- SENATORS' STATEMENTS
- ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
- Study on Prescription Pharmaceuticals
- Human Rights
- Notice of Motion to Authorize Committee to Extend Date of Final Report on Study of International and National Human Rights Obligations
- Notice of Motion to Authorize Committee to Extend Date of Final Report on Study of International Mechanisms toward Improving Cooperation in the Settlement of Cross-Border Family Disputes
- Notice of Motion to Authorize Committee to Extend Date of Final Report on Study of Issues of Discrimination in Hiring and Promotion Practices of Federal Public Service and Labour Market Outcomes for Minority Groups in Private Sector
- QUESTION PERIOD
- Public Safety
- International Trade
- Delayed Answer to Oral Question
- National Defence
- ORDERS OF THE DAY
- Canadian Human Rights Act
- Constitution Act, 1867
Parliament of Canada Act
- The Senate
- Trinity Western University
- Living with Dementia
- Appendix - Senators Lists
- Canadian Human Rights Act
Tuesday, March 10, 2015
The Senate met at 2 p.m., the Speaker in the chair.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, before we begin today, I invite senators to rise to observe a minute of silence in memory of Sergeant Andrew Joseph Doiron, who died tragically while serving his country in Iraq.
Honourable senators then stood in silent tribute.
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 Valeriu Stefan Zgonea, President of the Chamber of Deputies of Romania.
On behalf of all honourable senators, I welcome you to the Senate of Canada.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Hon. Carolyn Stewart Olsen: Honourable senators, it is with a heavy heart that I rise today to acknowledge the loss of one of New Brunswick's sons.
Sergeant Andrew Doiron, or Drew, as he is known by his friends, was a native of Moncton and a distinguished soldier in our Canadian Special Operations Regiment. He died in the line of duty last Friday in Northern Iraq.
He is our first loss in the ongoing mission in Iraq, and as such, his sacrifice holds a special significance in our ongoing fight against terrorism.
Our soldiers bravely support the Kurdish Peshmerga, who are holding the line against the armies of ISIS.
Like his comrades in generations past, Sergeant Doiron took up arms to defend those who cannot defend themselves. His friends and comrades describe him as a soldier, a warrior and a consummate professional. He was very proud of what he did.
He joined in 2002 and served with the Princess Pats and three terms in Afghanistan. That's just a small portion of his military service for our country.
He loved his family, he loved his job, and he had a great relationship with everyone around him.
In my previous career, I had the opportunity to interact with many of the men in our special forces. I know how hard they work, and I have nothing but the highest appreciation for the dedication they show in their struggle to protect Canada from threats that we do not always know about or understand.
As I have noted here before, I do not view our veterans as a partisan issue. Our soldiers serve all Canadians, and in a time of loss like this, it is our job, our only job, as senators to come together as one to honour their sacrifice and support those who remain.
In closing, I would like to thank Sergeant Doiron's family for giving him to us to remain forever one of Canada's immortal sons. We bring him home in dignity, with all the honour our country can give, and lay him silently to a hero's rest.
Thank you, senators.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Hon. Claudette Tardif: Honourable senators, it was with deep sadness that I learned of the passing on February 25 of Franco-Albertan veteran Ernest Côté. He was 101.
He was one of the most famous veterans in the country. He was a true hero who leaves behind many medals and insignia and the memory of a man who showed exemplary heroism and great generosity.
He was recognized for playing a major role in the historic event that led to the fall of Nazi Germany during the Second World War. In fact, he was named a member of the Order of the British Empire by King George VI.
The lieutenant-colonel was in charge of logistics for the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division during the famous Normandy landing on Juno Beach on June 6, 1944. Seventy years later to the day, I had the immense pleasure of attending the official international ceremony commemorating the 70th anniversary of the allied landing in Ouistreham, Normandy.
The next day, I had the honour of speaking with Mr. Côté at the Bretteville-sur-Laize Canadian military cemetery in Cintheaux during a ceremony to pay tribute to the Canadian soldiers buried there. Mr. Côté delivered a memorable speech in both official languages, without notes and with remarkable coherence and clarity.
I had the privilege of knowing Mr. Côté when I was the dean of the University of Alberta's Campus Saint-Jean. He came to meet with me to honour the contribution his father had made to Alberta's francophone community by creating the Jean-Léon Côté bursary for francophone students pursuing their studies at the Campus Saint-Jean. Jean-Léon Côté, Ernest's father, was a surveyor, engineer, miner and Alberta MLA before being appointed to the Senate of Canada in 1923.
After studying law at the University of Alberta, Ernest Côté joined the Royal 22e Régiment in 1939 as a lieutenant. He landed in Normandy on June 6, 1944 as the logistics coordinator for the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division.
After the war, Mr. Côté had a distinguished career in the federal public service as a diplomat and a public servant. He participated in the first meetings of the United Nations General Assembly. He was appointed as Canadian ambassador to Finland by Pierre Elliott Trudeau before retiring in 1975.
Honourable senators, we have lost a dignified and humble man who lived an impressive life and demonstrated extraordinary courage. I will never forget how much he truly cared about Alberta's francophone community, as demonstrated by the fact that when I met with him here in Ottawa just a few weeks ago, he wanted to know how he could continue to support the Campus Saint-Jean.
Ernest Côté is a hero who must always be remembered.
Hon. Diane Bellemare: Honourable senators, I rise today to draw attention to International Women's Day, which is held annually on March 8. This celebration dates back to 1909 in the United States.
It was made official in 1977 by the United Nations in order to encourage all countries to celebrate and advocate for women's rights and gender equality.
Although the status of women has improved over time, there is still a lot of work to be done, particularly when it comes to economic and social issues. Above all, we must be vigilant in maintaining the progress that has been made with regard to women's rights, including a woman's right to control her own body and choose what is best for her.
I have chosen to mark International Women's Day by highlighting the work and exceptional contribution to the defence of women's rights of one of our colleagues. I'm referring to the Honourable Janis Johnson, who will be celebrating her twenty-fifth anniversary in the Senate this upcoming September.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.
Senator Bellemare: In my opinion, it is thanks to her leadership and through her speeches in chambers that she upheld the rights of women in contributing to defeat Bill C-43 concerning the recriminalization of abortion in 1991, for those who don't know it or those who arrived late, as I did.
Bill C-43 sought to once again criminalize abortion even after the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in 1988 in the Dr. Morgentaler case that prohibiting abortion was contrary to section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees women the right to life, liberty and security of the person.
In her speech in the Senate on January 31, 1991, Janis Johnson objected to Bill C-43 because the core problem was that it labelled, and I quote:
. . . as criminals women who seek abortions on the basis of their own priorities and aspirations if these priorities do not coincide with those of a doctor and the state.
She also said that Bill C-43, and I quote:
. . . takes us to pre-1969 days and the days when women had absolutely no control over their reproductive lives—we were so powerless that to have a tubal ligation required the husband's signature.
I share the opinion expressed by my colleague Senator Johnson that only the woman should decide what is best for her. Again according to Senator Johnson:
It implies that people . . . who believe that women should choose on this matter, are somehow against life itself. It is absolutely crazy.
Dear Janis, I would like to thank you for having taken on the tremendous responsibility to fight this dossier for the thousands of women who cannot speak to the issue and be heard themselves. Thank you for expressing your conviction while being a newly appointed senator. Congratulations on your 25 years of service in the Senate. The Senate, in part thanks to you, has shown its utility and validity.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.
Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, Shalom/ Salaam. This year a unique commemoration of International Women's Day was held by Na'amat Canada Toronto, a Jewish women's volunteer organization; the Canadian Council of Muslim Women; the Canadian Association of Jews and Muslims; and the Women's Intercultural Network. It was a most amazing day that I will never forget.
The theme was Shalom/Salaam — Together we will make it happen! Women of diverse backgrounds and of all ages came together at the Borochov Cultural Centre in North York in Toronto.
