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Debates of the Senate (Hansard)

3rd Session, 40th Parliament,
Volume 147, Issue 88

Thursday, February 17, 2011
The Honourable Kelvin Kenneth Ogilvie, Acting Speaker


THE SENATE

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Senate met at 1:30 p.m., the Honourable Kelvin Kenneth Ogilvie, Acting Speaker, in the chair.

Prayers.

SENATORS' STATEMENTS

Canadian Foundation for Physically Disabled Persons

Great Valentine Gala

Hon. Yonah Martin: Honourable senators, it was love at first sight. The rooms were filled with bedazzling jewels, fine wine, chocolate kisses and beautiful music. Everyone was in the mood for love. There was no hope for a hopeless romantic like me but to be swept away by the magical experience of the twenty-seventh annual Great Valentine Gala that took place on February 12, 2011, at the Fairmont Royal York in Toronto, Ontario.

It was my first gala night to remember. However, honourable senators who have long been patrons of the Great Valentine Galas of the past understand the vision and passion of the chairman of the Canadian Foundation for Physically Disabled Persons, the heart of the foundation, our dear colleague, Senator Vim Kochhar, Cupid himself.

When Cupid's arrow hits its mark, your heart melts and you find true love: love of humanity and love of breaking down all barriers for people with physical disabilities to pursue every dream.

[Translation]

Honourable senators, we have all participated in a number of events. Like me, I am sure that many of you have organized a special event or two. That is why I expected the unexpected instead of building myself up with the expectation of an experience that would be forever ingrained in my heart.

[English]

Honourable senators, as I arrived at the event, I was greeted by beautiful smells and the welcoming words of two hosts who directed me to the reception table. The cocktail reception room was romantically lit with candles, but what woke me up from my slumber was the genuine energy and conversation of the people who filled the room.

I met a lovely couple who were employees of Scotiabank Group, a platinum patron of the foundation, who shared with me their passion for their advocacy work with the autism community. I met patrons who were attending their fifteenth, twentieth or twenty-sixth gala.

We were soon invited to enter the banquet hall. This room housed the large decorated stage, and on it, in dazzling neon lights, were the words "27 years." Bright lights and balloon pillars framed the stage. The gala's dynamic host, Suhana Meharchand, kept the evening flowing, to a gala tradition called tambola. This fireworks display of popping balloons revealed hundreds of great prizes. Gord Paynter, a blind comedian, whose humour was entertaining and insightful, entertained us. We listened to the brilliant tenor, Tim McCallum, who has the voice of an angel and who dreams of being the first person in a wheelchair to star in Phantom of the Opera. We watched the talented medallists of the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games receive their King Clancy Awards. Honourable senators, for the grand finale, we heard an extraordinary performance by Chantal Kreviazuk.

[Translation]

The twenty-seventh annual Great Valentine Gala was one of the most memorable and inspiring events I have ever had the pleasure of attending in my life. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Senator Kochhar, you have dedicated over 30 years of your life to raising millions of dollars and to promoting awareness of physical disabilities and of the power of our collective resolve to improve the lives of all Canadians with physical disabilities.

[English]

Senator Kochhar, I offer my congratulations to you and the incredible gala team: George Przybylowski, Sabi Marwah, Yezdi Pavri, Dorothy Price the board of directors, patrons, sponsors and the tireless volunteers.

I am already making plans to be swept away by love at next year's Great Valentine Gala.

The Late Madison Rae McDougall Burch

Public Cord Blood Bank

Hon. Wilfred P. Moore: Honourable senators, I rise today to speak about a young friend of mine, Madison Rae McDougall Burch, who departed this life on Friday, February 11, a month before her fourth birthday, at home in Marriotts Cove, Lunenburg County, Nova Scotia, surrounded by family and friends.

In August 2009, Madi was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. She immediately began chemotherapy at the Izaak Walton Killam Health Centre in Halifax. Full remission was achieved, but Madi relapsed quickly. She was transferred to The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto for a bone marrow transplant. This time the remission held longer, but, in November 2010, the cancer returned permanently.

Honourable senators, during her much-too-short life, Madi redefined the meaning of courage and taught us all the power of spirit, determination and joy. In her final months she lived every day to the fullest. She became an avid reader and, through the kindness of the Children's Wish Foundation, Madi and her family travelled to Walt Disney World in Florida, where her beloved Tinker Bell welcomed her. Madi inspired countless parents to hug their children even tighter every day, and she left everyone with wonderful, lifelong smiles and memories.

