- SENATORS' STATEMENTS
- Visitor in the Gallery
- Royal Newfoundland Regiment
- International Day of the Girl Child
- Governor General's Awards in Commemoration of the Persons Case
- SS Caribou
- Visitor in the Gallery
- ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
- Public Sector Integrity Commissioner
- Human Rights
- Criminal Code
- Foreign Affairs and International Trade
- QUESTION PERIOD
- ORDERS OF THE DAY
- Official Languages Act
- Employment Insurance Act
- Study on Political and Economic Developments in Brazil
- Human Rights
- Banking, Trade and Commerce
Thursday, October 18, 2012
The Senate met at 1:30 p.m., the Speaker in the chair.
The Honourable Robert W. Peterson
Hon. James S. Cowan (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, I rise today to pay tribute to our friend and colleague Senator Peterson as he prepares to retire from the Senate.
Senator Peterson came to this chamber after a long and successful career in Saskatchewan where he worked as a civil engineer. He began in construction, building foundations, moving into structural engineering and working on infrastructure development in Regina, and then residential and commercial land development in Canada and the United States.
He learned early in life the critical importance of getting the fundamentals right. John Ruskin, the 19th century art and social critic, wrote:
When we build, let us think that we build forever.
That is the approach Senator Peterson applied to his engineering work and it is the approach he brought to our work here in this chamber.
It can be difficult to make the transition from the private to the public sector. Bob made that transition look easy.
We were appointed to the Senate at the same time, on March 24, 2005. We were part of a "gang of nine"; a pretty diverse group, drawn from half the provinces of Canada, representing three different political parties, anglophones, francophones and a broad range of professional backgrounds. I did not know Senator Peterson before coming here. Our paths had never crossed before, and I thought at first that he seemed like a fairly quiet guy — and then I heard him speak.
Who does not sit up and pay attention when Bob speaks? Maybe it is that engineering training — what it takes to be heard on a construction site or in the boardroom — but I think Bob could probably make himself heard across the Prairies and even have his voice echo back from the Rocky Mountains. His voice mirrors his strength of purpose.
Saskatchewan, of course, is at his core. The great writer Alistair MacLeod, while most closely associated with Nova Scotia, in fact was born and bred in Saskatchewan. MacLeod once said that geography conditions people's lives — everyone is born into a geography. That may or may not be true generally, but it is certainly true in the case of Senator Peterson. Every speech he made, every question he asked, every article he wrote were all directed to producing the best laws and policies for the people of Saskatchewan and all Canadians. They were always meticulously grounded in research and impeccable analysis. As Ruskin said:
When we build, let us think that we build forever.
Central to Bob Peterson's work has been the determination to give a voice to those Canadians who feel that they are not being heard. Here in the Senate we have witnessed this repeatedly in his determined defence of the farmers who opposed the government's changes to the Canadian Wheat Board; in his work representing the interests of Aboriginal Canadians, as Senator St. Germain mentioned yesterday; in his defence of charitable organizations whose good works have been questioned in this chamber; and, of course, in the past few weeks working to address the food safety crisis facing Canadians.
I know that these are and have been contentious issues, and it is not my intention to debate them now. However, I think all of us, on both sides of the chamber, would agree that Senator Peterson brought the full force of his convictions, his knowledge, his determination and his passion to represent Canadians on these issues and to give them a powerful voice in Parliament.
Bob, you represent the best of what the Senate can be, and we will all miss you greatly. My best wishes to you, your wife and your family as you set out on the next stage of your career.
Hon. David Tkachuk: Honourable senators, when one looks at Senator Peterson's life and career, it can be summed up in one word: Saskatchewan — or perhaps two words: Saskatchewan and Regina.
He was born in Rose Valley, and like everyone in Saskatchewan he was from a small town. He was educated at the University of Saskatchewan and has been a member of the Association of Professional Engineers of Saskatchewan since 1964. He spent his professional life in our province, working for engineering firms as well as forming his own company, Projects Unlimited, and later becoming President of Denro Holdings, one of Saskatchewan's largest property managers. He has been Director of the Saskatchewan Home Builders' Association, Vice-Chair of the Regina Regional Economic Development Authority and a member of the City of Regina Planning Commission.
He came to the Senate in March 2005, as Senator Cowan mentioned, as one of Paul Martin's first appointments and the oldest of nine senators appointed that day: Senator Cowan, Senator Nancy Ruth, Senator Dyck, Senator Mitchell, Senator McCoy, Senator Tardif, Senator Dallaire and Senator Eggleton.
He was involved in one of the most significant volunteer efforts — and someone from my background fully understands this — that often does not get lauded properly. He was involved in politics. He was involved as a volunteer most of his life as a member of the Liberal Party of Saskatchewan. That is something we often do not talk about here. We talk about all those other efforts, but being involved in the political and democratic process for whatever political party is one of the most important things one can do. Bob did that very well and very successfully.
I met him as a member of the Standing Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry when we studied rural poverty, which was actually as a result of the efforts of Senator Segal, who was appointed at the same time. I have a quote from him as to how he felt about rural Saskatchewan and agriculture. He said:
The automobile/aerospace industry is about the same value as the agriculture industry. When we support that industry it's called a strategy; when we support agriculture it's called a handout.
That about sums it up.
Senator Peterson represented the interests of the grain farmers of the West who wanted to preserve the Wheat Board monopoly. While many of us on this side did not agree with him, we respected the fact that these interests had to be represented and, Senator Peterson, no one could have represented them better than you did. For that, the Senate owes you a thank you.
Senator Pearson, all I can say is that it has been a great — what did you tell me — seven and a half years today. You have much to be proud of. May you have a long, happy and healthy retirement.
Hon. Joseph A. Day: Honourable senators, I would like to join with my colleagues in paying tribute to our retiring colleague, Senator Peterson, who will be retiring tomorrow, October 19.
Like all great senators, Senator Peterson began his career as an engineer, receiving a bachelor of science degree from the University of Saskatchewan in 1961. He began his engineering career, as you have heard, in soils consulting and foundation contracting. He went on to be involved in a management company in relation to residential and industrial land development, and later was president and chief operating officer of a company of his own for a good number of years.
It will come as no surprise to senators that Senator Peterson's community activities were equally extensive, including stints as president of Regina Jaycees, as well as director of the Saskatchewan Home Builders' Association.
I have had the honour of sitting with Senator Peterson on a number of committees, including most recently the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance. Always prepared and a man of few words, Senator Peterson could consistently be relied upon to ask the poignant questions. As he is an ardent defender of Saskatchewan's rights, serving with Senator Peterson helped to remind me that we are in this chamber to work not only for the betterment of the country as a whole but also specifically for the regions we represent and for those who are otherwise under-represented in Parliament.
I have also had the unique pleasure of having an office directly next to Senator Peterson since his appointment in 2005. On days when he did not come by the office to say hello and tell a quick joke to my staff, we would always know that Senator Peterson had arrived as we could hear his distinctive laughter booming down the hallway as the day got under way.
Those who have had the pleasure of meeting Senator Peterson would quickly surmise that he is a man of affable nature whose insight and understanding seemed second nature and effortless. While those qualities are certainly true, as a neighbour on the eighth floor at Victoria Building I can attest that Senator Peterson has been one of the hardest-working senators on the Hill.
In the evenings when I sneak out around 9:30 I always make sure he does not see me leaving early, as happened just last evening. The countless hours he has put into issues that are important to him and the province are a testament to the commitment he has made in his term here at the Senate.
Honourable senators, my best wishes go to Senator Peterson, his three children, Laurie, Lee-Ann and Drew, as well as his wife, Muriel, who I am sure will be happy to have him back in Saskatchewan. I wish them all the very best as they begin this next phase of their life together.
Hon. Grant Mitchell: I would like to begin by saying I am grateful for the chance to pay tribute to our colleague Senator Peterson, but of course none of us is really grateful for the chance to pay tribute to our colleagues because it always means that they are leaving and that they will be sorely missed.
I have listened to the senators who have spoken before make reference to Senator Peterson's tremendous business career. I did not know him during that period of his life, so I cannot comment on it, but I am not surprised to hear, knowing him as I do, that he has had tremendous success in that career. I met him upwards of 28 years ago on one of Ralph Goodale's many political campaigns, at a point when I think Senator Peterson was about halfway through his over-50-year career in politics, a milestone in and of itself. I remember thinking back on that a number of times, realizing that Bob Peterson's name in Saskatchewan politics is really synonymous in many ways with the success that Liberals have known there and certainly the success that Ralph Goodale has known there. Ralph himself will, I am sure, tomorrow night establish just what a great contribution Senator Peterson has made to the political process and public policy debate in Saskatchewan and in Canada, of course.
I want to applaud and endorse Senator Tkachuk's point about the importance of admiring political involvement. In so many ways, Senator Peterson has embodied all the positive things that in turn means. What has not been mentioned is his prowess in raising money. Most of us might not be aware that Senator Peterson has hosted in his political career 42 leadership dinners and countless other fundraising events — I notice Senator Gerstein nodding his head in approval because he knows how much goes into that kind of effort — and has raised millions upon millions of dollars for Liberals in Saskatchewan and in Canada. It is important to the public policy debate, the public debate process, absolutely essential, and it too should be honoured and admired. He has done it so well.