Na'amat is concerned with the rise of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia in Canada and worldwide and decided to reach out to Muslim women for their annual celebration of International Women's Day so that they could get to know one another and together help to reduce stereotypes about the other community.
Dr. Karen Mock was instrumental in bringing all the groups together with the help of Talat Muinuddin.
Gerry Anklewicz, President of Na'amat, stated:
We wanted to celebrate with Muslim women, as we fervently believe if women who oppose violence and hatred speak to each other and find common ground, then we can counter anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.
Fathima Hussain, President of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women, stated:
Working on the planning committee together, I was so pleased that both our Muslim and Jewish women's groups are committed to exactly the same thing — working towards equality, safety and security. We discovered we have more similarities than differences.
Karen Mock summed up the outstanding event as follows:
What a thrill it was to see Jewish and Muslim women engage in lively discussion, learning about each other's customs, customs and concerns, in a safe place and in such a warm and inclusive environment. We are delighted the feedback has been so positive and that so many want to continue the dialogue, to take action together against discrimination, and to promote peace and harmony.
Honourable senators, in my remarks to the group, I stated:
We can start by strengthening our personal relationships, by partnering with each other's organizations locally and then by also working internationally.
I gave examples of my work in Israel and Palestine, and I urged the women to come together to help bring about peace. I believe if we start to break down barriers in Canada, we will be able to work together for peace in Israel and Palestine.
The women of Israel and Palestine are also our sisters. If not in Canada, then where? If not us, then who? The time to start is now.
Honourable senators, Jewish people in Hebrew say shalom aleichem. Muslims in Arabic say alechim salaam.
May peace be upon us all for the sake of our grandchildren.
Hon. A. Raynell Andreychuk: Honourable senators, I also rise to speak to International Women's Day. This year's International Women's Day celebrates the twentieth anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action — a key global policy document on gender equality.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has noted that the declaration was signed as "the devastating conflict in the former Yugoslavia prompted deserved attention to rape and other war crimes there against civilians."
Two decades later, real progress has been made in many parts of world. Yet, women and girls continue to struggle for their rights, particularly in the world's conflict and refugee situations.
The Beijing Declaration recognizes that:
While entire communities suffer the consequences of armed conflict and terrorism, women and girls are particularly affected because of their status in society and their sex.
It also includes some of the earliest international commitments to:
Increase the participation of women in conflict resolution at decision-making levels and protect women living in situations of armed and other conflicts or under foreign occupation.
One of the leading symbols of women's bravery in situations of armed struggle and foreign occupation today is Ms. Nadiya Savchenko.
Thirty-three-year-old Nadiya Savchenko is a Ukrainian air force pilot and a member of Parliament. Since last June 18, she has been a political prisoner in the Kremlin's war on Ukraine. Captured by separatists and abducted into Russia, she is accused of complicity in the deaths of two Russian journalists and of "illegally crossing the border." No evidence has been produced to support these accusations; yet, Savchenko's detention has been repeatedly extended.
The Minsk protocols signed last September call for the "immediate release of all hostages and illegally detained persons."
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the European Parliament, United States senators and others have called for Savchenko's release — all to no avail.
Now in the eighty-eighth day of a hunger strike, concerns are growing for Savchenko's health.
Savchenko has repeatedly stated that she will continue her hunger strike:
— as long as necessary so that my people have the right to be Ukrainians in Ukrainian lands, to live truthfully, honestly, and according to their conscience, to determine their own fates.
Whether in peace or in conflict, all women should enjoy such basic human rights and dignities. Sadly, too many do not.
The theme of this year's International Women's Day is Empowering Women, Empowering Humanity: Picture it! Let us here in the Senate support Nadiya Savchenko's immediate release and let us use her example to reaffirm our commitment to the empowerment of women everywhere who suffer daily.
Hon. Nancy Ruth: Honourable senators, we're often talking around here about making the Senate more efficient, accountable and transparent. Perhaps this is another way to talk about who should have power. So let's mark International Women's Day with five specific actions we can take here in the Senate that would make a healthy shift in the balance of power and produce better work.
The Senate is well-placed to lead on gender equality. It was created to represent the interests of minorities. Over time, minority interests have evolved to include linguistic minorities, women, visible minorities, Aboriginals and others who historically have had limited access to power and resources. Nothing stands in our way to lead on these equalities. Here are five actions that we can take immediately.
First of all, our membership: It is not possible, and it never was, to argue that Canada lacks for qualified women for any position in the Senate or its administration. We should recommend to the Governor-General-in-Council, as did the Royal Commission on the Status of Women 45 years ago, that women be appointed to the Senate until each province and territory is represented equitably by women and men. Right now, only four out of ten provinces have equal numbers of male and female senators. Those provinces are Alberta, B.C., Manitoba and New Brunswick. None of the territories is represented by a woman at this time.
My second point is leadership and administration. Gender- and equality-sensitivity training should be mandatory for every senator and Senate official. Women and men should be appointed and promoted equitably across all of our bodies and internal structures.
Third, gender-based analysis should be done in committees on bills and in studies. All committee members should be required to explicitly address the gender and equality implications of every policy, legislative and budget matter under consideration. As senators, we need to look at a bill or study's appropriateness for women and men and girls and boys.
The implementation of gender-based analysis in the federal government is largely an illusion, as the Auditor General reported. It will remain so unless Parliamentarians undertake gender-based analysis actively and directly.
Fourth, parliamentary research: Every committee should be supported by parliamentary research staff with gender expertise. Steps should be taken to continue to increase the capacity of parliamentary staff to conduct equality analysis of legislation, budgets and policies.
Fifth, Charter and constitutional compliance: Every committee should call the Department of Justice and other experts to ensure that all legislation is in compliance with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and is constitutional.
Those are five things to make the Senate better: Ensure our membership is 50 per cent female; have mandatory gender- and equality-sensitivity training for every senator and Senate official; do gender-based analysis in committees and on bills; require Parliamentary research staff have gender expertise; and ensure Charter and constitutional compliance in bills.
Hon. Kelvin Kenneth Ogilvie: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the eighteenth report (final) of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology, entitled: Prescription Pharmaceuticals in Canada: Final Report.
Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, I give notice that at the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:
That, notwithstanding the orders of the Senate adopted on Tuesday, November 19, 2013, and Thursday, June 12, 2014, the date for the final report of the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights in relation to its examination and monitoring of issues relating to human rights and, inter alia, to review the machinery of government dealing with Canada's international and national human rights obligations be extended from March 31, 2015, to February 29, 2016.
Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:
That, notwithstanding the orders of the Senate adopted on Thursday, February 27, 2014, and Thursday, December 11, 2014, the date for the final report of the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights in relation to its examination of international mechanisms toward improving cooperation in the settlement of cross-border family disputes, including Canada's actions to encourage universal adherence to and compliance with the Hague Abductions Convention, and to strengthen cooperation with the non-Hague State Parties with the purpose of upholding children's best interests be extended from March 31, 2015 to February 29, 2016.
Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:
That, notwithstanding the orders of the Senate adopted on Tuesday, November 19, 2013, and Thursday, June 12, 2014, the date for the final report of the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights in relation to its examination of issues of discrimination in the hiring and promotion practices of the Federal Public Service, to study the extent to which targets to achieve employment equity are being met, and to examine labour market outcomes for minority groups in the private sector be extended from March 31, 2015, to February 29, 2016.
Hon. James S. Cowan (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate, and it pertains to Bill C-51.
Last month, four former Prime Ministers — John Turner, Joe Clark, Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin — all signed an open letter calling for Bill C-51 to include enhanced oversight of our national security agencies. The other signatories included five former Supreme Court justices, four former Solicitors General, three former Justice Ministers, three former Security Intelligence Review Committee members, two former Privacy Commissioners and one former chairperson of the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP.
Does the government believe that these individuals lack credibility on this issue?