Honourable senators, Madi inspired many doctors and scientists to work harder to solve cancer's mystery. It is in this regard that we must not let this precious, short life pass without meaning and contribution. The Hospital for Sick Children, who lovingly cared for Madi while she was their patient, is conducting leading research in the field of stem cells and regenerative medicine. Stem cells are the body's building blocks or master cells that can develop or differentiate into any type of tissue or organ. These cells are the focus of regenerative medicine, medicine that involves growing new cells, tissues and organs to repair, replace or regenerate those damaged by aging, disease or injury.

(1340)

Stem cells have been collected post-birth without controversy from umbilical cord blood and from bone marrow. Canada would benefit from the availability of umbilical cord blood, reflecting the genetic diversity of Canada, and which could be used to provide matched recipients with stem cell therapies.

However, Canada is the only one of the 58 developed nations in the world without a public cord blood bank. In addition to that scientific shortcoming, not having a cord blood bank is expensive. In 2010, Canada imported 90 units of cord blood at a cost of between $40,000 and $80,000 each, totalling an average cost of $5.4 million.

I do not know if the availability of matched umbilical cord blood would have helped Madi or saved her, but I do know that we should do all we can to have such blood available for children like Madi and the thousands of other Canadian children suffering from myeloid leukemia and other diseases.

In Madi's name, I urge the Government of Canada to establish forthwith a public cord blood bank.

Sports

Hon. Andrée Champagne: Honourable senators, I do not know how many of us are sports fans. Some people were surprised recently to discover me among those who keep track of what is happening in the sports world.

While scanning newspapers across the country, some headlines probably attracted the attention of almost everyone. In the last two weeks, we all saw the Montreal Canadiens have huge problems while playing the Boston Bruins. Yes, they scored six goals, but that was not enough. They also had to fight many boxing matches during the game.

The next night, they found a way to lose the game in overtime. Last Saturday night, they brought their best against the Toronto Maple Leafs only to lose in a wild shoot-out last Tuesday. The New York Islanders and the Pittsburgh Penguins also met recently for a boxing match during which, as the saying goes, a hockey game broke out.

Finally, the National Hockey League bosses decided that enough was enough, so the New York team was fined and two players were suspended for many games. When a player steps onto the ice, injuring someone from the other team should not be part of the game plan, so the coach says.

That, my friends, was the dull part of the past two weeks in sports. The best came from athletes who were not supposed to be professionals, but who gave their best in their respective disciplines while following the rules of the game. Our Canadian guys and gals who did so well last year at the Olympics were on the world scene again, and proved to us that the help they were given before the Vancouver Olympics is still paying in gold, silver and bronze.

In the last few days, we have seen the likes of Jennifer Heil and Alexandre Bilodeau manage those bumps and perform those jumps better than ever. Both are coming home with gold medals from the world championships. Chris Del Bosco, Warren Shouldice, Mike Riddle and Mikaël Kingsbury also won medals in different ski competitions.

To Didier Cuche's great surprise, Erik Guay flew down that hill in Germany and became world champion. Again, Christine Nesbitt achieved her goal of another podium finish in speed skating. Marianne St-Gelais won gold in the 500-metre short track race and, with a little help from her friends, will bring home silver as well for participation in the relay race.

Finally, preparing for the London Summer Olympics in 2012, we saw young Milos Raonic win his first big tennis tournament in San Jose. On January 1, he was ranked 152 in the world. After the Australian Open, where he reached the final group of 16, he was elevated into the top 100 best tennis players in the world. After his win last Sunday, he was ranked 52, and he just turned 20. Canada has a new star shining brightly in the professional tennis sky.

We can all be proud and hope that our government will continue to help our young athletes reach what they all hope for — the top. We all want to continue screaming, "Go, Canada, Go," to see our flag on the centre pole and to hear our national anthem sung all over the world.

I hope I did not forget anyone.


[Translation]

ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

Labour

Canadian Artists and Producers Professional Relations Tribunal—Tabling of 2009-2010 Report

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, pursuant to the Status of the Artist Act, S.C. 1992, c. 33, s. 61, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the 2009-2010 Report of the Canadian Artists and Producers Professional Relations Tribunal.

[English]

Electricity and Gas Inspection Act
Weights and Measures Act

Bill to Amend—Ninth Report of Banking, Trade and Commerce Committee Presented

Hon. Michael A. Meighen, Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce, presented the following report:

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce has the honour to present its

NINTH REPORT

Your committee, to which was referred Bill C-14, An Act to amend the Electricity and Gas Inspection Act and the Weights and Measures Act, has, in obedience to the order of reference of Thursday, February 3 2011, examined the said Bill and now reports the same without amendment.

