- SENATORS' STATEMENTS
- ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
- Public Sector Integrity Commissioner
- Study on the Impacts of Recent Changes to the Immigration System on Official Language Minority Communities
- Committee of Selection
- Criminal Code
- Agriculture and Forestry
- QUESTION PERIOD
- Status of Women
- Delayed Answer to Oral Question
- Official Languages
- Answer to Order Paper Question Tabled
- Visitors in the Gallery
- ORDERS OF THE DAY
- Aviation Industry Indemnity Act
- Criminal Code
Canada Evidence Act
Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act
- Journey to Freedom Day Bill
- Pope John Paul II Day Bill
- Disparities in First Nations Education
- Health and Poverty
- The Senate
- Senate Reform
- Canadian Military and Civilian Service in Afghanistan
- Appendix - Senators Lists
Tuesday, December 2, 2014
The Senate met at 2 p.m., the Speaker in the chair.
Hon. Larry W. Campbell: Honourable senators, on Sunday I joined 14.1 million of my closest friends watching the Grey Cup, which took place in Vancouver, British Columbia, in beautiful BC Place Stadium. The Hamilton Tiger-Cats met the Calgary Stampeders in what started out as a fairly slow game but rapidly progressed into a classic Grey Cup.
With 55 seconds left, the Hamilton team took the kickoff and ran it back over 90 yards, which would have given them a win in the game. Unfortunately there was a penalty back at where the ball was caught, and that was the end of the game, with Calgary winning the game 20 to 16.
This was preceded by parades, galas, horses in hotels — anybody who follows the Grey Cup knows it's a Calgary tradition to bring a horse into the hotel with you — and generally speaking, a good weekend. Luckily the weather in Vancouver dropped to below zero. We had a little bit of snow on Saturday when the parade was on, which made all of those from the rest of Canada feel comfortable and entirely at home.
I would invite everybody next year to come with me to the one hundred and third Grey Cup, which will be played in Winnipeg, Manitoba. On the day of the game, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, it was minus 37. It was approximately 22 degrees in BC Place Stadium. I would advise to you dress a little warmer. Thank you.
Hon. Suzanne Fortin-Duplessis: Honourable senators, the wind of change blew through Dakar, Senegal on the weekend, at the end of the 15th Sommet de la Francophonie, when Michaëlle Jean was elected Secretary-General of La Francophonie. This is the first time in the history of the International Organization of La Francophonie that a Canadian woman has taken the helm. I want her to know how proud I am and offer her my most sincere congratulations.
There is no doubt in my mind that this remarkably skilled woman will work to promote the French language and breathe new life and modernity into La Francophonie of the 21st century to enhance prosperity and stability in developing countries.
I already know that Michaëlle Jean espouses the values of the organization and that she will work with honour and enthusiasm on implementing the resolutions adopted at the summit. I also know that she will see to it that the commitments made by the Prime Minister of Canada and the heads of state are kept, especially with respect to maternal, newborn and child health, sustainable economic growth and development, good governance, democracy, and poverty reduction.
I am proud to have taken part in the 15th Sommet de la Francophonie, which focused on specific, attainable goals based on an innovative economic strategy that will help provide solutions to the problems faced by women and children. In that regard, I want to point out that Prime Minister Harper's resolution on maternal, newborn and child health was adopted handily. The Prime Minister took the opportunity to announce new additional support for the Micronutrient Initiative, Canada's flagship global nutrition organization.
We also know that immunizing children is one of the best ways to ensure their survival. As part of Canada's efforts on that front, the Prime Minister announced an additional $500 million to pay for vaccines to save the lives of children around the world.
On behalf of members of the Canadian delegation, I would like to thank Canada's ambassador to Senegal, Philippe Beaulne, and Foreign Affairs officials who did everything in their power to ensure that the summit went smoothly. Hats off to you. Mission accomplished.
I would also like to offer my sincere thanks to the outgoing Secretary-General, Abdou Diouf, for everything he accomplished during his 12 years leading the Francophonie. Thank you for building active solidarity among the 80 states and governments that make up the Francophonie and for helping raise the standard of living for people in the Francophonie by enabling them to participate in their own development. Thank you.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, pursuant to subsection 38(3.3) of the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the Office of the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner of Canada's Case Report of Findings in the Matter of an Investigation into Allegations of Wrongdoing at the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
Study on the Impacts of Recent Changes to the Immigration System on Official Language Minority Communities
Hon. Claudette Tardif: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the fourth report of the Standing Senate Committee on Official Languages on the impacts of recent changes to the immigration system on official language minority communities entitled Seizing the Opportunity: The role of communities in a constantly changing immigration system.
(On motion of Senator Tardif, report placed on the Orders of the Day for consideration at the next sitting of the Senate.)
Hon. Elizabeth (Beth) Marshall, Chair of the Committee of Selection, presented the following report:
Tuesday, December 2, 2014
The Committee of Selection has the honour to present its
Your committee wishes to inform the Senate that it nominates the Honourable Senator Housakos as Speaker pro tempore.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this report be taken into consideration?
Senator Marshall: With leave of the Senate and notwithstanding rule 5-5(f), I move that the report be adopted now.
Senator Fraser: Leave is not granted, Your Honour.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted?
Some Hon. Senators: No.
(On motion of Senator Marshall, report placed on the Orders of the Day for consideration at the next sitting of the Senate.)
Hon. Nancy Ruth introduced Bill S-225, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (physician-assisted death).
(Bill read first time.)
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be read the second time?
(On motion of Senator Nancy Ruth, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for second reading two days hence.)
Hon. Percy Mockler: 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 Thursday, June 12, 2014, the date for the final report of the Standing Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry in relation to its study on the importance of bees and bee health in the production of honey, food and seed in Canada be extended from December 31, 2014 to May 31, 2015.
Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette: Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate and it touches on one of my favourite subjects.
Last week, we learned that German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is a member of a conservative party in Germany, will introduce a bill on December 11 that will require that women must hold a minimum of 30 per cent of executive board positions in major German corporations by 2016. If the bill is adopted — and it appears to have the support of the two largest parties — the German minister of women's rights has already given notice that, starting in 2016, corporations will no longer be able to recruit male executives until the 30 per cent female quota is reached. It should be noted that women only account for seven per cent of positions on corporate boards of major German corporations.
This bill in Germany comes on the heels of the European Parliament's measure, which passed overwhelmingly with 67 per cent of the vote. France, Norway and Quebec have also passed legislation on this issue. In June 2014, your government published a report entitled Good for Business. In light of that report, can you tell me when your government plans to do something to ensure that women in Canada have their place in the business world?
Hon. Claude Carignan (Leader of the Government): Thank you, senator, for the question. As you know, our government has worked hard to promote the participation of women on corporate boards. We are committed to achieving that goal. In Canada, there is a growing awareness that women's representation in executive positions in all economic sectors is critical to our economic prosperity and our competiveness.
You may recall that in Budget 2012, our government showed leadership once again by creating an advisory council to promote the participation of women on corporate boards. However, you voted against that action plan.
In June, Minister Leitch released the advisory council's report on ways to increase women's representation on public and private corporate boards in Canada.
I am very proud to point out that our party's leadership in this chamber includes three women, Senator Yonah Martin, Deputy Leader of the Government, Senator Rose-May Poirier, our caucus chair, and Senator Elizabeth Marshall, our whip.
Senator Hervieux-Payette: That is such a small step. The Minister of Finance has just written to us, asking us to make some suggestions.
It is important to remember that your government's plans to boost the participation of women is really about increasing productivity in Canada and ensuring that it can move forward and overcome its reputation for poor productivity.
In their report, the members of the advisory council, appointed by your government, said that 30 per cent over five years, from 2014 to 2019, was a reasonable goal, with the longer term goal being gender balance. However, 2014 is almost over.
I know that there was a process, which seems a bit academic, with the Ontario Securities Commission. It adopted a "comply or explain" policy. No board of directors or company will make progress with such policies. A trial was done in England and it failed, as it did in other places where they tried to do this voluntarily. Even in Norway, where boards of directors have been 40 per cent female for 10 years, namely from the beginning, they do not have a "comply or explain" policy.
I have a question. A budget will be tabled next year. I'll write to the Minister of Finance and I'd like my colleagues who are in caucus with the Prime Minister and cabinet to promote a bill. I'd be prepared to give you my bill and its title if you want. We need legislation. That's the only way for Canada to ensure gender equality in the business world.
When will you make this proposal to your colleagues in the House of Commons and enact legislation on this issue?
Senator Carignan: Senator, your bill is currently being examined by Parliament. We are going to let people debate it in accordance with our legislative process, which is designed to adjust bills introduced by senators.
You will understand that our government will continue to do its utmost to strive for excellence in the Canadian public service. We are convinced that women will make a significant contribution to meeting that objective. Our government has always shown leadership on this issue by making the representation of women on boards of directors and in executive positions a priority.