Hon. Claude Carignan (Leader of the Government): As I have said repeatedly, we believe that third-party, non-partisan, independent expert oversight of our national security agencies is a better model. The key powers granted under the new bill are subject to judicial review and authorization.
I would remind you that the Security Intelligence Review Committee's 2013-14 annual report states the following on page 6:
Our model of ongoing and methodical review also has the distinct advantage of allowing for a full and impartial assessment of CSIS's performance, arguably better positioning it to detect potential problems earlier.
Senator Cowan: That is the position which the government has taken, but I've given you the names and I've referred to a number of eminent Canadians, in addition to the Prime Ministers, Ministers of Justice, Solicitors General, Justice Ministers, Security Intelligence Review Committee members.
Can you provide a list of similarly eminent Canadians who support the bill?
Senator Carignan: Stephen Harper.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.
Senator Cowan: That says it all.
Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: My question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate.
Leader, there is no doubt that there is great angst in our community, especially in the Muslim community, with what is happening with Bill C-51 and other government actions. In the United States, when this kind of thing happens, the first thing they do is they reach out to the communities affected. In the United Kingdom, they first reach out to the communities affected. Why are we not doing that?
Senator Mitchell: That's a tough one.
Senator Carignan: Senator, as you know, Bill C-51 is comprehensive. It includes privacy protection and prevention measures. The House of Commons is studying the bill right now, and we will have a chance to examine it thoroughly in the Senate. You will be able to ask the experts questions on all of the bill's measures during the Senate committee meetings.
Once our study is complete, I think you will agree that Bill C-51 is crucial to protecting Canadians and keeping them safe.
Senator Jaffer: Leader, thank you for your response, but I'm not speaking specifically about the bill. I'm also speaking generally.
There is no doubt there is one community that really feels that it is less and less becoming part of Canada. I belong to that community and I'm proud to be a Canadian, but when I walk around and people do not see me as a Canadian because of my faith, I am asking what is our government doing to protect my rights?
Senator Carignan: Senator, after the attacks last fall, the Prime Minister specifically thanked the Muslim community for having categorically and unequivocally condemned the attacks.
He recognized the efforts of the Muslim community in the fight against radicalization. He clearly stated that he regards the Muslim community as an integral part of Canada and the Canadian community.
Senator Jaffer: Thank you very much, leader, for your response. My question is what is the government doing in outreach programs for this community?
Senator Carignan: Senator, as you know, it is very important to protect the ties with all communities. As we are doing with the Muslim community, we need to recognize the communities that condemn disgraceful actions and are working with members of the community to prevent radicalization. That is what needs to be done and that is what is being done.
Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette: Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. This past weekend we learned that the Canadian public will have to pay $17.3 million to ExxonMobil and Murphy Oil because Canada lost its case under NAFTA's investor-state dispute settlement mechanism. As I am always pointing out, this mechanism can also be found in the Canada-European Union free trade agreement, and you continue to defend the mechanism tooth and nail, since you claim it is in the best interests of Canadians. I cannot figure out how it is in the interests of Canadians when they'll have to pay $17.3 million to an oil company like ExxonMobil, which posted annual revenues of $393.97 billion as of May 1, 2014, for a total profit of $32.6 billion.
ExxonMobil ranks seventh among the 10 most profitable companies in the world. Its revenues come close to the GDP of European countries like Austria and are higher than the GDP of 166 of the 199 UN-recognized states.
Mr. Leader, can you tell us why Canada was ordered to pay millions of dollars to ExxonMobil?
Hon. Claude Carignan (Leader of the Government): Senator, your questions are always surprising, especially since you are a lawyer. It's as though you lost a case in court and were questioning the merits of an independent and impartial legal system. This is a rather unusual question about the investor-state dispute settlement mechanism.
The investor protection standards provided for by Canada will be the same as those in the other free trade agreements. The Canada-European Union agreement will not allow investors to sue Canada more easily, just like all the trade agreements signed since NAFTA.
The agreement includes a chapter on dispute settlement; with those provisions, Canadian businesses are also protected from any arbitrary or discriminatory measures taken by governments.
In the event of any disputes, Canadian businesses will have access to dispute settlement by an independent and impartial third party. Investor-state dispute settlement has been a key part of Canada's policy for over a generation, ever since the historic Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement and NAFTA were signed. Just because we did not win in a particular situation does not mean that we have to question the entire system and the importance of having a dispute settlement mechanism.
Senator Hervieux-Payette: I am not sure why you are referring to a case that is usually handled by our legal system. That is what we are talking about; our legal system is ignored by this mechanism that, right now, takes place behind closed doors between parties independent of governments.
I will nevertheless give you the answer, since you might not be aware that $17.3 million has been taken from the budget of Canadians, the budget of the federal government, because oil companies had to invest in research and development under NAFTA. However, those companies were not happy with the decisions of the democratically elected provincial government. As a result, they went after the federal government, because it is a signatory to NAFTA. According to the media, Newfoundland and Labrador will have to amend its legislation on research and development. Otherwise, you will still be required to pay the amount that multibillion-dollar multinationals ask you for. Who decides about the best interests of Canadians? Parliament, the courts or companies?
Senator Carignan: Parliament decides what is in the best interests of Canadians in negotiations. In some cases, when negotiating free trade agreements, governments will include investor-state dispute settlement methods to protect their interests. That has been the case for many years. What is more, for free trade agreements that has been the case for more than a generation.
Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette: Let us pursue this topic. When Mr. Couillard, the Premier of Quebec, recently travelled to France, he had a meeting with the French secretary of state for international trade. That meeting was on the Canada-Europe free trade agreement, specifically the investor-state dispute settlement mechanism, which allows companies to go after states in kangaroo courts without giving them the chance to appeal.
The March 5 issue of Le Devoir reported the comments made by the secretary of state, saying that he represented the official position not only of France, but also of Germany and all social democrats in Europe. The secretary of state is of the view that before the agreement is ratified — because let's not forget that the agreement has not been ratified by Europe — the current investor-state dispute settlement or ISDS clauses have to be either withdrawn or rewritten entirely.
In light of these extremely clear comments made last week, is your government prepared to renegotiate this part of the agreement? If not, would you agree that we are at an impasse?
Hon. Claude Carignan (Leader of the Government): The spinoffs for Canadians from the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement are tremendous. It is estimated that the agreement represents more than 80,000 new jobs and more than half a billion new customers for Canadian businesses. This trade agreement with the European Union will lead to major spinoffs in the long term in every sector of our economy and have an impact on every region of our country.
Canada will be one of the only developed countries with preferred access to over 800 million consumers in the two largest economies in the world: the European Union and the United States.
Senator Hervieux-Payette: We've heard your promo several times. We know it well, and you don't have to repeat it again. Once again, I would like to quote the words, and especially the crux of the matter, as reported in Le Devoir. The French secretary of state said that the only options are, and I quote:
. . . to remove the ISDS altogether or come up with something new.
In his opinion, there will be no more movement in that direction and the Canada-European Union agreement will not be signed unless, and I quote:
. . . a new proposal is put forward — not arbitration [private, secret and by parties that do not even have the option of appealing], but a new way of settling disputes that makes public jurisdictions part of the process.
Le Devoir also reported, and I quote:
The secretary of state also called for the addition of an appeal process.
Evidently, there is no process for appealing a private arbitration decision in the treaty as it has been negotiated so far.
Mr. Leader, why is it that European leaders understand that this dispute settlement mechanism, which is outside of public jurisdiction and does not include an appeal process, is contrary to the interests of their people, contrary to their democratic interests and contrary to the very notion of justice when our Prime Minister thinks that this is a good thing, as you just said?
Senator Carignan: As you probably heard during her recent visit, Chancellor Angela Merkel stated that Germany supports this agreement and that she hopes it will take effect as soon as possible. Minister Fast went to Europe recently. He heard lots of good things about the agreement. Trade missions from the European Union are excited about the idea of doing business in Canada. This agreement is good for Canada and good for the European Union. Honourable senator, I hope that you will support it and stop criticizing it.