I really got to know him since being appointed with him on the same day. I know, as each of us does, the quality, the success, the level of accomplishment in his Senate career. I know I speak for all of us when I say just how remarkable that has been. I will never forget his contribution and leadership on important issues like the Canadian Wheat Board, the charities issue, and most recently the food safety issues. I cannot tell you how many times I have looked down this row and seen Senator Peterson stand up once again smoldering, asking yet another question on some particularly important issue about the Canadian Wheat Board, and there were moments when I would think, "You know what, Bob, you just keep going, because I think this next question will bring this government down." Then I would know in my heart of hearts that deep, deep, deep in his Liberal heart he actually believed he might just bring this government down with that next question.
It is really not even so much that tremendous work that he has done here that has inspired me. I have been particularly inspired by character and kindness in Bob Peterson. He is cool, calm and collected. He is a loyal, great, delightful friend. I love working with him. I just love hanging out with him.
I will finish by saying that one of the most important elements of a great servant of the public is understanding that there is something bigger, more important, more significant, than each of us as individuals — our country, our neighbours, people who are less fortunate, our province, our city, our community. Bob Peterson understands that implicitly and you can see the worth and the sense of purpose that that has brought to his life, through his commitment and dedication to those higher ideals.
Bob, you will leave this Senate with a legacy of worth and purpose in your life. We all hope that you have a tremendous, healthy retirement and that you actually have time to improve your golf handicap significantly. All the best.
Hon. David P. Smith: Honourable senators, I also rise today to pay tribute to Senator Peterson. In my opinion, he just personifies Saskatchewan. That is not to say that a few others do not, but he certainly does. Some of you heard me comment on my Saskatchewan connections when I paid tribute to the late Senator Sparrow the other day.
You also heard he is an engineer. I think that Paul Martin decided there were enough lawyers here. It is shocking he would come to that conclusion, but when you listen to the list, I do not think any of them were lawyers. We need more engineers. Lawyers are always good, too.
Senator Peterson has been a very active Liberal for many years. I agree with Senator Tkachuk when he said you need people to help make democracy work. It is good to have good people in the different parties. It is not the category that matters, it is the individual; but, of course, he also belongs to a great category.
When there is anything going on about agriculture or potash or all the issues out there in Saskatchewan, people always listen to Bob Peterson.
He has a great smile. He is friendly, never nasty and he is respected. I was quite touched by the comments of Senator Plett the other day. It is not that they agree on everything, but that he respected Senator Peterson, and I respect that.
We will miss you, Bob. You should have been here longer. Whenever you come to Toronto, I have a couple of extra bedrooms and I live right in Yorkville where all the action is. Let me know. Now I do not give everybody that offer, but you can let me know when you come to Toronto, because we will miss you and I hope to continue to see you.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Hon. Robert W. Peterson: Thank you, honourable senators. I am both humbled and appreciative of all the kind comments. If I had known you cared so much, I might have negotiated a longer stay here. Just kidding!
I have observed in my short time here that at the juncture of retiring people become concerned about their age and that everybody knows they will be 75. I do not understand this because I think birthdays are good for you — the more you have, the longer you live.
As honourable senators probably know, I do not have a propensity for long speeches. I am reminded of the words of Henry VIII to his sixth wife: "I won't keep you long."
Seriously, though, my time in the Senate has truly been an exciting and rewarding experience. I have enjoyed the committee work with so many fascinating subjects and so many interesting witnesses. I refer particularly to the specific and comprehensive land claims issue with the Aboriginal Peoples Committee, rural poverty with the Agriculture and Forestry Committee, and most recently the major study we did on Canada's energy future with the Energy and the Environment Committee. I learned a great deal on these studies and I hope I have contributed in some small way to their successes.
I am also grateful for the many unique experiences that I participated in as a senator. For example, in the D-Day ceremonies in Normandy, we had an opportunity to walk on the beach with veterans and talk with them and hear their feelings about that very difficult time so many years previously.
On a trip to South Africa, I stood in the six-by-eight-foot cell of Nelson Mandela on Robben Island. The courage and strength of this man should be an inspiration for all of us.
Another thing I learned over the years is the invaluable work that goes on in the Senate. I think the Senate plays a pivotal role in the constitutional governance of Canada and we have to do a better job in conveying this to the public and the media, and we need to adapt to the way that public policy is created. I do not feel that the Senate is something that can be tinkered with here and there in the hope there will be a satisfactory outcome. If there is to be major renewal, then it is incumbent on those doing the proposing that they submit a well-thought-out plan on exactly how it will function and still be effective. This will require extensive consultation with the provinces. In my opinion, anything less will simply invite constitutional challenges. I leave those challenges to those remaining here and those who are yet to come.
As I depart, I would like to acknowledge the great many friendships I have made on both sides of the aisle. To my Liberal colleagues, thank you for welcoming me into your fold and showing me the ropes. To my Conservative friends, thank you for keeping life interesting.
Finally, I would thank those people who have supported me over my years as a senator. As we all know, spousal support is essential in carrying out our duties. Many of us live a long way from home, and travel and time changes add a dimension of difficulty to any schedule. My wife Muriel cannot be here today, but she has been one of my biggest supporters over the years and I am enormously appreciative of this.
It is also critical to have experienced staff to deal with administrative matters and, just as importantly, to keep us on schedule. I have been blessed with one of the very best, my executive assistant Marie Russell, who is in the gallery along with my research assistant Kyle Johnston — the dynamic duo.
I would also be remiss if I did not mention my sincere appreciation of the Senate Protective Service, the members of which are always there to greet us, help us and open the doors to assist us, and they always do so with a smile on their faces. I also want to thank all the table officers within the Senate who make it function in a way that we can really enjoy and be involved with.
As I leave you, I would remind honourable senators that politics is people. Take care of yourselves and be good to each other. Thank you.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Visitor in the Gallery
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, before calling for Senators' Statements, I would like to draw your attention to the presence in the gallery of Elsa Ballauri, a distinguished professor and advocate for human rights both in her native Albania as well as internationally. She is President of the Albanian Human Rights Group.
On behalf of all honourable senators, I welcome you to the Senate of Canada.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I would like to draw your attention to the presence in the gallery of Rodger Brulotte, a sports columnist and recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal. He is the guest of the Honourable Jacques Demers.
On behalf of all senators, I welcome you to the Senate of Canada.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, we are also joined in the gallery by Bill, Helen and Jennifer Callbeck, and William and Campbell Colpitts. They are, as the names give away, the guests of the Honourable Senator Callbeck.
On behalf of all honourable senators, I welcome you to the Senate of Canada.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Royal Newfoundland Regiment
Hon. Norman E. Doyle: Honourable senators, to commemorate the anniversary of the War of 1812, the Government of Canada has put forward a public awareness campaign to highlight the importance of this conflict in the ultimate formation of the nation we now call Canada.
Seeing period battles being re-enacted on television vignettes reminded me of the period during which I was honoured to serve as a member of Parliament in St. John's East. In particular, it took me back to the annual student summer jobs program. Each electoral riding would be allocated a certain sum of money to fund student summer employment based on its population and youth unemployment rate.
In late spring, I would be given a preliminary list of projects, as drawn up by public servants in the relevant departments, and then the fun began. Sports groups, town councils and many public charities all used federally funded students to carry out their various summer programs.
There was, however, one organization I always did my level best to accommodate. It was the Signal Hill Tattoo. The Signal Hill Tattoo is sponsored by the Army Cadet League of Canada. It uses students in period costumes to re-enact drills of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment, circa 1795. Over the years, the Tattoo has become one of the signature summer tourism events in St. John's.
The Royal Newfoundland Regiment was a regular regiment of the British Army, but it was raised and trained in Newfoundland. During the War of 1812, it was said to fight on the side of the British forces defending Upper and Lower Canada from American invasion. The Royal Newfoundland Regiment fought in all the major campaigns in the two Canadas and also served as marines on British warships operating on the Great Lakes.
Recently, the Royal Newfoundland Regiment was one of seven Canadian regiments awarded battle honours on its flag for its participation in the crucial Battle of Detroit.
Honourable senators, soldiers of today's Royal Newfoundland Regiment have fought and died for Canada in Afghanistan. However, I would be remiss if I did not remind my colleagues that soldiers of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment fought and died for Canada long before there was a Canada. We may have been late joining Confederation, but our attachment to this place goes back 200 years.
International Day of the Girl Child
Hon. Salma Ataullahjan: Honourable senators, I would like to recognize October 11, 2012, the first International Day of the Girl Child. On that day last week, I had the honour of launching a panel discussion here in Ottawa on behalf of the Honourable Rona Ambrose.
This day held special meaning for me, as the day before, 14-year-old Malala Yusufzai was targeted by the Taliban. At the panel, I spoke of Malala's incredible courage.
When the Taliban took over the Swat Valley in 2009, 11-year-old Malala started blogging for the BBC under an assumed name. All she wanted was her right to an education. She described going to school with her books hidden under her clothes. She became the voice of the girls of the Swat Valley. Named after a female Pukhtun warrior, Malala refused to be silenced, even after repeated warnings from the Taliban.
Malala and I are from the same province of Pukthunkhwa in Pakistan, and we are of the same clan. She is a Yusufzai and I am a Yusufzai.