Respectfully submitted,

MICHAEL A. MEIGHEN
Chair

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

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

Corrections and Conditional Release Act

Bill to Amend—First Reading

The Hon. the Acting Speaker informed the Senate that a message had been received from the House of Commons with Bill C-59, An Act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (accelerated parole review) and to make consequential amendments to other Acts.

(Bill read first time.)

The Hon. the Acting 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.)


(1350)

QUESTION PERIOD

National Defence

F-35 Aircraft Purchase

Hon. Francis William Mahovlich: Honourable senators, my question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I think every senator agrees that the men and women in military uniforms deserve our admiration and respect for putting their lives on the line for our country every day. They defend this country and ask for little in return. To ensure that Canada stays the safe and protected country it is today, I feel it is important not to add the role of salesperson to our officials at the Department of National Defence.

According to a report that came out today, public servants have accumulated at least 600 hours in overtime and senior military officers have travelled from coast to coast to promote the F-35 fighter jet project and to gain public support. Never before has the Chief of the Defence Staff been required to sell the government's plan to the nation.

Will the government allow the military to focus on its official mission to protect Canada, rather than to act as salespeople for this project?

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, the answer is clear. This decision was taken in the interests of the Canadian Forces, in terms of the Canadian Forces having the proper equipment to do their job. Obviously, people working for the Department of National Defence, in whatever capacity, are simply doing their job to promote the acquisition of this aircraft in their own self-interest and in the interest of the country.

Senator Mahovlich: Back in December, both Senator Cordy and I asked questions regarding the number of domestic jobs that Canadians can expect to be created thanks to this project. Since then, two months have passed and much more time and many resources have been spent studying the matter.

Can the Leader of the Government in the Senate now tell us how many jobs created for this specific project will benefit Canadians?

Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, it has been clear from the beginning that we are working in the interests of the 80,000 Canadian aerospace industry jobs that are already here and that we want to protect for the future. Under the previous government, Canada participated in the acquisition of this particular aircraft and finally decided that we required 65 aircraft.

The important thing to note is that by Canada being in on the ground floor of the development of this aircraft, our industry will have access to supply contracts for all the aircraft that will be built under this program and not only for the 65 that are coming to Canada.

Public Safety

Correctional Service Canada

Hon. Catherine S. Callbeck: Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. According to a Correctional Service Canada briefing note, this government's Truth in Sentencing Act alone is expected to increase the number of women and men in correctional institutions by more than 3,400 over the next three years. That is an increase of about 33 per cent when one includes the normal growth of the prison population.

According to Correctional Service Canada, the programs that they provide will not keep pace with the increase of prisoners. Correctional reintegration programs, which include violence prevention and substance abuse programming, will see an increase of roughly 20 per cent over the next three years. The funding for offender education programs will remain the same and the funding for employment programs will drop by roughly 15 per cent.

Why is this government not ensuring that these programs keep up with the increase of thousands of new inmates?

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I would argue that, in fact, the government is cognizant of the full implications of changes in the laws and legislation. We believe that the people we should be most responsible for are the good, law-abiding citizens of Canada. We think that we as a government must protect them from violent crimes or any criminal activity. We make no excuses, honourable senators, for the policies and plans of our government.

In terms of not only human resources but also resources for prisons, our approach will take into account the changing circumstances with regard to the laws that we are attempting to pass.

Senator Callbeck: The government is not keeping pace with the number of inmates which is projected to increase. It is not keeping pace with these programs that are so needed.

The minister has acknowledged the importance of the programs, but he has not committed to increasing the reintegration, education and employability programs to keep up with the increase in new prisoners.

Without these programs, the likelihood that individuals will reoffend increases. Research, including some by Correctional Service Canada staff, has shown that treatment can cut the chance of reoffending among high-risk offenders by as much as 30 per cent.

How does this government intend to ensure that incarcerated individuals leave prison and will not reoffend?

Senator LeBreton: The premise of the honourable senator's question is incorrect. I do not know where she gets the idea that we are not increasing our activities in retraining and rehabilitation. Retraining and rehabilitation are integral to the government's plans with regard to people who are incarcerated.

Obviously, it is in the interest of both the government and society that people who are incarcerated are evaluated. There are also the stepped up efforts we are making in regard to mental illness. All of those things are taken into consideration and considerable resources are being put into rehabilitation and retraining for people so that when they are released from our prison system, they are better equipped to face society.

Senator Callbeck: The leader talks about the government increasing retraining efforts. However, I have an answer to an Order Paper question from the other place which states that the offender education programs will stay the same for the next three years. There is no increase. Under the employment and employability programs, the amount will go down by 15 per cent.

