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1st Session, 42nd Parliament,
Volume 150, Issue 10

Tuesday, February 2, 2016
The Honourable George J. Furey, Speaker

THE SENATE

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Senate met at 2 p.m., the Speaker in the chair.

Prayers.

Visitors in the Gallery

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I wish to draw your attention to the presence in the gallery of the Right Honourable Joe Clark, sixteenth Prime Minister of Canada; the Honourable Henry Newton Rowell Jackman, former Lieutenant Governor of Ontario and brother of Senator Nancy Ruth; Mr. Fredrik S. Eaton, former High Commissioner to the United Kingdom and Senator Eaton's brother-in-law; the Honourable Justice Sidney Linden; and the Honourable Joe Oliver. They are guests of the Honourable Irving Gerstein.

On behalf of all honourable senators, I welcome you to the Senate of Canada.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

Distinguished Visitors in the Gallery

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I wish to draw your attention also to the presence in the gallery of our former colleagues the Honourable David Angus, the Honourable Michael Meighen and the Honourable Marjory LeBreton. They are guests of the Honourable Irving Gerstein.

On behalf of all honourable senators, I welcome you to the Senate of Canada.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

Visitors in the Gallery

The Hon. the Speaker: I would also draw your attention to the presence in the gallery of the Honourable Irving Gerstein's family: his wife, Gail Gerstein; his daughter Marcy, his son Frank and his wife Laurie May Gerstein, and his daughter Carrie; the senator's brother, Ira Gerstein; and many dear friends.

On behalf of all honourable senators, I welcome you to the Senate of Canada.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!


SENATORS' STATEMENTS

Tributes

The Honourable Irving Gerstein, C.M., O.Ont.

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I have received a notice from the Leader of the Opposition, who requests, pursuant to rule 4-3(1), that the time provided for the consideration of Senators' Statements be extended today for the purpose of paying tribute to the Honourable Senator Irving Gerstein, who will retire from the Senate on February 10, 2016.

I remind honourable senators that, pursuant to our rules, each senator will be allowed only three minutes and may speak only once, and the time for tributes shall not exceed 15 minutes. However, these 15 minutes shall not include time allotted to the response of the senator to whom tribute is paid.

[Translation]

Hon. Claude Carignan (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, I rise today to pay tribute to our colleague and friend, the Honourable Senator Irving Gerstein, who is retiring on February 10, on his 75th birthday.

During the seven years in which he loyally served the Senate of Canada, our colleague's experience, vision, dedication and collegiality were invaluable assets to the upper chamber, to which he contributed in countless ways. He earned the respect and admiration of the honourable senators on both sides of the aisle, the Ontarians he represented in this chamber and the many Canadians who benefited from his accomplishments.

When he was appointed to the Senate on January 2, 2009, by the Right Honourable Stephen Harper, Senator Gerstein had an impressive record as a community-minded Canadian and a successful businessman.

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[English]

Awarded the Order of Canada in 1999 for being a respected businessman and a loyal and diligent volunteer and philanthropist, and the Order of Ontario in 1992, Senator Gerstein — known as a giant in the world's largest jewelry retail empire — is a gem of his own. Over his career as director of a number of Canadian companies, Senator Gerstein brought his firm business acumen to the Senate.

[Translation]

Armed with his degree from the Wharton School of Finance and Commerce and his studies at the London School of Economics, Senator Gerstein was passionate and ambitious from the get-go. Born and raised in Toronto, he is the grandson of a Lithuanian watchmaker who opened a shop on Queen Street in 1919. When he took over the business, Mr. Gerstein senior transformed it into Peoples, Canada's first jewelry store chain, with stores across the country.

Employing his tremendous business acumen, Senator Gerstein took the business world by the horns and started many companies that prospered. He's one of those rare people who knows how to seize an opportunity, take risks and revitalize an economic sector. I have always been impressed by the depth of his knowledge and his willingness to share it.

[English]

He managed all of his business successes with a helping hand from politics. A veteran politician, he entered politics in his mid-20s. Fast forward five decades, and he has been called Canada's "Single best political fundraiser," and as Chair of the Conservative Fund, that is quite beneficial!

[Translation]

Senator Gerstein deserves credit for revolutionizing political party fundraising. It took vision — and nerve — to get Canadians interested in politics. Our colleague once said:

To raise money successfully, a political party must appeal to a large number of Canadians of ordinary means. The Conservative Party's fundraising success is not built on the depth of our donors' pockets. It is built on the breadth of our donor base.

This quotation illustrates the kind of determination that helped put an end to politicking in Canada.

Honourable senators, this is also the same approach that Senator Gerstein used to make Peoples stores so very successful. The company name represents his business philosophy perfectly: a jeweller for all. The company cultivated broad appeal and made it possible for average guys to give their wives a diamond thanks to a payment plan. It was a brilliant concept in more ways than one.

Senator Gerstein is a smart politician known for his pinstriped suits, and we are proud that he is a member of the Conservative family. He has been one of its pillars for as long as we can remember, but he also has friends who are members of the other parties. He is someone who has always been very friendly to his Senate colleagues. He is a gentleman with a strong social conscience who did not hesitate to share his time and knowledge with his community, often as a volunteer.

As the former chair of the board of directors and an honorary director of Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, he is without equal when it comes to his community engagement. Although he remains humble and modest about this, Senator Gerstein has given very generously to the hospital over the years. We can truly say that this former jeweller has a heart of gold. Senator Gerstein makes an immense contribution to his country, his community and politics.

He also has an excellent sense of humour, and I am sure you will agree that his speeches are always highly anticipated occasions. We need more men like Irving Gerstein to leave their mark on the world. He is a true public servant, in the sense that he is performing a public duty. He is a statesman. He has never forgotten his roots, and he is loved and respected by his fellow Canadians. Our colleague is leaving us with many precious memories. He was and will remain a cherished mentor for many people in the political world.

Honourable senators, in the Senate, under the leadership of Senator Gerstein, the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce examined major contemporary issues, such as the importance of bitcoin, the digital currency; improving our knowledge of the illegal world of money laundering; and understanding the financing of terrorist activities abroad that seek to destroy our freedoms and our way of life in Canada. He also led the study that resulted in the report entitled: The Registered Disability Savings Plan Program: Why Isn't It Helping More People?

Many will also remember the much-touted report on the penny, which led to the elimination of the penny, which cost more to produce than it was worth.

[English]

A great Canadian with compassion, Senator Gerstein was never afraid to stand up for what he believed in. We all need to stand up for what we believe in and to remember, as Senator Gerstein always did, that as senators serving the best interest of Canadians we should not be afraid to be on the front lines of an issue.

