set out in section 5 state that only a judge who is or has been a
judge of a superior court or a barrister or advocate of at least 10 years
standing at the bar of a province may be appointed; however, this was already
set out in the British North America Act, 1867. Therefore, the Supreme Court Act
merely repeats what is already stated in the Constitution. That is also the case
for the appointment of the three judges from Quebec; it was a constitutional
convention and it is now in the Constitution Act, 1982.
Thus, nowhere do we see that the law has become the authority for appointing
judges, and even less so for appointing Supreme Court judges. In my view, the
Governor General and the Prime Minister, when they decide to appoint a judge,
especially to the Supreme Court, are acting in accordance with the Royal
This is particularly true for the Supreme Court because a process was
implemented for superior court judges in which a committee made up of members of
the bar and representatives of the public creates a list of potential candidates
for appointment to the superior courts. Superior court judges must go through
this committee in order to be appointed; however, such is not the case for
Supreme Court judges.
The Prime Minister can recommend that the Governor General appoint a person
who has not been screened against the selection criteria by any kind of
selection committee, as long as he respects the criteria set out in the
Constitution, namely, the person must have been a practising lawyer and a member
of a provincial bar for at least 10 years and/or a judge.
If a law that sets an appointment condition that reduces the pool of
potential candidates to the Supreme Court by 50 per cent in some cases in Quebec
and by 90 per cent in certain other provinces does not affect the Royal
Prerogative or its execution, I do not see what does.
Clearly, I will not claim to have Senator Cools' or various other senators'
expertise in parliamentary procedure but this issue seems serious enough to me
to ask the Speaker to give it careful consideration, particularly since Supreme
Court judges are not like other judges. Unlike with other judges, the power to
appoint a Supreme Court judge is not limited by legislation. It is also
important to remember that Supreme Court judges act for the Governor General in
the Governor General's absence, which makes them special people.
We have to be attentive to a law that affects how such judges are appointed.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): I will not
add much to what has already been said. I take this opportunity, though, to
congratulate Senator Cools for the tremendous amount of work that she put into
this point of order. I can imagine the many hours she spent on it.
I felt particularly bad when reference was made this afternoon to dealing,
somehow, with eleventh century traditions, and so on. Senator Cools has gone
back to the roots — which was not the eleventh century — of British
parliamentary tradition established in Great Britain, which we adopted here in
Canada. She has made references to the first prime minister of Canada. She has
made reference to people who we still consider to be the roots of what our
parliamentary procedures are here in Canada.
A great many references she made were to Bourinot. I note that Senator
Carignan cited the same reference.
On this subject, I ask Senator Cools if she, in her closing remarks, would
refer to a more recent case. When Senator Lynch-Staunton moved a bill in this
chamber, he had to withdraw. I think it had to do with written Royal Assent.
Senator Lynch-Staunton had to withdraw because the government would not provide
Royal Consent. Almost the next day the government of the day, through the Leader
of the Government in the Senate at that time, resubmitted the same bill, and
indicated at the time that the Royal Consent would be given.
I especially want to say in closing that reference was made this afternoon to
the fact that the bill can progress without Royal Consent. In fact, there is a
lot to be said about that point. Senator Cools likely will refer to it more.
As far as I can see, reference was made to the fact that Royal Consent was
not given in the House of Commons. It does not need to be given in the House of
Commons or here. I cannot envisage any minister of the day, either in this place
or in the other place, even considering giving consent to this bill.
Of course, I cannot speak for the government. My seatmate can correct me if I
am wrong, but I doubt very much that Royal Consent would come from any minister
in this place.
Finally, in Senator Cools' closing comments, I ask her to address, if she
would, Senator Carignan's reference to the administrative post of the Supreme
Court justice. It is one with which I am not completely familiar, but I am sure
the honourable senator will have some ideas along that line, of whether this
administrative post should also be considered under the decision rendered by His
Senator Fraser: Honourable senators, I will ask Senator Comeau to
clarify one aspect of his remarks. I believe he said that he was not speaking
for the government when he said he would be surprised if Royal Consent were
I want the honourable senator to clarify that point because, as I am sure
Your Honour knows, all the recent precedents and rulings suggest that even where
a government is strongly opposed to the content of a bill, it will not refuse
Royal Consent on the grounds that the Parliament of Canada has the right to
debate any subject of public interest.
If Senator Comeau can confirm for the record that his opinion was a personal
one and not a forerunner of government policy, I would be grateful.
Senator Comeau: I can assure the honourable senator entirely that I do
not speak for the government. I have no government position.
Senator Stratton: There is only one government member in this place.
Senator Comeau: There is only one government member in this place at
this time, and that is my seatmate. I am a parliamentarian and, like all
parliamentarians, the Constitution grants me powerful ability to say what I wish
to say. Generally, if honourable senators followed my comments over the years, I
tend to say them. Every once in a while I try to control them, but if —
Senator Mitchell: Does Senator Mercer have those powers as well?
Senator Comeau: Senator Mercer, unfortunately, also has those same
powers, which can be extremely annoying sometimes, I will grant that. However,
Senator Mercer has the privileges that have been granted to all of us to be able
to rise in this place and speak. Thank God we have those privileges. I think we
must use them judiciously.
By all means, I do not speak for the government. Anyone who has been in this
post realizes that at a certain point.
However, since I am on my feet, I wonder if Senator Fraser can clarify a
statement that she made yesterday. I will not attempt to paraphrase, and Senator
Tardif made reference to it this afternoon, but I seem to recall the issue of
judges of other courts demanding that they be bilingual in order to receive
certain appointments. I think she was wrong. I may have misread or misheard her
yesterday, but my understanding was that she said that certain judges had to be
bilingual to sit on the court.
Will the honourable senator confirm or agree with me that it is the court
that is bilingual under the Official Languages Act and not the judges?
Senator Fraser: In my remarks, I referred to the capacity of the court
to hear cases without the aid of an interpreter.