How can the leader stand there and say that the government is increasing retraining efforts?

Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, I would have to look at the exact question that was asked and the context in which it was asked.

Through the Department of Public Safety and the Department of Justice, we have launched and contributed significantly to various rehabilitation and retraining programs.

(1400)

Obviously, honourable senators, without seeing the question in the context in which it was asked and answered, I will have to take the question as notice and look at it myself.

[Translation]

Indian Affairs and Northern Development

First Nations Peoples in Correctional Facilities

Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette: Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. We know how obsessed the government is with repressive and regressive policies, which it calls its law and order policies, and which, in reality, have created havoc and social problems in all societies that have embraced this ideology — a smokescreen for the lack of economic action.

Celebrating his fifth anniversary in power, the Prime Minister dared to state:

Canadians are a fair people. They want Canadian values to mean honesty, integrity and opportunity for all.

Unfortunately, I have realized that when they speak of values for all, they are excluding Aboriginal peoples.

In fact, since this government came to power, Aboriginal peoples have been increasingly marginalized and do not seem to have the same opportunities as other Canadians, especially in our prisons. The over representation of Aboriginal peoples in Canada's prison population is astounding. Take the example of Saskatchewan: according to 2007-08 data from Statistics Canada — an organization that the government does not seem to appreciate — Aboriginal peoples represented 80 per cent of the remand population, 81 per cent of those in sentenced custody, 70 per cent of individuals on probation, and 75 per cent of offenders on conditional sentences. Yet, Aboriginal peoples represented 11 per cent of the province's total population. The situation is the same in Manitoba, Alberta and the Yukon.

In view of this sad state of affairs, how does the government plan to address this overrepresentation of Aboriginal peoples in the Canadian correctional system?

[English]

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, first, I have great respect — and I think I have indicated it in this chamber many times — for the work that is done by Statistics Canada. I do not think it is proper for the honourable senator to attribute to me comments about Statistics Canada that I have never made, but that is typical.

With regard to the treatment of prisoners, there is no doubt that our Aboriginal population is over-represented in our prison system, and the government continues to work extremely hard with our Aboriginal leadership. We have expended considerable amounts of funds in all of our budgets announced thus far and passed through Parliament to increase support for Aboriginal communities, including support for education for Aboriginal youth and providing job training and working opportunities — in other words, to create a society where Aboriginal youth have hope for their future.

I do not accept the comments of the senator that we have, as a government, turned our back on the Aboriginal community, when the facts and figures starkly say the opposite.

Public Safety

Parliamentary Budget Officer—Cost of Crime Bills

Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette: Honourable senators, I am amazed we do not read the statistics the same way.

I want to continue talking about the government's favourite subject — crime. I thought it would be appropriate to ask the leader to justify the expenses associated with the government's crime agenda.

For example, the Parliamentary Budget Officer, Mr. Kevin Page, recently stated that he is worried about cost overruns of the new $5 billion prison, not to mention the increased financial burden that will be placed on our prison system. By the same token, provinces will be forced to spend more than $110 million more a year to keep inmates in jail who would have been paroled.

The government has put us in a deficit of over $50 billion and helped increase our national debt to over $519 billion. With those numbers in mind, how can the Conservative government claim to be competent financial managers when it will increase the financial burden of Canadian taxpayers and increase justice expenditures to the provinces with these unnecessary crime projects that are tougher on Canadians' wallets than they are on crime?

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): First, the honourable senator and I have a completely different approach to the treatment of people who perpetrate crimes on innocent Canadian citizens. I believe that people who commit crimes should be incarcerated and penalized for their crimes. I do not believe that they should be walking around on our streets free to commit the same crimes.

I realize there was a question in the other place about the cost of the prison and that the Parliamentary Budget Officer has raised questions as well. The government works closely with the provinces, but with regard to the costing of the prison, Minister Toews has indicated he will make these figures available shortly.

International Cooperation

Canadian International Development Agency—KAIROS Application for Funding

Hon. Claudette Tardif (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, on Monday, the minister for the Canadian International Development Agency admitted that the decision not to provide funding to KAIROS was hers, and that a handwritten "not" added to a funding application document was inserted at her direction. She wanted KAIROS and Canadians to believe that it was the CIDA officials who rejected the application, knowing full well that was not true.

This lack of transparency, accountability, responsibility and dignity seems to be the standard by which the government allows its ministers to conduct themselves. Canadians and parliamentarians alike want the truth.