Senator Hervieux-Payette: You believe that all agreements are black or white; they cannot be amended. However, our main European partners are realizing that this provision makes no sense. A Swedish energy group that owns two nuclear plants in Germany is currently going after the German government. The matter is before the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes in Washington. This Swedish group is outraged by Germany's decision to get out of the nuclear industry, which is jeopardizing its medium-term profits, even though this political decision reflected the popular will as expressed during democratic elections. The Swedish group is suing the German government under this process for about 3.7 billion euros, which will come out of the German treasury, as compensation for future losses.
Are your government and the Prime Minister recommending this type of arbitration for Canada? Do your government and the Prime Minister want a foreign company established in Canada to be able to dictate to Canadians how they should manage their natural resources? Do you want us to find ourselves in a situation where we have to pay out billions of dollars in compensation to companies that one day decide that legislation that should go forward is not in their interests and where the legislation is eventually abandoned or the federal government has to pay?
Senator Carignan: Senator, you said that I believe it is black or white. I will correct you: To me, it is black and white, that is, black writing on white paper, and the agreement is in the interests of Canadians. Different laws will maintain our power to legislate legitimately in sectors of activity. We and the European Union are confident that all the countries will ratify this agreement because it is good for both communities.
Senator Hervieux-Payette: Leader, could you at least demonstrate a little flexibility and agree to examine the negative impact of this procedure and, more importantly, trust our courts, which continually hand down rulings on damages incurred by companies? A number of countries are currently negotiating with countries in Asia. At this time, many countries consider this mechanism undemocratic, and they will refuse to sign any free trade agreement that includes such an investor-state dispute settlement mechanism, so that governments can keep their powers.
Under what rule are your government and your Prime Minister giving up the right of all parliaments and legislatures and handing it over to multinational companies that invest here in Canada? Under what legal rule is Parliament agreeing to allow investors to come in and lay down the law here, leaving Canadians to pay the price?
Senator Carignan: Senator, dispute settlement through international arbitration in free trade agreements does not restrict any level of government from legislating fairly in the public interest. Canadian and foreign investors are bound by the same Canadian laws and regulations with respect to environmental, labour, health, building and safety standards. Nothing in any of Canada's free trade agreements exempts foreign service providers from Canadian laws and regulations.
Canada and the European Union negotiated a comprehensive chapter on investment that provides a high degree of protection for investors while maintaining governments' right to regulate in the public interest.
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 Moore on October 28, 2014, concerning Arctic sovereignty.
(Response to question raised by the Honourable Wilfred P. Moore on October 28, 2014)
Since introducing Canada's Northern Strategy in 2007, the Government has made significant progress in all four priority areas: exercising our Arctic sovereignty, protecting our environmental heritage, promoting social and economic development, and improving and devolving Northern governance.
National Defence has made a number of contributions in the North and to Canada's Northern Strategy. These contributions include key investments in infrastructure, equipment and personnel, as well as the creation and participation in annual exercises and operations to enhance sovereignty. National Defence also continues to cooperate with international partners to promote dialogue and mutual understanding of safety and security issues in the North.
A few concrete examples of National Defence's investments in the Arctic include:
- The construction of the Nanisivik Naval Facility (NNF), a deep-water docking and fueling facility in Nanisivik, Nunavut, which will serve as a staging area for Royal Canadian Navy ships and other government vessels operating in the High Arctic.
- The manufacture, launch and commission of three small radar satellites with the capacity to provide coverage of Canada's land and oceans at least once per day, and up to four times per day in the High Arctic. These satellites, which are expected to be launched in 2018 and fully operational in by 2019, will provide detailed images of Canada's land, water, and borders and other points of interest for surveillance, as well as disaster, environmental and resource management.
- In partnership with Natural Resources Canada, the Canadian Armed Forces Arctic Training Centre (CAFATC) facility opened in August 2013. This facility provides specialized arctic training in cold weather survival and military search and rescue techniques, as well as Canadian Ranger training for over 140 personnel.
- The acquisition of a class of custom-designed Arctic/ Offshore Patrol Ships (AOPS), through the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy, that will be able to patrol the length of the Northwest Passage during the navigable season, and its approaches year round. Irving Shipbuilding Inc. was selected in October 2011 as the shipyard to build the ships. Construction is expected to begin in 2015, with delivery of the first ship anticipated in 2018.
The Government has also made investments in personnel on the ground, such as the Arctic Response Company Groups (ARCGs), which are primarily composed of Army reservists and supported by the Canadian Armed Forces' Regular Force. The Canadian Rangers' presence has also been expanded from approximately 3,500 personnel in 2007 to over 5,000 today, including 18 new patrol groups in remote, isolated and coastal communities across Canada.
The Canadian Armed Forces also conducts several key annual operations and exercises, which support the sovereignty pillar of the Government of Canada's Northern Strategy. For example:
- Operation NANOOK: Canada's largest sovereignty exercise in the North includes multiple levels of government and departments and agencies. Previous exercises have also included international participation from the US Navy, US Coast Guard and Royal Danish Navy.
- Operation NUNALIVUT: an operation that provides an opportunity for the Canadian Armed Forces to assert Canada's sovereignty over its northernmost regions, demonstrate the ability to operate in the harsh winter environment in remote areas of the High Arctic, and enhance its capability to respond to any situation in Canada's North. The operation, which has been conducted since 2007, also allows the Canadian Armed Forces to support scientific research in the Arctic and demonstrate interoperability in the High Arctic with military allies and other Canadian government institutions.
- Operation NUNAKPUT: an operation that seeks to assert Canada's sovereignty over the western Arctic region, as well as enhance the Canadian Armed Forces' ability to operate in Arctic conditions; improve coordination and cooperation in whole-of-government operations; and, maintain interoperability with mission partners in the North.
- Operation QIMMIQ: the Joint Task Force (North) surveillance and presence operation is conducted continuously throughout the year in Canada's North and includes the 1st Canadian Ranger Patrol Group patrols, CP140 Aurora patrols, and an annual August deployment of the Royal Canadian Navy.
National Defence also participates in a number of forums to enhance cooperation in the arctic with key allies, such as:
- The Northern Chiefs of Defence meeting, which was initiated by Canada's Chief of the Defence Staff in 2012, to discuss common safety and security issues in the North. The forum is comprised of Chiefs of Defence from the eight Arctic nations (Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the United States), and meets annually to enhance military cooperation on emergency response, responsible stewardship and support to civilian authorities.
- National Defence played a significant role in the development of, and negotiations surrounding, the Arctic Council's Arctic Search and Rescue Agreement, signed in 2011. This Agreement builds upon previous UN and other agreements addressing SAR to strengthen cooperation between the Arctic states and improves the way Arctic Council countries respond to emergencies in the region.
- The annual Arctic Security Forces Roundtable, which brings General Officers from a number of countries together, including from Canada, Denmark, Germany, Finland, France, Iceland, the Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom, to promote regional understanding, dialogue and cooperation on the Arctic, as well as enhance multilateral Arctic security and safety operations.
The Senate proceeded to consideration of the twenty-fourth report of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs (Bill C-279, An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code (gender identity), with amendments), presented in the Senate on February 26, 2015.
Hon. Bob Runciman moved the adoption of the report.
He said: Honourable senators, I am pleased to speak to the twenty-fourth report of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs. This report is in regard to the committee's study of Bill C-279, An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code in respect to gender identity. Specifically, I would like to outline the seven amendments approved by the committee. I say seven amendments, but these dealt with just three substantive matters.
The first amendment was to clause 1. The bill, as it came to the Senate, proposed a definition of gender identity to be included in the Canadian Human Rights Act, which read as follows:
(2) In this section, "gender identity" means, in respect of an individual, the individual's deeply felt internal and individual experience of gender, which may or may not correspond with the sex that the individual was assigned at birth.