Our government is proud to appoint strong, competent women to work in many public organizations and agencies. That is important to point out, senator, because, from all of your presentations on the subject, I am not sure that you remember that.
Since we took power, there has been an increase in the number of women who have been appointed to the positions of deputy minister and associate deputy minister, or who have been appointed by the Governor-in-Council as heads of organizations and crown corporations.
Fully 31 per cent of all those who were appointed by the Governor-in-Council to positions of deputy minister, associate deputy minister, or head of an organization or crown corporation, were women. We are proud of that record and we are going to continue to move in that direction.
Hon. James S. Cowan (Leader of the Opposition): My question is for the Leader of the Government and it relates to the appointment of Madam Justice Suzanne Côté to the Supreme Court of Canada.
The leader will recall that I have previously asked him questions about the process by which the government intended to fill vacancies as they occur in the Supreme Court of Canada. This is the second Supreme Court appointment in six months that was made without a hearing before a committee of members of Parliament.
Is this the new normal for Supreme Court appointments by this government? Has the government formally abandoned its commitment to "a formal mechanism through which Parliament can scrutinize future Supreme Court nominees"?
Hon. Claude Carignan (Leader of the Government): I would like to thank Senator Cowan for his question. I thought it would be the first question today.
Suzanne Côté's appointment was made after a comprehensive review process involving a great deal of consultation with eminent members of the legal community, namely the Attorney General of Quebec, the Chief Justice of Canada, the Chief Justice of Quebec, the Chief Justice of the Quebec Superior Court, the Barreau du Québec and the Quebec division of the Canadian Bar Association.
Ms. Côté's appointment will ensure a seamless transition that will enable the court to immediately focus on its responsibilities. Since we're always concerned about leaks in what is intended to be a confidential process, we'll be examining the process in anticipation of future appointments.
Our government is always guided by the principles of merit and judicial excellence when it selects and appoints a new justice to the Supreme Court.
Senator Cowan: That's all very well, Senator Carignan, but that wasn't my question. I chose the words in my question very carefully.
I referred to the commitment of, and I quote this, "a formal mechanism through which Parliament can scrutinize future Supreme Court nominees." That is a direct quote from the statement of the Prime Minister's Office in 2008, "a formal mechanism through which Parliament can scrutinize future Supreme Court nominees."
So my question was not as to the competence — which I don't question — of Justice Côté or the legitimacy of the consultations that took place with various officials in the legal and judicial communities. My question had to do with the commitment that this Prime Minister made when he became Prime Minister to "a formal mechanism through which Parliament can scrutinize future Supreme Court nominees."
Let me remind you of the history. The previous government of Prime Minister Martin reformed the process of appointing Supreme Court justices to make it more transparent, specifically by having the Minister of Justice appear before a parliamentary committee in the House of Commons to present his nominees and answer questions about their qualifications. Two nominees, Justices Charron and Abella, were appointed pursuant to that procedure.
In 2006, when your government came to power, Prime Minister Harper enhanced that process and extended it further, having his nominee, Justice Rothstein, appear before the committee in the other place. At that time, Prime Minister Harper extolled the virtues of his expanded and enhanced process, saying "this hearing marks an unprecedented step towards a more open and accountable approach to nominations that Canadians deserve."
That was the approach that was followed by Prime Minister Harper for subsequent nominations, the only exception being with Justice Cromwell, and that took place, as you will recall, during the prorogation in 2008. Even then, in 2008, Prime Minister Harper issued a statement saying that he restated his commitment to returning to "a formal mechanism through which Parliament can scrutinize future Supreme Court nominees." The committee hearings were held for each subsequent appointment by Mr. Harper until the appointment of Justice Gascon a few months ago.
The question, leader, is: Why has the government abandoned the commitment that was made by the Prime Minister in 2006 and repeated every time since to a process by which members of Parliament in the other place can scrutinize the appointments that he proposes to make to the Supreme Court of Canada?
I'm not questioning the qualifications of the candidates. I'm questioning why the government has abandoned the commitment that the Prime Minister has repeatedly made to a process of parliamentary oversight.
Senator Carignan: Senator Cowan, I believe I gave you the most comprehensive answer I could. Perhaps you missed the part near the middle of my answer, where I said that we're always concerned about leaks in what is intended to be a confidential process. We'll be examining the process in anticipation of future appointments.
Senator Cowan: I didn't miss that. I noticed you mentioned leaks, and that is a reason which Justice Minister MacKay used in September, five months after The Globe and Mail, you will recall, published the list of six nominees that were being considered, four of which, it turned out, were ineligible for appointment.
Is it your position that as a result of leaks of names emanating from The Globe and Mail, that a public process — and that was the commitment, that there would be a public, parliamentary process — is abandoned? Are the leaks the reason the government is using to justify its abandonment of its repeated promise? Is that the reason you're doing this?
Senator Carignan: I didn't say that we would be abandoning our discussions or commitments. I said that we'll be examining the process in anticipation of future appointments.
Hon. Yonah Martin (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I have the honour to table the answer to the oral question asked by the Honourable Senator Chaput on October 29, 2014, concerning the Community Action Program for Children, access to francophone services in Nova Scotia.
(Response to question raised by the Honourable Maria Chaput on October 29, 2014)
The Public Health Agency of Canada welcomes the recommendations delivered in the Commissioner's report and is committed to enhancing the vitality of official language minorities across the country.
The Agency has made significant progress in addressing the Commissioner's recommendations to provide programming for at-risk Francophone communities in Nova Scotia. The Cape Breton Family Place Resource Centre has been designated as bilingual and the South Shore Family Resource Association will receive a bilingual designation.
In order to assess the needs of families in Nova Scotia, Agency officials are meeting with organizations representing Francophone parent groups and associations in the province, including La Pirouette, an organization that brings together stakeholders from the health care sector and the Francophone community to improve access to French language health services. The Agency is committed to ongoing relationships with these organizations to support enhanced Francophone programming at Community Action Program for Children sites. Progress will be reviewed annually to identify opportunities to better serve the needs of at-risk francophone families.
The Agency has shared French language resources and tools developed by the Community Action Program for Children sites with Francophone organizations in Nova Scotia and will continue to work with partners to develop a plan to promote these resources to program providers.
Hon. Yonah Martin (Deputy Leader of the Government) tabled the answer to Question No. 29 on the Order Paper by Senator Callbeck.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I wish to draw your attention to the presence in the gallery of a parliamentary delegation led by His Excellency Tan Sri Datuk Seri Panglima Pandikar Amin Haji Mulia, Speaker of the House of Representatives of Malaysia.
On behalf of all honourable senators, I welcome you to the Senate of Canada.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Hon. Leo Housakos moved third reading of Bill C-3, An Act to enact the Aviation Industry Indemnity Act, to amend the Aeronautics Act, the Canada Marine Act, the Marine Liability Act and the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 and to make consequential amendments to other Acts.
He said: Honourable colleagues, I am pleased to rise today to speak one last time in support of Bill C-3, the proposed safeguarding Canada's seas and skies act.
This comprehensive legislation focuses on five key initiatives that have all-party support in both houses.
The first key initiative contained in Bill C-3 is the proposed amendments to the Canada Shipping Act, 2001. Amendments in this section seek to address gaps in civil and criminal immunity protection for those who respond to an oil spill, enhance current requirements for oil-handling facilities to reduce the likelihood of a spill occurring, and create a fair and effective alternative to prosecution when dealing with minor to moderate contraventions of pollution prevention and response requirements of the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 and pursuant regulations.
Stakeholders view the proposed changes to the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 as a positive move forward to strengthen the pollution prevention and response activities under Part 8.
In his testimony before the Transport Committee, Mr. Duncan Wilson, Vice-President Corporate Social Responsibility, Port Metro Vancouver, was quoted as saying:
. . . we fully support the amendments to the Canada Shipping Act contained in Bill C-3, which build on the current requirements for pollution prevention and response at facilities that handle oil.
We also support increasing Transport Canada's ability to oversee the marine operation and enforce regulation by providing marine safety inspectors with the tools they need to ensure compliance, the introduction of new offences for contravention of the act and increased penalties relating to pollution, and the removal of legal barriers that would hinder spill response by preventing Canadian organizations from participation in cleanup efforts.
These measures underline that when it comes to the transportation of natural resources, our government will not compromise on public safety or environmental protection.
Amendments to the Marine Liability Act are the second key initiative in Bill C-3. These amendments will address gaps in the existing marine liability regime and ensure that Canadians and the environment are adequately protected from certain risks related to marine transportation, specifically hazardous and noxious substances.
Again, key stakeholders have voiced their support for the government's actions.