My question is the following: Did the minister for CIDA add the word "not" to the KAIROS funding document at the request of the Prime Minister's Office?

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I will put that question at the top of the ridiculous questions I receive in this place.

It is interesting, honourable senators, that there is now a new definition of scandal, according to the Liberal Party. In their days, when millions of dollars of taxpayers' money was used, stolen or handed to their friends, that was not scandal. In our case, when a minister takes a decision in the interests of the taxpayer and saves taxpayers' money, that is a scandal.

Hon. Jane Cordy: Honourable senators, I have a supplementary question. I think "scandal" means "deception" and "dishonesty."

Minister Oda stated that the decision not to fund KAIROS was based on the advice of officials in her department. We know that the minister's comments were not true.

We know that the department believed that taxpayers' money would be used effectively by KAIROS, a Christian church coalition. It would be used to help the poor in developing countries.

Who made the decision to falsify the document? Who wrote "not" on the document? Is Minister Oda protecting the Prime Minister's Office in this deception?

Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, the minister has been clear. She made the decision, as is her responsibility, in the interests of good governance. She made the decision not to fund KAIROS and it was the right decision.

If the honourable senator goes back and checks the record of the minister's appearance and the CIDA officials' appearance before the committee, she will see that Ms. Margaret Biggs, President of the Canadian International Development Agency, said — and this is a true statement:

Yes, I think as the minister said, the agency did recommend the project to the minister. She has indicated that. But it was her decision, after due consideration, to not accept the department's advice.

This is quite normal, and I certainly was aware of her decision. The inclusion of the word "not" is just a simple reflection of what her decision was, and she has been clear. So that's quite normal.

I think we have changed the format for these memos so the minister has a much clearer place to put where she doesn't want to accept the advice, which is her prerogative.

That is the head of CIDA. It cannot be much clearer than that.

(1410)

Senator Cordy: Honourable senators, the minister has every right to make the final decision. The minister does not have the right to act in secrecy and to deceive the people of Canada. These actions by Minister Oda show contempt for the people of Canada.

The Prime Minister and this Conservative government believe it is perfectly fine to falsify a document, to not tell the truth to Parliament, and to mislead Canadians. This deception of who has made the decision is becoming more common under this Prime Minister and this government.

Is this the Prime Minister's definition of an open, transparent and accountable government? The Canadian people deserve better.

Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, the minister did not falsify those documents. She very basically stated what she stated all along, that she did not support the application going forward.

When I was the Minister of State for Seniors, I would get recommendations from the department for spending money here, there and everywhere. There would be a line that stated, "Do you concur?" I would write, "I do not concur." That did not mean I falsified or altered a document; I simply expressed my view that I did not agree with the bureaucrats.

That is what Minister Oda did and that is what she should be doing.

Senator Cordy: I understand that there would be a line to allow the leader to not concur, but did she, as a minister, ever insert the word "not" after the document had been signed by officials in her department?

Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, I would get the signed document from the department officials making a recommendation, and I responded to them that I did not agree. That is what ministers are supposed to do.

Hon. Lillian Eva Dyck: Honourable senators, I find this to be incredible. When we fill out a form and send it to the Senate's Finance Directorate, for example, we have to initial it if we make a change. Why is it that, with something like this, one does not have to put initials on the document if one puts in a word like "not," which has changed the decision dramatically?

For a government that is supposed to be accountable and transparent, it seems like initialling was so transparent that it has become invisible.

Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, I will answer that by again reading into the record what Ms. Margaret Biggs, President of the Canadian International Development Agency, said:

Yes, I think as the minister said, the agency did recommend the project to the minister. She has indicated that.

She acknowledged that.

But it was her decision, after due consideration, to not accept the department's advice.

This is quite normal, and I certainly was aware of her decision. The inclusion of the word "not" is just a simple reflection of what her decision was, and she has been clear. So that's quite normal.

I think we have changed the format for these memos so the minister has a much clearer place to put where she doesn't want to accept the advice, which is her prerogative.

In other words, Ms. Biggs is saying that in the future the format of these documents will be changed. However, she fully supports that it is the minister's decision and said it is not abnormal.

Hon. James S. Cowan (Leader of the Opposition): Did the minister insert the word "not" before or after she signed the document?

Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, the facts are simple. The minister took responsibility for her role as minister responsible for CIDA and indicated that she did not support this application. That was her decision and it was the right decision in the interests of taxpayers.

As I have said in this place many times, just because organizations have received money since the year dot, such funding does not have to go on in perpetuity. There are other very worthy organizations. This particular minister has done extremely good work and she has worked hard to help millions of people around the world to get the help and assistance they require in their time of need.