My daughter Anushka was so touched by Malala's story that she wrote a poem about her. I wanted to share that poem with you today. It is entitled "For Malala":
On Sunday afternoons,
My father would weave stories of honour,
Like those whose family trees are rooted in foreign lands,
I was taught of my heritage.
I would learn of my ancestry,
As my mother would kiss me on my forehead,
She would whisper "you are a Pukhtun and a Yusufzai
this blood running through your veins carries with it obligation,
you fight for honour,
my child, you are a warrior."
So, I imagine, little Malala was told,
Our women are accustomed to carrying burdens heavy for our
We have learnt long ago that honour is ours to protect,
So we load our backs with the expectations and hopes of our fathers.
Only 11 years old,
When she lit a candle in the darkness,
Defiant and bold,
True to her namesake who fought the battle of Maiwand,
As a child,
She did what most grown men would not.
Fear was as foreign to her as the two bullets that ripped into her young flesh,
Little Malala, Innocent Malala,
Brave beyond her years, Malala,
It was the name I had hoped to give my daughter.
A veritable Pukhtun woman,
And revolution is carried in our wombs.
Governor General's Awards in Commemoration of the Persons Case
Hon. Nicole Eaton: Honourable senators, I rise today to commemorate Persons Day, to congratulate the five outstanding recipients of this year's Governor General's Awards in Commemoration of the Persons Case.
October is Women's History Month and was selected as such because of the historical significance of the Persons Case decision in 1929. It was on this day in 1929, October 18, that the British Privy Council announced the decision that women were in fact persons and eligible to be summoned and to become members of the Senate of Canada. What an historical day for women in Canada and indeed around the world.
The highlight of Women's History Month is today, October 18, Persons Day. Today, let us pay tribute to the many trail-blazing women who have truly helped to make Canada the great nation that it is today. From the Famous Five to women sitting here in this chamber to the five newest recipients of the Governor General's Awards in Commemoration of the Persons Case, women from coast to coast to coast have contributed to lasting and positive change, not only for women and girls but for society at large.
This year's recipients include Caroline Andrew of Ottawa; Corinne Gallant of Dieppe, New Brunswick; Régine Alende Tshombokongo of Montreal; as well as two youth recipients, Saara Bhanji of Vancouver and Joanne Cave of Edmonton. These five extraordinary and inspirational women are champions for women here in Canada and abroad. They exemplify the true spirit in which these prestigious awards were established, and I wish to extend my congratulations to them on this Persons Day.
I will leave you with some wise words from Emily Murphy, one of the Famous Five:
We want women leaders today as never before, leaders who are not afraid to be called names and who are willing to go out and fight. I think women can save civilization. Women are persons.
Seventieth Anniversary of Sinking
Hon. Elizabeth (Beth) Marshall: Honourable senators, this week marks the seventieth anniversary of the terrible loss of life off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador in the midst of the Second World War. The sinking of the passenger ferry SS Caribou about 37 kilometers off the shores of Newfoundland in the Cabot Strait remains today one of the worst wartime naval disasters in Canadian history.
In 1942, the SS Caribou was a passenger ferry carrying civilians and military personnel, making its way from North Sydney, Nova Scotia, to Port aux Basques, Newfoundland. In the early morning hours of October 14, 1942, a lone torpedo hit the Caribou on her starboard side in a direct attack from a German U-boat.
Panic ensued in the minutes following the attack. Several of the lifeboats had been destroyed in the midst of the explosion and could not be used by passengers. Many were forced to jump into the icy waters of the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
Two hundred and thirty-seven men, women and children were on board the ship as it began its voyage from North Sydney en route to Port aux Basques. Of those 237 people, 136 died when it was attacked. The Channel-Port aux Basques area was particularly affected by the sinking, as many local men were crew members aboard the vessel.
HMCS Grandmere, a warship that had been accompanying the SS Caribou, attempted to hunt down the German submarine but was not successful. It returned to the site of the sinking, but it was already too late for many of the Caribou's passengers.
After officials on shore received reports of the sinking of the Caribou, every available vessel in the Port aux Basques area was chartered in the hopes of finding survivors. Despite these efforts, no survivors were found in the cold Atlantic waters by these ships.
We would be remiss if we did not remember and honour those who lost their lives during this tragedy. This past Sunday in Port aux Basques, members of the Royal Canadian Navy and Marine Atlantic officials spread the ashes of two people with links to the tragedy into the Gulf of St. Lawrence where the ferry was torpedoed and held a wreath-laying ceremony.
This tragedy brought the theatre of war closer to home for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. We continue to remember this tragedy at sea and all who perished: the civilians, as well as the members of the Canadian Forces who lost their lives in the service of our great country.
On a personal note, my mother served in the Royal Canadian Navy during the war, and she often spoke of this tragedy, the people on the ferry that she had known and their terrible deaths in the icy waters off the coast of Newfoundland. The sinking of the SS Caribou in 1942 was an immense tragedy that is still felt today in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Election to United Nations Security Council
Hon. Hugh Segal: Honourable senators, a few hours ago a new member was elected to the Security Council of the United Nations, our Commonwealth and strategic ally, the Commonwealth of Australia.
Our Australian friends have been an ally to this country in world wars, in development, in the promotion of democracy and in the present process for reforming the Commonwealth. Under the chairmanship of Australia, the Eminent Persons Group recommendations have now passed their semi-final stage. The new Charter of the Commonwealth would not have passed without the leadership of our own Senate committee, chaired by Senator Andreychuk, and that of the Commonwealth of Australia. Their election to the Security Council strengthens that body as one that reflects the values and the common concerns for a better world — a more humane world — that we share with our Australian brothers and sisters.
I know that I speak for everyone in this chamber and for all Canadians when I say Advance Australia Fair.
Visitor in the Gallery
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, before calling for the Tabling of Documents, I wish to draw your attention to the presence in the gallery of Ms. Linda Reid, an honourable member of the British Columbia Legislative Assembly.
On behalf of all honourable senators, welcome to the Senate of Canada.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Public Sector Integrity Commissioner
Findings in the Matter of an Investigation into a Disclosure of Wrongdoing—Report Tabled
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the Office of the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner's case report of findings in the matter of an investigation into a disclosure of wrongdoing, pursuant to subsection 38(3.3) of the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act.
Budget and Authorization to Engage Services—Study on Issue of Cyberbullying— Eighth Report of Committee Presented
Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer, Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights, presented the following report:
Thursday, October 18, 2012
The Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights has the honour to present its
Your committee, which was authorized by the Senate on Wednesday, November 30, 2011, to examine and report on the issue of cyberbullying in Canada with regard to Canada's international human rights obligations under Article 19 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, requests funds for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2013, and requests, for the purpose of such study, that it be empowered to engage the services of such counsel, technical, clerical and other personnel as may be necessary.
Pursuant to Chapter 3:06, section 2(1)(c) of the Senate Administrative Rules, the budget submitted to the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration and the report thereon of that committee are appended to this report.
MOBINA S. B. JAFFER
(For text of report, see today's Journals of the Senate, p. 1638.)
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this report be taken into consideration?
Senator Jaffer: Honourable senators, with leave of the Senate and notwithstanding rule 5-5(f), I move that the report be placed on the Orders of the Day for consideration later this day as there is some urgency in getting these special expenses.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted, honourable senators?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
(On motion of Senator Jaffer, with leave of the Senate and notwithstanding rule 5-5(f), report placed on the Orders of the Day for consideration later this day.)
Bill to Amend—First Reading
The Hon. the Speaker informed the Senate that a message had been received from the House of Commons with Bill C-299, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (kidnapping of young person).
(Bill read first time.)
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be read the second time?
(On motion of Senator Carignan, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for second reading two days hence.)
Foreign Affairs and International Trade
Notice of Motion to Authorize Committee to Study Economic and Political Developments in the Republic of Turkey
Hon. A. Raynell Andreychuk: Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:
That, the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade be authorized to examine and report on economic and political developments in the Republic of Turkey, their regional and global influences, the implications for Canadian interests and opportunities, and other related matters; and
That the committee table its final report to the Senate no later than March 31, 2013 and that the committee retain all powers necessary to publicize its findings until April 30, 2013.
Special Needs of Prisoners
Hon. Joan Fraser: Honourable senators, I have a question for the Leader of the Government in the Senate.
It is now more than seven months since Bill C-10 became law. Honourable senators will recall Bill C-10, the omnibus crime bill. One of the rare good elements in that bill, universally acknowledged to be good, was found in clause 54, which said that the principles that guide the Correctional Service include the following:
(g) correctional policies, programs and practices to respect gender, ethnic, cultural and linguistic differences and are responsive to the special needs of women, aboriginal Peoples, persons requiring mental health care and other groups;.
The reference to mental health was particularly welcome and new.
Seven months later, what is the government doing to live up to that commitment?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, with regard to mental health and prisons, we continue to work to take concrete steps on the issue of mental health. It was, in fact, our government that provided additional resources such as requiring a mental health assessment for all inmates within the first 90 days of their sentence. This was never done before. Both access to treatment services for inmates and training for staff have been improved under our government. However, the fact remains that prisons are not the most appropriate places to treat those with mental illness. We will continue to work with our provincial partners moving toward ensuring that our communities are kept safe but that those who are mentally ill or sick receive the proper treatment.
The short answer, honourable senators, is that there is work in progress, but as I indicated, there is much to be done.
