- SENATORS' STATEMENTS
- ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
- Speaker of the Senate
- The Senate
- Witness Protection Program Act
- Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources
- QUESTION PERIOD
- Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development
- Public Safety
- ORDERS OF THE DAY
- Speaker's Ruling
- Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act
- Criminal Code
- Visitors in the Gallery
- Income Tax Act
Excise Tax Act
Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act
First Nations Goods and Services Tax Act
- Canada Transportation Act
- The Senate
- Interpretation Act
- Employment Insurance Act
- Business of the Senate
- Appendix - Senators Lists
Tuesday, June 4, 2013
The Senate met at 2 p.m., the Speaker in the chair.
The Hon. the Speaker informed the Senate that a message had been received from the House of Commons returning Bill S-213, An Act respecting a national day of remembrance to honour Canadian veterans of the Korean War, and acquainting the Senate that they had passed this bill without amendment.
Hon. Wilfred P. Moore: Honourable senators, on the occasion of this being World Oceans Week, I rise to speak about the Sargasso Sea. As you may know, the Sargasso Sea gets its name from the distinctive mats of floating sargassum algae or, as Dr. Sylvia Earle, American oceanographer, aquanaut, author and National Geographic's explorer-in-residence calls it, the "Golden Rainforest of the Ocean."
The Sargasso Sea is the world's only non-landlocked body of water, located within the North Atlantic Gyre, bounded on the west by the Gulf Stream, on the north by the North Atlantic current, on the east by the Canary current and on the south by the North Atlantic equatorial current. The area of the Sargasso Sea is more than 4 million square kilometres.
Honourable senators, let me tell you about the nature and environment of the Sargasso Sea. It is a sanctuary of biodiversity. It supports a range of endemic species and plays a critical role in supporting the life cycle of a number of threatened and endangered species, such as the porbeagle shark, the American and European eel, as well as billfish and several species of turtle, migratory birds and cetaceans. The sargassum algae mats provide a protective "nursery" for juvenile fish and loggerhead sea turtles. Wahoo, tuna and other pelagic fish forage in and migrate through the sea, as do a number of whale species, notably the sperm whale and the humpback.
The Sargasso Sea is under increasing pressure by countless human uses that threaten both the habitat and species it supports. It is faced with several stressors that threaten the long-term viability and health of its ecosystem, such as oil, bilge and ballast water discharge from ships, concentrations of non-biodegradable plastic waste from ship and land-based sources, negative impacts of fishing, harvesting of the sargassum algae for fertilizer and biofuel, seabed mining, climate change and ocean acidification.
Honourable senators may have heard of the Sargasso Sea Alliance, which is a partnership led by the Government of Bermuda in collaboration with other countries, scientists, international marine conservation groups and private donors. All members of the Sargasso Sea Alliance share a vision of protecting the unique and vulnerable ocean ecosystem of the Sargasso Sea. The mission of the alliance, which has an office in Washington, D.C., is to ensure legal protection for this ecosystem by having it established as a Marine Protected Area by way of a declaration to be signed by supporting countries and international organizations. This so-called Hamilton Declaration is to be signed in Hamilton, Bermuda, in March 2014.
The 2012 Annual Composite Resolution on the Oceans and the Law of the Sea of the United Nations General Assembly mentioned that it "takes note of the Sargasso Sea Alliance, led by the Government of Bermuda, to raise awareness of the ecological significance of the Sargasso Sea."
In closing, honourable senators, it is my hope that Canada will join in this effort to protect the Sargasso Sea and that Canada will be a signatory to the Hamilton Declaration. I humbly ask all honourable senators to canvass friends and colleagues to ensure that Canada, a tri-sea-bound country, supports the Sargasso Sea protection initiative and becomes a signatory to the Hamilton Declaration.
I encourage all senators to visit the website of the Sargasso Sea Alliance at www.sargassoalliance.org to learn the importance of protecting this precious and unique open ocean ecosystem.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, it is always a great honour and pleasure to have bright young university students in our galleries. Today I wish to draw your attention to the presence of Sam Frum, who is an undergraduate student in economics at Harvard University, having completed his first year. He is related to our distinguished colleague Senator Frum.
On behalf of all honourable senators, Sam, I welcome you to the Senate of Canada.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.
Hon. Linda Frum: Honourable senators, I rise today, at the risk of tears, to pay homage to a proud Canadian who died on May 27, 2013. I speak of my father, the late Murray Frum.
The obituaries and tributes that have flowed for my father have all rightly praised his achievements in business and his support for the arts. His greatest gift, a masterwork in bronze by the great baroque sculptor Gian Carlo Bernini, will delight visitors and residents of Toronto for centuries to come, as will the internationally recognized gallery of African art he also donated to the Art Gallery of Ontario. However, it is a different aspect of this great man's legacy to which I wish to speak today.
My father rose from poverty to become one of Toronto's leading real estate developers. At every step of that rise, he lived his life according to the highest ethical standards.
While his sweet nature, his zest for life and his brilliance of mind were all inspirational to me, it was his unshakeable integrity that I admired most. Last month, when I told him in his final illness that I had been drafted to join the Senate's Ethics Committee, he nodded his approval. He communicated to me his bedrock belief that one was nothing if one was not ethical.
Soon I would watch in horror and helplessness as an aggressive cancer took him away from his family. There was nothing we or medical science could do to save him.
Now I return to work, to an institution that is also under siege. However, this time, we are not helpless. Honourable senators, the future of this chamber is in our hands. It is up to us to prove to Canadians that we are honourable in fact as well as by title.
We here know how much the Senate has contributed to the good governance and well-being of Canada and to the Canadian people. We know that our colleagues are decent, public-spirited and hardworking individuals.
However, we can be better: more transparent, more rigorous and more accountable. For example, I applaud recent actions taken by the Senate, such as posting senators' expense statements online, dating back to 2010. I also support an audit of the Senate by the Auditor General, and I have posted a link to my own expenses onto my personal website.
These are some good first steps to help us reclaim the integrity of the Senate of Canada, but other reforms, of our own making, must follow.
Each of us, when first called upon, brought to this chamber a desire to serve our country and to enhance the good names bequeathed to us by our fathers. As I mourn the loss of my dear father, I pledge to always honour the good name he bestowed upon me — through my deeds and my actions.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.
Hon. Jim Munson: Honourable senators, that was very touching because we all have memories, some good, some bad, some happy and some sad.
Each year, on this date, I stand up in this special place to remember those who stood up for democracy and were killed. Each year, on this date, I remember the massacre in Tiananmen Square. Each year, on this date, I think of that hot, humid and sticky night when Chinese soldiers forced their way into the square. There was one purpose: to get rid of the students and crush the pro-democracy movement. It was not pretty.
It was a ruthless crackdown on a people who had no defence but their voices. They were voices against a regime that was not prepared to listen; voices that were silenced by gunfire which echoed throughout a Beijing night 24 years ago.
Today, a generation has grown up in China not being allowed to know what really happened in Tiananmen Square, but the Chinese government cannot silence me, cannot threaten me with jail or house arrest. As a foreign correspondent, it was not easy for me to watch people die. It is not easy watching students being crushed by tanks. It is not easy to listen to pain. It is not easy to hear silence. I owe it to them, their families and those who survived that brutal night to speak out.
What was the Chinese government afraid of? "Why, why, why?" I keep asking myself. Tiananmen was more than just one night. In fact, I spent two months in 1989 in the square covering a news story, not even thinking that this was history on the run. I remember an elderly couple telling me to tell the world what was happening. In unison, they yelled out, "We want our voices heard."
At one point, Beijing felt like a liberated city, with the sight of a million people marching peacefully by Tiananmen, the portrait of Chairman Mao casting a shadow from the Forbidden City over Tiananmen Square. Students were joined by ordinary Beijingers in celebration. They were one voice, but, when martial law was declared, there was the voice of Premier Li Peng. The crackdown had begun.
Today, there was no celebration in Tiananmen. Today, there are dissidents in prison, including 2010 Nobel Peace Prize winner, Liu Xiaobo, a professor and human rights activist sentenced to 11 years in prison in 2009. All he did was help to write a charter calling for democratic reforms and guarantees of human rights and freedoms in China. He received the award for "his non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights."
Sadly, there are thousands like him in Chinese gulags. Today, China may be an economic giant, but it is a human rights lightweight. Somehow, we are supposed to live with both, but, as long as I have a voice, I will not live with the distorted history that it has presented to its own people and the world.
Every year at this time, I just want to cry, but, at the end of the day, there is one lesson and one lesson alone: When you have witnessed history, never let the world forget it. Long live democracy and long live the children and students of China, whose voices were silenced.
Hon. Victor Oh: Honourable senators, I rise today to pay tribute to James Pon, one of the last surviving head-tax payers, who passed away in March 2013 at the age of 95.
Last Saturday, I attended an event in Toronto in commemoration and celebration of his life and achievements. His family, friends and members of the public gathered to remember James and his family's contributions to the country.
James' grandfather was among a group of 17,000 workers who came from China to construct the Canadian Pacific Railway in the late 19th century. However, the government at the time imposed an unfair head tax upon Chinese immigrants. Subject to paying head tax, James' family had to borrow money from relatives and could not afford James' education. Despite such hardship, James demonstrated resilience and persistence while growing up in a small town in Alberta. He went on to have a successful career in the engineering field, working for major enterprises, including Atomic Energy of Canada Limited.
During World War II, James made an innovation that helped Canada's aircraft industry and he received a Governor General's award for that. His philanthropy and work in the community also earned him a Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002.
James was active in the community on many fronts, serving on many boards, including his time as board director of Mount Sinai Hospital. His tireless effort in bringing the head tax matter to light was recognized in 2006 in the House of Commons, when Prime Minister Harper issued an official apology to the Chinese community for the unfair treatment. James had worked for decades for this symbolic redress from the government and had travelled the country to tell the story to the young generation.
I ask all honourable senators to join me in recognizing the contributions of James Pon and in offering our sincere condolences to his wife Vera and their three children, Karen, Douglas and Louie.
Hon. Percy Mockler: Honourable senators, it is a well-known fact that many countries in the world seem incapable of pulling their economies out of the slump of the last five years. However, Canada has, and I am proud to stand and share with you some important information.
Honourable senators, I rise today to commend the Government of Canada for its efforts to maintain our standing as one of the best countries in the world. Prime Minister Harper deserves to be congratulated for his leadership, no matter what our political stripe.
A few days ago, the 2013 Country Ratings Poll, conducted for the British Broadcasting Corporation, the BBC, by GlobeScan/ PIPA of 26,299 people around the world, reported that Canada was perceived as the second country with the most influence in the world, second only to Germany.
The survey asked the respondents whether Canada's influence in the world was mostly positive or mostly negative. Fifty-five per cent believe our influence is mostly positive, while only 13 per cent believe it is mostly negative.
That is quite a difference, honourable senators, from what the opposition would want Canadians to believe, and it is quite contrary to what certain political candidates were saying over the last year. In fact, with all that negative rhetoric, it may be surprising to some senators to hear the following fact: 84 per cent of Canadians find our country's influence in the world to be mostly positive.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
An Hon. Senator: Absolutely!
Senator Mockler: The opposition's message on how our country is performing in the world is certainly not even close to the world's perception and to Canadians' point of view.
Honourable senators, it is undeniable proof that the government's steadfast commitment to the economy is working and making our country a better place to live, work, raise our children and reach out to the most vulnerable.
The BBC poll clearly shows that Canada has outperformed all the countries of the Commonwealth and la Francophonie. Yes, France is currently ranked fifth and the United States is ranked eighth. That is undeniable.