The KAIROS application was not supported. That is her prerogative. There are millions of people who have benefited from her good decisions in other areas.

Senator Cowan: Honourable senators, I will try it another way. When was the word "not" inserted in relation to the time the minister signed the document?

Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, I will repeat again that this was the decision of the minister. The minister appeared before committee. It has been backed up by the President of CIDA. I have nothing more to say about the matter.

Senator Cowan: There is no question it was her decision, Madam Leader. Someone inserted the word "not." She was not sure whether she had done it or if it had been done at her direction. When was that word inserted in relation to the time that she signed the document? It is a simple question.

Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, the minister made the decision not to fund KAIROS. That was communicated in the document, as the President of CIDA said. I think the explanation of the minister and the President of CIDA is more than appropriate.

Senator Cowan: Honourable senators, I will try this again. I think the minister acknowledged it was done at her direction and she cannot remember if she did it herself or if someone else did it at her direction. I do not care who did it, but at some point someone inserted the word "not." At some time, the minister signed the document. We agree that she signed the document and we agree that someone, maybe the minister or someone at her direction, inserted the word "not."

All I want to know is the time relationship between the insertion of the word and the signature. It is a simple question. If the leader does not know the answer, would she please find out and report to the house?

Senator LeBreton: I will repeat the words of Margaret Biggs:

This is quite normal, and I certainly was aware of her decision. The inclusion of the word "not" is just a simple reflection of what her decision was, and she has been clear. So that's quite normal.

End of story.

Hon. Terry M. Mercer: Honourable senators, I have had the privilege of being the executive assistant to a cabinet minister in the past. I have had the privilege of being the national director of a major political party. I have had the privilege of being the head of a number of charities in Canada, all of which has allowed me the privilege to sign contracts and agreements. I have also witnessed the signing of many agreements.

I do not remember anyone ever putting an agreement in front of me or any cabinet minister whom I may have worked for where the minister or I said, "I do not agree with this document, so I will sign it and then say `no'."

The leader said today that when she was the minister responsible for seniors sometimes she would disagree with recommendations by the bureaucrats. She is right. As Senator Cordy said, we do not deny that would be her right as minister. If the leader disagreed, can she tell me this: In her disagreement, did she then say, "Look, I do not agree with this" and then scribble her signature on the signature line, or did she just write in the margin — as most people would — or in some other manner indicate to the bureaucrats that she did not agree with it and ask them to please take it back?

She would not have signed it. Signing it indicates consent to what the document says. I am not a lawyer, but I or anyone else in this place who is not one, or anyone in the Canadian public, would tell the leader if a person signs a document then that means it is being agreed to.

Therefore, why would Minister Oda sign this in the first place? Why would anyone do that?

Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, I am really amused by this question. On the topic of signing things, what about selling a whole golf course and signing the agreement on the back of a napkin in a restaurant?

Senator Mercer: One of these days the leader and the government will start taking responsibility for the actions that have happened since this government came to power. This is about an issue that has happened since this government came to power.

(1420)

Simply put, as my good friend Senator Dyck said, it is common practice that if someone makes a change to a document, they initial it. However, that is another argument. Frankly, in most documents, if one does not agree with it, one does not sign it. Why did the minister sign it? It indicates to the public and everyone else that after she signed it, something intervened. Something intervened in her thought process — probably an order from the Langevin Block; probably one of the messenger boys from the Langevin Block came over and said, "We do not want you to do this because we do not like KAIROS, so you are going to have to change that."

Then she, or someone else, inserted the word "not." Why did the minister sign the document in the first place?

Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, these theories are similar to when the honourable senator's side perpetrated the vote on Bill C-311. Somehow, in that instance, the Prime Minister's Office was giving us all advice here. That is how ridiculous that theory is.

The minister has been clear both in the House of Commons and in committee. She has been clear that these kinds of decisions are the responsibility of ministers. She used her responsibility as minister. She made the right decision in the interests of Canadian taxpayers. Again, I will repeat the words of Margaret Biggs, President of CIDA, who said:

This is quite normal, and I certainly was aware of her decision. The inclusion of the word "not" is just a simple reflection of what her decision was, and she has been clear. So that's quite normal.

[Translation]

Delayed Answer to Oral Question

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I have the honour to table a delayed answer to an oral question raised by Senator Mitchell, on February 2, 2011, concerning the environment, climate change policy.

The Environment

Climate Change Policy

(Response to question raised by Hon. Grant Mitchell on February 2, 2011)

Our government fought and won the last election by rejecting the Liberal Leader's carbon tax. Our opposition today is the same today as it was then: a carbon tax is a reckless measure that would kill Canadian jobs in the middle of a global recession.