[Translation]

I will remember our colleague Senator Gerstein as a kind, affable, courteous man of great efficiency, someone with a sense of humour that is unique to those who have been masters of their own destiny, rather than just spectators along for the ride.

Dear colleague, dear friend, Irving, I wish you a wonderful retirement from the Senate, alongside your wife Gail, and in the happy company of your four children and seven grandchildren. You often spoke of your love for your family, which is one of the pillars in your life. From now on, Grandpa Irving, you will have more time to play with your grandchildren. However, I know that you will continue to put your usual passion and vitality to good use in your various commitments and any new challenges that you choose to take on. I can only wish you good luck, my dear friend, and all the best in your new adventures.

In closing, despite the many roles that I'm sure will fill your schedule, such as director of Atlantic Power Corporation and Student Transportation Inc. and lead director of Medical Facilities Corporation, senator, please set aside a little time to prepare for the next big event in 2019. Thank you, Irving.

[English]

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

Hon. James S. Cowan (Leader of the Senate Liberals): Colleagues, I would like to add my voice to that of Senator Carignan in paying tribute to our friend and colleague Irving Gerstein.

When he arrived here in this chamber in early 2009, Senator Gerstein made a notable first impression. Among an unusually large group of 18 new appointees, he stood out from the pack. Who could not notice the distinctive pinstriped suits and, perhaps more to the point, that unique booming voice?

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I have heard one or two colleagues attempt to imitate that voice and presentation here in the chamber. One I recall came very close, but in this, as in so many other ways, Senator Gerstein is in a class all his own.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

Senator Cowan: As Senator Carignan mentioned, Senator Gerstein spent many years in the retail business; so I think it's appropriate to quote a creative adman, William Bernbach, who said: ". . . persuasion happens to be not a science, but an art." Senator Gerstein is certainly artful in commanding a room, but it is his power of persuasion that he honed and applied to such great effect throughout his career. I suspect that there are many Canadians who wish that his persuasive arts were not quite so finely tuned, as they remember the large cheques they've written for his many causes.

Colleagues, what has impressed me most are the causes to which Senator Gerstein has applied his very considerable skills. Irving Gerstein is a brilliant, creative fundraiser. Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto is a first-class research facility due in no small part to his fundraising efforts. Senator Gerstein devoted over 25 years of service to Mount Sinai, where he now acts as honorary director. As we've heard, his contributions earned him the Order of Ontario — the province's highest honour — and the Order of Canada in recognition of his being a loyal and diligent volunteer and philanthropist.

In this, his latest chapter of public service, he has made a remarkable contribution to the Senate of Canada. In his role as deputy chair of our National Finance Committee, he helped to craft a report that led to the penny's abolition. He led our Banking, Trade and Commerce Committee in the study of several important public policy issues, resulting in reports that have had and will continue to have a lasting effect on public policy development in Canada.

Style will not be suppressed, and under Senator Gerstein's chairmanship, the committee's reports bore names that were rather less staid than some Canadians might have come to expect from Senate committees, especially from Finance and from Banking. There were titles like Follow the Money: Is Canada Making Progress in Combatting Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing? Not Really, and their forward-looking study on bitcoin, Digital Currency: You Can't Flip This Coin! Who else but Irving Gerstein would, or could, quote Winston Churchill in support of whatever it was he was talking about?

And, of course, he applied his organizational and fundraising skills to the benefit first of the Progressive Conservative Party and then of the Conservative Party of Canada. Those of us who understand the importance of political fundraising could only look on with awe and, yes, with more than a little envy. Those of us who are engaged in the world of politics know that fundraising at its best is really about political engagement — persuading someone to engage in the system, to commit to the process and even to part with a few dollars. And while the Conservative Party of Canada was the very fortunate beneficiary of Senator Gerstein's fundraising skills, citizen engagement in the democratic process benefits us all.

Senator Gerstein understands this. In his maiden speech he proudly announced to this chamber:

Well, I want to tell you that I do not admit to being a bagman; I proclaim it.

In his early days in this place, Senator Gerstein said he was hopeful that his contribution to the work of the Senate would be worthy of our expectations. Today, at the conclusion of his time here, I can say with absolute certitude that his leadership, his dedication to public service and his unfailing sense of bonhomie and good humour will be missed.

Irving, our very best wishes to you and Gail as you enter the next stage of your lives together.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

The Honourable Irving Gerstein, C.M., O.Ont.

Expression of Thanks

Hon. Irving Gerstein: Senator Carignan, Senator Cowan, thank you for your somewhat overstated but most gracious and kind comments. They are very much appreciated.

Your Honour, honourable senators, to serve as the eight hundred and eightieth member of the Senate of Canada has indeed been a privilege. To walk the same East Block corridors that the Founding Father of our nation, Sir John A. Macdonald, strolled 150 years ago has been, to say the least, somewhat intoxicating. To occupy the very same office that was inhabited by the great Sir Charles Tupper, Premier of Nova Scotia, Father of Confederation, Minister of Railways and Canals, Minister of Finance, Canada's High Commissioner to the United Kingdom and Canada's sixth Prime Minister, has been extremely humbling. And, honourable colleagues, to rise before you this one final time is a profound honour.

Colleagues, almost 50 years ago in 1968, the Right Honourable John Diefenbaker said:

When you come to Parliament on your first day, you wonder how you ever got here. After that, you wonder how the other 263 members got here.

Of course, Mr. Diefenbaker was speaking of the membership in the other place. But today, my friends, how we all got here and how our successors will get here is a matter of considerable discussion.

Well, senators, after working with you and getting to know many of you over the past seven years, I have certainly come to understand and respect how you got here. Now, if you might indulge me for one last time, I would like to repeat again how I got here. Thank you, Senator Cowan, because I'm going to repeat it: I am here because I am a bagman! Colleagues, I came to the Senate as a bagman, and I am going out as a bagman; and I am very proud of that fact. I continue to believe the job of raising funds for the Conservative Party, or for that matter any party, is both necessary and honourable. Political parties require money to operate.

Now, colleagues, you might rightly ask: Why is Gerstein raising this issue again? I can see my good friend across the aisle, Senator Dawson, is particularly perplexed. Well, let me tell you why. The reason is that I am troubled, and I think you should be as well. There are currently 22 vacant Senate seats, soon to be 23, and there will be a few more by the end of the calendar year. And, as we know, the Prime Minister has appointed a very distinguished advisory board to recommend to him whom he should appoint to fill the empty seats using, as Government House Leader Dominic LeBlanc said, and I quote from his December 3 press conference, a "merit-based process."