Honourable senators, since the beginning of the recession in 2008 —
The Hon. the Speaker: Order.
Hon. Andrée Champagne: Honourable senators, last Sunday, in the late afternoon, I returned home from the gala concert marking the 10th anniversary of the Conservatoire de musique de la Montérégie, which was part of the Festival Classica in Saint-Lambert.
While having an aperitif, I went to check the emails that I had received that day. In the space of a few minutes, the hard disk inside my just as hard head accessed memories that took me back to 1984, when I was elected as the member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot and, to my great surprise, was told that I would be a member of cabinet.
A few weeks later, I finally had the time to find modest but comfortable lodgings. The next morning, I stepped outside my apartment and was locking the door when I backed into someone coming out of the next apartment. Our apartments were in the corner of the building and our doors were at right angles. We both apologized without even looking at one another. As we headed towards the elevator, we had the time to take a good look at one another and, to my surprise, my neighbour seemed to know who I was. It took me a few seconds to recognize James Kelleher, the MP for Sault Ste. Marie and the new Minister of International Trade. We were amused by this serendipitous meeting and we quickly became friends.
In a cabinet shuffle two years later, in 1986, this lawyer was appointed as the Minister of Justice and Solicitor General of Canada, while I found myself in the chair, as one of the people who took turns replacing the Honourable John Fraser, who had just been elected as the Speaker of the other chamber at the end of the hall.
In the 1988 election, James was one of the few who was not re-elected. Two years later, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney appointed him to the Senate. Our paths did not cross very much over the years, except at the weekly national caucus.
Two days ago, on a spring Sunday, I was very saddened to learn that James Kelleher had passed away. Some of you may remember that, in 2005, when I, in turn, was offered a seat in the Senate by Prime Minister Paul Martin, I asked James Kelleher and Senator LeBreton to accompany me. That day was memorable for both our former colleague and me, since it was his last day among us. For him, the time for retirement had come. He came back to Ottawa that day for me, even though he knew his days in the Senate were numbered.
Later, we spoke on the odd occasion. At Christmas, I will miss the kind words he always wrote in the Christmas cards he sent me. I will also miss calling him up when I happen to be in Toronto.
James Francis Kelleher was a great man and a good friend. I tip my hat to him, and I am sure that all of us will have only good memories of him. I would like to offer his family our heartfelt condolences.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, further to the adoption of the 26th report of the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration on Wednesday, May 29, 2013, I sent a copy of the twenty-second and twenty-sixth committee reports to the Commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
With leave of the Senate, I have the honour to table a copy of that letter. Honourable senators, is leave granted?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, with leave of the Senate and notwithstanding rule 5-5(j), I give notice that later this day, I shall move:
That the Senate invite the Auditor General of Canada to conduct a comprehensive audit of Senate expenses, including senators' expenses.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted, honourable senators?
Some Hon. Senators: No.
Senator LeBreton: I am sorry to hear that.
Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the next sitting of the Senate, I shall move:
That the Senate of Canada invite the Auditor General of Canada to conduct a comprehensive audit of Senate expenses, including senators' expenses.
The Hon. the Speaker informed the Senate that a message had been received from the House of Commons with Bill C-51, An Act to amend the Witness Protection Program Act and to make a consequential amendment to another Act.
(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.)
Hon. Richard Neufeld: Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:
That, notwithstanding the order of the Senate adopted on Wednesday, November 28, 2012, the date for the final report of the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources in relation to its study on the current state of the safety elements of the bulk transport of hydrocarbon products in Canada be extended from June 30, 2013 to December 31, 2013.
Hon. Lillian Eva Dyck: Honourable senators, my question today is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate.
Honourable senators, two important reports have been released on the issue of the funding inequality for on-reserve First Nation students just this spring. Both reports highlight the funding gap that exists between First Nations students that attend K to 12 schools on reserve compared to those students that attend a provincial school. The first report, called Comparison of the DIAND Funding Formula For Education with the Saskatchewan Provincial Funding Formula, was released on March 6. It was commissioned by the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations and adds to the numerous reports that show that the funding formulas themselves used by the department have led to chronic underfunding of education when compared to the Saskatchewan provincial funding formula. The report found that the funding for basic instruction and special education for First Nations schools is at least 18 per cent less than for provincial schools, and yet the department and Minister Valcourt have once again stated, as recently as April, that funding for First Nations students is comparable to or above the provincial average in Saskatchewan.
Last December, I asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate to table the funding formula used by Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development to determine the per-student funding for on-reserve students. It has now been five months and still no answer.
I will ask my question again: In light of yet another report that clearly outlines that the funding formulas used by Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada to determine on-reserve per-student funding create a funding gap, will she now release the funding formulas used by regional Aboriginal Affairs departments to determine on-reserve, per-student funding?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I have to commend my colleague, the Honourable Bernard Valcourt, who is working extremely hard with Aboriginal leaders. He has begun the process of consultations to develop a First Nations education act because obviously it is the desire of the government and the desire of all of us, to see that Aboriginal youth are able to take advantage of all of the opportunities Canada has to offer, especially in the North and resource-rich areas of the country.
We have provided new resources for new schools and programming for Aboriginal students. In Budget 2013, which is before us, we have put new resources into scholarships, bursaries and personalized jobs skills training for First Nations youth across Canada. I am sure the honourable senator will not mind me making note of the fact that her colleagues in the other place voted against these actions.
Senator Dyck: My question was will the honourable leader table the formulas used by the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development to calculate how much funding goes to on-reserve schools? Can she answer that question?
Senator LeBreton: Though I am not party to the negotiations, obviously they are conducted by our very capable Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, the Honourable Bernard Valcourt. To the degree that it is possible, I will forward the request to Minister Valcourt and ask if he is able to provide further information to enlighten the honourable senator on these extremely important matters of Aboriginal youth and their education.
Senator Dyck: Thank you.
Ironically, this morning we heard from Vice Chief Simon Bird from the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations at the Aboriginal Peoples Committee meeting and we started to talk about education. He said, not word for word, that we do not need an education act to close the funding gap. I know the honourable leader keeps saying the government is coming up with this act that is going to help things out, but he said very clearly that we do not need an education act to close the funding gap. If it was a government priority, the gap would be closed, so why is it not closed?
Senator LeBreton: In fairness, honourable senators will have to acknowledge that this government has worked extremely hard with Aboriginal leadership in a whole host of areas, but specifically with regard to education and the funding of education. We have built or renovated hundreds of new schools, increased funding for child and family services, settled over 80 outstanding land claims, built over 10,000 homes and renovated thousands more. We have invested in safe drinking water and invested in over 700 projects linking Aboriginals across Canada with job training, counselling services and mentorship programs.
All of these efforts by the government, in addition to the other ones I have already responded to, are to improve the livelihood of our Aboriginal citizens, improving the livelihood where they live, and also their education. As I said earlier, we believe that the many job opportunities and other opportunities that are open to Canadians should be equally open to Aboriginal youth.
Senator Dyck: I thank the Leader of the Government in the Senate for that answer, but in the preamble to my question, I said very clearly that the funding for on-reserve schools compared to provincial schools makes it clear that the amount of money for basic instruction and special education for the actual students is not equal. You can build all the schools you like, but if you do not have the money that goes towards the instruction of the students, there is no way those students will get a comparable education. Why has the government not closed the education gap between on-reserve schools and provincial schools?
Senator LeBreton: The honourable senator has raised this particular matter with regard to Saskatchewan. I will point to another province.
On April 9, a little more than a month ago, Minister Valcourt, along with the Province of Ontario and the Nishnawbe Aski First Nation, signed an historic education agreement to benefit thousands of Ontario First Nation students. National Chief Shawn Atleo said this was a practical example of how Aboriginal people can improve their living conditions and work with the government. This is the course of action that Minister Valcourt is following. It was of benefit to the Aboriginal youth in Ontario, and I am quite certain as he works his way across the country and meets with Aboriginal leaders, he will have the same good results.
Senator Dyck: I am well aware of that memorandum of understanding.
This was released on April 10. A spokesman for the Mattagami First Nation - Nishnawbe Aski Nation that signed this memorandum of agreement said the group remains opposed to the enactment of a First Nations education act, despite signing the joint plan. Therefore, the funding gap still remains a critical issue even here in Ontario. Why has the government not closed the education funding gap?
Senator LeBreton: The people say they signed the agreement and then they are opposed to the agreement. I can only answer again what National Chief Shawn Atleo said. He said this is a practical example of how Aboriginal peoples can improve their living conditions and work with governments. That is the objective of the minister. It is obviously the objective of the grand chief. If individuals in these various communities do not agree with agreements that have been signed, I cannot answer for that. I can only answer for what the government is doing.
Senator Dyck: I do not think they were saying they were opposed to the agreement. They were saying they were opposed to the education act, to make that point clear, because the funding gap is critical, as I have said before. If we do not dedicate the same amount of money to an on-reserve student as we do to a student in an Ontario or Saskatchewan provincial school, there is no way those two students will get an equal education.
If we want students to advance, especially considering how many youth we have, the government, if they want those students to be educated and get a job — which the leader talks about all the time — then the government should equalize the funding that is going to on-reserve schools versus provincial schools.
Senator LeBreton: Again, as honourable senators know, we are working very hard with First Nations leaders to develop a First Nations education act. As the honourable senator stated, the objective of the government, and for us all, is to allow opportunities for Aboriginal youth to come through our education system and take advantage of all of the opportunities that Canada has to offer.
Hon. Colin Kenny: Honourable senators, on March 21, I asked with written notice if the Leader of the Government in the Senate could provide us with information regarding the RCMP's budgets, recruiting and attrition between the fiscal years 2002-03 and 2012-13. On May 1, six weeks later, I reminded the Leader of the Government that I still did not have the information. It is now June 4.
Does the Leader of the Government expect to have this information soon?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I will contact the minister's office and attempt to get a time line that can be provided to honourable senators as soon as possible.
Hon. Grant Mitchell: Honourable senators, yesterday in the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence, we received two retired generals as witnesses. They had been instrumental in correcting the deep cultural problems that occurred and emerged, particularly in the 1990s, in the Canadian military. They were elegant in their presentation— considered, thoughtful and very constructive.
In stark contrast, they were followed by Commissioner Paulson, who was anything but those particular characteristics. In fact, it was clear he does not adequately—if at all—accept the nature and the depth of the profound cultural problem that is facing the RCMP. I would argue he is very inclined to blame others rather than take responsibility for fixing it himself. In fact, he did something that was almost incomprehensible: He singled out three subordinates and criticized them publicly.
Is it the impression of the Leader of the Government in the Senate that somehow this kind of leadership could ever possibly cure the ailment in the RCMP culture?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I did read reports of the deliberations between the various witnesses last night at the meeting of the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence. Commissioner Paulson was very forceful in his comments. As the Leader of the Government in the Senate, I have not read the whole testimony. However, the RCMP and the Commissioner of the RCMP appeared before the committee. He put before the committee his views as the Commissioner of the RCMP, which is his right.
I would leave the matter standing as it is at the moment, because he participated fully and expressed his views, which I am sure are his right, whether one agrees with him or not.
Senator Mitchell: It may be his right, honourable senators, but he also has a responsibility to create the leadership from the top down. The generals made a point that correcting deep cultural change is all about leadership from the highest levels — from the top down — and that begins to change the culture, the way of thinking and the default behaviour, so to speak, of an organization. Clearly, Commissioner Paulson hardly lived up to the standard that was established so well by these generals.