It is important to note the interviews on which the report in question is based took place in 2009 when the United States was still seriously considering national cap and trade. The U.S. is now pursuing a regulatory approach, marking a significant change in the policy context for Canadian business. Moving ahead with a grand national cap and trade scheme when our largest trading partner is taking a regulatory approach would be a very risky proposition.

Our government recognizes that industry is seeking certainty on greenhouse gas regulation to support investment decisions. We will work with industry to provide that certainty, taking a regulatory approach aligned with the U.S. where it is important to do so. We are consulting with industry and will move ahead with regulatory initiatives that are aligned with the U.S. where it makes sense for us to do so.


ORDERS OF THE DAY

Income Tax Act

Bill to Amend—Second Reading—Debate Continued

On the order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Rivest, seconded by the Honourable Senator Lang, for the second reading of Bill C-288, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (tax credit for new graduates working in designated regions).

Hon. Claudette Tardif (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, I have a question for my honourable colleague, Senator Comeau.

I have received a letter from André Gilbert, General Manager of Boisaco, in Sacré-Cœur, Quebec. Mr. Gilbert says he is surprised that Bill C-288 still has not passed second reading stage in the Senate, since the bill has been before us since May 6, 2010.

Given that an opposition senator and an independent senator have already spoken to this bill, can Senator Comeau tell me when the government plans to speak to this bill?

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, that is an excellent question. We will speak to the bill on March 1 or 2.

[English]

Hon. Catherine S. Callbeck: Honourable senators, this bill stands in Senator Comeau's name, but I have spoken to him and he has agreed that I can speak to it and then leave it adjourned in his name.

I want to say a few words about Bill C-288, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (tax credit for new graduates working in designated regions). This legislation offers new graduates a tax incentive to stay in designated areas of the country that are economically depressed and to contribute both socially and economically to the area.

The idea behind this legislation is not new. Incentives have been used in a number of provinces, including Saskatchewan and Quebec, and I understand they have been successful.

Honourable senators, we should all know by now the importance of rural Canada. A quote I have used in the past from a report of Standing Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry best sums it up:

We believe that rural Canada matters a great deal for a number of important reasons. One of these is the fact, frequently mentioned by our witnesses, that rural Canada remains a crucial part of this country's economy. Rural Canada is where we produce the vast agricultural... mineral... forestry... fisheries... and energy... wealth that pulses through our urban centres.

This quote stresses the importance of our rural areas across this country.

I support this legislation because I believe it is a step in the right direction, even though it has issues. One of them is that the list of regions that are designated as economically depressed is based on a piece of legislation, the Regional Development Incentive Act, which is nearly 30 years old. I am sure that if this bill gets through second reading, the committee will want to look at this list and update the definition of "depressed region." As it stands, this list now includes most of the country, except for a few of the large cities.

For years, we have been trying to bring businesses to rural Canada by different types of incentives, including tax credits. Why do we not provide tax incentives to new graduates, who are needed to help run these businesses?

People in rural Canada are aging. They need a variety of supports. Honourable senators, take, for example, health care. We need health care professionals to provide that support and expertise. If these supports are not there, more and more people will leave their communities, and rural Canada will continue to become weaker.

Honourable senators, we must encourage the redevelopment of our rural communities. I support this legislation, which I believe has the potential to benefit the rural areas and will encourage young people, through the tax system, to work in rural Canada and contribute both socially and economically to that area.

(On motion of Senator Comeau, debate adjourned).

National Holocaust Monument Bill

Second Reading—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Martin, seconded by the Honourable Senator Boisvenu, for the second reading of Bill C-442, An Act to establish a National Holocaust Monument.

Hon. Mac Harb: Honourable senators, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-442, a bill that was passed unanimously in the other place and that I believe will receive the same unanimous support here in the Senate.

Of all the preambles to legislation I have read in my many years on Parliament Hill, the opening paragraphs of Bill C-442 conjure up the darkest and most horrific images — of genocide, of hate crimes and of the unimaginable suffering of those affected by the actions of the Nazi regime.

Within that same preamble, there is a call to action. Allow me to quote:

Whereas the establishment of a national monument shall forever remind Canadians of one of the darkest chapters in human history and of the dangers of state-sanctioned hatred and anti-Semitism;

And whereas a national monument shall act as a tool to help future generations learn about the root causes of the Holocaust and its consequences in order to help prevent future acts of genocide;

Honourable senators, to remind and to teach — that, I believe, lies at the heart of the raison d'être for this national monument.