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That's fine. It is the Prime Minister's prerogative to both seek advice and to appoint whomever he pleases. Quite frankly, I personally believe that the stated process of wider consultation, transparency, and the inclusion of provincial input is something we can all embrace. However, it is the criteria for the selection of candidates that troubles me.

Minister of Democratic Institutions, Maryam Monsef, at that same December 3 press conference, indicated that prospective senatorial candidates must adhere to the following guidelines: First, have a record of achievement in public service — certainly a good start. Second, have integrity — even better. Third, understand the role of the Senate — perfect. But then, my friends, comes the fourth criterion: A prospective candidate is required to be non-partisan. Colleagues, as I understand it, this would mean that any individual who has participated in Canada's democratic process in any way beyond casting a ballot, including donating money to a political party, putting an election sign on their lawn, volunteering to work on a local campaign, running as a candidate in a federal or provincial election or, dare I say it, raising money for a political party would be rendered ineligible to be considered for a Senate appointment.

Hon. Senators: Shame, shame.

Senator Gerstein: Honourable senators, with the greatest respect, the government's approach just doesn't make sense.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

Senator Gerstein: I ask you, colleagues, do we really want to exclude a large group of potential candidates for a Senate appointment just because they have previously engaged in Canada's democratic process and, therefore, have ties to one party or another?

As Benjamin Disraeli told the House of Commons in the mother of all parliaments in 1848 — Senator Mercer remembers; I think he was there:

You can have no parliamentary government if you have no party government; and, therefore, when gentlemen denounce party government, they strike at that scheme of government which, in my opinion, has made this country great, and which I hope will keep it great.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

Senator Gerstein: Colleagues, I have some unsolicited advice for the selection advisory panel to consider. I want to be clear: They haven't asked for it, but I will give it anyway. I strongly advise that this group recommend to the Prime Minister the most qualified, capable and accomplished men and women possible from all walks of life, regardless of race, colour or ethnicity, regardless of religion, regardless of gender or sexual orientation and, yes, colleagues, regardless of prior political involvement.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

Senator Gerstein: Let me be clear: I am not suggesting that the advisory panel recommend people for appointment to the Senate because of their party ties, but certainly they should be free to recommend qualified candidates regardless of their party ties. Yes, honourable colleagues, even if those candidates were or still are party fundraisers. Surely we can all agree that being a party fundraiser is not an automatic path to a Senate seat but, by the same token, surely the process should not immediately disqualify a fundraiser or political activist from consideration.

Just think for a moment how impoverished the Senate would have been, had previous prime ministers disqualified from appointment to its ranks such luminaries of public service as Senators David Angus and Michael Meighen, former Liberal Senator Leo Kolber, the late Senators John Aird and Jack Godfrey, and our current colleague Senator Paul Massicotte. They were all party fundraisers.

But let me tell you what else they were. Among this small group are prominent lawyers, leading businessmen, a Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, major philanthropists, chairs of university teaching hospitals, university chancellors and members of the Order of Canada. I need not tell you that all of these individuals made significant contributions to the Senate of Canada, and yet the current Prime Minister, under his current guidelines, would have disqualified each and every one of them from even being considered to serve in this place. My friends, this is not a merit-based approach; this is a meritless, baseless approach.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

Senator Gerstein: Colleagues, Senator Baker, as the longest serving parliamentarian amongst us at a remarkable 42 years of continuous service in the other place and in this place, certainly knows that changes are inevitable when a new party takes power, as do we all. However, perhaps, Senator Cowan, it is a quote from Sir Winston Churchill, at the London Guildhall in 1951, which sums it up best:

It is an error to believe that the world began when any particular Party or statesman got into office. It has all been going on for quite a long time . . . .

My friends, our country is much bigger than any one political party. Canada does not go into hiatus when a particular party falls out of favour. On the contrary, it is the competition amongst our viable parties to form a government that makes Canada a great democracy.

Now, I understand that there is a desire by the current government to create the perception that something is being done to address some very serious issues that have recently beset the Senate, but quite frankly, colleagues, I believe those issues have nothing to do with partisanship. The degree of partisanship in this place is not and has not been a major problem. Oh, sure, there has been the occasional spat over the GST and free trade. That's politics. Even those issues were worked out one way or another. Remember, colleagues: Try as you may, you can't take the politics out of politics.

What I am saying, colleagues, is that I sincerely believe the focus on partisanship by the present Liberal government in its approach towards the Senate is, in fact, a red herring. But, of course, colleagues, most respectfully, it being a Liberal government, I suspect red is their preferred colour of herring.

To conclude on this subject, honourable senators, I suggest to you that it is partisan rivalry that holds the government of the day to account and drives policy innovation. Partnership is what differentiates Canada's stable, democratic parliamentary system from a single-party dictatorship, and I exhort the Prime Minister, the government and each of you to bear this in mind as you strive together to navigate the turbulent waters that lie ahead for our country.

And now, my friends, I am finished giving advice and I will dedicate the rest of my words to giving thanks.

I owe much to those who helped me get here and supported me throughout my tenure. Let me start by thanking the Right Honourable Stephen Harper, first for appointing me as Chair of the Conservative Fund Canada, and second for appointing me to the Senate. It is thanks to Mr. Harper that federal political fundraising is more fair, transparent and democratic today than it has ever been in the history of Canada or, for that matter, any country in the world. It was his Conservative government that banned corporate and union donations once and for all, ended the unfair per-vote subsidy that favoured the governing party and leveled the playing field, not just for political parties but for all Canadians who wished to support them financially.

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In addition, Mr. Harper gave me the opportunity, for which I am forever grateful, to serve our country as part of a government that successfully managed Canada during the worst economic times since the Great Depression, whilst creating over 1 million net new jobs, keeping taxes low and leading the G7 in economic growth.

Continuing with my thanks, I was reminded, colleagues, that exactly four years ago today our esteemed colleague Michael Meighen, in his final speech in this place, quoted his grandfather, the Right Honourable Arthur Meighen, who, as many of you know, sat in the Senate for a decade, serving as both government and opposition leader and also as Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition in the other place.

Mr. Meighen said in the 1930s, "The second chamber should be a workshop and not a theatre," although I maybe challenging that concept a little today. As Michael stated in his final speech — and I totally agree — the Senate's best workshops are its committees. Senate committees can often tackle serious and contentious issues the other place is unable or unwilling to pursue.

When I first arrived, I became Deputy Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance, knowing nothing about how Senate committees worked. I would like to recognize and thank my great mentor, Senator Joe Day, who was then chair of the committee. Even though we did not belong to the same caucus, Senator Day continually went out of his way to guide, encourage and assist me, as he continued to do throughout my entire time in this place.