Anne Legars, Vice-President of the Shipping Federation of Canada, is quoted as saying during testimony that:
The federation, along with industry and other stakeholders, has participated in the government's consultation and Canada's ratification of this upgraded 2010 HNS convention, and has expressed strong support for such ratification. . . .
We support this international liability regime . . . because we believe it is the most . . . efficient liability coverage for ship-source chemical spills.
These measures underline our government's commitment to environmental protection by giving the shipping industry the certainty and the ability to insure against known risks.
The next key initiative is the proposed amendments to the Canada Marine Act. The amendments to this legislation seek to remove an administrative burden as well as to improve efficiency in the appointment process to Canadian port authorities. Prior to this amendment, appointments to port authorities took effect upon notification of the authority, which required a specific notification process and additional tracking. This amendment will allow for the effective dates of appointments to Canada's port authorities to be standardized as the date set by the Governor-in-Council. This would bring them in line with all other Governor-in-Council appointment effective dates throughout the Transport portfolio.
In addition, the need for additional tracking of appointment effective dates for port authorities will no longer be required.
The fourth key initiative I would like to talk about briefly is the new law that Bill C-3 enacts, the aviation industry indemnity act, or AIIA. Once enacted, the AIIA will enable the government to offer war risk insurance for the aviation industry in a trustworthy and transparent way when necessary. Aviation industry participants strongly support this proposal. They all expressed interest in the ongoing availability of such a program. Their support is especially strong every time the current program, the Aviation War Risk Liability Program, is about to end. That program is maintained under the Royal Prerogative. In the past, airlines recorded the possible cancellation of that program as a risk in their annual financial statements. By introducing this new law, our government is clearly showing that it wants to provide the aviation industry with the guarantees it needs to insure itself against risk.
Finally, let me say a few words about the fifth key initiative included in Bill C-3 — the proposed amendments to the Aeronautics Act. The new Part II of the Aeronautics Act being proposed by the Department of National Defence will provide the necessary powers for the investigation of all aspects of military aviation incidents or accidents involving persons such as contractors who are not subject to the Code of Service Discipline. The amendments will also promote the independence and integrity of military flight safety investigations. Transport Canada and the Transportation Safety Board fully support this initiative.
In sum, Bill C-3 is a strong, comprehensive piece of legislation with far-reaching benefits. The measures proposed underline that when it comes to transportation, whether by seas or skies, our government will not compromise on public safety or environmental protection. I therefore urge my honourable colleagues to vote in favour of Bill C-3 as soon as possible.
(On motion of Senator Mitchell, debate adjourned.)
Hon. Tom McInnis moved third reading of Bill C-13, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Canada Evidence Act, the Competition Act and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act.
He said: Honourable senators, I welcome the opportunity to speak today in support of Bill C-13, the protecting Canadians from online crime act. This bill proposes amendments to the Criminal Code as well as the Competition Act and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act in order to bring them up to date with 21st-century technologies.
I thank the committee members and all the staff. There were six committee meetings, and 31 witnesses appeared before the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs.
I have been here in the Senate for slightly more than two years. While I am sure that there are some areas of the Senate operations that can be improved upon, the detail, effectiveness and professionalism of the respective committees of the Senate are second to none.
In this instance, it was the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs that held hearings on Bill C-13, and I can say unequivocally, as I report back to the Senate on third reading, that the bill provoked great interest. The witnesses both pro and con were respectfully cross-examined by committee members, leaving little doubt as to the total scrutiny of the bill's content.
One quick point before I move on: Committee members, in doing research for meetings, will normally look to see what was said in the like committee in the other place prior to the bill's coming to the Senate. In the other place it may be good politics, but it is in the Senate where witnesses have to prepare and be at their best, one witness said to me in a private conversation.
In the Senate committee, governments of all levels, NGOs, critics, private citizens, experts and scholars are all heard from and questioned. This is not only an impressive forum; it is an effective part of our parliamentary system and democracy that should never be abandoned.
Senators, these updates to the law would respond to modern technology and the challenges it creates, with particular emphasis on the challenges that arise in the context of bullying, often referred to as cyberbullying. Bill C-13 responds to these challenges in a number of ways, including creating a new offence of non-consensual distribution of intimate images and updating the investigative tool kit of police.
Bill C-13's proposals will enhance police investigations by providing clear authority for efficient judicial review while ensuring appropriate oversight of police investigative activity. For the past 20 years, the police could ask a justice for a warrant to permit the police to find out phone numbers dialed by or to a suspect. Investigators today have problems working with the existing dial number recorder warrant, which is out of date. The provision was created in 1993 for the traditional telephones, and there have been significant changes in the way communications are done, including greatly increased use of the Internet since 1993. These changes in communication technology have led to Bill C-13's proposal to replace the existing dial number recorder warrant with the new transmission data warrant.
The proposed new transmission data warrant would enable police to use such a warrant to collect information related to communications over the Internet and to continue to provide a list of numbers dialed in the context of traditional telephone calls. The update to the law would ensure that this police investigative technique can be used no matter what type of communication technology is being used in the commission of a crime.
Another update to investigative tools that is proposed in Bill C-13 is to create new production orders designed for specific tasks. Specifically, the bill proposes new production orders for the specific tasks of obtaining transmission data, tracking data and tracing a communication. These would be added to the existing production orders, which are a specific order for financial data and a general order for all other types of information.
Together these orders comprise a new scheme of production orders proposed by Bill C-13, which will enable police to use modern tools that are designed for modern technology, with appropriately limited scope, enabling different types of information. The threshold for the specific and tailored production orders, which are narrower and less invasive, is "reasonable grounds to suspect an offence has been or will be committed."
The threshold for broader general production orders is "reasonable grounds to believe an offence has been or will be committed" due to its greater intrusive potential. These thresholds are consistent with the thresholds for the existing production orders in the Criminal Code. The approach taken in Bill C-13 provides tailoring to particular privacy interests.
This slate of production orders gives police specific tools for specific access, which allows a judge to assess each request to the specific and appropriate standard needed to adequately take into account the reasonable expectation of privacy involved in the specific data to be obtained.
Bill C-13 also enhances investigative tools by proposing a preservation demand and a preservation order. These would be new tools for police that would enable them to ensure specific computer data held by a third party, such as a telecommunications service provider, is not deleted prior to the police being able to obtain a judicial order such as a production order to have access to the computer data.
While the computer data is only temporarily preserved, these tools for preservation are a very useful tool for police given that the most modern investigations will include some information stored electronically, information that is extremely vulnerable to being deleted. For example, a great deal of information is routinely deleted to preserve storage space on computer networks, and this can result in an investigative calamity where the computer data was central to determining the facts relevant to the commission of a crime.
In looking at the entirety of the proposals in Bill C-13, there is a clear road map of how the bill creates an overall approach to protecting Canadians from online crime. The new offence relating to the non-consensual distribution of intimate images, as well as the updates to the existing offences such as telephone harassment, ensure the police have the necessary, updated tools to deal with cyberbullying when it rises to the level of criminal behaviour.
However, providing police with new and updated offences that can be used in charges for cyberbullying is not enough. Police also need new tools to effectively investigate these offences. The creation of a new preservation of computer data scheme, as well as the proposals for a slate of production orders, tailored to protect privacy appropriately, and enhancements for efficiency, such as the related orders and warrant proposals, will ensure police can act and investigate as needed in the modern communications environment.
Honourable senators, it would be unfair for me to close without saying that the witness presentations were at times challenging and thought-provoking. All witnesses agree with the new offence of non-consensual transmission of intimate images. Most agree that the investigative tools of law enforcement must be modernized.
The respective thresholds of "reasonable grounds to suspect" versus "reasonable grounds to believe," the former being used as a precision tool to do preliminary investigations in order to determine if there are grounds to move forward in the investigative process, received considerable scrutiny. Without the use of that "reasonable grounds to suspect" threshold, the police investigation could fail because in many files there is insufficient evidence for "reasonable grounds to believe" at the beginning of the investigation.
Senators, police representing at least 90 per cent of the police forces in the country appeared before the committee and agreed with the bill. Canadians overwhelmingly respect and appreciate very much all of our police forces. My impression, though, is that when it comes to tipping into the privacy rights of Canadians, irrespective of judicial oversight, a red flag appears. However, despite this, permit me to read a quote that was read into the record at the committee by a witness.
All of us have an expectation of privacy when we share online; however, when someone ignores that expectation or takes advantage of someone, that right to remain anonymous is lost and our justice system should be allowed to protect us and keep us safe.
The right to remain anonymous cannot take precedence over the basic right to feel safe and protected.
A very interesting quote.
Canadians rightly expect that police will be able to conduct sophisticated investigations. Canadians rightly expect policemen doing these investigations to respect the privacy rights of the individual. In fact, senior law enforcement believes it important that law enforcement officers be specifically trained to carry out these investigations.