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My colleague the Honourable Member of Parliament for Mount Royal in the other house said it best when he pointed out that this discussion was taking place at a particularly apt moment — "... a moment of remembrance and reminder, of witness and warning."

This phrase "of remembrance and reminder, of witness and warning" defines precisely the role that this monument will play in our national capital.

Building a national Holocaust monument takes all of our lofty sentiments and speeches and ensures that they will be more than words, more than promises.

[Translation]

Once the monument is built, we will have a tangible, daily reminder of Canada's intolerance toward hate-filled ideologies. The monument will teach future generations about the root causes and consequences of the Holocaust. It will help to prevent future acts of genocide.

It will remind and inform visitors of Canada's long-standing values of freedom, democracy, and the defence of human rights at home and abroad. It will serve as our commitment to vigilance and to timely action as part of the international community.

[English]

Honourable senators, anti-Semitism has plagued the world for centuries. Taken to its most far-reaching and violent extreme, the Holocaust, anti-Semitism resulted in the deaths of millions of Jewish men, women and children, and the suffering of countless others.

According to the Report on Global Anti-Semitism, more subtle forms of anti-Semitism continue to disrupt lives. For an increasingly interdependent world, anti-Semitism is an intolerable burden.

Honourable senators are aware that Canada has its own guilt to carry. Seventy-two years ago, in June 1939, the St. Louis, a German ocean liner carrying 930 Jewish refugees, was coldly turned away from the American and Canadian coasts. For far too many of those refugees, hope was lost.

More recently, B'nai Brith Canada has drawn our attention to the verbal and physical attacks perpetrated against Jewish students at university campuses across Canada.

Education remains a strong antidote for anti-Semitism and other forms of intolerance. In 1998, the Stockholm Conference addressed the serious concern about the fading awareness of the Holocaust, in particular among the younger generation. Out of this concern, the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research was born.

Honourable senators, Canada is a member state of this intergovernmental body and is committed to remembering the victims who perished, to respecting the survivors and to reaffirming humanity's common aspiration for mutual understanding and justice. This monument will help Canada in its effort to fulfill this pledge.

Honourable senators, since opening in 1993, some 30 million visitors, including more than 8 million schoolchildren, have visited the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, in Washington, D.C. I have visited that museum, along with an outstanding community leader, named Eric Vernon, I learned more and I know more.

The museum has also contributed to symposiums such as that held in November 15, 2010, in Paris. At this international symposium, leading genocide prevention and human rights officials and experts from around the world gathered to assess the current capacities of government to respond effectively to genocide and mass atrocities. Their goal was to recommend strategies to enhance international cooperation.

Canada's role in these international efforts can be enhanced with increased awareness and understanding here at home. The Canadian Holocaust Memorial Project is organized by a group of Canadians dedicated to the creation of this monument. This group will, as the second stage of the project, be developing a national strategy in order to educate Canadians on the effects of the Holocaust and to ensure that the event remains in Canadians' minds.

I do believe that the physical presence of the monument will be a springboard for further initiatives to educate and inform Canadians.

[Translation]

Honourable senators, Canada is home to some 16,000 Holocaust survivors, many in their eighties. Time is of the essence.

These survivors deserve to see this physical manifestation of Canada's support and of its pledge to remember, in their lifetime.

Canada is one of few Western nations without a national tribute honouring victims and survivors of the Holocaust. Austria, France, Germany, Sweden and the United States all have such memorials.

The Canadian Jewish Congress and B'Nai Brith have expressed their support for this bill and its goal of creating a national monument to commemorate the Holocaust.

[English]

Honourable senators, we cannot be complacent. We have only to look to Rwanda, to Bosnia, to Darfur, or to the all-too-common acts of vandalism and violence that continue to arise out of hatred and intolerance to know that, as Canadians, we must be vigilant and proactive.

I commend our colleagues in the other place for finding unanimity on this bill. I believe there is a singularity of purpose in this proposed legislation that transcends partisan lines. I encourage every honourable senator in this chamber to support this worthwhile and important legislation.

(On motion of Senator Tardif, for Senator Fraser, debate adjourned.)

(1440)

[Translation]

Adjournment

Leave having been given to revert to Government Notices of Motions:

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, with leave of the Senate and notwithstanding rule 58(1)(h), I move:

That when the Senate adjourns today, it do stand adjourned until Tuesday, March 1, 2011 at 2 p.m.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Motion agreed to.)

(The Senate adjourned until Tuesday, March 1, 2011 at 2 p.m.)