I remember well approaching Senator Day in my first year with a proposal for a study that I strongly suggested was totally non-partisan and would put the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance on the front page of the Globe and Mail. His immediate response was, "Good! We'll do it! What's the study about?"

The study was, of course, about the penny. The committee's report, entitled: The Costs and Benefits of Canada's One-Cent Coin to Canadian Taxpayers and the Overall Canadian Economy resulted in the elimination of the penny or, as my assistant at the time, Aaron Hynes, coined it, "the currency that has no currency." And, yes, it did make the front page of the Globe and Mail and was the leading story in virtually all national news media.

I also look back with pride at the work of our Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce, which I had the honour of chairing for the past four years. Of course, a committee is only as good as its members, and I would like to express my deep appreciation to my colleagues on the committee for their excellent work.

In particular, I applaud the committee's work on the 10-year statutory review of the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act, entitled — thanks to Senator Nancy Ruth — Follow the Money: Is Canada making Progress in Combatting Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing? Not Really; and, most recently, the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce's forward-looking report on the future of money, with the engaging title crafted by Senator Pierrette Ringuette, Digital Currency: You Can't Flip This Coin!

Honourable senators, studies like these bring credit to this institution and its members. These reports exemplify the Senate's ability to produce quality, non-partisan public policy to help build a better and stronger Canada.

I also thank my staff, who, for the most part, kept me out of trouble. I would like to recognize Sebastian Way, Aaron Hynes, Christopher Reed, Zachary Potashner and Jennifer MacIver. I appreciate all your hard work to help me fulfill my duties as a senator.

I thank my children, Marcy, Frank, Anthony and Carrie, and my mother, Reva Appleby Gerstein — a Companion of the Order of Canada who is now in her ninety-ninth year — for supporting me in this endeavour.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

Senator Gerstein: And again, to quote Churchill:

My most brilliant achievement was my ability to persuade my wife to marry me.

To my wife, Gail, thank you for your support — not only during my years in the Senate, but always.

My thanks also to our highly knowledgeable table officers, to the Usher of the Black Rod, to all Senate staff, security and committee clerks.

And, finally, to my colleagues both past and present, I thank you for making my time here an experience to cherish. I particularly appreciate your indulgence through this, my final speech in this place.

You all recognize how extremely difficult it is for a Canadian senator who is approaching the age of 75 to make a dramatic retirement speech. For one thing, a senator's departure lacks the element of surprise. The date of one's retirement is announced the very day one is appointed. Consequently, I began to prepare my farewell remarks not after an introspective walk in the snow, but after a mere glance at the calendar.

Therefore, as I depart this place, the Japanese word sayonara seems fitting. The word sayonara literally translates as "since it must be so." And it must indeed be so, for it is required by our Constitution.

I will also say "farewell," for I truly wish each and every one of you, and all future senators, regardless of party affiliation, every success. I want senators to succeed, because I want the Senate to succeed, because I want Parliament to succeed, because I want Canada to succeed.

To that end, although I said a while ago that I was finished giving advice, I can't help sharing with you the words of wisdom imparted to me on my appointment to the Senate by our good friend and former colleague Senator David Angus. In my view, David's advice is valuable not only for life as a parliamentarian but also for life in general. He gave me these four memorable golden rules: First, don't take yourself too seriously; second, keep a sense of humour; third, watch how much booze you drink; and fourth, keep in mind someone is always watching you. I leave it to you, my honourable colleagues, to decide how successful I was at following them.

Thank you all again and God bless.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

Canadian Junior Women's Curling Championship

Congratulations to Team Nova Scotia

Hon. Wilfred P. Moore: Honourable senators, I rise today to recognize and celebrate Team Nova Scotia, winners of the 2016 Canadian Junior Women's Curling Championship held in Stratford, Ontario, over the past weekend, and to thank the hosts for their work in convening this event for our youth.

Our 17-year-old skip, Mary Fay, and her team — third, Kristin Park; second, Karlee Burgess; and lead, Janique LeBlanc — as well as Coach Andrew Atherton from the Chester Curling Club, defeated the Sarah Daniels foursome from British Columbia with a score of 9-5. It was a sweet win for the Fay rink, who came close when they won bronze last year in the championship that was held in Liverpool, Nova Scotia.

Last Wednesday night, they beat out Alberta's Kelsey Sturmay with a 9-3 win. Sunday, Fay's rink was leading 5-2 after four ends, but B.C. tied things up in the seventh. Then Fay drew for two in the eighth to capture the lead for good.

The team will go on to represent Canada at the World Junior Championship in Taarnby, Denmark, March 5 to13, 2016. Prior to the World Juniors, they will be representing Canada at the Youth Winter Olympics next month in Lillehammer, Norway.

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We wish the Fay rink every success as they represent Canada in these events.

Asia Pacific Parliamentary Forum

Twenty-fourth Annual Meeting

Hon. David Tkachuk: Honourable senators, two weeks ago Vancouver played host to the twenty-fourth annual Asia Pacific Parliamentary Forum, sometimes known by its acronym APPF. The forum gathered together 21 of the 27 nations who are members. It is the second time Vancouver has played host to this event — the last being 1997 — and I was pleased to not only participate but to serve as co-chair of the plenaries.

The APPF draft resolutions are presented to participants beforehand, and much of the conference is spent debating those resolutions and crafting them into something all members can sign on to. They require consensus.

This year, 27 resolutions were adopted in a variety of areas, including regional security and prosperity; transnational crime; expanding trade and investment; building resilience in the face of disasters and humanitarian crises; and combatting terrorism. It is this latter area where I want to focus my remarks.

Some of you are well aware I spent some seven years shepherding a private member's bill through this place, a bill that would allow victims of terrorism to sue the sponsors of those terrorist acts. That bill, much to my gratification, was eventually taken on by the Conservative government, and in 2012, with all-party support, it became law, known as the Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act.

I am very pleased to tell you that the Canadian delegation to the APPF managed to insert into the preamble of the resolution language that bound the signatories to the thrust of that legislation. I moved, supported by my Canadian colleagues, that we "accept in principle that victims of terrorism can bring legal actions against state-sponsored terrorism."

Significantly, among those sponsoring the resolutions on counterterrorism were the Russian Federation, Malaysia, Indonesia, Mexico and Chile.

In the working group we decided to have one major resolution we could all agree on. There is some irony to the fact that we used the Russian resolution as the basis for our major resolution.

This was no small achievement, honourable senators. I want to congratulate my colleagues from all parties who helped get this done.

United Nations

Transforming our Worldthe 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

Hon. Jim Munson: Honourable senators, this past September the United Nations released a 15-year agenda for action on sustainable development goals. It is called Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Ending poverty and hunger; embracing diversity and inclusion; realizing gender equality; protecting the environment; halting climate change; ensuring global access to quality education — these are among the 17 goals the UN has identified to improve our world.