I went on to say — and I think this matter is one of pure logic — that this
means that a certain number — and given the vast extent of this country, not an
inconsiderable number — of our judges must, therefore, have the capacity to hear
a case that may move back and forth between two languages. I myself have been
asked to participate as a witness in cases that move back and forth between two
languages. For such cases, yes, a judge must be bilingual.
Senator Segal: Honourable senators, I want to clarify, and ensure I
understand, some of the distinctions that have been raised by colleagues on both
sides. I think there has been some mixing of terms such as Royal Assent, Royal
Consent and Royal Prerogative.
I am working on the basis, as I understand Senator Cools to have said, that
Royal Prerogative is extended by Her Majesty based on advice from the
Governor-in-Council, and that is the basis upon which a bill is brought forward
by Her Majesty's government in this place or in the other place.
Senator Cools: Absolutely.
Senator Segal: Royal Assent, as my colleagues know better than me,
having been present for far more of those ceremonies than I have, takes place
when a bill having passed all stages of approval in both chambers is assented to
by Her Majesty's representative in the presence of the Speaker, others and the
rest of us when Her Majesty's representative deems to so do in this chamber.
I am not aware of what Royal Consent means. I am not familiar with the term,
and if anyone can help me with that meaning, I would be delighted to be so
Senator Carignan spoke about the role of a member of the Supreme Court as an
administrator of Canada.
He was talking about the role that individual would play in the Royal Assent
process when the Governor General, for whatever reason not able to be here, had
called upon the l'administrateur du Canada to extend that Royal Assent in his or
her name. Those are the terms I am working with, and if I misunderstand in any
way, I am open to any of our more learned colleagues clarifying that
misunderstanding for me.
The Hon. the Speaker: If no other honourable senator wishes to provide
counsel to the chair, I will turn to Senator Cools to conclude.
Hon. Anne C. Cools: Honourable senators, I am pleased to have the
opportunity to respond to interventions made to my point of order on Bill C-232
that I raised yesterday. Many statements have been made here and many assertions
have been made, but not that much proof or evidence has been put forward to
support the assertions and the claims.
I would like to begin by clarifying a couple of questions that have been put
to me. One of them concerns the role of the administrator. I have no doubt that
there are many senators here who are hearing that term for the first time. The
"administrator" is a different position and a different person than Deputy
Governors General. We see Deputy Governors General come here, who are deputized
by the Governor General to give Royal Assents in his stead. The administrator is
a slightly different creature and higher. The administrator is a substitute
Governor General who is so appointed in the instances of serious illness or
absence of the Governor General.
I am sure those of us here who are seasoned and experienced parliamentarians,
like Senator Murray, will recall when Chief Justice Bora Laskin came to this
very house and from that very throne read the Speech from the Throne. The
letters patent identify clearly who the administrator will be; it must be a
chief justice, not another justice. The letters patent articulate clearly the
powers and the role that the chief justice should play.
I put that into my speech because all those appointments are unquestionably
nothing else but an exercise in the Royal Prerogative. Perhaps there is
confusion as to what the Royal Prerogative is. It is called the lex
Honourable senators, when portions of that Royal Prerogative are delegated to
subordinates to do business on behalf of Her Majesty, it is called "privileges."
For example, we talk about judicial privileges, lawyers' privileges, solicitor
and client privilege, and we talk about prosecutorial privileges, but all of
that is part of Her Majesty's administration where she empowers these people and
calls those special gifts — those special endowments — "privileges." The two
words are intricately connected: the lex praerogativa, the old Latin
term, and the lex privilegia.
Having clarified, I hope, the position of the administrator on which Bill
C-232 will impact as that of an alternate Governor General, I move on.
Honourable senators, the bill before us is a serious matter. The questions and
the issues are weighty.
I would like to make another small point. Senator Tardif speaks about me as
though I am some sort of an 11th century creature. I have always thought of
myself as a very modern woman — an extremely modern woman.
Senator Munson: Right on!
Senator Cools: Honourable senators, I want to let you know that I led
women in this country on many central and important matters, one of which was to
wear pants. That is a minor one, but I certainly did lead in the field of
domestic violence, while I asserted strongly that the old notion — the rule of
thumb and all of that — was over.
I was a modern woman 30 years ago, and I assert that I still am — an aging
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Senator Cools: Far from the principles that I am talking about, not
being principles of the 11th century, I would also like to clarify that I have
been talking about the basic modern principles of responsible government.
Senator Segal: Hear, hear.
Senator Cools: I would like to introduce Senator Tardif to the modern
notion of ministerial responsibility and responsible government, the concept of
the King, the Queen and her councils in her Parliament, which is the modern
system of government. It is not 11th century at all.
Honourable senators, Senator Tardif spoke about restrictions. I had
difficulty understanding what she meant. It took me a few minutes. She spoke
about disabilities. Let me explain that when a Supreme Court Justice must live
in Ottawa, or the Governor General must reside at Government House, or a senator
must reside in the province of his appointment, one could hardly call those
"disabilities." Senator Tardif used the word "restriction," but I think she
The fact is I made certain statements when I spoke yesterday, and I am trying
to avoid repeating what I said yesterday because I have so much new information
to put on the record. When I talked about "disability," I was not talking about
anything as minor as a little inconvenience; I was talking about "disability."
I will repeat the statement I made yesterday. I will quote myself, where I
was actually quoting from the Oxford dictionary on the definition of
"disability." I will put it on the record again. The definition is:
Incapacity in the eye of the law, or created by the law; a restriction
framed to prevent any person or class of persons from sharing in duties or
privileges which would otherwise be open to them; legal disqualification.
Honourable senators, the current Supreme Court Act at section 5 says clearly:
Any person may be appointed a judge who is or has been a judge of a
superior court of a province or a barrister or advocate of at least ten
years standing at the bar of a province.
That is the state of the law, honourable senators. All of these people are
eligible for appointment to the Supreme Court. The proof that this is
prerogative power is in the margin note, which states, "Who may be appointed."
It is not "recommended," but "Who may be appointed." The fact is that Bill C-232
will disable large numbers of individuals who in this country today are eligible
and would be eligible to be called by Her Majesty to the Supreme Court to serve,
and will not be eligible to do so if Bill C-232 is passed. You call that,
honourable senators, "a bill of disability."