Senator Fraser: "Much to be done" is an understatement, honourable senators. It is estimated that there are 800 women in Canadian prisons now who suffer from mental disorders of one sort or another. The Correctional Investigator has found that five of them are in states similar to that of Ashley Smith.
What do we have to help them? We have one unit in Saskatchewan that is actually tucked away inside an all-male institution. Within the penitentiary system, as the leader well knows, the few psychologists who remain are involved in assessing people at intake, which is good, but then after that, what happens? Psychologists are not available. The therapy that they get, if it can be called therapy, comes from prison guards who had a few days of training.
I am encouraged to hear — at least I think I am encouraged — the leader's reference to cooperation with provincial partners. Could we take that as an indication that the government is exploring, as the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs suggested, the possibility of doing what has been done by the Ontario Government with the St. Lawrence Valley Correctional and Treatment Centre, something comparable to that, or what are we talking about here?
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, I would be happy to get a detailed written response from Public Safety.
In the honourable senator's original question she also talked about Aboriginal women prisoners and I neglected to respond to that specific part of the question. With regard to rehabilitation services for Aboriginal women, the Correctional Service of Canada has become a world leader in providing rehabilitation services to women, including those from Aboriginal communities. I am informed that the Correctional Service of Canada is actively pursuing strategies to provide effective, innovative and multi-faceted interventions for First Nations, Metis and Inuit offenders, including the deployment of the Pathways Units, healing lodges and other culturally appropriate programming that addresses these unique situations.
With regard to the work that the Correctional Service of Canada is doing in collaboration with our provincial partners, I would be happy to provide a more detailed response.
Senator Fraser: I am very grateful to hear that.
When the leader provides that information, could she also let me know whether the services provided to Aboriginals include the provision of prison chaplains? No one else who is not Christian seems to be able to get chaplains anymore.
I want to stress, honourable senators, that this matter is urgent. Governments have difficulty moving quickly; we know that. We also know, however, that the prison population is also growing quite rapidly and we know that more than 30 per cent of prison inmates have mental health problems. It will get worse if we do not start to act now. Instead, there is a terrible sense that this government's approach to prisons is to lock them up and throw away the key and, for goodness' sake, do not do anything to help them while they are in there.
When the Senate committee was studying Bill C-10, the Correctional Investigator said:
. . . the more you harden an environment in terms of it being a correctional centre, the more you are eroding your ability for it to be therapeutic in the cases where it needs to be therapeutic. This gap is growing, and it becomes particularly difficult for correctional staff to deal with that gap in the middle. Are the correctional officers there to be guards or are they there to be psychiatric social workers?
Remember those five other women in the state that Ashley Smith was in and please let us have the assurance that, for once in its life, the government will be able to move quickly, because the situation is moving quickly.
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, I absolutely, categorically, reject Senator Fraser's statement, which she knows is not true, that our policy is to lock them up and throw away the key. This is false, false, false.
We have expended considerable resources with regard to rehabilitation and mental health services, far more than any previous government.
With regard to prison chaplains, the government strongly supports the freedom of religion of all Canadians. The government funds full-time spiritual advisers to provide spiritual services to all prisoners. These advisers can be of any faith and will make themselves available to provide spiritual advice to the general offender population. Additionally, there are over 2,500 individuals who provide spiritual services to prisoners of many faiths on a voluntary basis.
I hope that Senator Fraser will not keep repeating things that she must know in her heart of hearts are absolutely not true. We have an excellent record. It is a huge problem and a growing problem.
The whole issue of mental health in our prison system is obviously a very serious one, which has resulted from actions taken by other levels of government and how they dealt with people who were previously in mental institutions. This is a huge problem.
Our government has worked hard to combat this problem and I would like for once for people to acknowledge that rather than get up and state something so blatantly false as that our policy is to lock them up and throw away the key.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Canadian Museum of Civilization
Hon. Marie-P. Charette-Poulin: Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. This week the Minister of Canadian Heritage announced the government's intention to change the name and the mandate of the Canadian Museum of Civilization.
The minister said:
Canadians deserve a national museum of history that tells our stories and presents our country's treasures to the world.
According to the museum's own website, the Canadian Museum of Civilization, along with the other museums enabled by the Museums Act:
. . . plays an essential role, individually and together with other museums and like institutions, in preserving and promoting the heritage of Canada and all its peoples throughout Canada and abroad and in contributing to the collective memory and sense of identity of all Canadians . . .
Would the minister please tell this chamber why the government feels the Canadian Museum of Civilization cannot tell and share the Canadian story and celebrate our history and our achievements under its current mandate with its current name?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): First, if honourable senators will allow me to make the comment that this is the second name this museum has had. When the museum was first established under Pierre Elliott Trudeau, it was called the Museum of Man. Of course, I say this on Persons Day.
Honourable senators, this is leading up to the celebration of Canada's one hundred and fiftieth birthday in 2017. We believe in our national museums and we recognize the tremendous value these museums have for all Canadians. As we approach our one hundred and fiftieth birthday, this is an unprecedented opportunity for all Canadians to celebrate our history, those achievements and who we are as we define ourselves as Canadians.
As Minister Moore has announced, the Canadian museum of history will provide the public with an opportunity to appreciate the Canadian identity, this identity which is spread all over the country in smaller museums, that helps to shape our nation and our history as we develop.
Our government plans to introduce amendments to the Museums Act to change the name, as the honourable senator states, from the Canadian Museum of Civilization, to reflect its new mandate focused on enhancing public knowledge, understanding and appreciation of Canada's history and identity.
Honourable senators, there is the odd person who does not support this, but overwhelmingly this initiative has been applauded by many people, especially by people who are charged with Canadian historical data and objects around the country. They will be able to tie them into this huge, new Canadian museum of history.
Senator Charette-Poulin: Honourable senators, the museum was rebranded in 1986. I went into the history of the museum.
After asking for public input and conducting a contest among staff, the Museum of Man is re-named "The Museum of Civilization." The innovative title is gender-neutral and also reflects a wider interest in Canada's place in the `global village.'
We are talking about 1986, and I do believe, if my memory serves me correctly, that this was under Prime Minister Mulroney. My question, therefore, comes back to why we cannot prepare very appropriately, as you are saying, for the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of our country with the current title and mandate of this museum that is very well respected and loved across the country. As for the supplementary investment of money, honourable senators, how much will it cost just to rebrand?
Senator LeBreton: Obviously, the honourable senator has been reading. I do not know where she has been getting her information, but the detailed release from the minister when this announcement was made indicates that all of the great facilities that are in the museum now remain there. They are spending a sum of money to bring together many artifacts and elements of our history. For instance, at the announcement, they had the last spike for the railroad that finally connected the country. They had Rocket Richard's hockey stick and sweater. They had the astrolabe that Samuel de Champlain used to discover Canada when he sailed the waters of the Ottawa River.
If the honourable senator were to be objective about it, why would we not want a museum dedicated to Canadian history? I believe that all of us will acknowledge, as we travel around the country and meet young people, that knowledge of our history, our beginnings and the development of our country is sorely lacking for our young people. Why would we not support this particular building, which is a fantastic edifice, as we know? We look at it every day. Why would we not support the renovation of a portion of it dedicated to Canadian history? As we know, it is a museum that receives many visitors from all across Canada and around the world.
Senator Charette-Poulin: I hate double negatives, but it is not that we do not support the inclusion of history. The point is that there is already a mandate for history in the current mandate and in the current enabling legislation. What is troublesome here is the monies that will be spent simply on rebranding when these exact monies could be spent for exactly what you are saying — more exhibits about history and culture and more outreach activities as we prepare for the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary.
In other words, how much will it cost for the rebranding?
Senator LeBreton: I think the number that Minister Moore outlined was $50 million, although I am open to correction. That is not for rebranding but for bringing interesting artifacts and documents related to our history here and connecting the Canadian museum of history with all of the wonderful museums around the country that have all kinds of wonderful artifacts and documents that can knit together the Canadian historical fabric. Renaming the museum the "Canadian Museum of History" is, to me, something to be celebrated because I rather think that if I brought people to Ottawa they would want to go to a museum called the "Canadian Museum of History."
I do not believe that the existing facilities in the present Museum of Civilization are in any way changing. Nothing is changing. The IMAX films will be there. The children's area, the market area for children, will be there. All of that stays. What we will be doing is renaming the museum the "Canadian Museum of History" and focusing on what we should be focused on, which is our history, our wonderful story that no one really knows enough about.
Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette: Honourable senators, I would like to know what has prompted the decision to change the name of the Canadian Museum of Civilization. I heard it was to celebrate Canada's one hundred and fiftieth anniversary. Unless we do not live in the same country and unless we do not know our history, then we should know that Canada existed before 1867 and that there was one part that was called Lower Canada and another part that was called Upper Canada. We need to get our facts straight.
Why and on what basis was it decided to limit the museum to the history of Canada from the time of Confederation? We know that "Canada" is an Aboriginal word, but it was used to describe a territory that was different than the country we have today, from coast to coast. Canada was not called "Canada" yet. As far as the meaning of the word "civilization" is concerned, it is much broader and dates back before Canada was conquered, whether in 1534 or in 1492.
I would like to know why the Canadian Museum of Civilization is being limited to Canada's modern history. What event prompted changing the name of the museum?
Honourable senators, I hope that the minister will think about resisting the urge to rewrite history. Countries that do so are not necessarily great democracies.