This amendment removes that definition from the bill. The committee heard expert testimony from lawyer Michael Crystal that this definition is overly broad and subjective and would complicate matters for the courts and human rights tribunals, making it difficult for them to determine reasonable parameters for when such protections should apply.
Further, no other Canadian jurisdiction that has protection for gender identity has such a definition in its human rights code. These are the reasons why members of the committee supported this amendment.
Amendments to clauses 2, 3 and 4 of the bill were also adopted in relation to the removal of the definition.
There is another amendment to clause 2 of the bill that adds a new clause, 2.1. This clause amends the Canadian Human Rights Act to make clear that operators of federal facilities are not discriminating against transgender people:
. . . in respect of any service, facility, accommodation or premises that is restricted to one sex only — such as a correctional facility, crisis counselling facility, shelter for victims of abuse, washroom facility, shower facility or clothing changing room — the practice is undertaken for the purpose of protecting individuals in a vulnerable situation . . .
I suspect this second amendment to clause 2 will be a matter of some debate at third reading, and I will leave it to others to make the case for and against this amendment.
The final two changes by the committee are coordinating amendments to ensure that Bill C-279 does not erase changes to section 318(4) of the Criminal Code made by Bill C-13, the Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act.
Section 318 of the Criminal Code, part of the hate crime provisions, makes it an offence to incite or promote genocide against an identifiable group. Subsection (4) lists the identifiable groups that are covered under section 318, previously defined as "any section of the public distinguished by colour, race, religion, ethnic origin or sexual orientation."
Bill C-13 added "sex," "age" or "mental or physical disability" to this list of identifiable groups. However, Bill C-279 in its amendment of subsection (4) included "age" and "mental or physical disability" but did not include "sex" as prohibited grounds for inciting genocide.
Bill C-13 was given Royal Assent on December 9 of last year and came into force yesterday.
Passing Bill C-279 without amendment would wipe out the word "sex," meaning a group defined by its sex would not gain the important protection against hate propaganda extended by Bill C-13.
Therefore, the committee approved an amendment to add a new clause, 4.1, that reads as follows:
4.1 On the first day on which both section 12 of the Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act, chapter 31 of the Statutes of Canada, 2014, and section 3 of this Act are in force, subsection 318(4) of the Criminal Code is replaced by the following:
(4) In this section, "identifiable group" means any section of the public distinguished by colour, race, religion, national or ethnic origin, age, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, or mental or physical disability.".
The need to ensure that all intended groups are protected from hate crimes also leads to the final amendment approved by the committee, and this is a change to clause 5 of the bill.
Clause 5 previously said, "This Act comes into force 30 days after the day on which it receives royal assent."
The amendment reads:
"5. This Act, other than section 4.1, comes into force 30 days after".
That means after the day on which it receives Royal Assent. This is to ensure the coordination of Bill C-13 and Bill C-279 in amending section 318(4) of the Criminal Code.
Honourable senators, I know there will be disagreement on the need or desirability of one or more of the amendments to this bill. However, these final two amendments, the coordinating amendments, were not just desirable but necessary to avoid removing important protections for women in the Criminal Code.
Hon. Grant Mitchell: Honourable senators, I wish to thank Senator Runciman for a number of things: one, for outlining this bill and its amendments very clearly. I hadn't ever before sat on a committee that he chaired, and I would like to recognize his expertise as a chair and the dignity and expertise with which he conducted what was a difficult study on a difficult and contentious issue that at times certainly raised emotions.
I also would like to thank all of my colleagues on both sides in the committee for the importance with which they approached this issue. Clearly, it reflects on the Canadian set of values. The rights, inclusion and acceptance of all people are important, and the intensity of that debate I think was very clear. Everybody involved, I think, came from a place of great sincerity and great effort to make this bill an important step in improving the recognition of significant rights of a significant group of Canadians.
The fact is — I've said this many times and it's been said many times — that gender identity addresses very serious issues that are felt by the transgender community. Transgender people, in their lives, experience, almost to a person, a great deal of abuse, both physical and verbal. Particularly in youth, but throughout the life of a transgender person, the likelihood of suicide is greatly elevated over others in their comparative demographics, others in the population. They are often denied housing. They are often denied jobs. Despite the fact that they are well educated — ahead of the average levels of education of Canadians as a whole — they are underpaid significantly compared with the pay that is received by Canadians of commensurate education and experience.
It has been a remarkable experience for me to have undertaken this and to have met many people in the trans community and their parents and relatives. It shouldn't be surprising, but probably to many of us it is, that most families, most people, in one way or another, know or are actually related to somebody who is a transgender person. I was very moved by many of the personal stories that I encountered, as I know others have been as well.
We had Jesse Thompson, a young transgender man who fought the fight under provincial legislation in Ontario so that he could join his fellow hockey players in the locker room. He was a very articulate witness and reminded me in many ways of our three sons, who played sports and hung out with their buddies. That's what Jesse Thompson wanted to be able to do. That's what that legislation in Ontario ultimately allowed him to do.
I was particularly moved as well by the story of a mother, Wendy Kauffman from Alberta, Edmonton, and their trans son, Wren Kauffman, 12 years old — a remarkably articulate young boy and a wonderful mother and father who so deeply love this child — and their experience of what that child was going through. They have supported Wren in such a way that he has become so well adjusted and articulate. Support was underlined in their relationship with their son. Support is underlined in all of the studies; namely, those who are transgender and who are supported adjust so much better and have less likelihood of trauma, depression and suicide and are then able to contribute so much more productively as fully-fledged, equal Canadians in our society and in our economy. It has been a remarkable experience for that reason.
To this point the bill has accomplished a great deal — not quite enough, but a great deal. While it has taken a long time, it certainly has provided a number of very important and, if I can use the word, teachable moments. It isn't enough to have a piece of legislation. Canadian society needs to open up and understand what these rights mean and who trans people really are in our society. I believe that a great deal of progress has been made over the last several years, coincidentally but perhaps causally as well because of the debate that has surrounded this bill.
I think it's very important to note — and congratulations to Senator Nancy Ruth — that in the process of refining this bill, we have accepted, as a country, sex into our Criminal Code. That was a breakthrough, and that certainly recommends very strongly the one set of amendments that Senator Runciman mentioned and that the report mentions.
The second amendment that we're accepting is the change in the definition. Michael Crystal was an excellent witness, a lawyer who clearly has a well-trained legal mind, who argued that, amongst other things, to define "gender identity," which would then be the only identifiable characteristic that is defined in these pieces of legislation, would be in itself discriminatory and inappropriate. That's not contentious, either.
What is contentious is another amendment, and Senator Runciman alluded to the fact that it is.
However, as another great accomplishment of this bill, when you count up all the stages between the House of Commons and the Senate, we're actually seven eighths of the way through the two houses of Parliament of Canada, recognizing in two of the most significant pieces of legislation in this country, the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code, gender identity as an identifiable characteristic. That is not insignificant. It would be nice if we could get to the eighth step and pass it into law, but two houses have gone seven eighths of the way, and that is not insignificant.
Unfortunately, and I say this with a good deal of reticence, the amendment to the legislation that would allow discrimination in locker rooms or in certain kinds of facilities, federal facilities, shelters, and so on, and washrooms, really is a contradiction of everything that that bill is designed to establish. While the recognition of gender identity in itself is a huge recognition, the impact at both a practical and an emotional level for people in the trans community and for people who are concerned deeply about this issue, and on their behalf, is so powerful as to really take away the ultimate benefit in recognizing trans rights, gender rights. This amendment simply takes away the value and the impact of the bill that it would otherwise have. It's very unfortunate. For that reason, I would like to amend this report.
I will get to an amendment in a moment, but I'd just like to explain why this amendment, 2.1 I'll refer to it as, the one that allows, I would argue, discrimination against transgendered people in the use of washrooms and locker rooms in certain facilities, isn't appropriate and why it doesn't work.