These bills were quite common. However, with the modern times of charters of
rights and freedoms, and human rights, these bills have gone away quietly. It is
pointless to argue that a few minor restrictions here and there, some
inconveniences, are in the same category as the disabilities in this bill.
I do not want to go further on this because I have been working hard to avoid
going into the substance of the bill. I have made the point, and I will leave
the point right there.
Honourable senators, there have been assertions here from my colleagues who
have said that Royal Consent may be given at any stage, and here they cite
Beauchesne's paragraph 727 about the final stage. Well, that is true. However,
usually Beauchesne's and these other references are about government bills. I
went to great pains yesterday to explain that a government has access to Her
Majesty and is able to obtain the Royal Consent, literally, whenever they see
fit. I put that before the house that problems arise and become more complicated
when these bills that require the Royal Consent are moved by private members,
what they used to call "independent members." There were government members,
ministers, and the others were all independents, now private members. We must
understand clearly that the questions that I raised revolved around the position
of private members and opposition members who bring bills without the Royal
Consent. I even described in my remarks yesterday that the Royal Consent in
those instances must be obtained by a member moving an address to Her Majesty
praying for the Royal Consent. An "address," for the new senators, is the form
of speaking to the sovereign. The houses speak to each other by message, but we
speak to the sovereign by an address.
Honourable senators, as a part of our privileges under section 18 of the BNA
Act, we have a right. If a private member brings a bill without the Royal
Consent, we have a right under our privileges to speak in that debate on that
motion for an address praying for the Royal Consent. I am saying that we have a
privilege here to take part in a debate; to advise the Governor General as to
whether or not he should give a Royal Consent to a private member.
Honourable senators, I encourage Senator Tardif to move such a motion, which
would have the wonderful effect of having even more debate. She said that I am
trying to limit debate. It would be a new and wonderful debate on whether or not
the Governor General should actually grant the consent.
Having said that, honourable senators, I want to continue what I was doing
yesterday, because His Honour has a huge and challenging job before him. I would
like to continue to put a few more precedents on the record, if I may.
I would like to offer Your Honour another important precedent, which took
place in 1844, which Sir John A. Macdonald would have been well aware of in
1879. It was called the Diocese of St. Asaph and Bangor Bill. In this instance,
the bill was withdrawn because another prime minister, the Duke of Wellington,
stated, at page 124 in the debates of the House of Lords, on July 1, 1844:
He had been called on, . . . to state whether or not he was authorized to
give Her Majesty's consent to its discussion; he answered that he was not so
authorized; and he was not so authorized on this last stage of the Bill.
There are several other precedents. I am hoping to get some more on the
record, or I can table some of them, if necessary. However, they are very clear
The important thing, Your Honour, about this particular one, the Diocese of
St. Asaph and Bangor Bill, is that at one point in the debate, the Lord
Chancellor expressed doubt as to whether or not he could put the motion before
the house. He called on the house for advice and the house suggested — by motion
— that a committee be appointed to look at the question. It is brilliant
reading; brilliant debate, and brilliant, clear, lucid thinking.
The important thing is that the committee read like a who's who of the
legalists of that era in England: Lords Brougham, Campbell and Cottingham — very
big names. His Honour might want to look at that. This is the second case where
a prime minister was involved.
Honourable senators, it is a serious matter, and a rare matter, when a prime
minister would rise on the floor and intervene at that stage and in that way
because, as we know, a lot of the business of Her Majesty is done quietly and
discreetly, without much ado.
Having said that, I remind honourable senators that the Supreme Court of
Canada is a very strange creature. I do not know if many senators know this —
Senator Murray would — but the Supreme Court of Canada was created pursuant to a
power given in the BNA Act.
That power is in section 101, which says that the Parliament of Canada may
provide for the Constitution, maintenance and organization of a general court of
appeal. That was the grounds out of which the Supreme Court of Canada and the
Exchequer Court, now called the Federal Court, were created.
Honourable senators, many are in awe at the mention of the Supreme Court, but
the Supreme Court's usefulness and existence were questioned very heavily at the
outset. The court had to spend many years proving itself, because it was frowned
upon by the other superior courts which were antecedent to the BNA Act and
Confederation. That is very important.
Honourable senators, there is a point that no senator has raised yet. The
complicating fact about Bill C-232 is that it is about justices and judges. We,
as members of Parliament, have a range of practices that are called into
existence whenever bills about judges are before us. I will go into that.
Honourable senators, I thank the intervening senators for their time and
efforts. Bill C-232 will amend the Queen's absolute prerogative, her absolute
power in appointing judges by disabling a class of Canadian persons from said
I want to repeat very clearly what I am asking His Honour to rule on. I am
asking him to rule on whether or not this bill touches the Royal Prerogative; if
it requires the Royal Consent; and to ensure that the proper procedure is
Honourable senators, I am not asking His Honour to declare the bill out of
order or anything of that nature. I am asking him to rule, as other Speakers,
especially in the House of Commons, such as Speaker Lucien Lamoureux, have
I have already cited many relevant precedents and authorities directly from
the original records. I would like some clarification. I frequently hear the
term "the procedural authorities," and I would like to find out who they are.
Your Honour, I note the excellent books by Mr. Alpheus Todd — he is the
greatest of them all. He predated and preceded Erskine May in writing. He is
probably the most-quoted Canadian in court cases all over the world, especially
in the past century. Messrs. Todd, Bourinot, Beauchesne and May created the most
valuable and helpful reference books that guide us to sources.
Honourable senators, these writers, with their helpful summaries, however,
are not the authorities and are not declaratory or authoritative. Every time we
say the word "parliamentary authority," let us understand what we mean.
The authority of precedent is the actual record of the actual events in the
actual words spoken in debate by the members and their Speakers in their houses
— not those books or their summaries, which are subjectively written and
selectively edited, with all the pitfalls that selectivity and subjectivity will
My intention, Your Honour, was to place before you those true precedents and
the authorities themselves. If there is doubt whether or not Mr. Gladstone was a
great authority, all we need to do is to examine all the language in this place
around financial bills, money and appropriations. He created much of that
What I am talking about, honourable senators, is not the 11th century. I am
talking about modern practice as it has developed in modern times.