Senator LeBreton: The information that the honourable senator imparts would obviously be of great interest in a Canadian museum of history. The reason is that the new mandate is focusing on Canada's one hundred and fiftieth birthday and on enhancing, as we lead up to that birthday in five years, public knowledge, understanding and appreciation of Canada's history and identity.
Many people applaud this move, but I will name just a few. One is John McAvity, Executive Director of the Canadian Museums Association, and this is a group of course connecting all of the museums across the country. Mr. McAvity said that renaming the museum is essential: "That is good news. . . . and it will give Canadians greater access to their heritage, to their history."
Marie Lalonde, Executive Director of the Ontario Museum Association, said:
This is an opportunity to explore new ways that museums may work with each other. We look forward to the potential that the new strategic directions announced by Minister Moore will offer Ontarians.
That refers to connecting the museum to all of the museums across the country that will be participating and to telling the Canadian story in a much more fulsome way than it has been told to this point in time.
Convention on the Rights of the Child
Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette: Honourable senators, my second question is the following. On October 5, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, which is responsible for monitoring the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, released a report that was critical of Canada's policies on child protection and respect for the rights of the child.
Among the 47 recommendations in the report is one calling on Canada to adopt a national strategy to implement, at all levels of government, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Canada is a signatory. The report points out that the latest national plan dates from 2004, when a Liberal government was in power, and lacks clear targets, priorities and resource allocation.
The report is also critical of the fact that the Convention on the Rights of the Child is not well known and recommends that Canada take measures to ensure that the public, professionals working with children and children themselves are educated about the rights of the child and also that it ensure that educational programs on children's rights are offered systematically.
Could the leader tell us when her government is going to decide to seriously defend the rights of the most vulnerable citizens, namely the children of Canada, and comply with the Convention on the Rights of the Child?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): In response to the question about the museum of Canadian history, the honourable senator's remarks actually make it poignant that this museum is sorely needed. The figure the minister talked about was $25 million, not $50 million. I must have thought I was a Liberal there for a moment.
With regard to the United Nations report on children, the promotion and protection of children's human rights is and has been a priority concern and an integral part of Canada's foreign policy. Our government has been an active co-sponsor and supporter of resolutions related to children's rights presented at the UN General Assembly and at the UN Human Rights Council. The government has introduced numerous programs to support children here at home, including the Universal Child Care Benefit and the Child Tax Credit. The government has increased penalties for child predators; has committed to a family law initiative that supports the best interests of the child, including a child's right to financial support; and has committed $10 million to the creation and enhancement of child advocacy centres across Canada. These centres offer much-needed support to children during difficult times by providing a collaborative approach to helping children with the justice system. The work of the Prime Minister and government colleagues who accompanied him to Africa last week further underscores Canada's commitment to the betterment of the lives of children in some of the poorest countries of the world.
Senator Hervieux-Payette: The report of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child states:
The Committee is gravely concerned that corporal punishment is condoned by law in the State party under Section 43 of the Criminal Code. . . . Furthermore, the Committee is concerned that the legalization of corporal punishment can lead to other forms of violence.
The report further states:
The Committee urges the State party to repeal Section 43 of the Criminal Code to remove existing authorization of the use of "reasonable force" in disciplining children and explicitly prohibit all forms of violence against all age groups of children . . .
Perhaps the leader is not aware that it is prohibited from 0 to 2 years of age and after 12 years of age to discipline with reasonable force. The only children of this country that may be disciplined with reasonable force are between 2 and 12 years of age.
The government claims that it wants to fight violence and to help victims of violence — we have all seen what bullying is doing to children. However, after numerous reports, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child is urging the government to protect the most vulnerable citizens of our country by abolishing section 43 of the Criminal Code. It is not a costly thing to do — just scrap section 43. When will the government respect the signature on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child by eliminating all forms of violence against Canadian children, as 33 other countries have already done and at no cost?
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, I hesitate to enter into great debate about reports from the United Nations, such as they are. However, with regard to the justice portion of their report, what are they talking about? Adult sentencing will only be considered for youth who commit serious violent offences, such as murder, attempted murder and aggravated sexual assault. How the idea of taking a strong position against a very small element has expanded, according to the UN, to the treatment of all our children is beyond me.
Canadian Museum of Civilization
Hon. Grant Mitchell: Honourable senators, I would like to clarify something said by the leader of the government in response to another question. The leader spoke derogatorily about Liberal expenditure patterns in the context of saying $50 million instead of $25 million. Had the leader forgotten that she was in the Office of the Prime Minister of the government that established the then highest deficit in Canadian history and that in subsequent years she was in the cabinet that established the next record in Canadian history with a deficit of $56 billion? When the leader made a mistake and tried to attribute it to being a Liberal, she was acting fundamentally consistent with her Conservative spend-at-any-costs and run-deficits ideology and DNA. Perhaps the leader should be more careful when being derogatory.
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): I never thought that Senator Mitchell would lead with his chin like this. Perhaps I was thinking of the $50 million not yet recovered from the sponsorship scandal. Senator Mitchell had better get his facts straight: The largest deficit ever left to a Canadian government in the history of this country, before or since, was the deficit left by his great hero, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, to the Mulroney government in 1984.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Official Languages Act
Bill to Amend—Second Reading—Debate Continued
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Chaput, seconded by the Honourable Senator Hubley, for the second reading of Bill S-211, An Act to amend the Official Languages Act (communications with and services to the public).
Hon. Jean-Claude Rivest: Honourable senators, I would like to speak briefly about this important bill, which was introduced by Senator Chaput.
First, I would like to point out that the adjournment was requested in Senator Comeau's name. I hope that my speech does not infringe on his rights or on the 45 minutes he was given. I would like to thank Senator Comeau. I talked with him and he allowed me to speak about this bill this afternoon.
Honourable senators, the issue of rights and Canada's linguistic duality is always extremely important, particularly to this institution, the Senate. Linguistic duality is an integral part of our country's history and its everyday reality.
Honourable senators, I believe that we should be pleased to note that, once again, in the latest polls, over 80 per cent of Canadians supported linguistic duality. I believe that the fact that this Canadian reality has become so deeply rooted in public opinion is very precious.
In this regard, every initiative introduced in the House of Commons or the Senate, or within the government itself, that seeks to strengthen our linguistic duality must be taken seriously and must be given all the consideration that it deserves. The honourable senator's initiative certainly furthers that goal.
I would also like to point out that, often, when we talk about Canada's linguistic duality, we are referring to Canada's French-speaking community outside Quebec. However, Quebecers are also very attuned to and affected by this reality. I would simply like to point out to the honourable senators in this chamber that Quebec recently elected a sovereignist government, and some spokespeople are already using certain Government of Canada decisions that do not support strengthening linguistic duality. I am thinking of certain appointments. They have already started using the issue of the presence of French in Canada as an argument to support the sovereignist option.
Every time the situation of the French language in Canada deteriorates, Francophone communities are affected, both in Quebec and elsewhere in Canada. This has a huge political significance, which is why I invite all honourable senators of all political stripes to constantly underscore and reaffirm the importance of linguistic duality, in order to maintain this fundamental characteristic of our country, of course, but also to ensure stability and avoid any negative consequences.
As we all know, Mr. Trudeau's master plan, in the face of the rise of the sovereignist movement in the 1960s and 1970s, was to say that French had a place in Canada. I think Canadian public opinion supports that assertion. We have the flexibility we need to continue to strengthen linguistic duality.
Senator Chaput's bill focuses on one particular aspect, one that I think is very important. Of course, Canada's linguistic duality is recognized by all Canadians. A right is a right. There can be no exceptions. However, there has to be room for compromise. Various pieces of legislation opted for a numerical criterion, that is, "where numbers warrant". In practice, this also makes sense in the evaluation of service delivery.
Bill S-211 is concerned with transportation, but especially with communications and services. As we know, every Canadian must be able to obtain services in either official language wherever they are in Canada, but only of course "where numbers warrant". Senator Chaput's bill does not do away with that notion. However, it adds one very important criterion, and that is the vitality of the various official language minority communities, whether in Quebec or elsewhere in Canada. This notion is not simply artificial because it already exists in the Official Languages Act. In fact, Part VII of the Official Languages Act seeks to enrich and strengthen linguistic communities. Actually, that was one of the main driving forces behind the efforts of our former colleague, Jean-Robert Gauthier.
Senator Chaput's bill proposes that departmental communications services take into account the number and presence, but also the vitality and dynamism of linguistic communities. This proposal aims to avoid depriving minority communities that have a hard time complying with numerical criteria and the purely mathematical side of things, but that are dynamic and creative and help make our country what it is. I think that is the beauty of the bill introduced by the Honourable Senator Chaput.
The mathematical criterion can vary within a given region. Take, for example, the phenomenon of urbanization. Canada has some very dynamic francophone communities. However, because of urbanization, people are leaving their communities to go to the cities. For purely mathematical reasons, those who remain in small rural communities lose their right to services in French, even though these communities are still alive and well.
We must also consider the phenomenon of immigration. Immigration is changing things in minority communities across Canada. In some places, such as downtown Toronto, Calgary and Montreal, we are seeing problems of urban sprawl. There may be a sufficient number of francophones; however, because of urban sprawl, they live in the suburbs. Whether we are talking about the anglophone community in Quebec or the francophone community outside Quebec, are we going to deprive these people in a minority position of services, based solely on a mathematical criterion? I think that is unreasonable.