Further, there should be, to the extent possible, transparency. I believe it was Ontario Provincial Police Inspector Scott Naylor who suggested that there be audits.
Senators, I have come to the resolve that to have effective law enforcement and the protection of privacy, there will always be tension between the two if the balance is to be found.
Finally, there is a multiplicity of government and non-government organizations as well as volunteers with programs to help combat cyberbullying, particularly within our youth population throughout the country. With allegedly tens of thousands of cyberbullying cases monthly, are our efforts as effective and efficient as they should be or could be? I am not certain we know the answer to that question or even if it is possible to find the response accurately. More discussion on that front should and must be in the offing, I would strongly suggest. I believe this bill contains beneficial and necessary amendments to our laws and I encourage all honourable senators to give Bill C-13 their full support.
(On motion of Senator Fraser, for Senator Jaffer, debate adjourned.)
Hon. Thanh Hai Ngo moved third reading of Bill S-219, An Act respecting a national day of commemoration of the exodus of Vietnamese refugees and their acceptance in Canada after the fall of Saigon and the end of the Vietnam War, as amended.
He said: Honourable senators, I rise today to speak to third reading of Bill S-219, An Act respecting a national day of commemoration of the exodus of Vietnamese refugees and their acceptance in Canada after the fall of Saigon and the end of the Vietnam War, as amended.
I envision journey to freedom day as a day of remembrance of suffering that followed the fall of Saigon, as a day to pay tribute to Canada's humanitarian role in welcoming refugees during and after the Vietnam War, and as a commemoration of the achievements of the Vietnamese Canadians concurrently to highlight a new chapter in Canada.
I am thankful for and touched by the level of support that will ensure that journey to freedom day reflects Canada's humanitarian role in welcoming thousands of Vietnamese refugees as part of the boat people exodus following the fall of Saigon. What took place in the years after the fall of Saigon from 1975 to 1996 was the largest known mass migration in modern history, with more than 1.5 million people leaving their wartorn country in search of freedom. As honourable senators know, many Vietnamese people had to set sail in rickety, broken boats for the South China Sea, where they faced constant unimaginable peril. Not only did they have to navigate through deadly storms, but also they had to face disease, starvation and even pirate threats.
It became very clear to the world and to Canada that the Vietnamese refugee problem had become an international humanitarian crisis, and that the only compassionate way to fix it was to take decisive and immediate action.
The Honourable Ron Atkey, Immigration Minister at the time, approached former Prime Minister Joe Clark's cabinet to raise this mass migration issue and ask his fellow colleagues: How do we want to be remembered? Then, the citizens of Canada did something that was truly amazing. In July 1979, the Canadian government made its historic announcement that a target of 50,000 Vietnamese refugees would be admitted to Canada by the end of 1980. In February 1980, the government announced that the number of refugees admitted would be increased from 50,000 to 60,000.
Out of the 60,000 Vietnamese refugees that were admitted to Canada between 1979 and 1980, nearly 26,000 were sponsored by the government, while 34,000 others were sponsored by private citizens and by members of their families. In the decade that followed, from 1982 to 1991, roughly 80,000 more Vietnamese were admitted to Canada.
Canada became known for its private sponsorship program, whereby it sought the assistance of voluntary organizations, churches and groups of at least five adult citizens who could sponsor and provide for a refugee family for a year. For each person thus sponsored, the government accepted another refugee under its own care. Individuals, families, volunteer agencies, communities, religious organizations and Canadians from all walks of life came forward to sponsor thousands of refugees, helping close to 120,000 to resettle in Canada.
This extraordinary feat was accomplished thanks to the exceptional leadership shown at every level of government, from mayors and municipal councillors to federal and provincial cabinet ministers, not to mention extraordinary officials. Welcoming that many refugees in such a short time is not easy. Canadians accomplished something quite unique.
Mike Molloy, President of the Canadian Immigration Historical Society, who was on site as an immigration agent for Canada, testified at the Senate Human Rights Committee last week that the sponsorship of so many boat people was something amazing, an unusual moment in our history and that it remains by far the largest resettlement operation Canada has ever undertaken.
The success of the boat people resettlement to Canada rested on the acclaimed private refugee sponsorship program. However, the real heroes of the Vietnamese resettlement and integration into the Canadian fabric were literally the hundreds of thousands of Canadians who sponsored refugees through their churches, synagogues, service clubs, unions and the ad hoc groups of friends and neighbours who got together to sponsor families privately and even to provide them with housing.
In 1986, the Right Honourable Jeanne Sauvé, then Governor General, accepted on behalf of the people of Canada the Nansen Medal, the refugee equivalent to the Nobel prize and a prestigious international humanitarian award given in recognition of major and sustained efforts made on behalf of refugees. This was the first time since the medal's inception in 1954 that the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees presented it to an entire population.
Since coming to Canada, members of the Vietnamese community have consistently shown that they are hardworking Canadians capable of becoming an integral part of Canadian society. There was not a village in this country that didn't hear about or take in refugees from the boat people exodus. Some Vietnamese refugees even landed all the way up in Tuktoyaktuk, Northwest Territories. Now mind you, we don't know how long they stayed there after winter surprised them, but we know for sure that there are Vietnamese Canadians running successful businesses in Yellowknife today.
The boat people establishment was, for so many Canadians, the first time they were ever in a position to bring people from other parts of the world other than Europe into their churches and homes.
Last week in committee, Mr. Molloy said it best. Canadians regard the settlement of Vietnamese refugees, ". . . as a positive experience because it opened their eyes to a common humanity."
Canada is now home to more than 300,000 Vietnamese Canadians, with three proud generations who celebrate an important heritage in a great nation.
Were it not for Canada's generosity and humanity, neither I nor thousands of Vietnamese refugees could ever have achieved what we have today. We are now allowed to live in a beautiful country where we enjoy freedom and democracy as proud Canadians.
Honourable senators, this was a humanizing event, and Canada did something spectacular. We must ensure that this truly remarkable period in Canadian history is recorded, preserved and remembered.
April 30 is a day to commemorate those Canadians from all walks of life who, with open arms, welcomed 120,000 Vietnamese refugees who lived through a devastating war, suffered in refugee camps and endured long boat trips to escape a place they could no longer call home.
Every year on April 30, for the past 39 years, Vietnamese Canadians have gathered to remember a new beginning and to thank Canada. In 2015, the Vietnamese-Canadian community will celebrate the fortieth anniversary of the boat people resettlement to Canada.
I envision Bill S-219 as establishing a day to honour Canada's humanitarian tradition of accepting refugees during and after the Vietnam War as a way to mark this milestone.
I also envision April 30 as "Journey to Freedom Day" to thank Canada for saving our lives and to commemorate the Vietnamese refugees' new-found freedom because freedom isn't free, and the boat people paid for their freedom with their perilous journey.
(On motion of Senator Fraser, for Senator Jaffer, debate adjourned.)
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Fortin-Duplessis, seconded by the Honourable Senator Plett, for the third reading of Bill C-266, An Act to establish Pope John Paul II Day.
Hon. Pana Merchant: Honourable senators, I am pleased to speak at third reading of Bill C-266, An Act to establish a national John Paul II day.
I see the question of a John Paul II day as an intellectual weighing: what John Paul II did and not what he did not do. What changes did he set afoot in the world, not in the Roman Catholic Church but in the world? Were those changes that Canadians cherish to the extent that a day should be memorialized in honour of the difference affected through him?
Though his calling was spiritual, I support this bill for the crucial and monumental impact of his life and work in the secular world.
To think of him as Pope is religious. Instead, think of him as a world iconoclast for the better, whose strong moral base and position allowed him to accomplish change. It is the change he affected in the secular world and not in the religious world that makes Canadian recognition appropriate.
In the words of Mikhail Gorbachev:
He defended the great human and Christian values, upholding the respect for freedom, human rights and a just and peaceful future. He was a tireless worker for co-existence between people and nations through harmony and co-operation.
The years of John Paul II required strong leadership. Four dimensions shaped those decades. First, our personal safety was in peril; there was great apprehension of nuclear war. Second, Communism, and notably European Communism, enslaved much of the world. Third, globalization, the rise of the world phenomenon of supranational business conglomerates affected economies and poverty. Fourth, religious fundamentalism, the differences among religions — Catholics fighting Protestants in Ireland, bigotry and the remnants of colonialism in Asia and the rise of and abuse of Islam — had impacted faith, values, forces for good as forces for bad.
John Paul's role in the fall of Communism has been heralded in this chamber.
His personal experience as a young cleric in Poland, where the communists had suffocated the church to the point where it came to be called the "church of silence," and his brave and open support of the trade union Solidarity are acknowledged worldwide as a contributing factor in the collapse of the Soviet Block.
He also worked hard to balance economic fairness around the globe, including in Europe, which was torn apart after the fall of communism, and in all countries adversely affected by the globalization of the economy.