First, it's inherently discriminatory. Trans people are who they are. A trans man believes in their heart of hearts as deeply as any of us believes about our gender that they are a man. A trans woman believes, as deeply as any of us believes in our gender, that they are a woman and that it would be inappropriate for them to use a washroom that does not correspond to their gender identity. So it is inherently discriminatory on the one hand to say, "We recognize your gender identity" while, on the other hand, not allowing it to be expressed in one of the most personal of ways that one could imagine. That is in the use of washrooms or locker rooms.
The second point is that it really is difficult to understand how it will actually work. There was a very powerful picture in a newspaper article of, clearly, a woman, a transwoman. It turned out she was a transwoman. I don't mean to be patronizing, but she was very attractive. If you walked by her on the street, you would not for a moment believe that she was anything other than a woman. That is who she is. She's pictured in a men's washroom with urinals across the way. That transwoman, under the force of this amendment, would have to use that men's washroom. How would that work?
The flip side is, of course, that transmen — and there could be transmen in this building; there probably are; we don't even know — with a full beard, a three-piece suit, well-muscled, every bit as masculine as any man in this room today, would be forced to use a women's washroom. How would women who are in there respond to that? They would have no idea. That person is a man. That's who that person is, and they would see that. How would we monitor the use of washrooms? How would it be that we could ever actually apply this particular amendment in any way, shape or form?
The third point is that, in a way, it comes from a place where there is a concern that, somehow, somebody in a washroom, perhaps a young child, might be approached or might see something inappropriate, if I can use those words. It's difficult to find the words. But it's really piling on, legislative piling on. We already have legislation that covers inappropriate activity by whomever in a washroom or any other public facility, or any other private facility, for that matter. We don't need this piece of legislation to provide greater protection. We already have it in the Criminal Code.
Not only that, but, if you look at wherever this particular legislation has been applied provincially — and there are at least five provinces — there have been no problems whatsoever. Schools in my province of Alberta have worked out policies that have worked just fine and that allow transgender people and non-transgender people absolute access to these facilities without a problem.
We need to understand that there isn't something that needs to be protected from. In fact, quite often and usually, if not always, it is the trans people who do not want to be exposed in any inadvertent way. They are the ones who bear the brunt of the abuse so often.
Senator Jaffer made a very powerful point that implicit in this amendment is, somehow, that the transperson would be the aggressor, whereas that's almost never the case. In jurisdictions where these rights have been extended legally, as I've said, there just isn't evidence of that being the case.
I use an example, a parallel argument to the argument that was used so frequently against gun control. It was said that law-abiding gun owners shouldn't be held accountable for the activities or actions of non-law-abiding gun owners. But, in effect, that's what this bill will do. It will hold accountable law-abiding transgender people for the potential — although not often realized, that we know of — inappropriate actions in a bathroom or a locker room by somebody who might not even be transgender. It could just be somebody who has decided that they will infiltrate a locker room inappropriately.
It seems to me that, if you make the argument in gun control and can't hold somebody who isn't responsible accountable for the unlawful activities of somebody else, you can't make the argument in the case of this amendment, which is exactly what this amendment essentially amounts to.
One witness we had was a witness from an Aboriginal women's shelter. Her concern was that men might be allowed in. Transwomen, who, she would argue, in some senses, were men, would be allowed into that shelter and, not necessarily physically, but just by being there —
The Hon. the Speaker: Senator Mitchell, do you need more time? Is five more minutes granted to Senator Mitchell?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Hon. the Speaker: Five more minutes.
Senator Mitchell: Thank you.
They might pose a threat. Again, in jurisdictions where these rights have been extended provincially, there haven't been issues like that that can't be dealt with in policy. In fact, if we actually recognize transgender rights, policies will begin to flow from that even more aggressively and more will be done. I think we'll find, as we did in the case of gay marriage, that, once it was done, we just made a lot more people happy and society was only better for it.
I think that this piece of legislation almost gets there. It's almost exactly right. It does a great deal in recognizing transgender rights in those two pieces of legislation. On the one hand, it gives that and, on the other hand, it just takes all of that away with this amendment that really won't work, that really is discriminatory, and that really is — to use the oft-used statement — a solution looking for a problem that doesn't, in fact, exist. We are at a moment where we can literally make rights history in this country and, again, send around the world the message of what Canadians are in the sense of our acceptance, our understanding and our inclusiveness and reflect deeply held Canadian values.
If we could have a vote, even today, against that amendment, it would be — I will offer you the opportunity and the vehicle by which to do that — by moving a motion that would amend this report.
Hon. Grant Mitchell: Therefore, honourable senators, I move, with respect to the Twenty-fourth Report of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs:
That the Twenty-fourth Report of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs be not now adopted, but that it be amended by deleting amendment No. 3.
(On motion of Senator Plett, debate adjourned.)
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Mercer, seconded by the Honourable Senator Mitchell, for the second reading of Bill S-223, An Act to amend the Constitution Act, 1867 and the Parliament of Canada Act (Speakership of the Senate).
Hon. Stephen Greene: Ladies and gentlemen, first of all, I would like to thank Senator Mercer — and I certainly wish him well — for putting Bill S-223 forward. It has been very quiet in the chamber without Senator Mercer. It was so quiet in here in December that our Speaker felt compelled to make a special prohibition against sleeping.
As you all know, when the seconds tick down before the end of the parliamentary session every June, we strain to get things done, to dot every "i" and cross every "t." It can be a very serious business.
But Senator Mercer, in those last few minutes this last June, added some lightheartedness to the festivities. He offered up a bill concerning the speakership of the Senate that proposed nothing less than a constitutional change. Can you imagine?
This has been tried before, of course. In 2003, Senator Oliver put forward a bill very similar to Senator Mercer's bill.
I wish to state at the outset that I stand four-square in favour of this chamber choosing our own Speaker, but perhaps offering a bill to do so is counterproductive at this time. Moreover, there are at least two methods that could result in this chamber choosing our own Speaker and I will explore them briefly.
Senator Mercer's method to achieve a Speaker chosen by this chamber is to ask the House of Commons for a constitutional change through section 44. This section enables changes to the Constitution by simple votes of Parliament where those changes are a matter of governance. I think Senator Mercer is right that this issue is a matter of governance, so this section could be used. However, I have no stomach at this time for a debate in the House of Commons on the issue of the Senate. The other side may or may not have colleagues on the other side, but I do and I wouldn't wish a debate on the Senate on them at this time.
Let's continue. Why is our Speaker currently chosen by the Governor General on the Prime Minister's advice? The history is a bit foggy, but I believe the choice of our Speaker was put there initially as a result of British practice and, as the Confederation debates of that time show, as a way to tie the Senate to the House of Commons, the elected body, and to enhance the prospects for a stable government.
Over time, of course, numerous practices, procedures and conventions reveal that the real tie to the House of Commons and to the government of the day is now not through the Speaker but through the office of the Leader of the Government in the Senate, who is sometimes in cabinet, and also the role of deputy leader, a sort of government house leader whose job is to pass the government's legislation through the Senate with as few changes as possible. These two positions are not mentioned in the Constitution, but they are vastly more important today in getting government legislation passed than is the Speaker. Today it is these roles, and not the role of Speaker, that are the Senate's umbilical cord to the government of the day. Thus, the practical reasons for having the Governor General choose our Speaker on behalf of the Prime Minister hold less weight today.
I am in favour of us eventually choosing our own Speaker for a number of reasons.
As we all know, the idea of a body, any body, group, organization or institution, choosing its own Speaker or, essentially, chairperson, is commonplace in our society. It is the norm in most businesses, trade associations and public and private institutions of various and many kinds. It is seen to be a democratic way of doing things. It is seen as accountable and transparent. Many financial and business auditors encourage their clients, if they don't already, to adopt these practices with regard to their boards. It is more transparent and accountable to elect than to appoint. In short, a body electing its own chairperson is seen as good governance. I would hope that this chamber is an example of good governance.