Honourable senators, Senator Chaput met with and consulted a large number of people and groups who have an interest in these issues. Her bill will strengthen, expand and deepen Canada's linguistic duality.
I would also like to point out one issue faced by francophone communities, especially those outside Quebec. Government finances and budgets are tight. Often, for purely administrative reasons that are undoubtedly quite legitimate, cuts are made or services are moved or centralized without taking into account the reality of minority communities, which find themselves at a disadvantage. Employment insurance offices in the Maritimes moved to Halifax. That is more or less what Senator Chaput's bill seeks to address. We are asking the government to consider demographic, economic and social realities when establishing and implementing language policies.
Honourable senators, I believe that honourable senators share my concerns, and I am utterly determined to unreservedly support Senator Chaput's initiative. I invite all honourable senators to vote in favour of the bill.
Once these principles are established, the government will undoubtedly have some concerns about practical, administrative and financial considerations. This is Senator Chaput's second attempt, and I hope that the bill will not die on the Order Paper. At the very least, I hope we will be able to examine these administrative and financial considerations and that the bill will be referred to the Standing Senate Committee on Official Languages after second reading.
I will reiterate that this is a very important matter, and I urge senators, who have a special role to play in safeguarding Canada's linguistic duality, to keep an open mind and support Bill S-211.
Hon. Hugh Segal: Will the honourable senator take a question?
Senator Rivest: Yes.
Senator Segal: Let us agree that the fundamental principle of the bill is important for Canada and linguistic duality. I would like to seek some advice from Senator Rivest, who is familiar with the ins and outs of Quebec politics. In his opinion, does Canada's approach to protecting the rights of francophone minorities outside Quebec have an impact on the sovereignist policy and views of Quebec's minority government?
French has never been stronger in Quebec. That is very important for Canada and its survival. Nonetheless, I am not entirely sure — and I ask the question respectfully — whether sovereignists will be influenced by what goes on in Canada outside Quebec. Generally speaking, I find that our sovereignist friends are focused more on what is happening in Quebec than on the greater francophone community outside Quebec. Can the honourable senator say a few words about that?
Senator Rivest: I would like to point out two things. First, if Canada ignores its responsibility to French Canada, then sovereignist Quebec's immediate reaction will be to use that as an argument to prove that Canada does not represent Quebec's interests. You can be sure of that.
That is why I say this every time we see something like the recent appointments, for instance. Ministers in Quebec's sovereignist government have already used the fact that we have a unilingual anglophone Auditor General to argue that they do not feel as though they belong in Canada.
As for the linguistic question, we must not forget that French is the only official language in Quebec. It is not bilingual, like New Brunswick or other areas of Canada. As for service delivery, all individual requests from those who wish to use English to communicate with the government are granted, regardless of numbers.
Another important element is that Quebec's sovereignist government is facing political conditions that we are all familiar with, but there has been a huge shift on the language issue. Public opinion in Quebec now agrees with the goal of respecting language rights, including the rights of anglophones living in Quebec. Quebec public opinion is no longer as polarized as it used to be or as sectarian as the Parti Québécois once was. Politically, language rights are not in any danger.
Furthermore, practically speaking, people in Quebec have begun to realize that in the 1960s and 1970s, whenever language rights in Quebec were at issue, people were thinking about the anglophone community in Quebec and the fact that it had too many rights and it was too strong. Today, the problem presented by the English language in Quebec, in the Canadian reality, is the same as in other countries like France, Italy or Spain. It has nothing to do with the people or the fact that they are a minority, but rather the fact that the language itself is universal and pervasive. Quebec can pass the strictest, most negative language laws it wants, but the problem is not the anglophone population; rather, it is the pervasiveness of the English language in the business world and elsewhere.
The whole language dynamic some of you were familiar with in Quebec no longer exists. Now, the general consensus is one of moderation, openness and respect for English speakers in Quebec and other regions. The past cannot be changed, but I believe that Quebec's linguistic future is now very positive, despite the fact that the Parti Québécois is in power.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, Senator Rivest's time has expired. Is he requesting a five-minute extension?
Senator Rivest: Yes.
Senator Segal: Honourable senators, if I understand correctly, the honourable senator's goal is to strengthen the Official Languages Act and make it more effective across Canada by protecting minority rights.
The Official Languages Act applies to all the provinces. As you said, our sovereignist friends are also observing the effects of this law. Some members in the other place do not want the federal law to apply to organizations under federal jurisdiction in Quebec; the provincial law would apply instead.
Since he supports Senator Chaput's proposal, does the senator agree that the federal law should apply to everyone?
Senator Rivest: There is no problem with French and federal institutions in Quebec. I have never heard a complaint from a French speaker in Quebec who was not able to obtain federal services in French or whose language rights were not respected, in accordance with the Official Languages Act.
Our sovereignist friends' plan to subject federal institutions to Bill 101 is contrived, in my opinion, because in reality and everyday life, the majority of French-speaking and English-speaking Quebecers do not have a problem being served in the language of their choice by federal organizations and institutions, except, of course, Air Canada, on occasion. But that is a classic example.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau: Honourable senators, I would like to provide some clarification — and it does not necessarily have anything to do with Senator Chaput's bill — on the implications of subjecting federal and federally regulated institutions, such as banks, to Bill 101, which would mean that, in Quebec, these institutions would no longer be subject to federal law but rather to a provincial law.
The official opposition in the House of Commons thinks that this is the way to go and even has a bill on the books.
Senator Rivest: I have seen it, but I do not see the point. We can talk about departments but, when it comes to banks and institutions in Quebec, I have never heard of anyone who was unable to receive service in French in a federal institution. Why raise this issue? This is political posturing by the Parti Québécois to strengthen its discourse against the federal government and by our friends in the New Democratic Party, who want to wave a flag. To me, it seems like an artificial debate.
Senator Comeau: Could the danger of Quebec's pursuing this type of strategy not be that the other provinces might perhaps follow suit? For example, if a federal law allows provincial laws to take away rights from minorities in Quebec, would that not encourage other provinces to do the same? In other words, what is good for Quebec is also good for Nova Scotia, Manitoba, Alberta or any other province. As the saying goes, be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.
Senator Rivest: Exactly. We have to be mindful of the fact that the other provinces could do the same thing. The plan to abolish school boards in Quebec could have been carried out for our own unique and legitimate purposes. First, it is in the Constitution, and second, school boards do not have the same meaning or importance to Quebec as they do to francophone communities outside the province, which find them extremely important.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it agreed, honourable senators, that debate on this motion will continue to stand adjourned in the name of Senator Comeau?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
(On motion of Senator Comeau, debate adjourned.)
Employment Insurance Act
Bill to Amend—Second Reading—Debate Continued
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Boisvenu, seconded by the Honourable Senator Marshall, for the second reading of Bill C-316, An Act to amend the Employment Insurance Act (incarceration).
Hon. Art Eggleton: Honourable senators, I rise today to speak on Bill C-316. This bill, quite simply, does not make good sense at all. It will not provide fairness and will do nothing to increase public safety. In fact, it will make the path to reintegration more difficult, which will contribute to reoffending, and that will create more victims of crime.
It also punishes the innocent families of members who have been recently released from incarceration.
This bill is about the Employment Insurance Act. Subsections 8(2) and 8(6) of the act establish when people are entitled to employment benefits. They must have had an adequate number of weeks, as we know; they must show that they are unemployed; and because they and their employer have paid into the system, they are entitled to collect benefits. However, they are not entitled to sit back and wait, as they have to apply immediately for the benefits.
There are exceptions to this qualifying period. It can be extended pursuant to subsection 8(2) of the Employment Insurance Act.
(2) A qualifying period mentioned in paragraph (1)(a) is extended by the aggregate of any weeks during the qualifying period for which the person proves, in such manner as the Commission may direct, that throughout the week the person was not employed in insurable employment because the person was
(a) incapable of work because of a prescribed illness, injury, quarantine or pregnancy;
(b) confined in a jail, penitentiary or other similar institution;
(c) receiving assistance under employment benefits; or
(d) receiving payments under a provincial law . . .
What is the purpose of provision (b)? The Minister of Labour in the Diefenbaker government, the Honourable Michael Starr, was the one who enacted this law. He said at the time:
Ordinarily a person who had spent up to two years in a penitentiary, would lose the benefit of unemployment insurance contributions, which would impose a further punishment in addition to those levied by the court. This disability is now removed and it will help a great deal in the rehabilitation of those who have been unfortunate enough to have punishment imposed upon them by the courts.
That did not come from a Liberal; that came from the Honourable Michael Starr, a Conservative who, as I said, enacted that provision.
What does that mean? It means that this bill is trying to eliminate an exception that helps former inmates return to the workforce, regain some self-confidence and access paid job training.
Honourable senators, studies show that one of the biggest impediments to reintegration is living in poverty and, by extension, not having employment. The Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator LeBreton, said yesterday that one of the best ways to counter poverty is through a job. Here we are talking about the ability of people coming out of incarceration to get a job.
By providing the very basics in the form of monetary support, the current measure helps sustain the recently paroled and their families while they find work. It also provides them with job training services that are essential to finding that employment. That will change if this bill is enacted.