My true purpose, Your Honour, is to retrieve, to recover to the chair, our
Senate Speaker, the sole and proper power to give rulings and to lay down
precedents. That is why I have been so diligently laying out the precedents and
putting them before him.
Honourable senators, we are the upper house. Our Speaker is not of an elected
character as in the other place. He is of a viceregal character, the fourth in
precedence in Canada. He is a representative of Her Majesty and a guardian of
her interest in this Senate, which is the house of the throne and the house of
Parliament wherein its three constituent parts, Her Majesty, the Senate and the
House of Commons, may convene in Parliament assembled.
Honourable senators, it has been held by many great thinkers that true
liberty and true freedom live in the rules that govern how we proceed, called
the law of Parliament. This law of Parliament, the rules, forms and procedures
by which our laws are made with ministerial responsibility, is probably the
greatest contribution of Britain and its common law — the greatest contribution
they have made to the world. I repeat, this is the notion: The King in his
council in his Parliament is alive and well in our practices, and I shall show
Bill C-232 is about the judges. Therein, honourable senators, lies the
dilemma. Parliament's rules prescribe practices regarding our approach to bills
about judges. In fact, the law of Parliament prescribes the ways that we should
manage such bills. The British North America Act, 1867, sections 99 and 100
charge us as members of each house with the duty to protect the judges from
executive caprice, pleasure and displeasure. The act therefore grants us
superintendence over them.
As a result, our practice has been that bills, measures about judges'
affairs, especially salaries, pensions, selection and conduct — some higher in
priority than the others — should proceed in the houses with caution, with
minimum conflict and controversy, with equanimity and with as maximum agreement
as we can get.
Honourable senators, it has always been thought that it is a terrible thing
that a bill about judges, especially salaries, which I will come to in a minute,
should proceed amidst strife and threat.
Bills about judges' affairs should not be subjected to partisanship spectacle
because of the inherent negative consequences that would fall to justice. We
should fear the potential crises in justice itself. I used to be in charge of
the government's supply bills.
Honourable senators, as we know, judges' salaries are permanently charged to
the Consolidated Revenue Fund. They are statutory charges not subject to the
annual review, debate and vote as annual supply items. There is a reason for
that, honourable senators. The reason is to minimize adverse or hostile
criticism towards or about judges in the process during debate on their salaries
and to avoid potential questions of confidence and ministerial resignations over
There is much practice that has developed as a result of the protection that
we accord to judges. However, I have to tell honourable senators that if this
house ever believes that a judge were doing something very wrong, it would have
a double duty to move on that.
Our practices expect that the houses of Parliament will approach bills and
measures about judges with great attention, caution and care. I shall leave the
question of addresses for removals and their relationship to questions of
confidence and the resignation of ministers for another day.
I will throw out one item, honourable senators. In this country, we have
never removed a judge in a joint address procedure. In England there was only
one: Sir Jonah Barrington. It was a famous case. We have not done so, not
because there have not been bad judges, but for the potential crisis that would
result in justice itself and the potential for governments to fall on those
kinds of questions.
Honourable senators, that is why I have said that it would be
constitutionally catastrophic for us to place our Speaker in a position to have
to refuse to put the question on this bill or that a senator be compelled to
move a motion to nullify the proceedings on this bill if adopted without the
Honourable senators, Bill C-232 about judges is large and complex, and
engrossed with the prerogative law, which is purely executive and not
administrative. Usually, such bills are too important and too problematic to
proceed as private members' bills. In fact, parliamentary practice developed to
avoid such conundrums. Formerly, ministers of the Crown were confined to their
executive duties and to securing the house's agreement to those consequential
With the ascent, and the advent, of responsible government — and not in the
11th century — the roles and duties of ministers in public affairs and in
measures for the common good were greatly expanded. This expansion
simultaneously enlarged private members' possibilities, granting them greater
and more opportunities to raise, debate and amend questions.
It became the rule, honourable senators, that all great, important and
complex public measures — for example, bills about judges — should originate
with a minister. In this case, that would be the Minister of Justice, ex officio
the Attorney General, attornatus rex, and the Law Officer of the Crown,
the guardian of the prerogative and the curial powers — the guardian of justice
Alpheus Todd wrote about this subject at page 299 in his 1869 book, On
Parliamentary Government in England, Vol. 2:
But it has only been by degrees, and principally since the passing of the
Reform Acts of 1832, that it has come to be an established principle, that
all important acts of legislation should be originated, and their passage
through Parliament facilitated, by the advisers of the crown.
He continued at page 299 on these events that:
. . . led to the imposition of additional burthens upon the ministers of
the crown, by requiring them to prepare and submit to Parliament whatever
measures of this description may be needed for the public good; and also to
take the lead in advising Parliament to amend or reject all crude,
imperfect, or otherwise objectionable measures which may at any time be
introduced by private members.
Honourable senators, as I said, with the enlargement of the duties of
ministers to initiate and originate public measures, private members'
opportunities for debate, criticism, amendment and rejection were also enlarged,
but with two important limitations. Alpheus Todd, wrote at page 300:
On the other hand it should be freely conceded to private members that
they have an abstract right to submit to the consideration of Parliament
measures upon every question which may suitably engage its attention,
subject only to the limitations imposed by the prerogative of the crown, or
by the practice of Parliament.
This is why the law and practice of Parliament prescribes the Royal Consent
for bills that affect the Royal Prerogative — the purely executive law.
Honourable senators, Todd explained and summarized these developments. At
page 317, he wrote:
Thenceforth, the rules of Parliament, which prohibit the introduction of
a Bill to appropriate any portion of the public revenue, except at the
recommendation of the crown, through a responsible minister, — and which
require the consent of the crown before either House can agree to a Bill
affecting the royal prerogative, — together with the admitted right of
ministers, so long as they retain the confidence of the House of Commons, to
regulate the course of public business — have secured the rights of the
sovereign, as a constituent part of the legislative body, as unmistakeably,
if not more effectually than by the direct interposition of a personal veto.