When I mention to my friends that we don't elect our Speaker, it strikes them as just plain odd, if not undemocratic. Leaving independence and autonomy issues to one side, I would even argue that it would be more democratic than our current practice if members of the House of Commons elected our Speaker, as ridiculous as that sounds.
Indeed, all of our provincial and territorial legislatures elect their own Speakers. Our House of Commons does so, and the Australian Senate has been doing so since 1901 by a secret ballot for a three-year mandate.
It is generally seen that a legislature electing its own Speaker by secret ballot strengthens the impartiality of the office. Both Senator Oliver and Senator Mercer made this point in their speeches, particularly with regard to the secret ballot.
Senators Oliver and Mercer agree that an elected Speaker should vote only in case of a tie but may abstain at that time, and that the Speaker's decisions should not be reviewable by the Senate as a whole. To have them reviewable weakens the Speaker's power and impartiality.
Senator Oliver adds a further point that Senator Mercer does not address. That is that the Speaker should serve for a non-renewable term of, perhaps, three years as in Australia. That would be the advantage of enabling more senators to bring their experience and talents to this important position. I agree with Senator Oliver. Such a rule would be an investment in the human capital of this place.
Senator Oliver said in 2004, with reference to his bill, Bill S-16:
The Speaker is not the servant of the Prime Minister, of the government or of the opposition. He is the servant of the Senate.
Senator Kinsella, as we all know, has subsequently echoed and quoted this comment, and I agree with it, too, for our Speaker is not only the chairman of this chamber; he is also becoming the lead administrator of this institution.
The issue of whether we should elect our Speaker is not just a matter of the good governance of this institution. It goes to the heart of how autonomous the Senate should be. It is important to understand the difference between the independence of the Senate and the Senate's autonomous nature.
I think we all agree that we must be autonomous in our own realm. Senators Nolin, Joyal and Carignan have recently spoken about this. It doesn't serve Canadian democracy to have either the House of Commons or the cabinet, or the Governor General or any other body influencing our role unduly. This is precisely why we need to take charge of the role and selection of our Speaker.
As for independence, from many discussions with many senators on both sides of the aisle, I think it is generally the case that the majority of senators believe the Senate should be more independent than it currently is, but, after that, the views differ widely as to how much independence the Senate should have and with respect to what precisely. The degree of independence we should have is somewhat mixed up with the level of partisanship you feel and whether you are on the government side or not.
I say, let us take our time with this issue. There is no need to rush. As we all know, the federal election is about eight months away. There are many issues in the other place crowding the plate: the budget, anti-terror and public security legislation, renewal of our military role against ISIS, and so on.
We are also in a season when issues can swiftly become footballs and, for some in the other place, the Senate is their political football of choice. Senator Mercer supposedly no longer has colleagues on the other side, but I do and I wouldn't wish an unnecessary debate on the Senate on them at this particular time.
This is not to suggest that choosing our own Speaker is not important. It is very important. But we are not in a rush. We have an excellent Speaker, recently selected, a person we would have voted for if we had had the chance, and he isn't going very far anywhere soon. We must have the luxury of time. We have it. Let us take our time and do this right.
Barring the type of constitutional change recommended by Senators Oliver and Mercer, another method that could be used, which is within our control, is through rules changes in this chamber. In these rules changes, we could outline procedures — including secret ballot and renewable term limits, if we like — culminating in selection and pro forma election by the Committee of Selection of the next Speaker. We would expect that over time the convention of the Prime Minister advising the Governor General on appointment of the Speaker would be replaced by the convention of the Senate doing so.
But there is another aspect to this debate that perhaps reinforces the eventual need for a change through section 44 rather than a change to our own rules. I refer to the recent debate on expanding the administrative powers of the Speaker in his role as chair of Internal Economy.
The logic is the house elects their Speaker so their administrative authority is appropriately held by their elected Speaker. The administrative powers of the Senate, according to our rules, reside with the Senate as a whole by being vested in the Board of Internal Economy. With possible changing administrative powers for the role of our Speaker, it seems to me it would be appropriate for us to practise good government in the election of the person to whom these powers are being awarded.
What I urge today is the following: that we not adopt Senator Mercer's bill, not because it's not a good bill but because the timing is wrong and maybe it has too narrow a scope. After the coming federal election, we might consider a different bill to elect our Speaker that might also include a clear statement of the powers of our Speaker.
(On motion of Senator Fraser, debate adjourned.)
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Ringuette, seconded by the Honourable Senator Cordy:
That a Special Committee on Senate Transformation be appointed to consider;
1. methods to reduce the role of political parties in the Senate by establishing regional caucuses and systems to provide accountability to citizens;
2. methods to broaden participation of all senators in managing the business of the Senate by establishing a committee to assume those responsibilities, and to provide for equal regional representation on said committee;
3. methods to allow senators to participate in the selection of the Speaker of the Senate by providing a recommendation to the Prime Minister;
4. methods to adapt Question Period to better serve its role as an accountability exercise; and
5. such other matters as may be referred to it by the Senate;
That the committee be composed of nine members, to be nominated by the Committee of Selection and that four members constitute a quorum;
That, the committee have power to send for persons, papers and records; to examine witnesses; and to publish such papers and evidence from day to day as may be ordered by the committee;
That, notwithstanding rule 12-18(2)(b)(i), the committee have power to sit from Monday to Friday, even though the Senate may then be adjourned for a period exceeding one week; and
That the committee be empowered to report from time to time and to submit its final report no later than June 30, 2015.
Hon. Stephen Greene: Honourable senators, I reserve this fascinating motion in my name.
(On motion of Senator Greene, debate adjourned.)
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Plett, calling the attention of the Senate to the decisions made by certain provinces' law societies to deny accreditation to Trinity Western University's proposed new law school.
Hon. Bob Runciman: Honourable senators, I am pleased to speak today to Senator Plett's inquiry calling attention to the decisions made by several provinces' law societies to deny accreditation to Trinity Western University's proposed new law school. At the outset, I want to commend Senator Plett. He's a senator who ventures where others fear to tread, and I congratulate him for bringing this inquiry before the Senate.
What disturbs me the most about this issue is that the very people on whom we depend to uphold the values of diversity and tolerance can be so intolerant when it comes to this matter. The very people who champion the supremacy of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms are, in this case, quite willing to dismiss a fundamental freedom — the freedom of religion — simply because this institution holds values that do not align with their own ultra-liberal views.
At issue here is the community covenant Trinity Western requires its students to sign. The covenant requires students to agree to abstain from "sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman."
This covenant may not reflect the prevailing views of Canadian society, but it does reflect the philosophy of Trinity Western, a private Christian university. Trinity does not ban gay students from enrolling, nor should it be able to, but it has every right to expect students to conduct themselves in a manner that is consistent with the school's values.
The Supreme Court, in a 2001 decision involving certification of graduates from the school's teachers program, has already ruled that Trinity Western's covenant is not discriminatory because it seeks to prohibit conduct, not beliefs.
The benchers of the Law Society of Upper Canada, a professional body representing lawyers in my own province of Ontario, voted 28-21 last spring to prohibit graduates of Trinity Western from practising law in the province. I do not know if this is the majority opinion in Ontario's legal community — I certainly hope not — or whether it is merely another example of an organization where the leadership is out of step with its members. Surely the typical lawyer in the province of Ontario would not give such short shrift to a fundamental Canadian freedom.
As lawyer Anna Wong wrote in the Law Times last year:
By denying accreditation to Trinity Western, the law society categorically denies its graduates the chance to practice in Ontario because they decided to exercise their freedom of religion to live by their Christian ethos and attend a private Christian university that reflects those values as set out in the community covenant, without giving them an opportunity to demonstrate they have the legal and ethical competency to provide legal services.