Honourable senators, who would this bill impact? If someone is incarcerated for more than two years, this act would not deal with them. The current status quo does not extend benefits for someone who has gone to jail for a serious offence. Therefore, there are not likely to be any rapists, murderers or crime bosses in this category. This would only apply if they had been incarcerated for less than two years, which applies to certain types of offences. We are not talking about tough, hardened criminals. In fact, 75 per cent of these people have been sentenced to less than three months.
Kim Pate from the Elizabeth Fry society, in testimony before the House of Commons committee on this bill, laid out who would be affected:
For women, we are dealing predominantly with poor women. The last time statistics were looked at, about 80 per cent of the women in prison have essentially been living in poverty and attempting to deal with that. The majority are mothers, many of them employed or underemployed, more often in seasonal or low-wage work. Before they go to prison, most of them are sole supporters of their children.
In the federal system about a third are indigenous women. It ranges as high as 75 per cent to 80 per cent in some provinces. About half are racialized minorities.
We have a high proportion with mental health issues. . . Also, for women, the last time the federal government looked at this issue, 91 per cent of indigenous women and 82 per cent of women overall had histories of abuse, much of it stemming from childhood abuse, but also extending into adulthood.
That was from the Elizabeth Fry society on women in our prison system in this under-two-year category.
Let us look a little deeper at the facts. The 2011 National Council on Welfare report, which was called The Dollars and Sense of Solving Poverty, had a shocking statistic about the women who are incarcerated. Of the 80 per cent of Canadian women who are incarcerated for poverty-related crimes, 39 per cent are incarcerated for failure to pay a fine, and these are the people we are talking about cutting off from a chance to get a job and get back on their feet again by cutting off their Employment Insurance benefits. These are not hardened criminals.
A 2008 report by the United Way of Calgary entitled Crimes of Desperation said this regarding women in jails for poverty-related crimes:
Incarcerating a woman for a poverty-related crime does punish her, but the punishment is for being poor and trying to cope by using a socially inappropriate but readily available means. Given this, the rates of re-offence are significant and costly.
That is the women who are impacted. What about the men?
As Catherine Latimer from the John Howard Society pointed out, the situation for men is very similar:
The profile is very similar. It draws from those who have been marginalized for various reasons: lower socio-economic status, high levels of injury, fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, and more and more mental health issues.
I believe that this is a private member's bill from the house. The people who this bill will impact the most are the most vulnerable, marginalized people living in poverty. Instead of giving people living in difficult situations who have served their time a hand up, this bill will only push them down.
A smart, not a revengeful, crime agenda understands that we need balance in the system. We need a situation where an offender can serve their penalty but then focuses on rehabilitating them back into society.
Why would we want to make it more difficult for offenders to reintegrate into society? Why would we want public policy that exacerbates conditions that might make them reoffend? Why would we further punish the innocent members of their families? I thought the goal was to reduce crime and provide public safety.
Honourable senators, studies have shown that ex-offenders are 11 to 13 per cent less likely to reoffend if they have employment. Having access to income, having some stability and having all of those important social and economic connections make a profound difference in successful reintegration into society. It is hugely important that people get access to a job, which EI assistance provides. To rack up more and more disincentives makes it a much more difficult path for them and for their innocent family members.
Also, honourable senators, think about the costs of incarceration. We know from Corrections Canada that the cost of keeping someone in Canada's prisons in 2009-10 was, on average, $113, 974. That is substantially more than the amount of EI for which the individual might have been eligible before he or she ended up in prison.
Let us not forget that this is not a government handout. The people who benefit from this measure are those who have worked enough to qualify for benefits. They have contributed to the EI program and so have their employers. They have contributed to the program; this is not a government handout.
Honourable senators, improving public safety by cutting down on reoffending should still be our goal, as it was the goal of the Honourable Michael Starr and the Diefenbaker Conservative government when they introduced that very amendment to provide for that attempt to get people back on their feet.
Therefore, honourable senators, this bill does not deserve our support.
(On motion of Senator Segal, debate adjourned.)
Study on Political and Economic Developments in Brazil
Fifth Report of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Committee and Request for Government Response Adopted
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the consideration of the fifth report of the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade entitled: Intensifying Strategic Partnerships with the New Brazil, tabled in the Senate on May 29, 2012.
Hon. A. Raynell Andreychuk: Honourable senators, I rise today to speak about the new Brazil, the new era of Canada-Brazil relations presently unfolding and its consequences for Canadian interests and prosperity. These are the premises of the report of the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade entitled Intensifying Strategic Partnerships with the New Brazil. The report applauds recent high-level overtures between Canada and Brazil.
Upwards of 28 memoranda of understanding, agreements and initiatives have been launched between Canada and Brazil in recent years. These have laid solid foundations upon which to build our relations. Yet, our committee came away from its study with a sense of urgency. Intent must be followed by action. Our report encourages the implementation of the agreements with Brazil and it emphasizes that this should be done strategically, underpinned by a long-term vision for Canada-Brazil relations. Our report contains 10 recommendations and a number of suggestions toward this end.
Located within our hemisphere, Brazil has made remarkable progress since it moved from military government to economic liberalization in the mid-1980s. Propelled by strong growth and low inflation, Brazil has reportedly surpassed the United Kingdom to become the world's sixth largest economy.
Underpinning this accomplishment at a time of rising commodity prices is Brazil's natural resource wealth. This includes the second largest proven oil reserves in Latin America, a vast and ecologically diverse landscape, the world's sixteenth longest coastline and thousands of kilometres of rivers that stretch deep into the South American continent. Besides its important oil and mining resources, the Brazilian economy features important industrial, manufacturing, agricultural and service sectors. These have enabled Brazil to dramatically reduce poverty and inequality in recent years, while broadening access to primary education and health care.
As its middle class grows, so does Brazil's international ambition. Brazil has asserted itself in the Summit of the Americas, the World Trade Organization and the G20. It has staked out its position on the United Nations Security Council reform. As leader of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti, Brazil collaborated closely with Canada. As one witness summed it up for the committee:
. . . this is not the developing country that emerged from a lengthy dictatorship a quarter century ago. Brazil is now a vibrant consolidated democracy and an emerging global power that demands recognition.
This entails numerous opportunities for Canada. Our bilateral trade with Brazil has increased over 150 per cent since 2002 but, at only $6.7 billion in 2011, much more has yet to be attained.
Having heard from more than 100 witnesses over the course of almost a year, however, our committee believes that the potential gains of stronger Canada-Brazil relations will not come automatically. Canada is among several countries seeking closer relations with Brazil. Our committee believes that Canada's strengths, leadership and common values must be strategically leveraged to establish our place as a trusted long-term partner. This means focusing on sectors where Canada has the most value to add and where we can match our immediate priorities and expertise.
Above all, our committee found opportunities need to be seized by intensifying our relationship in education. Canada is already the primary venue for Brazilian students seeking English language training. In 2010, 13,000 Brazilians came to Canada on temporary resident visas, mostly to study English. Yet, the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada told our committee that Canada's universities remain "an unleveraged asset."
Honourable senators, the point was poignant in light of Brazil's announcement of 100,000 scholarships to help young Brazilians study abroad. Canada is uniquely placed to partake in this initiative. Concerted steps taken in recent months will ensure academic institutions are leveraged to this end.
In April, Governor General Johnson led some 30 Canadian university presidents and others on a mission to Brazil in what he called "the diplomacy of knowledge." The mission resulted in 75 agreements, worth almost $17 million, between Canadian and Brazilian universities.
I must say that this will impact every province and virtually every university. This will spur collaboration in research and development, internships, scholarships, business administration, engineering, biotechnology, health sciences and agriculture.
Some 12,000 Brazilian students and scholars will attend Canadian academic institutions over the next several years.
Honourable senators, these are numbers that we often do not speak of in this chamber with respect to education, and it was reassuring to the committee. The first of these students were welcomed into seminars and research labs across Canada this September.
On behalf of our committee, I would like to thank the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada and the Governor General for their work to make this possible.
Complementing this initiative, I was pleased in August when Minister Fast accepted the report of the Advisory Panel on Canada's International Education Strategy. The report calls upon the government to make international education a strategic priority. It details ways in which our government can increase its bilateral education cooperation, particularly with strong economies like Brazil, China, India and others. It recommends doubling the number of international students coming to Canada and helping 50,000 Canadian students per year to study abroad by 2022. I am confident that these measures will strongly support the kind of reciprocal Canada-Brazil educational relationship recommended by our committee.
Taking this further, we encourage the government to work with Canadian businesses to create opportunities for Brazilian exchange students to stay on in Canada as interns or employees. By helping young Brazilians to study, work or establish professional links in Canada, we can encourage them to develop deep and long-lasting ties to our country. Their presence in Canada will spark Canadians' interests in Brazil, and when they return to Brazil we know they will act as ambassadors for our country. In the past we have forged Commonwealth links that have proven fruitful and I believe Canada-Brazil could be another example.
Another area the committee identified for strengthened Canada-Brazil relations involves Olympic cooperation. In 2014, Brazil will host the FIFA World Cup. In 2016, it will host the Olympic and Paralympic Summer Games. For Brazil, these are more than sporting events. They are the opportunity to showcase the new Brazil to the world. Our recent experience hosting the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games makes Canada an obvious partner as Brazil prepares to take the torch.