I wonder if the leader could give us her idea regarding the commissioner attacking three subordinates publicly and quite aggressively — very aggressively. What kind of message does that send to members of the RCMP, both civilian and regular, who are grievously injured — PTSD injured — by harassment in that organization and who want to fix it, not damage it, but who are afraid to come forward because of the possibility of this kind of retribution?
Senator LeBreton: First, honourable senators, Commissioner Paulson appeared before a standing Senate committee that is studying this very matter, as the honourable senator well knows, being a member of that committee. As Leader of the Government in the Senate, I will not inject myself into the workings of a committee; I will await the full testimony of the committee, and its findings and observations on the testimony of all of the witnesses. I will eagerly await and look forward to reading the final deliberations of the committee and its views on all of the witnesses, including Commissioner Paulson.
Senator Mitchell: Honourable senators, there is another side to this. It was not just that he was speaking to people injured in the RCMP; he was also speaking to the chain of command in the RCMP, at least some of whom have been accused of, and through tribunal processes actually been convicted of, harassment.
What kind of message does it send to the chain of command when Commissioner Paulson begins to attack publicly at least three of his subordinates? These are people who may or may not be inclined to harass some of their employees, some of whom perhaps already having done that?
Senator LeBreton: Senator Mitchell is a member of the committee. Commissioner Paulson appeared before the committee, and the honourable senator had full access to questioning the commissioner. Perhaps the better person to ask those questions of regarding what kind of a message is sent would have been Commissioner Paulson when he was before the committee.
I am not a member of the committee; I was not there. I have simply read the reports of the committee. When the committee reports on this study, I am sure the committee will adjudicate quite clearly their views and comments on the testimony of all of the witnesses.
Senator Mitchell: Honourable senators, it is clear that the leader is not a member of that committee, but she is a member of the cabinet that supervises the process by which Commissioner Paulson was appointed. Would this not be a topic that the leader might raise with the Prime Minister, with the Minister of Public Safety and with the cabinet to ask, "What is the status of your commitment to Commissioner Paulson after he has displayed that perhaps he does not actually have the leadership perspective"— if I can put it that way—"that would be essential to solving the cultural problem in the RCMP?"
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, first, those are the honourable senator's words in describing Commissioner Paulson. I believe that when the commissioner was appointed, it was well applauded. The RCMP and the Commissioner willingly appeared before the committee and he was honest in his view. The honourable senator may agree or not, but that is not the issue. The testimony of any witness before a Senate or House of Commons committee is not something discussed at the cabinet table.
Senator Mitchell: Honourable senators, if the leader does not already know — and it would be understandable if she did not — could she confirm with Minister Toews as to whether he endorses the kind of comments made by Commissioner Paulson last night, or whether his office actually wrote those comments?
Senator LeBreton: Trust Senator Mitchell to have a good line of questioning going and then ask a dumb question.
Commissioner Paulson appeared before the committee. He was very clear in his views. Whether the honourable senator happens to agree with him or not, the fact is that he spoke very directly, openly and honestly from his perspective as Commissioner of the RCMP. The people who will have a chance to judge what they think of that testimony are the members of the committee, including the honourable senator himself.
Senator Mitchell: The leader is right: People can judge what they think of that testimony. However, the judgment of Minister Toews regarding that testimony would be particularly appropriate at this time. I was just wondering whether the leader might not ask him how he feels about it.
I have another question. Bill C-42 gives the power to Commissioner Paulson to, as he said, fire and get rid of the bad apples in the organization. There were those who would think, and he and others would want to argue, that the bad apples were the ones who were harassing people. However, after his vehement and aggressive attack yesterday of three subordinates who clearly were the victims of harassment, I wonder whether we should be giving this kind of power to Commissioner Paulson until he can clarify exactly who he believes are the bad apples in the RCMP.
Senator LeBreton: Again, I am not commenting on the testimony of the commissioner. As I said a moment ago, he was very direct, open and honest in the expression of his opinions. Of course, he is the Commissioner of the RCMP and has responsibility for the running of the force.
Bill C-42 is currently before us and will be dealt with by this chamber. The legislation is now the property of the chamber, and I do not think the commissioner's testimony last night in any way interferes with the legislative process of Bill C-42.
Senator Mitchell: It begs the question of Bill C-42, though, in several respects. First, Bill C-42 outlines three or four processes that will be established to deal with problems after the fact. It gives powers to fire; it gives powers for serious incident investigation; it gives powers to establish a new grievance process; and it gives quasi new powers to the public review board. All of these will deal with problems after the fact. The real problem in the RCMP is a cultural one that creates the harassment and bullying culture in the first place. How does the government construe Bill C-42 as solving that problem? It simply will not.
Senator LeBreton: The matter was addressed vigorously in the committee. Concerns were addressed by the chair of the committee, Senator Lang. Obviously, the bill is necessary to further strengthen and enhance the operation of the RCMP. It is a good bill, and I hope that when it is brought before us we will support it.
Hon. Wilfred P. Moore: Honourable senators, my question is also for the Leader of the Government in the Senate and is about the three subordinates whom Senator Mitchell mentioned. Can the leader assure the chamber and the public that those three people will not suffer undue consequences at the hands of this new commissioner and that they will have every full opportunity to advance within the force?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, this was testimony before a committee. I answer for the government in the Senate. The RCMP is an arm's-length organization. Commissioner Paulson is the head of the RCMP. If I were to stand here and in any way suggest that I would interfere in the operations of the RCMP, Senator Moore would be calling for my head.
The testimony before the committee last night was well reported, whether you agree with what Commissioner Paulson said or not. It is a matter of the public record. The committee will decide what they think of that testimony and make recommendations based on it.
Far be it from me, as government leader in the Senate, to intervene in this in any way. However, I will ensure that the Minister of Public Safety, Vic Toews, has a copy of the transcript of the Question Period debate here in the Senate so that he is fully aware of Senator Moore's views and those of Senator Mitchell.
Senator Moore: I thank the leader for that.
In the past I have asked her questions here with regard to the RCMP, and the response came back from Minister Toews, not from the commissioner or any officer in the force, so there is certainly government involvement at the ministerial level in the operation of the force. I would hope that the leader will convey that message to Minister Toews.
I am very concerned about this. For a new commissioner to be making those kinds of comments, and not in a nice way but rather with an edge, attacking these people, is not right, and I really hope that the leader conveys that to Minister Toews.
Senator LeBreton: When senators ask questions of me as Leader of the Government in the Senate, the only avenue I have to respond is through the minister who has jurisdiction in the area. Questions about the RCMP fall within the political responsibility of the Minister of Public Safety, and that is the only avenue I have to respond to these questions.
I can assure Senator Moore that I will let Minister Toews know of the concerns that were expressed in the Senate today.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, on May 28 the Honourable Senator Harb raised a question of privilege about alleged outside interference in the internal affairs of the Senate. This question touched, in particular, on the work of the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration, which has been reviewing certain senators' living expenses. Senator Harb argued that the effect of the outside influence has been to taint the process leading to the three reports on expenses made by the committee thus far. He claimed that this has had an impact on the reputation of the Senate and constitutes a breach of privilege.
Since the question of privilege was raised, the last of the three reports has been adopted and Senator Harb did speak to the twenty-fourth report, which dealt with his expenses.
A number of other senators spoke to the question of privilege. Senator Carignan noted that Senator Harb raised arguments similar to ones addressed in previous questions of privilege that had already been resolved. The Deputy Leader of the Government also indicated that other parliamentary processes would be available to address these concerns. Senator Carignan also made reference to the processes available through the different public officials dealing with ethics matters.
Senator Nolin went on to encourage Senator Harb to intervene in debate, which he later did, while Senator Cools called for the Senate to be cautious in how it proceeds. Finally, Senator Andreychuk clarified the role of the ethics officers.
As stated in a ruling of May 28, the gravity of the situation the Senate has been confronting should not be underestimated. Public trust in the institution is at stake. There is little doubt that senators are examining these matters carefully, as demonstrated by the proceedings on the reports of the Internal Economy Committee. While the Senate has a range of options open to it in considering its business, the Speaker is constrained by the rules when considering a question of privilege and must evaluate it in light of the four criteria of rule 13-3(1), all of which must be met.
Senator Harb stated that the first criterion has been met as his question of privilege followed from new information. While not denying this reality, senators should be cautious about using each new event as an opportunity to raise a question of privilege repeating previous arguments. This caution holds particularly in the current case, where this is the third ruling.
When considering the second and third criteria — that the question must relate to privilege and that there must be a grave or serious breach — one must remember that the Senate has the exclusive right to manage its internal affairs, including its debates, agenda and proceedings. As noted in a previous ruling, the process whereby the Senate considered the reports of the Internal Economy Committee was an exercise of this authority. The final outcome of the reports was decisions by the Senate after the public debate allowed by our rules and our practice. Senator Harb took part in the debate. The right of the Senate to control its own affairs has been respected. Neither the second criterion nor the third have been met.
The final criterion of rule 13-3(1) is that a question of privilege must "be raised to seek a genuine remedy that the Senate has the power to provide and for which no other parliamentary process is reasonably available." The Senate received various reports on the review of senators' living expenses. The one dealing with Senator Brazeau was adopted before this question of privilege. Another, dealing with Senator Duffy, was sent back to committee, where it was amended. The amended report was then adopted by the Senate. The report dealing with Senator Harb was still under consideration when the question of privilege was raised. A motion to refer it to committee had been moved, but was subsequently rejected and the report adopted.
The various actions adopted by the Senate in relation to the reports make clear that a range of parliamentary processes could be used to bring forward the concerns raised in the question of privilege. All senators had the chance to speak to the reports, and Senator Harb availed himself of that right. The Senate has now made a decision on all the reports, and Senator Harb's question of privilege does not meet the fourth criterion.
Since the question of privilege does not meet the criteria of rule 13-3(1), a prima facie case of privilege cannot be found to exist.
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Lang, seconded by the Honourable Senator Martin, for the third reading of Bill C-42, An Act to amend the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts;
And on the motion in amendment of the Honourable Senator Day, seconded by the Honourable Senator Hubley, that the Bill C-42 be not now read a third time but that it be amended
(a) in clause 12, on page 9, by replacing line 28 with the following:
"7(1)(e) of that Act, but the categories determined shall include categories of members who perform duties and functions that are substantially the same as the duties and functions performed by officers and by members other than officers on the coming into force of this section.";
(b) in clause 13, on page 9, by replacing line 36 with the following:
"(a) determine categories of members, which shall include categories of members who perform duties and functions that are substantially the same as the duties and functions performed by officers and by members other than officers on the coming into force of this section; and"; and
(c) in clause 86, on page 118,
(i) by replacing line 25 with the following:
"definition reads on that date, other than a member who is a member on the day this Act is assented to, who does not", and
(ii) by replacing line 32 with the following:
"Canadian Mounted Police Act, other than a member who is a member on the day this Act is assented to, who does not".
Hon. Grant Mitchell: Honourable senators, I would like to speak to this bill and this amendment. This very important motion concerns a number of public servants.
I simply want to address this issue to emphasize its importance and the need to correct Bill C-42 at least in this way, and I would argue, of course, in many other ways. This amendment, moved by the Honourable Senator Day, addresses the question of the issue that is begged by Bill C-42. It is interesting that Bill C-42 has been described as a way — largely in people's minds and certainly in most of the messaging from the government — to fix the problems, and I would argue cultural problems, in the RCMP.