I think she raised a very important point there. This has nothing to do with trying to prevent bad lawyers from practising in the province. The quality of the school's proposed program seems to be not an issue that concerns its opponents. Rather, they are focused on banning people from earning a living based on the religious beliefs they may or may not hold.
Whether or not the Law Society of Upper Canada prevails in this misguided, prejudiced and hypocritical witch hunt is yet to be seen. The matter remains before the courts. But Trinity Western, and all those who believe in freedom of religion, can take heart from the recent decision of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia, which ruled in late January that the Nova Scotia Barristers Society did not have the right to demand Trinity Western abandon its community covenant in order to allow its graduates to practise law in that province. Justice Jamie Campbell, in that decision, noted it is not Trinity Western that is discriminating, but the Nova Scotia lawyers.
Honourable senators, I will quote from that decision:
People have the right to attend a private religious university that imposes a religiously based code of conduct . . . Learning in an environment with people who promise to comply with the code is a religious practice and an expression of religious faith. Requiring a person to give up that right in order to get his or her professional education recognized is an infringement of religious freedom.
Justice Campbell also pointed out the lack of logic in the Nova Scotia Barristers Society trying to ban a Trinity Western graduate;
. . . even though he or she may not agree with the university's policies and may even be a member of the LBGT committee. Yet, quite properly, it does not prevent lawyers from practicing law who may agree with the religious tenets that underlie Trinity's policy, or who belong to religions or private organizations that espouse those moral positions and impose similar restrictions on their members.
It just doesn't make any sense, honourable senators. The hysterical reactions to Trinity Western's plans for a law school would be laughable if they were not coming from some of Canada's most prominent lawyers. It's a mystery to me why they should be so afraid of a small post-secondary institution and a law program that does not yet exist.
This is a group of people who routinely argue that even the most minor recalibration of the criminal justice system is a step towards the imposition of a police state; yet they are only too willing to violate one of the most fundamental freedoms in Canada so they can target a group they don't agree with. They are hypocrites of the first order.
(On motion of Senator Meredith, debate adjourned.)
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Andreychuk calling the attention of the Senate to the challenges confronting a large and growing number of Canadians who provide care to relatives and friends living with dementia.
Hon. Jane Cordy: Honourable senators, imagine a world where the known becomes the unknown, the familiar unfamiliar. Imagine waking up next to someone you do not recognize or forgetting memories that it has taken a lifetime to make. This world must indeed be a frightening one, and yet this is something that is experienced by a growing number of Canadians.
In 2011 it was estimated that 740,000 Canadians suffered from some form of dementia. It is projected that should nothing change in Canada this number will increase to 1.4 million people by the year 2031. Sadly, this does not even begin to reflect the number of people who are affected or touched by this disease when you calculate the number of spouses, children and caregivers who deal with it on a day-to-day basis.
I would like to speak to you for a moment regarding one particular man from Nova Scotia. His name is Darce Fardy. Darce is a former journalist and former freedom of information officer who lives in Halifax. He was diagnosed with dementia and he has been writing regular articles for The Chronicle Herald on its progression. He has shared stories about his return to the gym to help him with focus, as well as his consultations with the physiotherapist in order for his body to remain strong for as long as possible. What is most remarkable about Darce's stories is the humour he has managed to retain throughout his diagnosis and progression. He talks openly about how this disease affects him and those around him on a day-to-day basis. He has said:
There is no reason for those with dementia to avoid people and that's the message I am trying to get out.
Darce has said that many people have thanked him profusely for sharing his stories, and they have encouraged him to continue his writing. He also has a fair share of people who are unsure of how to act around him, but slowly and surely he shows them that there is much about who he is that still remains. Honourable senators, his articles in Halifax's The Chronicle Herald are extraordinary and it is well worth reading them. His doctor, Dr. Ken Rockwood, Professor and Director of Geriatric Medicine Research at Dalhousie University, was a witness before the Special Senate Committee on Aging for our report Issues and Options for an Aging Population, tabled in the Senate in March 2008.
Dementia can appear in many different forms. It is very different from but often confused with age-associated memory impairment, the latter of which will affect nearly 40 per cent of people over 65. Warning signs for dementia and Alzheimer's disease in particular can include memory loss that affects day-to-day function; difficulty performing familiar tasks; problems with language; disorientation of time and place; poor or decreased judgment; problems with abstract thinking; misplacing things; changes in mood, behaviour or personality; and loss of initiative.
There are many benefits to an early, accurate diagnosis of the disease, including having the patient become actively involved in their health care, as well as learning to use medications effectively. This also provides the family with an opportunity to learn about the condition and to prepare to support their loved ones. Honourable senators, it is important that families seek support for themselves as caregivers. Early diagnosis is also helpful in fighting the stigma that is often associated with mental health issues. It can help people with dementia to continue to live their lives to the fullest and to share their experiences so that others will be encouraged to seek diagnosis and support. As with any disease, it is important to learn the facts, not to make assumptions, and to treat those with dementia with respect and dignity.
Some steps can be effective in preventing dementia. It is helpful to maintain a healthy weight through regular exercise and a healthy diet. It is also recommended to limit alcohol consumption, to not smoke, and to keep blood pressure at a healthy level. Further to these important steps, we need leadership in the way of education. While it is clear that Canadians over 65 must be encouraged to be more active, we must develop programs and national advertising strategies that are targeted towards seniors and the types of activities they can do to keep active and to delay the onset of dementia. Such activities might include walking, swimming, aerobics and aquasize.
Honourable senators, the effects of this disease are far reaching. Because we do not, as yet, have a straightforward test to diagnose dementia and because there is no known cure or way to reverse its damage, it is critical that we make prevention a top priority. It is essential that we not only care for those with dementia but also their caregivers. The strain of caring for a loved one with dementia can often be overwhelming on many levels. There is, of course, the physical care that is required, but it is often the emotional toll that leaves the deeper, longer-lasting impression. When originally asked to speak with CBC's "The Current" regarding his condition, Darce Fardy commented that they sensibly asked his wife to join the interview. In one of his articles he notes:
. . . I have said many times that when dementia happens, the family is affected as much as the person diagnosed.
Dorothea does not share the same enthusiasm for public attention that her husband, a former journalist, does. But she recognizes that people need to hear her story as well as mine.
Honourable senators, it is imperative that we develop some form of skill-building support programs for informal caregivers. It has been noted that while women make up 72 per cent of Canadians with Alzheimer's disease, mainly due to longer life expectancy, they also make up the larger percentage of caregivers for those with Alzheimer's. There's currently little training and few supports available for informal caregivers. Supports for strategies in terms of competency and coping skills, or a case manager to support and provide coordination to the patient as well as to the caregiver would be not only beneficial but it is estimated that it would also save the health care system approximately $114 billion.
I'm supportive of Senator Andreychuk's suggestion that we develop a Canadian response and that we re-evaluate our long-term care system in order to better recognize the work and needs of informal caregivers and to support them in this way. Many countries, including Australia, Norway, the Netherlands, France, Scotland and the United Kingdom have developed specific frameworks to deal with dementia. Unfortunately, we in Canada do not have a national strategy. Currently, six out of ten provinces are developing strategies, but it is clear, as it has been in the past with other diseases, such as diabetes, cancer and HIV/AIDS, that stronger programs develop once the federal government commits to being seriously engaged. This commitment will ensure that informal caregivers are able to provide better care for their loved ones.
We cannot change the challenges of the situation for those with dementia and their caregivers, but we can make it easier for them to deal with this disease.
Hon. Percy Mockler: Honourable senators, when I was a minister in a provincial house, I remember very well the challenges that were brought to my attention during those days about dementia. I would be honoured to take the adjournment of the debate.
(On motion of Senator Mockler, debate adjourned.)
(The Senate adjourned until Wednesday, March 11, 2015, at 1:30 p.m.)