Recognizing children as key allies and partners, SOS Children's Villages Canada has created a youth-led program aimed at helping Canadian youth learn about sustainable development goals and giving them a platform for sharing their opinions on how to contribute to the global agenda. Over 500 young Canadians participated in 2015.

The new program is called Take Action. Last fall I participated in it, visiting schools in Montreal and Ottawa to discuss the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Senator Scott Tannas did this too. This is how the Senate works sometimes; in case the media doesn't know, we do work together. I am sure he will agree that the students we met have the passion, desire and ability to meet the challenge.

By 2030, the final year of the UN plan of action, these same students will be working and raising families. They will be leaders and decision makers.

Divine Usabase grew up in an SOS village in Burundi and is a graduate of the SOS International College in Ghana. Now 20, she attends McGill University and is a youth ambassador for SOS Children's Villages Canada.

Yesterday, at the 2016 ECOSOC Youth Summit at UN headquarters in New York, Divine addressed ministers, parliamentarians, civil society partners, youth groups and international organizations, sharing the ideas of Take Action participants.

Honourable senators, as Take Action progresses into its second year, I encourage you to learn more about it, and please spread the word. To achieve the goals set by the UN, we all have a role to play.

Tributes

The Honourable Irving Gerstein, C.M., O.Ont.

Hon. Stephen Greene: Honourable senators, I have a three-minute speech here that I am not going to use. Instead, I will offer my thanks again to Senator Gerstein for his outstanding service to the Senate and to Canada, and to comment that I found his speech to be one of the best retirement speeches that I have ever heard, in that he offered advice not only to us but to Canada and to the new government.

Thank you, Senator Irving, from the bottom of my heart.


ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

Auditor General

Fall 2015 Reports Tabled

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the Fall 2015 Reports of the Auditor General of Canada, pursuant to section 7(3) of the Auditor General Act.

Human Rights

Report Pursuant to Rule 12-26(2) Tabled

Hon. Jim Munson: Honourable senators, pursuant to rule 12-26(2) of the Rules of the Senate, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the first report of the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights, which deals with the expenses incurred by the committee during the Second Session of the Forty-first Parliament.

(For text of report, see today's Journals of the Senate, p. 111.)

Banking, Trade and Commerce

Report Pursuant to Rule 12-26(2) Tabled

Hon. David Tkachuk: Honourable senators, pursuant to rule 12-26(2) of the Rules of the Senate, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the first report of the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce, which deals with the expenses incurred by the committee during the Second Session of the Forty-first Parliament.

(For text of report, see today's Journals of the Senate, p. 115.)

[Translation]

Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament

Report Pursuant to Rule 12-26(2) Tabled

Hon. Joan Fraser (Deputy Leader of the Senate Liberals): Honourable senators, pursuant to rule 12-26(2) of the Rules of the Senate, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the first report of the Standing Senate Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament, which deals with the expenses incurred by the committee during the Second Session of the Forty-first Parliament.

(For text of report, see today's Journals of the Senate, p. 116.)

[English]

Canada-United Kingdom Inter-Parliamentary Association

Bilateral Visit, January 17-24, 2015— Report Tabled

Hon. Joan Fraser (Deputy Leader of the Senate Liberals): Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian parliamentary delegation of the Canada-United Kingdom Inter-Parliamentary Association respecting its participation at the Bilateral Visit to London, England, Edinburgh and Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom, from January 17 to 24, 2015.

Commonwealth Parliamentary Association

Bilateral Visit, February 5-15, 2015— Report Tabled

Hon. David P. Smith: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian parliamentary delegation of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association respecting its participation at the Bilateral Visit to Australia, held in Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Sydney, New South Wales and Hobart, Tasmania, from February 5 to 15, 2015.

Executive Committee Meeting and General Assembly, October 1-5, 2015—Report Tabled

Hon. David P. Smith: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian parliamentary delegation of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association respecting its participation at the Executive Committee Meeting and the CPA Sixty-First General Assembly, held in London, United Kingdom, from October 1 to 5, 2015.

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Inter-Parliamentary Union

Steering Committee of the Twelve Plus Group, September 21, 2015—Report Tabled

Hon. Salma Ataullahjan: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian parliamentary delegation of the Inter-Parliamentary Union respecting its participation at the Steering Committee of the Twelve Plus Group, held in Brussels, Belgium, on September 21, 2015.

Assembly and Related Meetings, October 17-21, 2015—Report Tabled

Hon. Salma Ataullahjan: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian parliamentary delegation of the Inter-Parliamentary Union respecting its participation at the One-hundred and Thirty-third IPU Assembly and Related Meetings, held in Geneva, Switzerland, from October 17 to 21, 2015.

Canada-United States Inter-Parliamentary Group

2015 Summer Meeting of the Western Governors' Association, June 24-26, 2015—Report Tabled

Hon. Janis G. Johnson: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian parliamentary delegation of the Canada-United States Inter-Parliamentary Group respecting its participation at the 2015 Summer Meeting of the Western Governors' Association, held in Lake Tahoe, Nevada, United States of America, from June 24 to 26, 2015.

Annual Conference of the Southeastern United States-Canadian Provinces Alliance, June 28-30, 2015— Report Tabled

Hon. Janis G. Johnson: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian parliamentary delegation of the Canada-United States Inter-Parliamentary Group respecting its participation at the Eighth Annual Conference of the Southeastern United States-Canadian Provinces Alliance, held in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada, from June 28 to 30, 2015.

Pacific NorthWest Economic Region Annual Summit, July 12-16, 2015—Report Tabled

Hon. Janis G. Johnson: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian parliamentary delegation of the Canada-United States Inter-Parliamentary Group respecting its participation at the Pacific NorthWest Economic Region Twenty-Fifth Annual Summit, held in Big Sky, Montana, United States of America, from July 12 to 16, 2015.

Annual Meeting of the Council of State Government's Southern Legislative Conference, July 18-22, 2015— Report Tabled

Hon. Janis G. Johnson: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian parliamentary delegation of the Canada-United States Inter-Parliamentary Group respecting its participation at the Sixty-Ninth Annual Meeting of the Council of State Government's Southern Legislative Conference, held in Savannah, Georgia, United States of America, from July 18 to 22, 2015.