What happened was that the sovereign surrendered his direct personal
intervention and worked more through ministers. It is at that time in history
that these practices and these rules about which I am speaking came into
prominence. As the advent of responsible government was moving ahead, we find a
greater preoccupation with these rules and practices.
Honourable senators, the purpose was to secure the rights of the sovereign as
a constituent part of Parliament. The sovereign Queen has an abiding presence in
the rules and practices of each house, something very akin to the mace on the
Honourable senators, Sir William Blackstone told us about the sovereign king
or queen in his 1765 Commentaries on the Laws of England, Book I, at page
. . . he is a single person, whose will may be uniform and steady; the
first person in the nation, being superior to both houses in dignity; and
the only branch of the legislature that has a separate existence, and is
capable of performing any act at a time when no parliament is in being.
He said, at page 149, that Parliament is:
. . . the great corporation or body politic of the kingdom, of which the
king is said to be caput, principium, et finis.
Her Majesty is caput, principium, et finis. That is the head, the
beginning and the end. Everything about Parliament — the summoning, the
prorogation, the dissolution, the Royal Assent — begins and ends with the
Monarch. I want honourable senators to know that this is no relic; this is the
legal system in Canada. We must understand that we are not talking about the
natural person. Rather, we are talking about the Queen in her Royal political
capacity, the "Royall politick capacity," in the words of Sir Edward Coke, in
which she is the representative and the embodiment of all the people. The prime
minister represents some of the people; Her Majesty represents all the people.
The prerogative law is about the sovereign's absolute duty to protect, defend
and serve her subjects, and to execute justice, as sworn in her Coronation Oath,
to which we are joined by our oath of allegiance.
Honourable senators, my final point is to Senator Tardif and her
preoccupation with antiquity, time and the 11th century. A standard rule of
these massive prerogative powers, by which most governments run, is always
stated as nullum tempus occurrit regi, which means that time does not run
against the king or against the king's powers. The prerogative power is never
lost. It may be silent for a while, but it is never lost. Honourable senators
should understand that.
It is therefore imperative for the stability of our parliamentary system that
we recognize and uphold the balance between the law of the Parliament and the
law of the prerogative. It is unthinkable, in my view, that it could be thought
that a bill of this magnitude, with the consequences that it will create for
justice, could proceed successfully without the support of the Attorney General
Honourable senators, I will come to a conclusion. I thought I would have many
well-thought-out arguments to answer, so I came prepared. Senator Comeau has
asked if I would table some of these documents, which would save the Speaker the
trouble of having to pull them up. I would be happy to do so.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, is it agreed that the
documents be tabled?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Cools: Thank you.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I thank Senator Cools for
the point of order. I equally thank all honourable senators for their
interventions, which are very helpful. I will take the matter under advisement.
Hon. Yonah Martin moved second reading of Bill C-442, An Act to
establish a National Holocaust Monument.
She said: Honourable senators, I would like to speak this afternoon about
Bill C-442, An Act to establish a National Holocaust Monument. Before focusing
on this proposed legislation, it is worthwhile to consider some facets of the
contextual background leading to it.
For thousands of years, communities have erected structures to collectively
commemorate important events, individuals or groups of people that have made
significant contributions or who have died or suffered as a result of war or
other catastrophic events. There are a number of monuments, such as the ancient
pyramids and the Parthenon, known to have been constructed by ancient
civilizations and many remain to symbolize these historical periods.
Many words in modern English relating to monuments find their roots in
historical languages. For example, "cenotaph" is derived from the Greek words "kenos"
and "taphos," which taken together mean "empty tomb." Similarly, the word
"monument" originates from the Latin "monere" which means "to remind" or
Canadians also recognize the social importance of paying tribute to those who
have given up their lives, even as innocent civilians, so that others can
benefit from a better understanding of their sacrifices. This is demonstrated by
the many monuments established in localities across Canada. For instance, there
are close to 50 memorials in Montreal alone, and hundreds of war memorials in
towns and villages across the country.
There are also a number of statues and other monuments prominently on display
on federal public land throughout the National Capital Region.
The Canadian Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was added to the War Memorial in
Confederation Square in 2000. It holds the remains of an unidentified soldier
selected from a cemetery near Vimy Ridge where Canadians fought in the famous
battle in the First World War. This tomb honours Canadians who have died during
their service with the Armed Forces.
The National Aboriginal Veterans Monument is located in Confederation Park
and was installed in 2001. It pays homage to the contribution of our Aboriginal
men and women to Canada's Armed Forces over the years. It reflects traditional
beliefs and its highest point is the symbol of the Creator.
The Canadian Tribute to Human Rights can be seen at the corner of Elgin and
Lisgar Streets in Ottawa. It honours the fundamental values of personal freedom
and respect for the dignity of every person. In 1988, President Nelson Mandela
unveiled a plaque at the monument honouring a Canadian, John Peters Humphrey,
who authored the first draft of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This
served to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the United Nations Universal
Declaration of Human Rights.
There are certainly other monuments of significant importance within a few
kilometres of Canada's Parliament buildings that are maintained by the National
As honourable senators are most certainly aware, however, Canada does not yet
have a national Holocaust monument. The atrocities of the Holocaust occurred
during the 1930s and the Second World War in which our country took so active a
part. The Nazi state sought to eliminate the Jews of Europe and vulnerable
groups, such as disabled persons. This Holocaust must have a permanent place in
our nation's consciousness and memory. We must honour the memory of all
Holocaust victims as part of our collective resolve never to forget. A national
monument will remind Canadians of one of the darkest chapters in human history
and of the dangers of state-sanctioned hatred and anti-Semitism. It will
encourage future generations to learn about the root causes of the Holocaust and
its consequences to help prevent future acts of genocide.