Generally the focus of the debate has been on the power to fire, the external review processes such as they are, serious incident investigation and so on. The irony is that this particular feature of the changes to the status of civilian members of the RCMP has really just slipped under the radar. It is almost like this is a quasi-omnibus bill that is mixing apples and oranges to some extent. However, in one unfortunate irony, it may well be that this provision to change the status of civilian members will actually complicate yet again and further the culture of the RCMP.
Were it to be passed, this feature of the bill would provide that civilian members of the RCMP who currently are members of the RCMP be transferred de facto and arbitrarily in many respects — by definition arbitrarily because none of the details have been worked out — to the public service. This has certain huge implications. For example, when we questioned witnesses for clarification in committee, it was clear that there really are not necessarily — certainly not for all the 4,000 jobs at stake here — direct comparative positions in the public service — comparative, that is, to the positions they currently hold in the RCMP. Therefore that in and of itself is a complication.
Many people who have specific jobs have had those jobs for a long time, were hired under specific circumstances and have specific rights that have come with those positions, and they could now arbitrarily have all of that changed without any advance notice or warning in particular. I will qualify that further.
In addition, there are certain rights. For example, their pension rights will change dramatically. All of this is compounded by the fact their status right generally, and specific pension rights more specifically, for example, will change after the fact of this bill. Treasury Board will be given the power simply to work this through. The Treasury Board officials, when asked, said they wanted to be fair to the employees and they wanted to be fair to the government. It is hard to see how those two things could happen at exactly the same time. In fact, the ominous implication of that statement is that being fair to government would be to reduce pay, stature and benefits and the rights of these workers who have been hired under conditions and could have those conditions arbitrarily changed.
Honourable senators, it also became apparent during witness testimony that there really is not any group or body or any representation in particular at this point to defend the interests of civilian members of the RCMP who will be forced to make this transition. This is not voluntary. If they were doing this voluntarily, moving from the RCMP to the public service specifically, then that would be another question, but this is not voluntary. They will have had no chance to participate in the process. It is not clear that they have strong representation or any kind of official institutionalized representation to advance their case. All of a sudden they will be confronted with these changes after the fact of the legislation, with absolutely no recourse.
Honourable senators, it is for this reason that I applaud the efforts of Senator Day to amend this bill in a way that will address this situation. I would like to close simply by saying that it is important, no matter what the government may feel about the government generally and about the public service, to note that this government is the employer of these employees. We all know, including those who so often use the private sector as the example of how people should be treated in great organizations, that you simply cannot treat employees arbitrarily who have been loyal and who work hard and are dedicated to their service of the public, and you need to bend over backwards to make absolutely certain that they are treated fairly.
There is also a possibility of some real technical glitches in the crime-fighting arena. Many of these people are involved in positions that really are more appropriately categorized within a police force context. Taking them out of that context — and not those who perhaps already have the jobs, but in the future — could ultimately limit the way in which these jobs and the people in them are able to fulfill their role in what really and truly is a policing environment and not so much a more generic public sector functionary environment.
I raise those points in support of honourable senators who have moved this and also to seek the support of my colleagues in the Senate to vote for this amendment.
Hon. Roméo Antonius Dallaire: Honourable senators, I would like to continue the debate on Senator Day's proposed amendment to Bill C-42.
This subject comes as no surprise to us since it was extensively debated in committee. Despite a number of discussions on the matter, the problem remains the same.
I believe that there is no reason for this aspect of the bill, which is the problem related to human resources. We are talking here about managing roughly 10,000 civilians at the RCMP requiring the coordination of three levels of those civilians, namely the officers working at the RCMP, the traditional public servants and the contract workers.
The RCMP was probably able to convince the government that it was not enough to clean up and to give some powers to the commissioner. It is also necessary to get the administrative framework in order regarding the needs of those 4,000 or so civilians working for the RCMP. I am raising this issue because of the fundamental principle of loyalty. For decades, these people have considered themselves RCMP members. In fact, the RCMP considers them as such, to the point where it includes them in its data.
At National Defence, there are members of the military and civilian public servants. When the department is asked how many members it has, its answer is 80,000 military members and 20,000 civilian public servants.
At the RCMP, we are talking about 4,000 individuals. Those who wear the scarlet uniform and distinctive hat, and who sometimes ride a horse, include these 4,000 individuals among those who wear the uniform. They have integrated them. These people were adopted into the family and they were under the commissioner's authority, from a discipline and performance point of view. Therefore, they were essentially RCMP members the commissioner could rely on to fulfil the force's duties. He had the required authority to ensure their full effectiveness and to fix any problems.
Then, suddenly, a new bill is introduced to change some aspects of the RCMP. Moreover, these people are told they are no longer RCMP members but, rather, are public servants. I am not saying that in a derogatory way. In a democracy like ours, there is a fundamental respect for a responsible public service. All members of the public service adhere to the ethics philosophy. It makes them feel responsible and ready to fulfil their role to best govern our country, and also to help the current government fulfil its role. Therefore, there is nothing derogatory about being a public servant.
At National Defence, when I was DM, personnel, I was responsible for 80,000 members of the military and, at the time, we had a staff of about 32,000 civilians. I was responsible for both groups. I separated them because they work under different legislation. I had no authority over these civilians, because they come under public service rules. That is why we established the position of ADM, military personnel and ADM, civilian personnel.
It is a well-known fact that, in this city, the most loyal public servants work at National Defence. They are respected and, in that context, they are structured accordingly.
In the case of the RCMP, its civilian members are becoming public servants. Again, that is not derogatory. What is derogatory in this effort to deal with several groups without affecting the main element is the fact that they wanted to settle an administrative issue by saying that these people are no longer part of the RCMP and will now become public servants. This undermines their loyalty and, at the same time, it deprives the commissioner of a great deal of authority over these people, who, because of their specific qualifications, are absolutely essential to meeting the policing objectives of the force. This situation will create major turbulence, while depriving the commissioner of a lot of power to accomplish his mission.
What makes things even worse is the fact that these people were not told what to expect. They have not been told what to expect in the public service. They have not been told what they will have to do, how they will be treated, and how their pension and their pay will be affected. Will these individuals lose fringe benefits when they leave the RCMP to join the public service? Will their pay be lower under the new classification? The work has not been done for these 4,000 individuals. They are being thrown into the public service and told that the Treasury Board will do its best to ensure that their benefits are not adversely affected and their skills are recognized.
We cannot take such action and merely promise that their needs will be met. We must rely on studies to know how to assess these special qualifications in a specific area and to determine the benefits to be expected. That has not even been done. Because they will no longer be part of the RCMP, these people are being stripped of their loyalty, their identity and their presence, but the necessary groundwork has not been done. We are proud of the RCMP. Not only will these individuals no longer be part of the RCMP, but they can only hope that everything will be fine. However, the RCMP commissioner will have to pick up the pieces if things are not satisfactory. This is what may happen if these people are not treated according to their expectations, if their benefits are reduced, and if some are declassified in terms of recognition. If all these problems occur, the commissioner will be stuck with this situation, and we are talking about 4,000 individuals. The commissioner is the one who will have to deal with this problem, without having been able to do the groundwork.
As for the issue of loyalty, we are transferring these people from the RCMP to the public service without meeting their expectations or guaranteeing they will not be penalized. We could have included a grandfather clause to guarantee that these individuals will not suffer any loss of benefits, pay or pension. Such a clause could also have provided that their classification will never be in jeopardy because of this transfer from the RCMP to the public service. That would not have cost $300 million. It would have cost very little compared to what the commissioner will have to do to pick up the pieces, to deal with the lawsuits that these people will file, and rightly so, and to deal with the loss of authority over their performance, not to mention the discontent that could affect operations.
Honourable senators, it was unnecessary to put such a measure in the bill. The clean-up could have been done differently. Hastily including such a measure in this piece of legislation, which I will discuss shortly, is a gimmick that will create considerable tension.
Many people will be punished, first by leaving the RCMP, and then by not really knowing where they are going; that will protect them, and they will be able to continue loyally serving the RCMP in a slightly different way.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Further debate? Are honourable senators ready for the question?
Hon. Senators: Question.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: It has been moved by Honourable Senator Day, on a motion in amendment, seconded by Honourable Senator Hubley, that Bill C-42 be not now read a third time but that it be amended (a) in clause 12, on page 9, by replacing line 28 with the following — shall I dispense?
Hon. Senators: Dispense.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion in amendment?
Some Hon. Senators: No.
Some Hon. Senators: Yes.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: All of those in favour will please say "yea."
Some Hon. Senators: Yea.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Those opposed will please say "nay."
Some Hon. Senators: Nay.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: The "nays" have it.
And two honourable senators having risen:
Have the whips reached a decision on the time for a bell?
Hon. Jim Munson: We might need a one-hour bell. We have a number of senators who are in and around. I will explain; I am open and transparent. We have a number of senators who need an hour to get back, so it is a one-hour bell.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senators, it is now 3:20. The vote will be held at 4:20.
Motion in amendment negatived on the following division:
THE HONOURABLE SENATORS
|Furey||Watt — 29|
THE HONOURABLE SENATORS
|Marshall||White — 58|
THE HONOURABLE SENATORS
|Cools||Harb — 2|
The Hon. the Speaker: The question before the house is the main motion. Debate on the main motion.
Senator Dallaire: Honourable senators, since I am the critic for this bill, this afternoon I hope to close the debate on the bill, which I consider to be essential.
The question is whether this bill will really help the RCMP restore a certain level of transparency and accountability within the organization in order to regain the confidence that Canadians had in this institution, which is internationally recognized as one of the best. I would add that it is probably the best dressed in the world. Seeing the members of the RCMP wearing their scarlet uniforms as they participate in activities across the country is always a proud moment for Canadians.
The loss of confidence in an organization that displays such pride, elegance and splendour risks creating a public impression that would probably be worse than the reality it faces these days.
Canadians do not want to mock the RCMP, they want to be proud of it. They realize that there is much more to the institution than the scarlet uniform, the hat, the boots and the horses.
It is a national, provincial and municipal entity. It is even an international entity since many of its members are deployed to peacekeeping missions around the world. They do exemplary work and are in high demand. I have seen them on the ground in Congo, South Sudan and Haiti. I have seen them work in appalling conditions, conditions that require unfailing patience. They always act with dignity and responsibility. They are proud to be part of the RCMP, proud to wear the uniform and represent Canada.
Bill C-42 provides the RCMP Commissioner with tools to properly guide this complex, large-scale, conservative organization. It gives him tools to bring the organization into the modern era and to have it uphold the values, the standards, the ethics and all the legal requirements that Canadians expect. The organization will have the capacity to deal with the problems within its structure that require tough measures. It will be able to discipline itself and, with transparency, show Canadians that it is taking action.
Bill C-42 would ensure that members who do not meet the set standards, who are not proud of their history and jeopardize the prestige of this organization, are suitably punished and accept the consequences of their actions, which is what we expect of an organization where discipline is key.
We had a very interesting debate. I recommend that my colleagues take a look at it. The debate was on the RCMP as a paramilitary organization. In its structure, in its leadership philosophy, in its operational focus, but especially in the development of its people, is the RCMP truly a paramilitary organization that is essential in our time or is it just a police force? It is special because it works at multiple levels. However, is it just a police force? Is its work as such done according to set standards? According to the testimony we heard, the vast majority of the members perform with excellence, dedication, selflessness and courage. Some make the ultimate sacrifice. It upsets us to see RCMP officers on the wrong end of a gun, killed by those who want to do harm in our society. RCMP officers pay with their lives and are prepared to do so. The RCMP recognizes the sacrifices of its members and their families. They act accordingly. It is understood that the organization minimizes the risks for its members. The RCMP therefore supports members and their families that suffer such extreme consequences.