A fundamental concept which we have accepted into the secular world, the words "social justice" flowed from the work of John Paul to lead the religious world beyond the altars, gurdwara and temples with a concept of social justice.
The very words "social justice," this concept of inherent fairness rather than the economic exploitation of "buy as cheaply as you can buy and sell as expensively as you can sell," and the personal consequences be dammed.
No one ever did more to promote dialogue among peoples and cultures; his easy and constructive relationship with the young; his explicit and direct style; his influence on peacemaking; his persistent opposition to communism; his determination that fair, just, and religious people would recognize the economic reality of fair trade and social justice; and his determination to deliver his message of hope for mankind, the foundation of which he declared was liberty, solidarity, and the dignity of the person.
St. Peter's Square, October 18, 1978, the conclave of the most eminent cardinals had called a new bishop from Rome from a distant country: a cardinal from Krakow. In a thousand ways a simple man from a poor country under the yoke of Russian-imposed Communism.
The first non-Italian Pope to be elected in 455 years was seen by the conclave to be eminently superior to the favoured candidates, the Cardinals from Italy.
President Jimmy Carter's reaction is instructive:
Your Holiness has shared the experience of working people, and understands the daily victories and defeats of human life. As a theologian, a pastor, and a worker, you also understand the most extreme tests that life presents. You know what it is to struggle for faith, for freedom, for life itself, and your insight into these modern dilemmas will enrich, and be enriched by the enduring traditions of your Church.
Regina city councillor John Findura, born in Poland, recalls:
To this day I will never forget when the white smoke came out of the chimney at the Vatican and the Italian voice said the name `Cardinal Wojtyla'. At that time everything had changed for Poland, people in control of communism, and people around the world.
My feeling about the Pope is that his influence united the world as he was a crusader of good. He used his influence to affect political change. I feel strongly that when solidarity and the uprising in Poland was taking place which led to the fall of communism, if we didn't have a Polish Pope there would have been a different outcome.
The uprising in Hungary? Crushed. Spring in Prague? Crushed.
A second fundamental element of his leadership was the impact John Paul effected in the way we think about ourselves and the way we think about institutions, including religious institutions all over the world and not just in the Roman Catholic Church.
The ecumenical movement, the coming together of religions, the acceptance of different faiths and their impact on the well-being of humanity is a recent phenomenon that appears so normal today that we forget the genesis of that change.
One of the Catholic schools near my home in Regina had the Protestant school a narrow street away. About 20 years ago, the principal told me that he had taught in the Catholic school as a young teacher and was now back as its principal, and one of the changes was that each school now used the entire school yard.
"When I was first here," he told me, "30 yards adjacent on each side of the school yard was a no-go zone because children would throw stones from one school yard to the other. Catholics played with Catholics. Catholics hated Protestants. Catholics and Protestants hated Jews. Catholics, Protestants and Jews knew no Muslims but hated them just to keep in practice," he jested.
The ecumenical movement flowed from John Paul and became so commonly adopted that this word entered our conscience as John Paul entered a mosque and visited a synagogue, but more fundamentally as he tried to reach out to other religions and foster the coming together of faith communities all over the world and the acceptance of the faith of others as having value.
A vital part of his leadership was a secular one. He was a man of unquestionable charisma and tireless, irrepressible energy.
Time magazine proclaimed him 1994 Man of the Year for his strong moral voice and his high visibility in spite of the assassination attempt in 1981 that nearly cost him his life or the evident physical decline as he aged. I quote from the Time issue of December 26, 1994:
Pope John Paul II has, among many other things, the world's bully-est pulpit. Few of his predecessors over the past 2,000 years have spoken from it as often and as forcefully as he. When he talks, it is not only to his flock of nearly a billion; but to the world. He expects the world to listen. And the flock and the world listen . . .
This year he cast the net of his message wider than ever. Crossing the Threshold of Hope, the title of his meditations on topics ranging from the existence of God to the mistreatment of women, became an immediate best seller in 12 countries.
It is an unprecedented case of mass proselytizing by a Pontiff — arcane but personal, expansive but resolute about its moral message.
He lectures against much that the secular world deems inevitable: the abysmal inequalities between the wealthy and the wretched of the earth, the sufferings of those condemned to lives of squalor, poverty and oppression.
"He really has a will and a determination to help humanity through spirituality," observed the Dalai Lama. "That is marvelous. That is good. I know how difficult it is for leaders on these issues."
That fundamental phrase, social justice, of which I just spoke, that fundamental understanding of fairness among human beings is a phrase and a concept that comes to us from John Paul II. As Time Magazine put it, eliminating the abysmal inequality between rich and poor, alleviating the suffering of those condemned to lives of squalor, poverty and oppression, along with the notion of social justice so familiar to the world today, can all be attributed to John Paul II.
The idea that the Catholic Church would say not just to its faith community but to the world that they boycott Kraft because it was taking advantage of migrant workers from South America was at the time so foreign a concept to Catholics that, but for the tenacity and the smile that John Paul brought to his leadership, that hard-fought beginning, and there are other examples, that led to the idea of social fairness throughout the world, would have been a concept lost.
Ideas such as north-south relations, paying a fair price, not taking advantage of coffee producers and helping the people of Africa through fair trade and fair prices are all part of the concept known to us as social justice.
Into the secular world, his leadership brought the very notion of social justice.
Into the religious and also the secular sphere, John Paul brought the ecumenical movement, which is important in the world of life and death not just because of Protestant and Catholic children throwing stones at one another, but because of trade and bigotry and killing that have been the ugly side of faith and community.
Apart from these two contributions in the secular world came a third more religious than the others, but impactful beyond faith and again with a word known only to academics before John Paul II brought the concept into our lives. That word was the vernacular, religion in the vernacular. Within the Catholic Church, and in part in the Anglican Church, it was the end of Latin being the language of communication, or more accurately, the language of non-communication. To speak in the vernacular was to be a part of the people, part of the issues of social justice.
Celebrating the Catholic mass in the vernacular meant that after almost 2000 years of having Catholic religious ceremonies conducted in Latin, a dead language, people all over the globe could communicate in their own language. Urging priests to engage with parishioners was important in Western Europe, Canada, Australia and the United States, but it was particularly important in Mexico, in South America, in Africa and in Asia.
Priests moved into the secular world with impact, impact not spiritual and religious but impact on fairness regarding concepts we now accept worldwide.
Other religions were similarly impacted. This was particularly true with Jews and Muslims, with some Muslim leaders not for the better, but it was also very true for the Buddhists, the Hindus and the Sikhs, where following the lead of the world's largest Christian religion, entry into the secular world became a part of the contribution of hitherto exclusively spiritual leaders which, to some extent, was the very contrast of millennia of tradition for some of the Eastern religions.
John Paul's role was significant in the fall of communism, but it was superordinate for the concepts of social justice, the ecumenical movement and religion at the level of the people, in the vernacular.
It is his place of leadership in the world, and not just the Catholic world, that sets him apart and deserving of recognition of Bill C-266.
Could I have five more minutes?
Hon. Leo Housakos (Acting Speaker): The Honourable Senator Merchant is asking for five more minutes.
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Merchant: Affirmation of John Paul's achievements far beyond religion is evidenced by events and honours bestowed upon him.
1979: John Paul addresses the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York.
1984: The U.S. re-establishes full diplomatic relations with the Vatican.
1984: Pope receives The Order of the Smile, an international award given by children to adults distinguished for their love, care and aid for children.
1993: The Pope receives The Order of the White Eagle, Poland's highest decoration.
1994: Time magazine names Pope John Paul II its Man of the Year.
1995: His second address to the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York.
1998: The Vatican releases a formal apology to Jews for the church's failure to do more to prevent the Holocaust.
2000: The Pope apologizes for the church's mistreatment of Jews, non-Catholics, Christians, women, the poor and minorities over the last 2,000 years.
2000: Pope John Paul II is awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian award in the United States.
2004: The Pope asks for forgiveness for the Inquisition "for errors committed in the service of truth through the use of methods that had nothing to do with the gospel."
2004: John Paul II is awarded the United States Presidential Medal of Freedom.
2004: The Pope receives the Charlemagne Prize, one of the most prestigious European awards.
In Canada today, John Paul's legacy continues to inspire. As an example, a charitable organization known as The Group of Friends of John Paul II Foundation, with chapters across Canada, continues John Paul's work of outreach in the secular world. It is dedicated to John Paul's preoccupation for advocating help for those around the planet who are most in need. It is active in the care of orphans and in assisting those meriting university scholarships in Eastern Europe.
Also recognizing John Paul's life are the Pope John Paul II Fund for Polish Orphans and Abandoned Children and the John Paul II Care Centre of Copernicus Lodge in Toronto.