The Second World War became the most widespread and deadliest war in the
world's history, with at least 100 million military personnel and more than 50
million fatalities. A substantial number of these deaths resulted from Nazi
ideological policies, including the genocide of Jews and other ethnic and
Canada entered that war with its declaration of war against Germany on
September 10, 1939, seven days after France and Britain declared war, and nine
days after Poland was invaded by Germany.
Canadians served in our own military forces as well as in the service of
various Allied countries. Our nation experienced a significant number of losses
during this period. With a population of between 11 million and 12 million
people at that time, approximately 1.1 million Canadians served during the
Second World War. There were 730,000 personnel enlisted in the army, 260,000 in
the air force, and a further 115,000 Canadians in the navy. By the end of the
war, more than 45,000 Canadians had lost their lives and another 55,000 were
In the years following the Second World War, a number of countries decided to
install structures or museums to commemorate the Holocaust. The first country to
erect a national Holocaust memorial was Israel, the country that had the
greatest number of Holocaust survivors. In August 1953, the Knesset, the
Parliament of Israel, passed legislation that established the commemoration of
Jews who died during the Holocaust, the survivors, and those who risked their
lives to save the Jewish people. After a 10-year renovation and expansion
project that was planned by Israeli-Canadian architect Moshe Safdie, the
memorial in Jerusalem reopened in 2005.
In France, the Holocaust memorial of Paris was unveiled in 1956. Similar to
that in Jerusalem, the French memorial is a crypt with a flame that burns
amongst the names of concentration camps. Ashes from the concentration camps and
the Warsaw ghetto have been deposited in the crypt. The French monument also
underwent renovations in 2005, during which two white marble walls were added
with the names of Holocaust victims who had been deported from France.
In 1980, the United States Congress agreed that a Holocaust memorial and
museum should be built on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The U.S.
Holocaust Memorial Museum, which was opened in 1994, is amongst the most visited
in the U.S. capital. A number of its rooms are reminiscent of barbed wire camps
and fenced ghettos.
Germany's national museum commemorating the murdered Jews of Europe is
located in Berlin. Designed by another renowned architect with strong ties to
Canada, Daniel Libeskind, it was inaugurated on May 10, 2005, 60 years after the
end of the Second World War. His design at the site incorporates over 2,700
rectangular slots made of concrete that appear like tombstones to evoke the
sense of concentration camps.
Monuments and museums that are dedicated to remembering the Holocaust are
situated in other countries as well, including Argentina, Australia, Greece and
I am proud, therefore, that we are now considering a private member's bill
endorsed by the House of Commons of this Parliament that proposes to establish a
national Holocaust monument in our own country.
With this proposed legislation, the Minister of Transport, in his capacity as
Minister Responsible for the National Capital Commission, would oversee the
realization of a national Holocaust monument in the National Capital Region. The
minister would rely on efforts undertaken by a council formed for the purpose of
establishing this monument, as well as on the expertise of the National Capital
It is fitting that the National Capital Commission participate in planning,
designing, installing and even maintaining the monument.
The National Capital Commission is responsible, under its enabling statute,
to assist in the planning and improvement of the National Capital Region,
coordinating the development of federal public lands in the region, and
approving proposals regarding buildings and other structures on these lands. In
keeping with its mandated responsibilities, the National Capital Commission has
developed a comprehensive policy on commemoration. Under this policy, the
commission usually receives ownership once the commemoration has been installed
and the commission ensures that the commemoration is properly maintained.
The National Capital Commission identifies potential sites on public land
that can accommodate the commemorative structure. In most cases, the proponent
is responsible for seeking and obtaining financial contributions to cover all
costs associated with the project. The most appropriate location is selected
following consultations with the proponent and other stakeholders. The
implementation phase of the commemoration project commences when fundraising has
A recent example of involvement by the National Capital Commission in
establishing commemorative structures is the decision to erect a memorial for
the victims of communism in the Garden of the Provinces and Territories in
downtown Ottawa. This memorial is being realized with the efforts of an
organization named Tribute to Liberty, which was created for this purpose.
Having considered a variety of background information relevant to the
amendments proposed in Bill C-442, it is appropriate now to consider the bill
This legislation provides that a national Holocaust monument be established
in the National Capital Region and that the timeline for doing so depends on the
amount of funds raised by the council for this purpose. I am convinced that
Canadians have such high regard for this initiative that undoubtedly there will
be ample resources to secure the establishment of this monument.
In addition to carrying out responsibilities for the realization of a
national Holocaust monument as provided for in Bill C-442, the Government of
Canada supports other programs that pertain to remembering the Holocaust. These
efforts underline Canada's commitment to ensuring that the Holocaust is not
forgotten. This is part of Canada's overall objective of combating racism and
discrimination in order to build a socially integrated society.
Just over a year ago, Canada became the twenty-seventh member of the Task
Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and
Research, ITF. This organization was established in 1998 under the guiding
principles outlined in the Declaration of the Stockholm International Forum on
the Holocaust in January 2000. The ITF is a coalition of government and
non-government organizations whose purpose is to build support behind the need
for Holocaust education, remembrance and research, both nationally and
internationally. Members must be committed to the implementation of national
policies and programs in support of Holocaust education, remembrance and
Canada has a long history of promoting human rights and combating hate and
discrimination. In its continued efforts to remember the Holocaust, it is
fitting that the Government of Canada adopt Bill C-442 that has as its objective
the establishment of a national Holocaust monument in the region of our own
(On motion of Senator Tardif, for Senator Harb, debate adjourned.)
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Smith, P.C. (Cobourg),
seconded by the Honourable Senator Fraser, for the adoption of the second
report of the Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of
Parliament (study on questions of privilege), presented in the Senate
on April 27, 2010;
And on the motion in amendment of the Honourable Senator Carstairs, P.C.,
seconded by the Honourable Senator Fraser, that the report be not now
adopted, by that it be referred back to the Standing Committee on Rules,
Procedures and the Rights of Parliament for further study and debate.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, Senator Cools is not in the chamber at this moment, but I talked to
her earlier on. Given the hour, I prevailed upon her to wait until next week to
speak to this issue, and she has agreed to do so.
Therefore, I move the adjournment of the debate in her name for the balance
of her time.