Human Rights

Notice of Motion to Authorize Committee to Study International and National Human Rights Obligations and Refer Papers and Evidence since the Beginning of the First Session of the Thirty-Seventh Parliament to Current Session

Hon. Jim Munson: Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:

That the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights be authorized to examine and monitor issues relating to human rights and, inter alia, to review the machinery of government dealing with Canada's international and national human rights obligations;

That the papers and evidence received and taken and work accomplished by the committee on this subject since the beginning of the First Session of the Thirty-seventh Parliament be referred to the committee; and

That the committee submit its final report to the Senate no later than January 31, 2017.

[Translation]

Official Languages

Notice of Motion to Authorize Committee to Study the Application of Official Languages Act and Relevant Regulations, Directives and Reports and Refer Papers and Evidence since the Beginning of Second Session of Forty-first Parliament

Hon. Claudette Tardif: Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:

That the Standing Senate Committee on Official Languages be authorized to study and to report on the application of the Official Languages Act and of the regulations and directives made under it, within those institutions subject to the Act;

That the committee also be authorized to study the reports and documents published by the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages, the President of the Treasury Board, and the Commissioner of Official Languages, and any other subject concerning official languages;

That the documents received, evidence heard and business accomplished on this subject by the committee since the beginning of the Second Session of the Forty-first Parliament be referred to the committee; and

That the committee submit its final report no later than November 30, 2017, and that the committee retain all powers necessary to publicize its findings for 180 days after the tabling of the final report.

[English]

Current State of Literacy and Literacy Programs

Notice of Inquiry

Hon. Elizabeth Hubley: Honourable senators, pursuant to rule 5-6(2), I give notice that, two days hence:

I will draw the attention of the Senate to the current state of literacy and literacy programs in Canada, and in particular in Prince Edward Island.


[Translation]

QUESTION PERIOD

Special Joint Committee on Physician-Assisted Dying

Work of Committee

Hon. Claude Carignan (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, on December 11, 2015, the Senate joined the House of Commons to form the Special Joint Committee on Physician-Assisted Dying. This committee was given the mandate to review the report of the External Panel on Options for a Legislative Response to Carter v. Canada, which was created to consult Canadians and key stakeholders about the issues the federal government should take into account in its response to Carter.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to draw your attention to the fact that this is the first special joint committee that Canada's Parliament has established in 20 years. It is a very rare event.

A group of five senators is participating in the work of the committee, which is about halfway through its mandate today. Those senators are Senator Cowan, Senator Joyal, Senator Nancy Ruth, Senator Ogilvie and Senator Seidman. What is more, our esteemed colleague Senator Ogilvie is the committee co-chair. I would therefore like to ask him to give us an update on how the committee's work is progressing so far.

[English]

Hon. Kelvin Kenneth Ogilvie: The senator has outlined the formation of this committee. The requirement for this chamber and the House of Commons to create a special joint committee, which, as the senator has indicated, is the first one in about 20 years, is the result of a Supreme Court ruling, the so-called Carter decision dealing with physician-assisted dying.

Now, this is really quite a remarkable situation in any society. There are a few countries around the world, a few states in the United States and, of course, our own province of Quebec that have wrestled with this question and have come to a conclusion and made possible to their citizens access to what we are calling "physician-assisted dying."

I say it's a remarkable event because if I could just remind us all that, to the best of our knowledge, the human animal is the only one that knows from an early age that it will die. In other words, as some have said, life is a terminal condition. Yet the wrestling with that end state that we all have to anticipate is one of the most difficult things that society can, in fact, wrestle with.

We have, as a society, come to know over time that many go through periods in life of intolerable suffering, and it is that which the Supreme Court dealt with and declared that the two important acts in our law, sections 241(b) and 14, the latter of which prohibits a person from seeking someone to help them end their life, and the first makes it a criminal offence to actually help someone end their life. The Carter decision rules that those be invalid in certain precise situations. They went so far as to say that they're void insofar as they prohibit physician-assisted death for a competent adult person who clearly consents to the termination of life and has a grievous and irremediable medical condition that causes enduring suffering that is intolerable to the individual.

Now, fellow senators, those words seem relatively clear but, as you know, one can raise all kinds of questions from the meaning of the words to the overall implication. The committee, of which the five senators mentioned are part, along with ten members from the House of Commons and one position which is shared, is charged with advising the government how to create legislation that responds to the Carter decision.

I want to tell you how proud I am to be part of the group of five senators. Their contributions to this committee are of the highest calibre, their questions remarkably well thought out and important to helping us elucidate information to guide us in this task. You — all my colleagues — should be very proud of them.

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The Senate, as you know, decided on its contribution to this committee in December, but it didn't get fully constituted until January of this year. We had our first meeting on January 18.

Honourable senators, there are a total of 17 hearings planned, and as of yesterday, we have heard from 38 organizations and individuals. We have had approximately 25 hours of testimony. We have had numerous submissions submitted. This is one case where the term "numerous" is an understatement by an extraordinary amount.

Hearings are to be completed this week. On Thursday of this week, we will have our last hearing with witnesses. On Friday, the committee will attempt to give advice to analysts to draw up a draft report that we can consider on February 17, 18 and 19. Tabling of our final report is anticipated for February 25.

Honourable senators, I would just bring to your attention the summary report of the External Panel on Options for a Legislative Response to Carter v. Canada. The external panel was commissioned under the previous government and brought forth under the current government.

If you want to have a very clear summary — a summary this thick, double-sided — on what the issues are, I commend to you that report, which is, of course, on the Web.

Honourable senator, that's a summary of the situation to date. If it has not adequately answered your question, I would welcome further clarification.

Hon. Carolyn Stewart Olsen: Senator Ogilvie, you mentioned tabling of the document. Will that be tabled in both chambers simultaneously, or where will it be tabled?

Senator Ogilvie: Thank you, senator, for that question. I'm sorry I didn't clarify that.

The motion passed in the Senate and in the House of Commons requires that the report be tabled simultaneously in both houses of Parliament, and it is anticipated, as I indicated, on February 25.


[Translation]

ORDERS OF THE DAY

Criminal Code

Bill to Amend—Second Reading— Debate Adjourned

Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette moved that Bill S-206, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (protection of children against standard child-rearing violence), be read the second time.

She said: Honourable senators, I am more emotional than usual as I once again speak to a topic that is very close to my heart. As you know, my term is up in a few months, and the first time I introduced this bill was under a Liberal government. This isn't a partisan bill. Although this bill may not have been revolutionary at the time, it was certainly ahead of its time. However, you'll note now that the situation has changed quite a bit.

I decided to be optimistic and introduce this bill one last time, because I am convinced that Justin Trudeau's Liberal government will make Canada the first country in North America to prohibit child-rearing violence. Honourable senators, we can contribute to social progress by supporting this bill.