Pope John Paul II accomplished overarching change in the 20th century. He changed how we think about others — other nations and other peoples. Those who did not share his religious faith admired him, admired his passion for humanity and felt inspired by him.
The recognition Canada should bestow through Bill C-266 is not religious recognition, but people recognition, justice recognition and world connections recognition.
(On motion of Senator Joyal, debate adjourned.)
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Dyck, calling the attention of the Senate to the disparities in educational attainments of First Nations people, inequitable funding of on-reserve schools and insufficient funding for postsecondary education.
Hon. Claudette Tardif: Honourable senators, I am pleased to rise to speak to Senator Dyck's inquiry on the disparities in educational attainments of First Nations people and on the inequitable funding of on-reserve schools. I want to thank our honourable colleague for this initiative.
The alarming state of First Nations education caught the attention of the public and the media as a result of the introduction of Bill C-33 and the rejection of some aspects of this reform by the Assembly of First Nations on May 27. As you know, this issue has been around for a long time.
For years, successive studies and reports have revealed that First Nations education is in crisis, that dropout rates are much higher than the Canadian average, and that inadequate funding is a major problem.
The statistics are staggering. According to 2013-14 standardized test results recently published by the Department of Aboriginal Affairs, the majority of First Nations students on reserves in Ontario and Alberta are failing at reading, writing and math. Students in Atlantic Canada and Manitoba are also struggling.
On-reserve school buildings are often crumbling or infested with mould, or they do not include library, laboratory or gym facilities. Too often, the teachers are underpaid, the textbooks are inadequate, and the schools are not heated properly. Nearly 60 per cent of Aboriginal students living on reserves drop out of high school. In the rest of Canada, the dropout rate is less than 10 per cent. The Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples published a report in 2011 that revealed that, in some communities, 70 per cent of students do not graduate from high school. The statistics for university graduation are equally upsetting. Only 7 per cent of First Nations people have a university degree. Once again, this is far below the national average, which is around 23 per cent.
The dropout rate is not the only cause for concern. There is also the alarming youth suicide rate, which is five times higher than the national average; the fact that Aboriginal women are eight times more likely to be murdered than other Canadian women; and the disproportionately high incarceration rate. In addition, overcrowding and substandard, on-reserve housing is a major concern. Even if students are attending a good school, living in a two-bedroom house with 10 people does not provide an adequate environment for study purposes.
In October 2013, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples visited a number of Canadian Aboriginal communities in six provinces. At the conclusion of his visit, he criticized the current situation. He stated:
Canada consistently ranks among the top of countries in respect to human development standards, and yet amidst this wealth and prosperity, aboriginal people live in conditions akin to those in countries that rank much lower and in which poverty abounds.
Long-term underfunding from the federal government is one major factor affecting the quality of First Nations education. The federal government spends less money per child than the provinces. For example, public schools administered by the Province of Alberta receive about $7,000 in funding per student. On-reserve schools managed by the federal government receive only $4,000, which represents a difference of $3,000 per student.
Furthermore, provincial public schools have the support of an administrative structure that helps run schools by developing the curriculum and providing all kinds of essential administrative services.
The approximately 500 schools located on reserves operate without the same structural support from school boards and provincial departments. To resolve these serious problems that have gone on for far too long, the government needs to undertake a comprehensive reform in cooperation with the First Nations and it needs to make significant investments to improve infrastructure and address the funding gap.
The alternative to these investments is the status quo, which will result in much greater economic and social costs.
According to the 2009 report of the Centre for the Study of Living Standards entitled The Effect of Increasing Aboriginal Educational Attainment on the Labour Force, Output and the Fiscal Balance, if we were to bridge the educational and occupational gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians, we would be able to generate an economic gain of $400.5 million, reduce government spending and increase government tax revenues by about $115 billion for the period from 2001 to 2026. Another study conducted by the same centre in 2010 shows that the growth of the Aboriginal workforce would allow the government to save $1.9 billion per year as of 2026.
Aboriginal peoples are a fast-growing segment of the Canadian population and represent a much younger group than non-Aboriginal Canadians. By 2020, over 50 per cent of the Aboriginal population will be less than 25 years old. Ironically, Canada is currently underfunding the education of the youngest segment of its population.
A quality education that meets the needs of Aboriginal people is essential in order to improve the opportunities available to these young people. We need to build a knowledge-based society with and for all Canadians. In the information age, ignorance is synonymous with exclusion, starting with our Aboriginal peoples. We especially need to respect the fundamental right of Aboriginal children to a quality education that promotes their development and recognizes their heritage.
First Nations have long ago determined the broader objectives that should guide their education system. They want the government to respect their natural right to develop and administer their children's education. They want an education that will turn out Aboriginal citizens who live up to their potential, who are prepared to shoulder the responsibilities of their community and who have economic, language and cultural skills.
The Mi'kmaq education system in Nova Scotia, which has a 90 per cent success rate with respect to high school graduation, is often held up as a good example. That is why Ghislain Picard, Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, is asking that the federal government cede control of young Aboriginals' education to First Nations by the start of the next school year.
Honourable senators, as a Franco-Albertan and an educator, I can bear witness to how important it is for a minority group to establish a strong, flexible education system that is specifically tailored to their community. In recent decades, the emergence of francophone school boards and French-language public schools changed the face of francophone minority communities.
Honourable colleagues, we often see education as training solely intended to prepare students for the workforce, and thus we value it mostly for its economic utility. However, education is about sharing a cultural and intellectual heritage. It is about ensuring a common future as well as the survival and continuation of a community's language, values and culture.
It is hardly surprising that the content and control of education is at the heart of important political struggles. The destiny of a people is unavoidably tied to how the children are taught. That is especially true for minority groups that must coexist with society and a majority culture.
The history of First Nations is clearly different from that of Canada's francophones. It is impossible to understand the current issues, in particular the education disparities, without fully understanding their history and the profound injustices that were committed in the past.
The 1996 report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples documented several of these injustices. The report recognized that successive governments repeatedly sought to mould Aboriginal peoples and their social structures to fit their own ideals, in part by taking control of education.
It is important to understand that First Nations members were uprooted and deprived of their traditional territory. They were also uprooted socially and culturally, which curtailed their ability to pass down their values and traditions to subsequent generations. This policy of uprooting people probably reached its peak with the introduction of residential schools. The outcomes of these policies were disastrous; their repercussions are being felt to this day.
According to the United Nations Special Rapporteur, the fundamental problem is related to the fact that First Nations have a deep distrust of governments and their institutions. It is important for the government to remember the grave injustices of the past. In many ways, they are the backdrop that informs First Nations' relationship with the Crown.
Over the past few years, a degree of consensus has emerged on reforming First Nations education. Unfortunately, education reform is hampered by the strained relationship between the government and First Nations. That was very clear during the talks over the past few months.
As you know, First Nations chiefs officially rejected Bill C-33 and are calling for a new agreement to reform education for children in their communities. So far, the minister has refused to reconsider the proposal and threatened to provide no additional support until the proposed reforms are agreed to. The minister seems to have forgotten that reforms are only good if they are just.
The First Nations believe that the government is using the money issue to reinforce its bargaining power and impose its reforms. Minister Valcourt tried to impose the government's will and refused to negotiate with the First Nations.
The Harper government thinks that the Assembly of First Nations either needs to accept the changes proposed in Bill C-33 or accept the status quo. In the meantime, a new cohort of Aboriginal students started its first school year in September in classrooms without the resources that students need to be able to learn. Once again, the students are suffering and the government chooses not to intervene.
The government seriously needs to show some good faith to improve relations with the First Nations. Last May, the Assembly of First Nations asked that the $1.9 billion in funding provided for in Bill C-33 be immediately sent to the communities, but the government refused. Immediately making up the funding deficit for Aboriginal students would be a step in the right direction. Furthermore, if the government were to eliminate the 2 per cent annual cap on the Post-Secondary Student Support Program, it would also help restore trust.
Since the mid- to late 1990s, there has been a 2 per cent cap on the amount that spending on Aboriginal education can grow each year for access to post-secondary education.
In a National Post article dated November 12, 2014, journalist Steve Rennie quotes from a 2013 Aboriginal Affairs internal document urging the government to raise the cap on Aboriginal education.
The department's own document states:
For the (kindergarten to Grade 12) education programs to maintain provincial comparability and NOT draw on other program funds. . . new investments are required, including a 4.5 per cent escalator on all K-12 education program funds going forward (starting in 2014/15). . . .
The request to eliminate the 2 per cent cap has repeatedly been made by our First Nations and Inuit peoples as well as by numerous other associations over a number of years. Two weeks ago, I had the pleasure of meeting representatives from the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations who recommended once again to government the elimination of the 2 per cent cap.
Honourable senators, for years now, many stakeholders and studies have been recommending that the underfunding be addressed through an immediate and separate measure. I was pleased to learn recently that the government had confirmed $500 million in funding in support of on-reserve schools, even though that amount had already been announced in the last federal budget.