(On motion of Senator Comeau, for Senator Cools, debate adjourned.)
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Di Nino, seconded
by the Honourable Senator Stewart Olsen:
That the Senate of Canada call upon the Chinese Government to release
from prison, Liu Xiaobo, the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize Winner.
Hon. Consiglio Di Nino: Honourable senators, I wish to ask Senator Day
when we may expect his speech on this item, which has now been here since before
Hon. Joseph A. Day: Honourable senators, it is always a pleasure to
hear from the Honourable Senator Di Nino. I have had an adjournment for four
sitting days. I am working on a reply and in due course I will be replying
before the fifteenth date.
Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Mitchell calling
the attention of the Senate to the state of women's equality in Canada.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, I note that Senator Wallin is not in the chamber and I know she does
not want to have this item fall off the Order Paper; therefore, I would like to
adjourn the debate in her name for the balance of her time.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is it your pleasure,
honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
(On motion of Senator Comeau, for Senator Wallin, debate adjourned.)
Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Wallin calling
the attention of the Senate to the efforts and accomplishments of Canadian
military members, diplomats and aid workers in Afghanistan over the past ten
years, which has included significant milestones in security, basic
services, economic development, diplomacy and humanitarian assistance;
The Government of Canada's plans for continued assistance to that country
to build on this progress through a new non-combat role for Canada's
engagement in Afghanistan until 2014 by training Afghan security forces so
that Afghanistan can progressively take control of its own security and
The fact that the Canadian Government will persist with its successful
education and health initiatives for children, promotion of regional
diplomacy and delivering humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people.
Hon. Terry Stratton: Honourable senators, it is too bad I am in the
room; I could get Senator Comeau to address this. Honourable senators, I ask for
this to be adjourned in my name for the balance of my time.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is it your pleasure,
honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
(On motion of Senator Stratton, debate adjourned.)
Hon. Pierre De Bané rose pursuant to notice of February 8, 2011:
That he will call the attention of the Senate to the First Conference of
Arab Expatriates, conference organized by the League of Arab States, that
was held in Cairo, Egypt, from December 4 to 6, 2010.
He said: Honourable senators, on December 4, 5 and 6, I had the honour of
attending a conference held in Cairo, Egypt, by the League of Arab States, which
had invited people of Arab descent from countries all over the world to attend
the First Conference of Arab Expatriates under the theme: "A Bridge for
This is the first time an event of this nature has been held by the League of
Arab States, thanks to the initiative of the league's Secretary-General, His
Excellency Mr. Amre Moussa, Egypt's former Minister of Foreign Affairs and a
distinguished diplomat. His Excellency has always impressed me with both his
thoughtful analysis and his political courage.
Honourable senators, for the last three weeks, Egypt, where both my parents
were born, has been going through the most serious crisis since it gained full
independence. I am not surprised that Mr. Amre Moussa is now a key player in
convincing government authorities to urgently implement the reforms that the
people, especially the young generation, are calling for.
This conference gathered citizens of Arab origin from all continents:
Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Cuba, Cyprus,
Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ethiopia, France, Germany, Ghana, Italy, Ivory
Coast, Liberia, Netherlands, Nigeria, Romania, Russia, Slovenia, South Korea,
Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, U.K., Ukraine, U.S.A., Venezuela — from 32
countries, as well as from the 22 Arab countries, which all had delegated
government representatives, including many at the ministerial level.
This meeting between Arab emigrants and the current citizens of their
original homelands is a welcome and a natural thing. What, perhaps, is less
natural is that they had not met officially until now!
Honourable senators, I strongly applaud this initiative taken by the tireless
statesman, His Excellency Mr. Amre Moussa, who believes that every culture
should be open to all other cultures. It should influence them and, conversely,
be enriched by them, especially in our era.
We live in the era of communication, which has made the whole planet a global
village where the world becomes smaller year after year, to the point where we
need to be instantly and continuously connected. In today's world, there are
more than 200 million people living in countries different from their
birthplaces. These emigrants could form a natural bridge between nations, all
the more so if there is a political will to enrich the world consciousness and
to enhance the dialogue of cultures rather than focus on the so-called clash of
civilizations, which is so divisive, especially in a country of immigrants such
In Canada, we are fortunate to have a vibrant Canadian-Arab community
exceeding 600,000 people. They are as diverse as the richness of the Arab world
itself, for it is in some way misleading to speak, as many do, in general about
Arabs as if they constitute a single monolithic entity. Many of those who today
live in and, as a result, are influenced by the Arab world are not necessarily
of pure Arab origin. They can also be Kurds, Assyrians, Berbers, Africans or,
due to historical reasons, even Armenians and Greeks. Nor are they necessarily
of the same religion. They could be Sunni Muslims, Shia Muslims, Roman
Catholics, Eastern rites Christians, Anglicans, Jews, Druze, Animists, Yazidis
and so on. They certainly do not all speak or dress alike and, importantly, have
not shared a unique historical experience. Former colonizers have left distinct
imprints, legacies and tradition in each area. In fact, to be an Arab in the
same way it is to be Canadian, is to be part of a rich civilization. It is much
more a cultural state of mind and linguistic identity than a racial
Canadian Arab immigrants are proud people — proud of their original heritage
and proud of belonging to Canada. They are, of course, forever grateful for
having been invited to become Canadian citizens. In return, immigrants and, in
this case, immigrants of Arab descent have contributed immensely to the
development and prosperity of our country.
We find Canadians of Arab descent in all walks of life, in the public sector
as well as in the private sector. Among public figures, I mention the Premier of
the Province of Prince Edward Island, the Honourable Robert Ghiz, and his
father, who also was elected premier of the same province. Canadians of Arab
descent are members of both houses of Parliament, as well as members of the
provincial legislatures, ambassadors, numerous distinguished members of our
diplomatic corps, deputy ministers, mayors, municipal councillors, police
officers and so on.