Let us come back to Bill C-42. I do not intend to review the technical aspect of this bill, because we have already done that and debated it. I would like to congratulate the Chair of the National Security and Defence Committee. He was open-minded and included observations in the bill in order to define certain elements that, we believe, had to be brought to the attention of those responsible for implementing it.
Kudos to the Honourable Senator Lang for guiding us and helping us to articulate these elements in order to identify the sections that need more attention. These elements will show what we expect from the commissioner, his subordinate commanders, the entire RCMP hierarchy and the entities responsible for oversight. We also wanted to highlight the fact that the RCMP, and especially its commissioner and chain of command, must be able to honour the new powers and responsibilities they will be given. They will have to be able to clearly understand the scope of the problems within the organization and take steps to address them.
There is no doubt the philosophy of a paramilitary organization is different than that of a traditional police force. The hierarchy of the latter is based more on civilian standards. There is a union and oversight by the public and the municipal and provincial authorities. Consequently, the organization may sometimes neglect its responsibility to ensure that it has quality staff. It can happen that some people run amok, acting in an unacceptable manner and doing unacceptable things. These actions are detrimental not only to the organization's reputation, but also to the members who, at times, and all too often it seems, are victimized by these people, either by an abuse of power or because of a leadership or life philosophy. This philosophy explains the man in uniform in relation to the woman in uniform.
Basically, has the RCMP been able to fully accept the fact that its well-respected uniform can be worn with as much pride, courage, ability and skill by women as by men? Or does this organization continue to perceive the male presence as ideal and the female presence as less than ideal? Does this perception allow us to observe any lack of respect, solidarity and cohesion within the organizations? Unfortunately, in the extreme, does this lead to actions that defy all understanding in such an organization?
I would like to share an anecdote about harassment in general. I have had the opportunity to work with members of Quebec's "C" Division and many RCMP members working overseas. I was recently invited to give presentations about leadership in southwestern Ontario because there appeared to be a need to review leadership standards.
Two female RCMP officers came to meet me at the airport with an unmarked car. The first thing they did was take my picture. As a politician, I am used to having my picture taken. When they took the photo, they posed so that their guns were in view. I thought that was very interesting. We had to drive for two hours. We talked about this and that, and at one point I asked them a potentially embarrassing question, but one that, in my experience, encompassed everything I witnessed in the Armed Forces in the 1990s. This period of change came about because Canadians did not hold us in very high regard; our approval rating amongst Canadians was only 17 per cent. Today that percentage has risen to approximately 86 per cent.
I asked them if they knew the expression, "boys will be boys.' Without the slightest hesitation, they said that they heard it every single week. One of these officers had been in the RCMP for four years, the other for 27.
What does that expression mean? When a complaint is filed because a male staff member has fondled, made advances or perhaps made some obscene...
I would like to ask for five more minutes, honourable senators.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it agreed?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Dallaire: Thank you. These facts are trivialized when they are brought to the authorities. The response is that it is not serious, boys will be boys. You have to live with it.
I asked them why they put up with this. They replied that they put up with it because they were powerless to do anything about it. The chain of command is not used to taking vigorous action, enforcing a zero tolerance policy and dealing with individuals who act this way.
One of the women also told me that her boss had an explicit calendar in his office that bordered on pornography. My father was a mechanic. There were calendars like this in all the garages in eastern Montreal. All the garages gave them out. There are people who will say that those were the good old days, but still, it was the culture of the time. The officer told him that the calendar contravened the RCMP code of discipline and showed lack of respect for this code, which includes rules against sexual harassment. He replied that it was his office, he liked the calendar and it would stay where it was. The following week, in the same headquarters, she dealt with three other senior officers in that same office who had the same calendar. There is a bit of a problem here.
Bill C-42 will provide the authority to clean house and raise standards to the level the institution has set not only to maintain its reputation, but also to protect its members and allow them to succeed, whether they are men or women.
It also opens the door to a reform among senior officers to teach them the essential values of our national police force, whose reputation as the best police force must be preserved. A comprehensive reform must take place at the executive level regarding the selection and training of officers who want promotions. There need to be much clearer instructions to the effect that harassment will not be tolerated and that those who break the law will be treated accordingly. We must no longer hear things such as: "Oh, he is a good guy, he has been around for 20 years. He made a little mistake." What would be called rape elsewhere is just a little mistake here. The evening was long and boring in the police cruiser.
One solution to this problem is to transfer the offender. They get rid of him by sending him elsewhere. The other solution that is used all too often is to transfer the victim. She is the one who ends up elsewhere with her whole history and with the other gang waiting for her.
There is a deep need for accountability within the chain of command so that it can learn to manage in a more modern fashion so as to respect personnel and ensure that it can thrive.
In the Armed Forces, I was in charge of reforming the officer corps, which included close to 12,000 officers, from generals to lieutenants. This reform was followed by that of the more than 20,000 non-commissioned officers, from chief warrant officers to corporals. That was a major exercise imposed on us because we had behaved like fools. We made mistakes. Remember Somalia. We realized that it was not just a few exceptions, a few individuals doing stupid things. When we looked a little further, we saw that we had lost the ability to manage ourselves. The minister forced us to have external committees, because he wanted to be sure we would implement the necessary reforms to establish respect and internal discipline in the Armed Forces.
That is what the RCMP needs. The bill makes such a change, but it does not go far enough, particularly as regards my amendment on the lack of loyalty toward civilian personnel. Bill C-42 includes many good measures, but without a comprehensive reform and a specific commitment to civilian personnel, it is seriously flawed. Thank you.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is there further debate?
An Hon. Senator: Question.
The Hon. the Speaker: Are honourable senators ready for the question?
Hon. Senators: Question.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Some Hon. Senators: On division.
Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Hon. the Speaker: Carried, on division.
(Motion agreed to and bill read third time and passed, on division)
Leave having been given to revert to Government Business, Bills, No. 1:
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator White, seconded by the Honourable Senator McIntyre, for the third reading of Bill S-16, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (trafficking in contraband tobacco).
Hon. Jane Cordy: Honourable senators, I rise to speak today to Bill S-16, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (trafficking in contraband tobacco). All honourable senators are aware of the health risks associated with smoking. I am supportive of proposed legislation that aims to reduce tobacco usage among Canadians and that discourages Canadians, in particular young Canadians, from taking up smoking. People who begin smoking at a young age are more likely to keep smoking.
Bill S-16 deals with contraband tobacco. When considering contraband tobacco, we must consider the involvement of organized criminal elements, loss of tax revenue to provincial and federal governments, and the substantial financial loss to convenience store owners, who sell tobacco legally because contraband tobacco sellers do not follow the rules. A Macdonald-Laurier Institute study estimates the potential losses in tax revenue at about $900 million to $1.2 billion per year.
Contraband tobacco is closely linked to smuggling and organized crime. If people are trafficking contraband tobacco, it is likely they are involved in other illegal trafficking activities. Profits from contraband tobacco are often diverted to other illegal activities.
Previous governments have taken many legislative steps to curb the use of tobacco products in Canada: advertising restrictions; graphic health warnings on tobacco packaging; prohibiting sales to those under 18; prohibiting the display of tobacco products in stores; and restricting flavoured tobacco products, which appeal to children and often lure young people into smoking.
However, studies have shown that the biggest deterrent to smoking has always been and continues to be the cost. The more prohibitive the cost, the less people smoke. Unfortunately, the prohibitive cost of cigarettes creates the black market for contraband tobacco products, which are much cheaper. The cheap price and no age check mean that youth, who should not be smoking, have little trouble getting contraband tobacco. Studies show that 33 per cent of cigarettes in Ontario high schools and over 40 per cent of those in Quebec high schools were contraband. This is scary not only because of the health risk, but also because we know that organized crime distributes the contraband product.
Many witnesses who appeared before the Legal Affairs Committee testified that higher tobacco taxes create a higher demand for black market tobacco products. The Legal Affairs Committee heard from Alex Sholten, President of the Canadian Convenience Stores Association, that there is a clear correlation between increased taxes and increased contraband activity. That increased cost often leads consumers to a contraband product.
Contraband tobacco products successfully circumvent all the measures and control checks established by governments and provide a cheap and easily accessible alternative product. Much of the production of contraband products takes place on First Nations territories in Ontario and Quebec, which share a border with the United States, and in unlicensed American production facilities. These facilities lack any kind of control and, in many instances, these products contain contaminants and impurities.
I was surprised to hear at the committee hearings that contraband tobacco also comes into Canada from China. As these contraband tobacco products work their way across Canada, anyone can cheaply purchase a bag of black market cigarettes and taxes are avoided.
First Nations communities have become the focus of law enforcement because of the unique situation they find themselves in. Akwesasne territory, for instance, is spread across parts of Ontario, Quebec and the United States. Contraband cigarettes are manufactured on the U.S. portion of the territory and smuggled to the Canadian side where they are moved off territory to be sold.
Akwesasne leaders expressed concern about the direction that the federal government is taking with Bill S-16. They fear that their communities are being unfairly targeted and their people disproportionately prosecuted when the majority of those taking part in these activities are from off-territory and primarily run by organized crime.
Politically, the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne has no harsh objection to what Bill S-16 proposes to accomplish. However, they are concerned with the impacts of the bill. The MCA and the governments of Ontario and Quebec have worked together to build a cooperative relationship around common interests. There should be the same cooperation between the Mohawk Council and the federal government. The MCA was given a draft of the bill to look at about a month before the bill was at the Senate Legal Affairs Committee, but they were not consulted when it came to drafting the bill or with the provision of criminalizing the offence. Surely the federal government could work with the Mohawk Council to address topics of concern regarding contraband tobacco and the multi-jurisdictional nature of Akwesasne. If the Ontario and Quebec governments can build a cooperative relationship, then surely the Government of Canada can do so as well.
Chief Brian W. David of the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne stated before the committee:
Akwesasne is sounding the alarm once more on the impact that Bill S-16 will have on the Mohawks of Akwesasne and how it is another step in the wrong direction. It will only further criminalize our community members and perpetuate a negative image of Akwesasne. It is not the approach that we have been proposing to Canada, Ontario and Quebec to effectively deal with contraband tobacco that can be supported by Akwesasne.
Bill S-16 provides law enforcement and the courts with another tool to combat the issue of trafficking contraband tobacco. Unfortunately, as long as the market conditions are right and there is the need for cheap, easily accessible tobacco products, it seems these activities will continue to persist.
A multi-facetted approach to stop trafficking of contraband tobacco is truly needed. Not only must there be a focus on traffickers, but also on consumers. Better cooperation with our neighbours to the south, provincial counterparts and on-reserve leaders and policing organizations would be helpful. Additionally, increased resources and partnership efforts should be aimed at the reduction of Canadians' smoking habits overall. If the demand is not there, the criminal activities will cease.
I believe that having the trafficking of contraband tobacco included in the Criminal Code lends a greater aura of criminality to the offence. When asked about the current sentencing patterns and mandatory minimum sentences, an official from the justice department who appeared before the committee stated that they have not analyzed the sentencing patterns under the Excise Act to see if the courts were being overly lenient. He believed that the courts were levying fines for the most part, but in the last few years they have begun to impose prison sentences. The Justice Department was simply asked to craft a bill that would insert mandatory minimum sentences into the code for repeat offenders.