Could I please have five more minutes?
Hon. Leo Housakos (Acting Speaker): Honourable senators, is it agreed that Senator Tardif have an additional five minutes?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Tardif: Thank you.
However, the $1.9 billion in funding that had been promised has still not been paid out.
It is time, honourable senators, for the federal government to commit to working in partnership with First Nations. As Ghislain Picard, Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, said in a Hill Times article on November 17, 2014, and I quote:
[The government needs to] embrace the underlying principles here of partnership, fairness, respect and recognition.
The government can invest immediately in the future of young Aboriginal Canadians, prove that it cares about their education and set the tone for the future. The least the federal government can do is guarantee equal funding. We have owed this to First Nations peoples for quite some time. We owe it to ourselves as a democratic country. Thank you.
(On motion of Senator Fraser, for Senator Dyck, debate adjourned.)
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Callbeck, calling the attention of the Senate to the well-documented connection between health and poverty, and to the pressing need to alleviate the burden poverty places on our healthcare system and on millions of Canadians.
Hon. Art Eggleton: Honourable senators, I'm pleased today to speak on former Senator Callbeck's inquiry on the link between poverty and health.
For millions of our fellow citizens, every day is a battle — a battle with insufficient income, unaffordable housing, inadequate clothing and unsatisfactory nutrition. Just struggling to get by, these families can't even dream about getting ahead. At least 10 per cent of Canadians are living in poverty. Approximately 1 million of them are children. The rates are even higher among Aboriginal populations. An astonishing 50 per cent of Aboriginal children are living in poverty. That's disgusting.
Perhaps more alarming is that the House of Commons committed 25 years ago, in 1989, to eliminating child poverty by the year 2000. Here we are, 14 years past the deadline, 25 years since the commitment, and 19 per cent or over 1 million of our children are still living in poverty according to Campaign 2000. In 2014, almost 900,000 Canadians used food banks every month, which is close to a record high, and over a third of those depending on food banks are children.
Honourable senators, we also have another alarming trend — increasing income inequality. The Conference Board of Canada ranks Canada twelfth out of 17 countries, giving it a C grade for inequality. This is the Conference Board of Canada, not some left-wing think tank. According to Statistics Canada, between 1980 and 2005, while earnings for the those in the top income group increased by over 16 per cent, those in the lowest income group saw their incomes fall by 20 per cent — 16 per cent up for the top group, 20 per cent down for the bottom group, and in the middle, earnings are essentially stagnant. The top-earning 1 per cent of Canadians' share of national income went from about 8 per cent to close to 14 per cent over the past three decades.
Some will say that the situation isn't that bad. They will often point to Statistics Canada's study that said the median net wealth of Canadian families hit $243,800 in 2012, an increase of 44.5 per cent from 2005. But recent research shows that the gains are not equally shared. Inequality is increasing even in net worth. The top end of society has seen drastic increases while the bottom continues to decline.
We now have a situation where the top 10 per cent account for nearly 50 per cent of the total wealth in Canada and, if you add the next 10 per cent, the top 20 per cent control some 70 per cent of all the wealth in Canada. By contrast, the bottom 50 per cent own less than 6 per cent. This is not an equal society. This is not promising news.
Why should we care about poverty and increased income inequality at all? Why does it matter? It's because poverty and inequality bring significant consequences to the fabric of our society, the health of our people and, as economists will tell you, the vigour of our economy. Whether it's life expectancy or literacy levels, levels of crime or obesity, violence, incarceration or addiction, the more unequal a society is, the worse it does in those areas.
We can see this first off in our cities. In Toronto, for example, a report by University of Toronto Professor David Hulchanski found that Canada's largest city is now really a tale of three cities. One part is very wealthy, but there is a huge area of poverty, and the portion once occupied by the middle class has shrunk from about 66 per cent in 1970 to 29 per cent. Meanwhile, the low-income neighbourhoods have grown from 19 per cent to more than half of the neighbourhoods in the city.
When it comes to health and poverty, the Canadian Medical Association proclaimed that poverty makes us sick. That's what the CMA said. They showed in a 2013 report that 50 per cent of health outcomes can be attributed to the social determinants of health, such as poverty, housing and homelessness, and 20 per cent of the $200 billion spent on health care annually can be attributed to socio-economic disparities — a lot of taxpayers' money on this account.
Here is something: A study done by the Hamilton Spectator documented the connection between poverty and inequality and mortality in Canada. It found a 21-year age difference in life expectancy between two communities only five kilometres apart in the city of Hamilton, one wealthy, one poor. How is it that two communities separated by just five kilometres can be worlds apart in terms of life expectancy? If that one community in Hamilton were a country, it would rank one hundred and sixty-fifth in the world for life expectancy, along with many poor countries.
In Saskatoon, honourable senators, a 2006 study found that the infant mortality rate was 448 per cent higher in low-income neighbourhoods than in the rest of the city. Just think about that — 448 per cent here in Canada.
One of the reasons for this is that when poor people get sick, they frequently can't afford medication. A 2012 Statistics Canada report found that one in ten Canadians either does not fill their prescriptions for cost reasons or deliberately skips doses to be able to save money — money they don't have.
Honourable senators, the harsh reality for many Canadians is that even the places they call home are making them sick. A home can anchor a family and provide a foundation for such key benefits as better health, higher educational attainment and greater stability in the workplace, but not every home is the same. There is a large deficit of quality, affordable and safe housing that's available in this country.
Many families settle for living in unacceptable environments because they simply have no other options. For a single mother, the challenge of finding affordable housing is even greater. Their children develop asthma and other respiratory problems because of mould. They live in fear of their neighbourhoods, causing unnecessary amounts of stress and mental health issues; and some do not have access to a sanitary water supply.
The past President of the Canadian Medical Association, Dr. Anna Reid, said this of the situation:
If a patient comes to a doctor with asthma, we can prescribe medication. But if that patient goes back to a home where there's mould inside the walls and the air is unhealthy, all the medication in the world won't make that person better.
Concerns about nutrition are also widely expressed in poorer communities, particularly the accessibility and affordability of proper nutrition. Children who live in food-insecure households are more likely to experience a range of health problems. According to a report by Canada Without Poverty, 80 per cent were more likely to report having diabetes; 60 per cent were more likely to report high blood pressure; and 70 per cent were more likely to report food allergies.
According to the Conference Board of Canada, as many as 1 million children go to school hungry in Canada. One million children go to school hungry here in Canada. Let me repeat that: One million children go to school hungry in Canada. This can lead not only to health problems, but also to decreased motivation, more absenteeism, lower grades and violence in school.
The state of health is even worse for those at the bottom end of society — the homeless. According to the Wellesley Institute, if you are a woman living in a shelter, you only have about a 60 per cent chance of living to age 75. If you are a man, you have a 32 per cent chance. These are the same odds that women had of living to 75 back in 1956; or for men, it's like living in 1921. Those figures are for homeless people.
These are the realities of poverty and income inequality in Canada today. Let's be clear: Poverty and inequality are not obscure issues that only concern economists or policy wonks. It's degrading our economy, and changing the nature of our cities and the cohesion of our society. It's skewing the cost of owning a home and creating unequal health outcomes for more and more of our fellow citizens.
It's also taking a lot of money out of our pockets, from each and every one of us in this room. A study guided by economist and policy experts Don Drummond, Judith Maxwell, John Stapleton and James Milway estimates that poverty costs this country about $7.5 billion every year in health care costs alone; and between $8 billion and $13 billion in lost productivity. All told, they said that poverty's bill is $30 billion a year. That's an astounding number.
Honourable senators, where do we go from here? There are three areas where I think we need to focus. First, education is a great enabler and leveler in any society. In the Social Affairs committee report, In From the Margins, which was adopted unanimously by the Senate, we found a clear connection between the level of education achieved and the level of income received. We also found a classic Catch 22: For many, poverty keeps people from acquiring the kind of education and training they need and their lack of skills keeps them from getting the jobs that would lift them out of poverty. Breaking this cycle is critical, and breaking it begins in the earliest years of life.
Study after study confirms that children who arrive at school ready to learn become adults prepared to succeed. Among our recommendations in that report was a nation-wide federal-provincial initiative in early childhood learning. This would be money well spent. According to Canada's former chief public health officer, every dollar invested in early years saves between $3 and $9 in future spending on health and criminal justice systems, as well as social assistance.
Second, we need to review the tax system. Our income tax system has become less progressive over time. Today, the top federal income tax bracket is 29 per cent, and it kicks in at $129,000. If you earn more, you don't pay a higher rate. In the United States, by comparison, there are six federal income tax brackets with a top rate of 35 per cent, which kicks in at just under $380,000. The United States has a more progressive tax system than we have? That's what the numbers say. President Obama, joined by Warren Buffet and others, is now calling for increasing taxes on the very wealthy. Let's make our tax system fairer and more progressive.