Among academics, I mention the Vice-President of the Research Department at
the University of Ottawa, the Vice-Rector and Chair of Arabic Studies at the
University of Ottawa, the Director of French Theatre at the National Arts
Centre, the President of York University, the former interim president of
Carleton University and a number of deans of faculties and university
Among professionals, there are well-known writers, artists, movie and theatre
directors, doctors, lawyers, teachers and engineers of Arab descent.
When I was Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and had an overview of the
business world in Canada, which is the second-largest country in the world, I
was often surprised to meet Canadians of Arab descent in the most remote corners
of the country, who were managing their businesses in the Arctic or in other
We are the descendants of a people with a very rich past, a population that
invented the alphabet and taught it to the rest of the world, one that built
cities and historical monuments that still exist today— the Pyramids, Petra,
Byblos, Damascus, Carthage and more — and that helped to advance science in the
fields of mathematics, medicine and astronomy. During the 12th century, Arabic
numerals were introduced to the Western world in Latin translations. Arabs also
translated and preserved the texts of Greek philosophers and spread them
Now many of us live in Canada, as first-class citizens, like all immigrants,
determined to protect our new country and keep it safe, thriving and prosperous
for many generations to come.
That is why I would like to propose replacing the term "expatriate" with the
term "emigrant." In its broadest sense, an expatriate is an individual who lives
in a country other than his or her own. However, in common parlance, the term is
used to describe professionals sent overseas by their employers, in contrast
with local employees, who might also be foreigners. All emigrants, without
exception, have explicitly asked a country to welcome them. Almost no emigrants
move to a country only temporarily and pledge their allegiance and loyalty to
that country. On the contrary, while always maintaining very close ties to their
country of origin, they are generally very eager to set down roots and prosper
in their new country.
The goal of the First Conference of Arab Expatriates was to encourage
immigrants from Arab countries to fully integrate into their adopted countries,
to faithfully abide by those countries' laws and regulations, to fulfil all
their civic duties and responsibilities and to work to build a solid bond with
their homeland for the greater good of all involved.
That is what many dynamic communities in Canada have done, for instance, the
Jewish, Italian, Polish, Ukrainian and Irish communities. The creation of a
reciprocal relationship is advantageous because it helps to foster a better
understanding of both countries' concerns, facilitates trade, and broadens
Canada's spheres of influence. It is now up to Canadians of Arab descent to put
aside temporary internal frictions in their countries of origin and take the
high road for the greater good of both countries and of humanity as a whole.
Among my recollections of this historic conference held at the headquarters
of the League of Arab States, I would like to report to you above all, the
appreciation and enthusiasm of the participants when I informed them that the
supreme law of our country states that the Canadian Constitution:
. . . shall be interpreted in a manner consistent with the preservation
and enhancement of the multicultural heritage of Canadians.
In other words, honourable senators, the Canadian Constitution states that
there is absolutely no contradiction whatsoever between our loyalty to Canada
and the maintenance of our cultural heritage. No small-added benefit is that the
First Conference of Arabic Expatriates was an occasion to express publicly my
strong allegiance to my country, Canada, as well as an opportunity to establish
new and beneficial relations with citizens from all over the world, including
from countries of the Arab League and members of the Arab Expatriates
Department. That department is led by the dynamic director Ms. Samiha Mohey
Eldine and her dedicated assistants: Enas Mostafa El Fergany, Lobna Essam Azzam,
Amina Tawfik El-Sheibany and Rana Mohammed Essam.
At this time, I ask leave of all honourable senators to be allowed to table,
in both official languages of Canada, English and French, the final communiqué
of this conference outlining the main conclusions and decisions reached by the
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senators,
is leave granted to table the documents?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator De Bané: Honourable senators, I had the honour to meet with
His Excellency Mr. Amre Moussa when he was the Minister of Foreign Affairs of
Egypt, a position he held for 10 years. His analysis then of the top foreign
affairs challenges showed his grasp of the most important issues that threaten
world peace and future events and show his great foresight. Like all the other
participants of this conference, I am fully conscious that our meeting and its
success are due to his leadership and vision.
Mr. Amre Moussa has been inspirational to so many of the young generation in
Egypt who lived his legacy when he was Minister of Foreign Affairs between 1991
and 2001. His charisma is immediately felt, and he is a pragmatist with a clear
vision for what must be done to connect Egypt with all the world while
reasserting the pride and dignity of the Egyptians. He inspired the young
diplomats in the ministry because of his empowerment to all those who are
skilled, which enabled them to understand and live the process of decision
making and participate in solving crises through dialogue and sound policy.
Mr. Amre Moussa comes from one of the most prominent and politically
distinguished families in Egypt in the 1930s and 1940s that fought for the
liberation of Egypt from the British occupation. The enabling society and his
ability to reach out to the various strata in the Egyptian society gave him the
opportunity to understand the aspirations of those who were deprived of wealth.
He lifted the hopes of the people to reach their dreams for a liberated Egypt
and later for aspiring to a more capable Egypt where the wealth can be equally
distributed. The current wave in Tahrir Square resonates with Moussa's call for
acquiring for the people of Egypt their basic rights with dignity and freedom.
He went to the people in Tahrir Square to express his full support as a "proud
Speaking to reporters at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in
Davos, Switzerland, on January 25, Mr. Moussa said the following:
There is turmoil in the Arab world for so many reasons, internal as well
as regional, and even international. The Arab citizen is angry, is
frustrated. That is the point. So the name of the game is reform.
That is why, honourable senators, many political analysts and so many media
outlets all over the world, including over a dozen Canadian newspapers, have
concluded that Mr. Moussa is the most credible statesman to shoulder the
responsibility to lead his country.
I hope this conference will become a permanent and regular institution with
new participants, so that gradually in each country there will be a core of
active members who will spread in their community the guiding principles and
spirit of this conference.
I am profoundly convinced, honourable senators, that we, Canadians, must
encourage such endeavours that promote understanding, mutual respect and
harmony, and that strengthen the allegiance of new immigrants to our great
democracy, while making the dialogue of cultures a duty of every citizen of our
country in these troubled times.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Further debate?
Honourable senators, if no senator wishes to speak, this matter shall be
deemed to be debated.