I asked Mr. Trevor Bhupsingh, Director General, Law Enforcement and Border Strategies Directorate, Public Safety Canada, at committee why we were moving forward with mandatory minimums when there was not any proof that they were effective. He responded that he did not have studies to prove their deterrent effect in other jurisdictions where they have been used and that he did not have any documentation that would proactively suggest they were a deterrent. He said that this was the approach the government had decided to take. The government believes it to be part of the solution to the problem and that mandatory minimum sentences address the seriousness of the crime.
The RCMP is establishing a strengthened 50-officer anti-contraband tobacco force and an additional 10 new First Nations police officers dedicated to addressing organized crimes in First Nations communities. Unfortunately, I thought the 50-officer anti-contraband tobacco force was 50 new positions. However, that is not the case. The 50 officers are being reassigned from other priority areas. The force will be funded within existing budgets. While I believe the anti-contraband tobacco force of 50 officers and 10 new First Nations police officers is a great idea, it is unfortunate that the 50 RCMP officers on the task force are not new positions but, rather, reassignments. What happens to the other areas from which they have been removed?
By adding the trafficking of contraband tobacco to the Criminal Code, the hope is that it will dispel the idea held by consumers that these products are just tax avoidance and cheap cigarettes. It should also remind consumers that this is a criminal activity, and it should not be viewed as a victimless crime. These are serious crimes.
I hope that including these same offences under the Criminal Code has the effect desired by Superintendent Carson Pardy. When he appeared before the committee, he stated:
. . . the current provincial Tobacco Tax Act is tax legislation, and the deterrence there deals with the evasion of taxes associated with the activity. This proposed legislation is essentially criminalizing that same process, and in my respectful opinion the criminalization of this will do more to deter than the fines will alone.
We heard, in committee, about the limitations placed on provincial police forces, unless they are working in a joint effort with the RCMP, when combatting contraband trafficking. We heard the example of a case that was dismissed because the Ontario Provincial Police lacked jurisdiction under the Customs Act. These same restrictions apply under the Excise Act as well. This prompted the committee to attach the following observation, which the committee believes would assist law enforcement, for the government to consider:
a) amending the definition of an "officer" in section 2 of the Customs Act as follows:
i) "Officer" means a person employed in the administration or enforcement of this Act . . . and includes any member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police or any provincial police force.
b) designating all provincial police forces for the purposes of enforcement of the Excise Act under section 10 of that Act.
I believe this is an excellent observation made by the committee, and I hope that the government will look at it seriously and act quickly to make what would be a most helpful change in fighting contraband tobacco activities.
We heard in the committee that law enforcement does not have a clear picture of what the total universe looks like in terms of contraband. No one has a handle on this. Let us hope that the RCMP's Contraband Tobacco Enforcement Strategy and the federal tobacco contraband strategy gets this clear picture.
Every strategy and every plan should know what has to be done. We do know that organized crime networks are involved in the production and distribution of contraband tobacco. Bill S-16 hopefully will help enforcement agencies to address this serious problem. We will not solve the problem until we get to the heart of it and get what was referred to in committee as the "clear picture."
Honourable senators, I do not want to leave the impression that only contraband tobacco is harmful. Contraband tobacco comes with a variety of issues, most notably health concerns and criminal activity, but tobacco is tobacco. It is toxic and harmful to our health. We know it can lead to cancer and heart disease.
A few weeks ago I spoke at Auburn Drive High School in Cole Harbour about what the Senate does. I explained that bills could be introduced in the Senate, and I gave the example of Bill S-16. I went on to talk about the dangers of contraband tobacco. It was unregulated, there was no quality control, and it could contain disgusting things. A student in the front row said, "Well, isn't all tobacco bad for you?" Yes, honourable senators, all tobacco is bad for you.
I would like to thank Senator White for the work he has done in promoting this bill. I would also like to thank Senator Runciman, the Chair of the committee, who was always fair when presiding, and Senator Fraser, the Deputy Chair of the committee. As a non-member of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, I was most impressed by the hard work of all the senators on the committee, who asked probing questions and who worked together on the excellent observation.
I do not believe mandatory minimum sentencing has a deterrent effect. In fact, when I spoke to the Justice Department official, he stated that the deterrent effect is speculative. Yet, once again, this government's solution with any new crime bill is mandatory minimums. As I said at second reading, surely we can do better than same old, same old.
While I disagree with the concept of mandatory minimum sentencing, I am hopeful that other changes brought in by Bill S-16 will be helpful in the fight against the trafficking of contraband tobacco.
The Hon. the Speaker: Are honourable senators ready for the question?
Hon. Senators: Question.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
(Motion agreed to and bill read third time and passed.)
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, before proceeding any further, I would like to draw your attention to the presence in the Governor General's gallery of Her Excellency, the distinguished Ambassador of Israel to Canada, Miriam Ziv, who is accompanied by her husband, Ariel Kenet.
On behalf of all honourable senators, Your Excellency, I welcome you to the Senate of Canada.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.
Income Tax Act
Excise Tax Act
First Nations Goods and Services Tax Act
Hon. Douglas Black moved second reading of Bill C-48, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act, the Excise Tax Act, the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act, the First Nations Goods and Services Tax Act and related legislation.
He said: Honourable senators, I am pleased to rise today to speak to this technical, but very important, piece of tax legislation, Bill C-48, the technical tax amendments act, 2012. This piece of legislation will add certainty and predictability to Canada's tax code, something that will be beneficial to taxpayers and tax professionals alike. Indeed, as we have heard from the Auditor General and many of the witnesses at the House of Commons Finance Committee earlier this year, this legislation has been over a decade in the making and is long overdue.
Specifically, the act represents over 10 years of miscellaneous tax changes, changes that have been the subject of numerous open and public consultations. Unfortunately, while previous parliaments attempted to pass these technical amendments, those efforts, for a myriad of reasons, were unsuccessful. As one can imagine, this has caused a significant backlog in the tax system, making it more important than ever before to finally pass these technical amendments.
Allow me to recall the words of the Auditor General of Canada, who in 2009 raised this very concern, saying:
Each year, more deficiencies are identified, contributing to the ever-growing backlog of needed technical amendments.
The Auditor General further articulated additional and compelling reasons why Parliament should take immediate action to address this issue, saying:
Taxpayers' ability to comply with tax legislation depends on their understanding of how the rules apply to their own circumstances. . . . Uncertainty about how the law should be applied can also add to the time taken and costs incurred by tax audits and tax administration.
Honourable senators, not only was this the view of the Auditor General, but it was also a view expressed by a number of the expert witnesses, especially tax professionals, who appeared before the House of Commons Finance Committee during their study.
For example, Moodys LLP Tax Advisors said:
We believe that certainty in tax matters has been severely compromised by the inability to pass the collection of technical amendments that comprises Bill C-48.
Ernst & Young echoed this sentiment by saying:
. . . we support Bill C-48 and, for that matter, the timely enactment of tax legislation in general. We recognize that a goal of achieving more timely enactment needs to be balanced with providing an adequate amount of time to study the relevant measures and to seek input from interested parties. In this regard, we commend the Department of Finance for its ongoing efforts to constructively consult with taxpayers and other professional and business organizations regarding these matters.
Honourable senators, I agree wholeheartedly with the words expressed by those at the House of Commons Finance Committee, as well as those expressed by the Auditor General.
Indeed, it is worth mentioning that members of the Finance Committee gave their unanimous support for this legislation. In other words, members from every political stripe agreed that this legislation is long overdue and that it should be given swift passage, a sentiment I hope will be shared among honourable senators.
What are the measures in the bill? I would like to take some time to briefly recap the contents of the Technical Tax Amendments Bill, 2012.
I will commence with Part 1 of the bill, which will modify the provisions of the Income Tax Act dealing with the taxation of non-resident trusts. These changes reflect the feedback that was received from repeated public consultations in recent years.
Parts 2 and 3 deal directly with the taxation of Canadian multinational corporations with foreign affiliates, implementing changes, some of which date all the way back to 2004. This will make Canada's tax system more fair and equitable, not to mention easier to administer. As is the case with the majority of measures contained in this bill, these changes are again the result of extensive public consultation.
Part 4 of the bill deals with the concept of bijuralism. More specifically, it contains amendments that will ensure that the bill will function effectively in both common law and civil law. This means that amendments dealing with certain private-law concepts, such as right and interest, real and personal property, life, estate and remainder interests, tangible and intangible property and joint and several liability will accurately capture both common and civil law in both official languages.
Part 5 of the bill focuses on fairness for taxpayers by setting out a number of measures to close tax loopholes, ensuring that all Canadians pay their fair share of tax. Specifically, the bill will close tax loopholes relating to specified leasing property, ensure that the conversions of specified-investment, flow-through trusts and partnerships into corporations are subject to the same rules and transactions between corporations, prevent schemes designed to shelter tax by artificially increasing foreign tax credits and, finally, implement a regime for information reporting of tax avoidance transactions.
Honourable senators, not only are these measures important in their own right, but they are also part of a larger plan. These measures play a key role in our government's fight against tax avoidance and will help improve the integrity of the tax system. Not only are we moving forward with this landmark piece of technical tax legislation, but our recent action plan, Economic Action Plan 2013, affirms our commitment to making the taxation system fairer and more equitable for all Canadians.
Indeed, since 2006, and including the measures announced in Economic Action Plan 2013, our government has introduced over 75 measures to improve the integrity of the tax system. The proposals in the action plan are estimated to close tax loopholes that total close to $1 billion over the next five years. I would like to highlight some of the many measures in Economic Action Plan 2013 that close these tax loopholes, address aggressive tax planning, clarify tax rules and combat international tax evasion.
First and foremost, the economic plan announced the Stop International Tax Evasion Program. This new program will allow the Canada Revenue Agency to reward individuals with knowledge of major international tax non-compliance a percentage of the tax collected as a result of the information provided. Other measures include requiring Canadian taxpayers with foreign income or properties to report more information and extending the amount of time the CRA has to reassess those who have not properly reported this income. It also streamlines the process for the CRA to obtain information concerning unnamed persons from third parties such as banks.
As a matter of fact, we are not the only ones taking action on this important front. The Government of Ontario's 2013 budget, tabled in early May, contained a section on closing tax loopholes. This underlined what is a common belief among governments that everyone should pay their fair share of taxes. As part of its campaign to crack down on tax loopholes, the Ontario government looked at the federal government and specifically this legislation for inspiration.
Let me quote directly from page 266 of the Ontario budget document:
. . . the government —
That is the Ontario government.
— will be proposing legislation to introduce new disclosure rules for aggressive tax avoidance transactions similar to the rules introduced by the federal government as part of Bill C-48 in November 2012. This proposed measure would require taxpayers to report aggressive tax avoidance transactions that attempt to avoid Ontario tax.
I am sure all honourable senators agree that closing loopholes that permit a select few corporations and individuals to skip out on paying their fair share of tax is unacceptable.
I want to assure all senators and Canadians that, as we move forward, our Conservative government will keep taking the necessary steps to protect the integrity of the tax system. By doing that and helping end tax loopholes, we are helping keep taxes low for all Canadians and their families.
Before I move on to discuss the measures contained in Part 6 of this bill, I would like to highlight some additional technical changes in Part 5. These changes are merely being made to make sure that the system works in the same way as the underlying policy intent that guides it. In fact, many of these changes relieve a tax burden by addressing issues identified by individual taxpayers in the course of their interactions with the income tax rules and how they apply to their own situations.
Finally, Part 5 implements an amendment relating to the enactment of the Fairness for the Self-Employed Act. Thanks to that new initiative our Conservative government recently enacted, self-employed Canadians do not have to choose between their family and their business responsibilities anymore. I think all senators would be very supportive of this, as it is a very good pro-family policy, while also among the most significant positive steps forward in decades for the self-employed.