Third, the report found that a whole range of programs, from social assistance to Employment Insurance, aren't working. In many cases, we found that even when they did work, it was a sign they were producing two equally-devastating results. First, they were providing only enough income to keep people in poverty, not to lift them out of it; and, second, in some cases these policies were making it harder for people to escape the poverty trap.
I think the time is right to explore a basic income in Canada. A basic income through a negative income tax — which was touted by our former colleague Senator Hugh Segal on many occasions — may ensure that all Canadians would have income that pays for the basic necessities of life — food, clothing and a decent place to live. By itself, it wouldn't provide them with the good life, but it would ensure that no one, including our children, falls below the poverty line.
Honourable senators, let me say as I close that we must decide together what kind of a country we want to live in. We must declare that the economy matters not as an end in itself but as a means to lifting up all people, not just the lucky few. If we get that focus right, then we can do better, be better and lead healthier lives.
(On motion of Senator Fraser, debate adjourned.)
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Nolin, calling the attention of the Senate to its investigative role.
Hon. Claudette Tardif: Honourable senators, I would like to take part in the debate on this inquiry. Unfortunately, I was unable to complete my research. I therefore ask to adjourn the debate for the remainder of my speaking time.
(On motion of Senator Tardif, debate adjourned.)
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Nolin, calling the attention of the Senate to its role in parliamentary diplomacy.
Hon. Joan Fraser (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, I thank Senator Nolin for introducing this fine series of inquiries, particularly the one on parliamentary diplomacy, which in my opinion is a lesser-known subject that is not fully understood by Canadians.
In the same way that members of the House of Commons have a natural, built-in tendency to assume that senators don't really do anything much of any good, some of them at any rate, I would suggest that professional diplomats tend to assume that parliamentary diplomacy is also not worth paying much attention to. Indeed, sometimes it interferes with the peaceful exercise of their craft.
I think all of us who have been here for any length of time know that parliamentary diplomacy can and does fill gaps that regular diplomacy cannot. Our former Speaker, Senator Kinsella, had a favourite example, which I was privileged to witness, a classic example of how parliamentary diplomacy can in fact make a difference. He led a small delegation of us to Colombia. Senator Nancy Ruth will also remember this occasion.
Among many other things, Senator Kinsella's delegations were marathons of work, but perhaps the highlight of our trip was the meeting with the President of Colombia, President Santos, a very impressive man. We had been told by the embassy that although the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement was working out quite well, there was one sticking point, and it had to do with beef. I cannot recall the specific details of what was wrong with beef, but the Colombians were digging in their heels. Canadian diplomats had had endless meetings and had not been able to get the Colombians to budge.
There we were, sitting with the president, and the president said, among many other things, "So the free trade deal is going well, yes?" Senator Kinsella said that there was just one thing, and it has to do with beef. The president said, "What?" Whereupon a very nervous senior Colombian bureaucrat said, "Oh, but, Mr. President, we've had 20 meetings. We're working on it." The president looked at him and said, "Have 21 and let that be an end of it. Settle this matter."
That had not happened through normal diplomacy and would not have happened but for the Speaker of the Senate being able to make that point to the president himself.
Most of us, I think, have had experience with parliamentary associations of various sorts and have been privileged indeed to travel to many parts of the world as part of our work in those associations. Many people, many Canadians, tend to think that these trips are, in the pejorative word, junkets. In my experience, they are sessions where you work extremely hard, you learn a very great deal and sometimes you're able to do something for your country. Of course learning is important, because as parliamentarians the more we understand about the world around us, the world in which we work, the better we will be able to do our work.
In my own personal experience, for example, I have seen, in the Canada-Europe Parliamentary Association, Senator Milne fighting the good fight in connection with the seal hunt. She did that for years and made a difference.
More recently, I remember the MP who is now head of Canada-Europe, David Tilson, really fighting ferociously the European discriminatory classification of Canadian oil. This is where he, too, may have made a difference.
In the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, many of us have seen how that association strengthens links between the countries of the Commonwealth. It is good for what we think of as the poorer, Third World members of the Commonwealth. I've seen, many of us have seen, how parliamentarians from those countries have learned and gained from CPA seminars and sessions of one kind or another.
It's also good for us. We learn a lot. I've learned through the CPA significant amounts that I didn't previously know about the Westminster system of governance, which is the foundation of what we do, but also about, again, the problems that other countries face that we may be able to help with and that we should know about.
I was briefly a member of the Canada-France Association. All I can say to attest to the importance of this association is that the President of France invited the chair of the Canada-France Association, Senator Tardif, to take part in the commemoration of the Normandy landings earlier this year.
It's not often that the president of another country reaches into the Senate to honour us with such an invitation.
The parliamentary association I have known best over the years is the Inter-Parliamentary Union. That's really where I learned how important it is to build these links between parliamentarians. The IPU, as many of you know, is the only parliamentary association recognized by the United Nations. It is the only body that can bring the voice of actual parliamentarians to the deliberations of the United Nations, and it does so on a regular basis.
Over the years, in part because the United States withdrew a while ago from the IPU — although there are hopes that it will come back — but also on our own merits, Canada has played a very prominent role in the IPU, going back for several years now.
I don't want to downplay the importance of men in Canada's representation at the IPU. Senator Oliver was a member of the international executive; Senator Dawson has worked like a demon in the IPU, and very successfully. But my personal experience has to do much more with the role of women in the IPU, and there the IPU has been a trailblazer for women parliamentarians around the world.
Canadian women, and particularly Canadian women senators, have had a major role there, going back to Senator Joan Neiman quite a few years ago. Senator Sheila Finestone was the head of the IPU's women's wing. Anybody who knew Sheila Finestone knows that she got things done. She moved that organization from the traditional male-dominated approach to life to a really meaningful recognition of the role and importance of women. She was the one who pioneered rules which others of us followed through on to make sure that any delegation that did not include women would be penalized in the IPU. They would actually lose votes, which is, as we know, a serious thing to lose when you're in politics.
I was lucky enough to succeed Senator Finestone. Like her, I served on the international executive committee. Now Senator Ataullahjan has taken up that torch, and she heads the women's wing of the international IPU and sits on the international executive committee and does us proud, particularly in connection with her work on maternal and child health. We're glad of that.
I think it's important to understand the difference that associations like this, and in particular the IPU, have made for women parliamentarians around the world. With respect, this is not a question to which professional diplomats would normally turn their attention. If we don't do it, it doesn't get done.
I have had women from several continents come to me, some in tears, to say, "Thank you so much. If it weren't for the IPU, for the IPU's progressive rules, I would not have been here. And if I had not been able to come here to these meetings I would never have been taken seriously, as seriously as I should be, by my male colleagues at home."
Again, it's not just that we have helped other countries. They have helped us. You learn so much when you meet your colleagues from around the world. You learn not just how fortunate we are here, but the dangers that can beset any parliamentary system. You learn about different systems of law and different systems of politics.
The best primer on the proportional representation system, for example, that I ever had came from a woman parliamentarian from New Zealand who taught me things about proportional representation that I had never seen in a textbook, but it was an important lesson.
We have learned and we have served. In an interconnected world, it is, it seems to me, crucial for all of us to build on those links so that we can continue to learn more and more, to serve our own country by learning, but also to help to build the links of trust and understanding that must exist if we are ever to achieve a state of peace in the world.
Parliamentary associations and parliamentary diplomacy cannot do it alone, of course, but I would suggest to you, colleagues, that without parliamentary diplomacy and interparliamentary links it will be far longer and far more difficult to get to international peace and trust.
I thank Senator Nolin again for having launched this inquiry. I hope others will participate in it. In the meantime, I move the adjournment of the debate in the name of Senator Dawson.
(On motion of Senator Fraser, for Senator Dawson, debate adjourned.)
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Mercer, calling the attention of the Senate to Senate Reform and how the Senate and its Senators can achieve reforms and improve the function of the Senate by examining the role of Senators in their Regions.
Hon. James S. Cowan (Leader of the Opposition): This is an important issue raised by Senator Mercer and touched on by our friend Senator Nolin in his series of inquiries. I do want to speak to it, but not today. I would ask for leave to adjourn the debate for the balance of my time.
(On motion of Senator Cowan, debate adjourned.)
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Segal, calling the attention of the Senate to the contributions of our men and women in uniform and of Canadian civilians in their efforts in the 12 year-long mission in Afghanistan in the war on terrorism and to their support for the Afghan people.
Hon. Linda Frum: Honourable senators, I wish to take adjournment of this debate in my name, please.
(On motion of Senator Frum, debate adjourned.)
(The Senate adjourned until Wednesday, December 3, 2014, at 1:30 p.m.)