Our committee heard from Canadian companies that they are eager to apply their expertise in the construction of stadiums, hospitality, transit and other infrastructure projects in the lead-up to the events. In August 2011, Prime Minister Harper and President Rousseff signed a memorandum of understanding on Olympic cooperation. Our committee recommends that the government move to implement that agreement by exploring the possibility of a strategic Canadian investment in Brazil directly linked to the games.
Another area identified by our committee focuses on Canada's and Brazil's shared commitment to developing our economies and increasing jobs and prosperity for our citizens through trade.
As Brazil's middle class continues to expand, so does its appetite for products and services. As its extractive enterprises grow, so does its need for technology and expertise.
Canada's exporters — particularly in agriculture, minerals, energy, aerospace, tourism and forestry — stand to benefit from strategic commercial collaboration with Brazil.
A memorandum of understanding on sustainable development in minerals and metals, and the newly formed Canada-Brazil CEO Forum, provide valuable tools toward this end.
The committee also heard compelling testimony of the important role Transport Canada, the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service and various provincial initiatives can play in facilitating Canadian business ventures abroad.
We encourage the government to continue developing its capacities in these areas and to consider expanding successful provincial initiatives, such as Saskatchewan's Trade and Export Partnership, to the federal level. This agency has been one of the impetus organizations that has changed Saskatchewan, and we believe there are lessons that can be learned by other provinces and the federal government. I take some pride in being from Saskatchewan in that case.
With regard to free trade, Canada can seize new opportunities by engaging with MERCOSUL. A common market promoting free trade between Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Venezuela, MERCOSUL represents some 245 million people, $2.5 trillion in gross domestic product, and $675 billion in trade with the world.
In June 2011, Canada began exploratory talks toward enhanced commercial relations with MERCOSUL. Minister Fast should be acknowledged for his work in this visionary exploration. Brazil has expressed its support in our movement toward talks with MERCOSUL.
Our committee encourages the Government of Canada to continue talks with MERCOSUL as an important avenue to expand Canada's commercial prospects in the region.
Canada and Brazil also share various international priorities that provide opportunities for strategic collaboration. For example, partnerships could be pursued between Canadian and Brazilian development agencies and research organizations on global food security. Both Brazil and Canada, with a broad history of working in Africa, would be an obvious fit.
Defence and security collaboration with Brazil could be strengthened through officer exchanges, joint training and peacekeeping, humanitarian and disaster relief exercises. Our report encourages the Government of Canada to promote such partnerships through initiatives that complement our respective expertise.
A common thread running through our report is the importance of people-to-people contacts between Canada and Brazil. The report details how this can be accomplished through ties in education, business, security and defence, and international assistance.
Exchanges in all these areas stand to benefit from measures to increase the efficiency of travel between our two countries. Canadian officials told our committee that Brazilians travelling to Canada carry little risk, and that our visa requirements may place Canada at a competitive disadvantage. We therefore recommend that the government consider allowing visa-free travel by Brazilians to Canada. As long as visas remain necessary, we recommend that 10-year multiple entry visas be made transferable to new passports.
We also recommend that the government consider increasing resources to Canada's diplomatic mission in São Paolo, the business centre of Brazil, which approves all Brazilian visa applications. We believe that these measures could complement steps already taken to increase the efficiency with which visas are processed for Brazilians. I must say that in speaking with Brazilian officials in Canada, they have noticed the change already. We believe that we need to build on this.
By intensifying our strategic partnerships with Brazil in the immediate term, Canada has an opportunity to build a relationship with a growing and globally influential neighbour. Our report recognizes important measures already undertaken in this regard — by the Governor General, the Prime Minister and several ministers, as well as by Canadian business, education and civil society leaders.
It is critical that we continue to build awareness of the new Brazil in Canada and of the new Canada in Brazil. We must demonstrate our willingness to engage consistently and over the long term in this hemisphere. These efforts now and into the future will help establish Canada as a trusted and long-term partner to Brazil.
A new era of Canada-Brazil relations is unfolding. The 10 recommendations and numerous suggestions in our report offer some guidance as to how that relationship can be intensified and sustained into the future.
Although no country has been immune to the global economic downturn, its impact on Brazil has not been sufficient to change the committee's findings and opinions since we filed our report.
Could I ask for five minutes?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Andreychuk: I must say that it was perhaps the greatest surprise to me, a person who does have links to Brazil, how little Brazilians knew about Canada. They knew old Canada; they see it as an extension of the United States. We saw them in the old mold of the former dictatorships in South America. The most unbelievable experience was to go there and to start this process of seeing a new Brazil and to tell them about the new Canada. I think that is what our report really strengthened. When we started, there was little activity or enthusiasm and now, from governments and educational institutions, it is time for strength.
Therefore, honourable senators, I move:
That the fifth report of the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade, entitled Intensifying Strategic Partnerships with the New Brazil, tabled in the Senate on Tuesday, May 29, 2012, be adopted and that, pursuant to rule 12-24(1), the Senate request a complete and detailed response from the government with the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and International Trade being identified as the ministers responsible for responding to the report.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (The Hon. the Acting Speaker): Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Hon. James S. Cowan (Leader of the Opposition): Would the honourable senator take a question?
Senator Andreychuk: Yes.
Senator Cowan: I was interested in the honourable senator's comments with respect to the opportunities for Brazilian students to come to Canada, and I am glad to hear that already there are as many as she has mentioned.
Senator Andreychuk was talking about removing barriers for Brazilian students and, I assume, students from other countries as well, to stay in Canada after they conclude their studies and perhaps to be part of our workforce while they are at university. I know that was a problem some years ago. I understand that some changes have been made that would make that easier. Did the committee hear any evidence with respect to that issue?
Senator Andreychuk: Around the time we were dealing with that issue, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration was looking at the ability for students to work while they are studying in Canada. That was really not an issue for us.
However, the issue for us was that there we have so little knowledge about each other. We have compatible technologies that we can share with each other as we work together. We found some industries where there was a Brazilian and a Canadian competitor, and found they are not competitors anymore; they are now colleagues working internationally. They work together against other competitors in other countries, perhaps China or somewhere else.
First, students come to Canada to learn English. Would it not be nice if the companies were part of this development of the students? We know there are a number of companies — Vale, for instance — that had kept students on to teach them something. They learned about the industry but they also learned about Canada at the same time, and vice versa.
When we work in the international field this is an avenue to pursue. If there are internships and scholarships to allow students to remain in Canada after they come for the initial purpose of language training and they start to learn English, they could have some technical, academic or practical skill in a company. That should be a joint venture between students and parents, governments — such as the huge scholarship funding that President Rousseff has put in place — and companies. It would be unique, profitable and timely. As we were told by some witnesses, that is unknown territory for them. Students have gone to the United States, but Canada offers more competitive schooling; we offer more interesting and secure environments; and we have the kind of resources, minerals and technologies that can strengthen both.
That is why the STEP program was interesting in Saskatchewan and that is why almost 200 million Brazilians are moving in the right direction. We were constantly reassured that we should not talk about whether their democracy is stable. The feedback everywhere was about how stable it is. It will be changing and have its rough moments, but the dark days of Brazil are behind it. There are infinite opportunities in Canada.
The Hon. the Acting Speaker: Are honourable senators ready for the question?
Some Hon. Senators: Question!
The Hon. the Acting Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
(Motion agreed to and report adopted.)
Budget and Authorization to Engage Services—Study on Issue of Cyberbullying—Eighth Report of Committee Adopted
The Senate proceeded to consideration of the eighth report of the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights (budget—study on cyberbullying in Canada—power to hire staff), presented in the Senate earlier this day.
Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer moved the adoption of the report.
She said: Honourable senators, by way of background, the issue of cyberbullying has received a lot of attention lately, especially in light of recent, tragic events. The committee began its hearings almost a year ago and listened attentively to policy experts, children's advocates, government officials, teachers and, most importantly, children themselves.
The committee is close to completing its report, and we are requesting the sum of $20,000 to prepare two companion documents to our report. The first document the committee plans to produce is a summary directly aimed at children between the ages of 12 and 17. We spent time talking to youth about this subject and we strongly believe that we have a duty to deliver our findings to them. Children need to know that the Senate has listened to their hearts and their hopes.
The second document is a summary of the report for parents and teachers. During the committee's hearings, senators heard about the jurisdictional disconnect between schools and the outside world. Where does the school's ability to intervene start and where does it end? We wish to inform parents and teachers of our findings. Due to the urgency and magnitude of the crisis, the committee wishes to proceed as quickly as possible.
We request that honourable senators agree to adopt this report today.
The Hon. the Acting Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
(Motion agreed to and report adopted.)
Banking, Trade and Commerce
Committee Authorized to Meet During Sitting of the Senate
Hon. Irving Gerstein, pursuant to notice of October 4, 2012, moved:
That the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce have the power to sit at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, October 31, 2012, even though the Senate may then be sitting, and that Rule 12-18(1) be suspended in relation thereto.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
(Motion agreed to.)
Leave having been given to revert to Government Notices of Motions:
Hon. Claude Carignan (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, with leave of the Senate and notwithstanding rule 5-5(g), I move:
That when the Senate adjourns today, it do stand adjourned until Tuesday, October 23, 2012, at 2 p.m.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
(Motion agreed to.)
(The Senate adjourned until Tuesday, October 23, 2012, at 2 p.m.)