The Technical Tax Amendments Bill, 2012, makes some tax changes to help fully implement that legislation. To be more specific, the Income Tax Act is amended through consequential changes to provide for a personal income tax credit with respect to premiums paid, consistent with the existing credit in respect of employee EI premiums.
Moving quickly to Part 6, today's legislation will also implement a series of improvements to the GST/HST framework, such as relieving the GST/HST on administrative costs of collecting and distributing the levy on blank media imposed under the Copyright Act.
Part 7 of this bill provides for a few minor and administrative changes to the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act, as well as making it possible for tax administration agreements for First Nations GST between the federal government and Aboriginal governments to be administered through a provincial administration if that province also administers the federal GST.
Finally, Part 8 contains some housekeeping amendments to ensure coordination between provisions of the Income Tax Act and the Jobs and Growth Act, 2012, and the Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act.
Honourable senators, as I end my remarks, let me again note that all members of the House of Commons Finance Committee from all parties unanimously supported this legislation, and their cooperative attitude ensured its swift passage. I hope that this spirit of across-the-aisle cooperation can be emulated in this chamber in our review of this legislation.
(On motion of Senator Moore, debate adjourned.)
Hon. Betty Unger moved second reading of Bill C-52, An Act to amend the Canada Transportation Act (administration, air and railway transportation and arbitration).
She said: Honourable senators, I rise today to speak in support of Bill C-52, the fair rail freight service act, which proposes amendments to the Canada Transportation Act concerning rail freight service. I will first begin with some background.
Bill C-52 emerged from the Rail Freight Service Review, which our Conservative government launched in 2008 to conduct a comprehensive study of the entire rail freight supply chain. The government launched the review in response to years of complaints from shippers about poor, unreliable and unpredictable service from the railways, which was negatively affecting their businesses. The review panel delivered its report to the government in 2011, and its recommendations have been incorporated into the proposed legislation.
The bill has two key features. First, it creates a strong incentive for shippers and railways to work together to find common agreement on rail freight/service issues. As Conservatives, we believe that commercial solutions are the best outcome for everyone.
Second, in recognition of the fact that shippers and railways are sometimes unable to reach agreement on service issues commercially, the bill would create a mechanism to resolve service disputes on a timely basis. Bill C-52 aims to establish more predictable rail freight service, which will help shippers grow their businesses and get more Canadian goods to global markets. It strives to provide greater confidence in the reliability of rail freight service.
By ensuring predictable and reliable service for all shippers, this proposed legislation contributes to the growth of Canadian trade and, in turn, the growth of the entire Canadian economy. Briefly put, the act would give shippers the statutory right to a service level agreement with railways. This would give shippers more leverage to negotiate service level agreements commercially. These agreements bring more predictability and reliability to the relationship between shippers and railways.
The proposed legislation would also ensure that if commercial negotiations fail, shippers could ask the Canadian Transportation Agency to impose a service level agreement through arbitration. In establishing an agreement, the arbitrator would have to consider both the shipper's transportation needs and the railway's responsibility to manage an efficient network that benefits all users. The arbitrator would then render a decision that is fair and reasonable to both parties based on the particular circumstances of each case.
As well, Bill C-52 proposes a new enforcement mechanism by allowing the Canadian Transportation Agency to assess a penalty of up to $100,000 against a railway for each and every confirmed breach of an arbitrated service level agreement. This creates a strong incentive for railways to meet their service obligations.
Shippers support the proposals in Bill C-52 and have welcomed the legislation as a tool to help them meet their sales commitments. This support comes from many shippers but, in particular, those in three crucial areas that feed Canada's trade: agriculture, forestry and natural resources.
For example, Doug Chorney, President of Keystone Agricultural Producers, calls the proposed new law "a real breakthrough for farmers." Mr. Chorney notes that because rail service is such a major concern for grain growers, "the sooner this passes, the better."
Indeed, shippers have acknowledged that this bill meets their fundamental requests for commercial agreements and supports continued collaboration with the railways. It is worth noting the importance of these sectors to Canada's economy.
Honourable senators, agricultural and forestry products are vital to Canada's prosperity. In fact, in 2011, nearly 42 per cent of our gross domestic product was from bulk commodities, including grain and forest products. In agriculture, Canada is a major contributor to the world's food supply. We produce some of the best food in the world and are experiencing a growing demand for our wheat, durum, canola, pulse crops and other products. Thousands of individuals and agricultural companies rely on our ability to produce and market our great products to the world.
Agriculture needs rail shipping. In fact, Grain Growers of Canada estimates that we export some 35 million tonnes of grain annually and grain shippers spend approximately $1.4 billion on rail freight.
Forestry products produce a similar picture. There is a global demand for products such as pulp and lumber. In 2011, Canada's lumber exports exceeded $2.8 billion to the U.S. and $2.1 billion to Asia. These products rely on rail transportation. In 2011, railways in Canada moved nearly $8 billion in agricultural products and $9 billion in forest products. For grain and forest product shippers to take full advantage of trade opportunities, they need a reliable and predictable rail freight system that can move products from farms and mills to ports and foreign markets.
Another valuable sector of Canada's economy on which we rely to fuel our prosperity is natural resources. That sector, which also includes energy, mining and minerals, employs almost 800,000 Canadians directly and the same number in related industries and services. The natural resource sector represents about 15 per cent of Canada's nominal gross domestic product. An additional 4 per cent in GDP comes from indirect economic activity linked to the purchase of goods and services by the resource industries. As a result, the resources sector contributes almost one fifth of Canada's GDP.
Entire communities throughout Canada were founded on our natural resources and continue to depend upon them. In addition, natural resource projects provide federal and provincial governments with substantial revenues in the form of taxes and royalties associated with major developments. The energy sector alone contributes some $22 billion annually.
Honourable senators, looking to the future, the potential to increase these revenues is significant. Over the next 10 years, more than $650 billion worth of capital investment in Canada's natural resource sector is planned or already in development.
Natural resource industries are the largest users of rail freight services in Canada. In fact, Canada's resource industries account for almost two thirds of the country's rail shipments, and the energy sector's use of rail, particularly the oil industry, is growing, as oil companies increasingly ship oil by rail to get around pipeline bottlenecks. Industry analysts note that North American rail shipments of crude oil have grown by about 360,000 barrels a day over the past year. These shipments have reached nearly half a million barrels per day, which is equal to the volume of a new pipeline. For these sectors' projects to continue their success, they must be able to ship their bulk resources and finished products reliably and efficiently to manufacturers and markets, whether on this continent or elsewhere.
Therefore, to support these businesses and industries, Canada's rail freight system plays a vital role. No matter what their product is or how complex it is to transport to market, all shippers need clear, predictable and reliable rail service. They need to know that their products will get to where they need to be and on time. That is why shippers want railways to ensure they get the rail service needed to deliver goods to their customers, as planned.
Service-level agreements between railways and shippers help to achieve this. They give shippers more clarity on the rail service they can expect to receive, and they improve our supply chains by demonstrating a strategic approach that encourages all parties to work together to support Canada's trade agenda.
I would like to stress to all honourable senators that to promote trade as a way to build Canada's economic prosperity, we will need to support and develop partnerships. Such partnerships are essential to Canada's economic success. Various industries and transportation providers are partners across many different transport modes in order to move goods seamlessly from producer to market.
The government's proposed changes in this legislation would further strengthen such partnerships, while improving our transportation supply chains.
As I noted earlier, shippers rely on railways in order to get goods to market on time and to seize opportunities in increasingly competitive global markets. For railways, cooperation with shippers means more predictable rail traffic, which helps them manage their networks more efficiently. Rail supply chains are complex and feature many different players. Partnerships between shippers and railways contribute to the fluidity and efficiency of Canada's broader transportation networks.
We must remember that outside factors can affect our trade and that Canadian transportation networks must compete against others on this continent. The delay of a shipment to a port in Canada could prompt shippers to choose other transportation providers or ports in the United States or in Mexico. This reinforces the need for reliable rail shipping between product origins and ports in Canada. This is crucial to the competitiveness of our ports and our entire supply chain.
That is why this new legislation supports partnerships that allow shippers and railways to work together and develop negotiated agreements. This legislation demonstrates the importance of predictable and efficient rail freight, which complements the government's many gateway initiatives, which are also designed to strengthen Canada's supply chains.
Efficient supply chains in Canada are integral to the international trade that fuels our economic growth. These chains consist of many players, including ports, transportation providers, shippers and governments. All have an interest to ensure that our transportation networks are connected, efficient and fluid.
In the past, Canada has experienced bottlenecks in the transportation system. These slowdowns have threatened our ability to move goods efficiently between our ports and global markets. To address this, our Conservative government has worked with other levels of government, as well as the private sector, to implement a national framework for strategic gateways and trade corridors.
During the discussion of this bill, let us remember that it was this government that identified and focused on three gateways for international trade: the Asia-Pacific Gateway on our West Coast; the Atlantic Gateway on our East Coast; and the Continental Gateway, linking Central Canada to the North American heartland.
As supply chains do not rest entirely on one ship, port, air terminal or highway, this gateway framework takes a comprehensive, systems-based approach to improving transportation networks and supporting transportation infrastructure in Canada.
In support of this, the government's Economic Action Plan 2013 includes infrastructure funding worth some $53 billion over 10 years, starting next year. This is the largest long-term federal commitment to Canadian infrastructure in our nation's history.
Developing gateways and investing in infrastructure make up only part of the action we are taking to strengthen the supply chains that transport Canadian trade. By contributing to more predictable, reliable and efficient supply chains and networks, Bill C-52 would build upon the many partnerships developed through the gateway initiatives. It would also improve transportation fluidity through ports and terminals and enable our supply chains to further Canada's competitiveness in global markets.
By addressing the need for shippers to maintain and grow their businesses and the need for railways to manage an efficient rail shipping network that benefits everyone, this legislation would foster the kind of partnership that has helped our gateway efforts succeed.
In concluding, I would like to note that all parties involved in trade, in both the public and the private sectors, are important to strengthen Canada's competitiveness in global markets and, in turn, our future prosperity. Those who produce commodities, such as grain and forest products, grow our economy as global demand for their goods increases. Shippers, by delivering products and expanding their market share, also help strengthen the Canadian economy.
However, for all this to happen, we need a strong rail system that can adapt to the market's needs. That adaptation can happen only if we can ensure a reliable and predictable partnership between shippers and rail companies.
Given the importance of rail to our economy, including to the grain and forestry sectors, we must take proactive steps to enhance the effectiveness, efficiency and reliability of our rail shipping system. Therefore, by passing Bill C-52, the Fair Rail Freight Service Bill, this Parliament would strengthen Canada's supply chains, promote our trading capabilities and foster our future prosperity.
I would also like to note the broad support this bill received from all parties in the other place: It was passed by a vote of 255 to 0. The unanimous support this bill received demonstrates the extent to which it is vital to enhancing Canada's economic future by helping to foster job creation and economic growth.
Accordingly, I encourage all members of the Senate to vote to support passage of Bill C-52.
(On motion of Senator Tardif, debate adjourned.)
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Carignan, seconded by the Honourable Senator Marshall:
That the Special Senate Committee on Anti-Terrorism be dissolved from the time of the adoption of this motion.
Hon. Roméo Antonius Dallaire: Honourable senators, action has been taken and accordingly we will be delaying the response to this.
On Senate Public Bills — Third Reading:
Third reading of Bill S-207, An Act to amend the Interpretation Act (non-derogation of aboriginal and treaty rights), as amended.
Hon. Claude Carignan (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, debate was adjourned in my name, but the motion was not moved.
I do not intend to speak to this bill. I know that Senator Watt would like to because he is the bill's sponsor. I do not wish to continue to have the adjournment stand in my name. This is day 15 of debate.
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Boisvenu, seconded by the Honourable Senator Braley, for the third reading of Bill C-316, An Act to amend the Employment Insurance Act (incarceration).
Hon. Jim Munson: Honourable senators, we have one more chance to say no to Bill S-316, An Act to amend the Employment Insurance Act (incarceration). Today, I must say for the record that this bill is fundamentally flawed and harmful to Canadians. At every turn, those like me who are concerned about Bill C-316 have raised more valid and stronger points than its sponsor, MP Dick Harris, and other supporters.
An Act to amend the Employment Insurance Act (incarceration) began with a story of a family from Mr. Harris's riding in British Columbia. A woman — a wife and a mother to young children — took a voluntary leave of absence from her job to upgrade her credentials. After earning her degree, she returned to work. Three months later, she learned she had cancer. She also learned that she was ineligible for Employment Insurance benefits. She had not worked enough hours of insurable employment during the qualifying period — the 52 weeks prior to her claim.
Mr. Harris tried to help this woman to determine if the EI Act might include provisions for a difficult situation like hers. He discovered that it does not. However, in the course of trying to help this woman, he did discover that the act does provide for extensions of both the qualifying and benefit periods for persons incarcerated for less than two years.
Honourable senators, I believe that all of us are susceptible to moments when emotions eclipse reasoned, informed thinking, and when we instantly associate one situation with another. Our reaction to the first is displaced onto the second, even though the two are completely unrelated. Usually, reason will eventually set in and we will seek out facts to help us acquire a more balanced, thorough perspective on the matter — usually. Unfortunately, that is not always the case.
Rather than proposing amendments to the EI Act or developing new legislation that could bring meaningful aid to people hit by circumstances like the woman he set out to help, Mr. Harris has developed a bill that will most certainly bring hardship to a very vulnerable group of people as well as their dependents. I hate to say it, but in typical Conservative fashion, the solution to unfairness is to create new injustices.
One of the reasons this population is so vulnerable is the social stigma of having been incarcerated. The sponsors and supporters of this bill have certainly played on negative attitudes to achieve their objectives. According to their camp, the provisions in the EI Act are a "privilege" and deliver "preferential treatment." They "favour some people at the expense of the majority." They take away benefits from "hard-working, law-abiding citizens." They "reward crime."
All these statements are untrue. This is language that pits human beings against human beings, that polarizes debate and distracts us from the issues that really matter, but only if we let it.
The provisions related to persons who have been incarcerated take nothing away from anyone. According to the bill's proponents, the intent of this bill is the pursuit of fairness. Those were the words we heard at committee by the member of Parliament; he kept using the word "fairness." I hardly see anything fair here.
MP Rodger Cuzner in the House of Commons and Senator Eggleton here in the Senate have both underscored the absurdity of this bill. Bill C-316 is simply unfair — unfair to people who will lose provisions created specifically in their interest and unfair to Canadians in general.
In 1959, the EI qualifying period for incarcerated persons was extended. The extension of the EI benefit period for this same group was introduced in 1971. There are three main arguments in favour of these extensions. First, a person who loses his or her job as a result of having to serve a term of incarceration has paid premiums and, on release, is entitled to receive the corresponding benefits. That makes sense. Second, not being entitled to receive benefits becomes an additional sentence to the sentence of incarceration. Third, receiving benefits is more conducive to rehabilitation in the community.
In hearings on this bill by the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology, witnesses expanded on the significance of these provisions in the EI Act. It has been refreshing and enlightening to hear testimony based on fact, insight and expertise. Their contributions to the examination of this bill have enabled me and others to better appreciate just why the provisions were developed in the first place and why they must absolutely remain.
What has moved me the most has been discussion about the correlation between poverty and crime in this country. It is clear that some groups are disproportionately affected by poverty. According to the Statistics Canada 2011 Census, Aboriginal and immigrant families are two to three times more likely than the general population to experience poverty.
Looking at the group of people currently being held in our provincial jails and federal prisons, we also see groups disproportionately represented — groups that tend to be of the lower socio-economic status. These are, again, Aboriginal people and ethnic minorities, and people living with fetal alcohol syndrome, bipolar disorder and other mental health issues. Statistics Canada has found that although the Aboriginal population represents 3 per cent of Canadians, it accounts for 20 per cent of provincial and territorial inmates.
The Correctional Service of Canada projects that by the end of the decade, half of the women — half — in federal custody will be indigenous women. I will add that the majority of women in prisons are mothers, and the majority of these mothers are solely responsible for their children — they are single parents.
Sometimes poverty places people in what feels like impossible situations, where decisions can be difficult and compromising. According to the 2008 United Way report Crimes of Desperation: The truth about poverty-related crime, most incarcerated women have committed non-violent crimes, such as shoplifting, free riding on public transit or drug possession related to addictions.
Mr. Harris and others have placed excessive emphasis on the choice between respecting and breaking the law. In doing so, they betray their insensitivity or lack of insight about poverty and its influence on the incidence of crime.
Provincial facilities are horrible places. They are dangerous, violent and overcrowded. Who would choose to do anything that could lead to incarceration in such a place?
Assessing the reasons why women break the law, a 2003 report entitled Mothering, Crime, And Incarceration describes the psychology behind some women's criminal actions:
Faced with systemic barriers, women often justify criminal activity as an alternative to hunger and homelessness, for themselves and for their dependents.
Mr. Harris is the Member of Parliament for Cariboo—Prince George, a part of this country where many First Nations people live. When he appeared before the committee as a witness for this bill, Senator Dyck raised the point that experiences such as those endured by Aboriginal women in residential schools have created a cycle of abuse. She said, ". . . these women, not because they want to go out and be criminals, end up in the prison system." In light of the adverse effect this bill will have on Aboriginal women in prison, she asked Mr. Harris if he had ever sought the opinions of an Aboriginal woman in his riding. He said that he had not.
Along with Senator Eggleton, Senator Dyck also helped to expose another serious oversight in Mr. Harris's approach to developing this bill. It seems he never took the steps to understand just what types of crimes people incarcerated for less than two years commit. Promoting the bill, he depended for effect on creating the impression that these people are socially threatening. He referred to "assault" and suggested that they were culpable of carrying out crimes that we should not allow to happen. In fact, 75 per cent of people in custody are there for three months or less — hardly a sentence for anything more than a minor crime.
The United Way, the John Howard Society and the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies are among the organizations in sync with the rationale for including in the Employment Insurance Act provisions specifically for people who have been incarcerated. In their view, denying benefits to these people is an additional punishment after they have served their sentence. It amounts to piling a civil penalty on top of a criminal conviction. In his speech at second reading, Mr. Rodger Cuzner, Cape Breton—Canso told members in the other place:
When these people are released, the single best thing that could happen is for them to come out as better and more understanding people, with a willingness and a desire to be better citizens.
Supporting them by helping them find work or providing them with income support as they look for work is critical. Withdrawing their eligibility for a source of income like EI will most certainly create a worsened financial stress and worries that they will be unable to support themselves or their families.
In March, Senator Eggleton described clearly for us just how necessary supports like EI benefits can be for people trying to rehabilitate their lives. He said:
. . . if these people come out of prison, the chances of them reoffending are much greater if they do not have all the supports available to them now to get a job. In fact, statistics show that 11 to 13 per cent of those who come out of incarceration are less likely to reoffend if they have either a job or a bridge to a job.
A 2007 Public Safety Canada study documents the challenges people often face after being released from custody. They have lost their job and the means to maintain a home. To re-establish themselves, they have to pay for larger one-off costs, like rent deposits and other essentials. Building on this scenario, the representative from the Canadian Criminal Justice Association said to our Senate committee:
By eliminating the ability of individuals currently eligible to obtain Employment Insurance upon their release from prison, it arguably undermines public safety goals by taking away funds they may need to obtain food and shelter should they not be able to initially secure employment upon their release.
Where can these people turn if they cannot make it — if they simply cannot meet their own basic needs or the needs of their families? It is quite likely that they will have to turn to social assistance programs, and the responsibility will fall to the provinces and territories. This is yet another issue that those pushing for this bill have failed to consider. As a result, we lack a clear idea, even an estimate, of what the social and economic impact of this bill could be.
When presented with details about the real-life impact of this bill on people's lives, Mr. Harris remained inflexible in his stance, saying that perhaps they should not have committed the crime in the first place. As for alternate supports, he suggested programs like the Elizabeth Fry and John Howard societies. With representatives from both organizations present, we asked them about the likelihood of this. Both said they wished they could help, but they lacked adequate resources to meet the demand.
There is a striking contrast between a sentiment like this, the desire to do more to help people integrate positively within our society, and the sentiments expressed in Bill C-316. I, we, identify with the first. It is in keeping with my beliefs about human potential and about this country. At every turn, those of us who oppose this bill have exposed one flaw after another. We have exposed one flaw after another. There is no beneficial purpose in this bill.
I keep thinking of the young woman and the opportunity that Mr. Harris had to propose amendments that we would all agree upon so that this young woman would have received EI benefits. That is all that had to be done. You do not punish others because of inefficiency in an act. You just do not do that. This bill will only deliver an added punishment to persons who have been incarcerated. That the bill has made it this far in the legislative process is truly discouraging and worrisome.
No research has been conducted on its impact on anyone, from contributors to the EI program to Canadians at large. The research findings we have consistently show that this bill is a very bad idea.
May I have five minutes?
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is five more minutes granted, honourable senators?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Munson: Thank you. The representative from the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies who participated in our committee hearings made a statement that has stayed with me. Ms. Pate said:
That sentiment of losing hope is being expressed in a country where we have prided ourselves — and where we demonstrate to our children, every day I hope — that you can make mistakes and you can come back from making those mistakes and pay back to the community.
Honourable senators, I urge you to resist being drawn in by calculated justifications for this bill. Disagreeing with them does not make anyone less honest or hard-working. Reflecting on them, though, is doing our job. We are so fortunate to live in a country where people are invited to share with decision makers like us their insights and expertise on subjects. We are fortunate to live in a democratic nation where, even at the final stage of a bill's passage, we are free to act. We are individually free to act on our own. We have been in the Senate for some time, some of us for almost 10 years, which I can hardly believe. This private member's bill is an opportunity for each of us, and I am talking to my Conservative colleagues across the aisle, to think about the arguments made and the testimony delivered by Mr. Harris and by the United Way, the Elizabeth Fry Society and the rest who have to take care of this business.
We can stand up as individuals, not as parties. I know there are bills where we all must stand on one side or the other, but this is a unique opportunity to defend the most vulnerable in our land — the people who, in desperation, shoplift or take a bit of money, but they did not want to do it. She is an Aboriginal woman, she is alone, she has three children, she has paid into EI for three to four years, but she gets caught because she is desperate and needs to do it. Therefore, she gets three to five months, whatever. Surely to goodness we, as a society, have an opportunity with this bill — I urge my colleagues on the other side to really rethink this one — to come back and say "Okay, maybe I will vote as an individual." There is an opportunity on this bill.
I oppose this bill, honourable senators. This is our chance to prevent it from becoming law.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Further debate?
(On motion of Senator Tardif, for Senator Cordy, debate adjourned.)
Hon. Claude Carignan (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I have discussed this with Senator Tardif. I move that the Senate do now adjourn.
(The Senate adjourned until Wednesday, June 5, 2013, at 1:30 p.m.)