Furthermore, the Prime Minister rightly committed publicly to implementing all of the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, which shed light on the horrors perpetrated in residential schools. Aboriginal peoples, in their wisdom, and perhaps because they understand better than we do the negative effects of child-rearing violence, have called for section 43 of the Criminal Code of Canada to be repealed. That is the sixth recommendation in the commission's report, which contains nearly 100 recommendations.

The recommendation is extremely short and to the point:

6. We call upon the Government of Canada to repeal Section 43 of the Criminal Code of Canada.

After six years of work and more than 7,000 testimonies, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission made it clear that Ottawa needed to send a strong message that it would help Aboriginal communities break the cycle of violence on reserves by prohibiting the use of any form of child-rearing violence.

My bill has become the means by which to implement recommendation 6 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, but it is much more than that. In addition to answering the call of Aboriginal peoples, Bill S-206 answers the call of the international community, the scientific and medical community, the Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse du Québec, more than 500 non-governmental organizations and leading Canadians, and three former Supreme Court justices.

[English]

I have a surprise for you, honourable colleagues. Repealing section 43 will not criminalize parents, as I have often heard. Instead, repealing section 43 will protect parents.

That's surprising, is it not? That was the finding of a legal study that I sponsored and that I will tell you about momentarily.

Finally, I will elaborate on the origins of where the idea came from that parents must hit their children to discipline them. There is nothing natural about spanking. Such behaviour is not in our genes. It is not unchangeable. Other techniques were used before spanking, and others will be used after. There is nothing scientific about it.

[Translation]

Bill S-206 answers the call of the international community. In December 1991, Canada ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Under Article 19 of that convention, Canada promised to:

. . . take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse.

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Periodically, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child reviews Canada's compliance with the convention, and we have been rebuked for failing to uphold our international obligations by refusing to repeal section 43. Moreover, the Council of Europe, where Canada has observer status, has called on its member countries to create legislation in this regard.

Since 1979, 48 countries have abolished all forms of child-rearing violence against children, 31 of them during the time that Stephen Harper was Canada's Prime Minister and one since Justin Trudeau's rise to power. On December 10, in fact, 74 members of Peru's parliament voted to end all forms of child-rearing violence; one member abstained. Thirty-two of the 48 countries seeking to eliminate child-rearing violence — two-thirds of them — have made it illegal in the past 10 years. This movement is gathering steam, and 52 more countries have indicated that they will follow suit. We are obviously not the leaders of the pack on this issue.

The scientific and medical community is also calling for action on this front. The Canadian Medical Association, which represents over 80,000 Canadian doctors, wrote me a letter expressing its unqualified support for Bill S-206 and the repeal of section 43. The letter reads as follows:

The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) is writing to support your bill S-206, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (protection of children against standard child-rearing violence). . . .

Given the potential health consequences of child abuse, Canada's physicians support your call to end standard child-rearing violence and encourage more nonviolent approaches to positive parenting.

The scientific and medical community is certainly in the best position to assess the impact of child-rearing violence on the health of children and on society.

I have heard the arguments that we should not confuse violence and so-called "reasonable" force; we should not confuse abuse and a simple spanking. But there is no confusion. Actions, even simple ones, can have a negative impact on the child. Although these actions are different in their intensity, they are all ineffective when it comes to disciplining the child, and they all contribute to the creation of a toxic environment for the child. I can understand that ordinary people do not see a link between a tap or spanking and changes in the child's development. However, pediatricians, doctors and psychologists believe that this type of behaviour sends a bad signal to the child, who, potentially, will suffer psychological consequences. For example, Edwige Antier, a pediatrician and former member of the French National Assembly, says that, in general, a blow is accompanied by threats, violent words and humiliation, even minor instances, and these conditions create a toxic, stressful environment that affects the child's brain.

Many studies and a large body of literature clearly explain the impact of parents' child-rearing methods on children. I will quote only one, Statistics Canada's Aggressive Behaviour Outcomes for Young Children: Change in Parenting Environment Predicts Change in Behaviour. The study was published in 2004 and followed 1,967 typical Canadian children, scientifically speaking, for six years. The study's findings can be summarized as follows:

Parents with higher punitive parenting practices scores rated their children higher in aggressive behaviour than other parents . . .

The equation, then, is clear: aggressive parents = aggressive children.

. . . regardless of child gender, income status, or region of residence.

Parenting practices and aggressive behaviour in children may both change for the better, and improvement in one predicts improvement in the other. The findings are especially encouraging, given the known links between early aggression on the one hand and later delinquency, crime, and other negative outcomes on the other.

The quotation is from page 22 of that report.

Furthermore, Edwige Antier, who is also a pediatrician, reminds us that magnetic resonance imaging shows that children who were slapped and spanked have a smaller hippocampus, in addition to other affected areas of the brain. There is plenty of biological evidence of varying degrees of developmental, behavioural, learning and personality disorders. These discoveries by the scientific community are relatively new.

I would remind honourable senators that the hippocampus is the part of the brain that regulates mood, memory and learning. What scientists are telling us, therefore, is that child-rearing violence can have a direct impact not only on aggression, crime and delinquency, but also on dropping out, eating disorders and suicide.

Of course, not all children who are slapped and spanked become criminals or aggressive individuals. Not all of them will have suicidal tendencies. Many will make it through childhood without many problems. However, just because you survive a car accident when you weren't wearing your seat belt doesn't mean you can conclude that seat belts are useless. The force of the impact, your physical constitution and the sort of collision all played a role in the fact that you fared pretty well. Maybe you wound up with a broken nose or a fear of speed, but it will not have too much of an effect on your daily life or your ability to enjoy life.

No one questions the fact that seat belts are an important way to protect as many people as possible. By repealing section 43, we can protect children in another way by prohibiting the use of force in child-rearing practices. In some households, these protections will essentially be unnecessary. In many others, these protections will be a way to prevent serious blows, which could have effects that last a lifetime.

Section 43 sends a bad message in three respects. First, it sends the message that the use of force is an acceptable, effective method of child rearing, with no consequences. Nothing could be further from the truth. The balance of power does not pass the test, since we are talking about an adult dealing with a child who is normally between the ages of two and six, which is the age group whose members are most often hit by parents. It is therefore important to help parents change their child-rearing methods.

Getting parents to change their child-rearing practices is exactly what British Prime Minister David Cameron has in mind. In a speech he made in early January, the British Prime Minister suggested that parents should attend classes on how to raise and discipline their children. This initiative would also be useful in Canada.

"Of course they don't come with a manual, but is it right that all of us get so little guidance?" Prime Minister Cameron wondered.

Bill S-206 would also give parents the opportunity to learn how to transition to positive parenting, through a one-year awareness campaign preceding the coming into force of the bill. This is something that has been done in a number of countries that have passed similar legislation.

The Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse du Québec launched its own call. In my province, in 2004, the Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse du Québec had this to say about the 2004 Supreme Court ruling:

The Commission urges that the defence in section 43 of the Criminal Code be repealed. It hopes that what it regards as an anachronism disappears from Canadian law, as this should no longer reflect our concept of childhood or our child-rearing standards. The Commission further believes that the repeal of this defence is necessary, though not sufficient, to allow children to exercise their rights in full equality and to be fully recognized as subjects of law.

In other words, children are not mini-people, but full-fledged people.

I want to point out that the Quebec government removed all references to the right of correction from its Civil Code in 1994. I am also proud to say that when it comes to education, teachers do not have the right to strike children either, despite what it says in the Criminal Code.

More than 500 non-governmental organizations and leading Canadians support the repeal of section 43.

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For years, the website of the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario — CHEO — has been the home of the Joint Statement on Physical Punishment of Children and Youth. Its fifth recommendation reads as follows:

5. The physical punishment of children can no longer be justified by the Criminal Code of Canada.

As of January 1, 2015, this statement had been endorsed by 539 Canadian non-governmental organizations and personalities, including the Honourable Stephen Lewis and the Honourable Roméo Dallaire, a former colleague esteemed by us all, as well as former Supreme Court Justice, the Honourable Claire L'Heureux-Dubé.

Three former Supreme Court justices called for action on this issue. I just mentioned Ms. L'Heureux-Dubé, an endorser of the joint statement. In the Supreme Court's 2004 ruling on section 43 of the Criminal Code, two justices stated that section 43 should be repealed. Justice Arbour argued that section 43 should be repealed because it violates children's security in a manner not in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice under section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in that it is unconstitutionally vague.

Justice Marie Deschamps, who babysat my kids when they were little, ruled that section 43 violates section 15 of the Charter because, and I quote:

. . . section 43 encourages a view of children as less worthy of protection and respect for their bodily integrity based on outdated notions of their inferior personhood.

[English]

At this point I would like to talk about the ruling handed down by the Supreme Court in 2004 and the related case law. I have heard and read how the Supreme Court supposedly confirmed that section 43 of the Criminal Code is useful and legitimate. However, the Supreme Court's prerogative is not to take the place of lawmakers by removing sections of the Criminal Code.

In this case, all the Supreme Court could do was to limit the scope of section 43. It did so by imposing significant restrictions. However, those restrictions contradict scientific knowledge about child development and are therefore unrealistic. My first point is that when it comes to science section 43 has become a theoretical measure. My second point will focus on how an analysis of the case law clearly demonstrates what little protection section 43 offers parents. My final point is that it puts children at risk. Remember, when they talk about "reasonable" force, you have to understand that this is a totally subjective expression.

As I just mentioned, section 43 stopped protecting parents as of 2004. Worse, parents who are unaware of the restrictions imposed by the Supreme Court are unknowingly putting themselves at risk of criminal sanctions. That was made clear by the analysis of the Supreme Court ruling and the related case law that was conducted at my request by Montreal lawyer Geneviève Laurin in 2014, 10 years after the Supreme Court handed down its decision. Using a belt, a wooden spoon or any other object makes it a criminal act and is not permitted.

[Translation]

The first point is that the Supreme Court restrictions, when confronted with the science, make section 43 a theoretical measure.

According to Geneviève Laurin, "If corporal punishment has no educative value or benefit and poses a considerable risk of having detrimental effects, the conditions established by the Supreme Court can never be satisfied. Consequently, no administration of corporal punishment should be able to enter legally into the scope of section 43."

To reach this conclusion, Ms. Laurin repeats the Supreme Court conditions required for section 43 to apply:

First, the person applying the force must have intended it to be for educative or corrective purposes . . .

Second, the child must be capable of benefiting from the correction.

Third, Ms. Laurin believes that if there is a reasonable risk of harm, corporal punishment should not be used.

Science tells us that, first of all, the use of force does not educate or correct — and I am referring to various Canadian scientific works that have been published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, studies by the director of the Yale Parenting Center and Child Conduct Clinic at Yale University, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Harvard University's Center on the Developing Child, the 7th Annual International Forum 2013 within the German Congress on Crime Prevention, Statistics Canada and the Ontario Ministry of Child and Youth Services.

Second, there is no benefit derived from the use of any force in child rearing. On the contrary, the science shows that this can result in developmental, behavioral, learning and personality disorders.

Third, the use of force de facto puts individuals at risk of harm, even if only psychologically speaking, through lower self-esteem due to the humiliation suffered or the duress of submitting to authority, because force does not make children obey; it merely makes them submit.

Therefore, based on the science, no corporal punishment should be included in the application of section 43, as limited by the Supreme Court justices. This proves the futility of the section.

Consider this example. The Supreme Court of Canada limited the scope of section 43, restricting its application to children between the ages of two and 12. It does not apply to children under age two because it can lead to shaken baby syndrome or to children over age 12 for sexual reasons.

The majority ruled that the child must, and I quote:

. . . have the capacity to understand and benefit from the correction.

You will understand that a two-and-a-half-year-old child who breaks his grandmother's porcelain vase might not understand why he is being slapped.

Having the capacity to understand the correction at two or three years old does not make sense from a scientific standpoint, since psychologists estimate that children are incapable of understanding the consequences of their actions, and I mean physical actions, until the age of five. Moreover, the idea that violence can correct behaviour is widely disputed by science. We don't even do that to train animals; instead we use sugar cubes.

The majority of the Supreme Court justices added, and I quote:

. . . corporal punishment of teenagers is harmful, because it can induce aggressive or antisocial behaviour.

As if such behaviour would not take root earlier in childhood to only suddenly explode on a child's 12th birthday. Once again, that makes no sense.

However, this limitation is nevertheless proof that the majority of justices recognized that the use of force in child rearing is linked to the appearance of aggressive behaviour. This is why we must repeal section 43.

[English]

Second point, parents are no longer protected by section 43. An overall analysis of the case law from the past 10 years shows that the courts strictly enforce the restriction imposed by the Supreme Court but parents still remain unaware.

In a 2013 report on family violence, the Institut de la statistique du Québec indicated, and I quote the translation:

We know that most individuals, whether they are parents or not, are unaware of the Supreme Court decision pertaining to the legislative safeguards against corporal punishment that now limits the use of such punishment under certain conditions (for example, the use of reasonable force to discipline children between the ages of 2 and 12 without the use of objects).

For example, the majority of Supreme Court judges stipulated in 2004 that any use of force must be "sober and reasoned." Hitting a child in a sober and reasoned way? Isn't it usually when parents are angry or have lost control that they hit their children? It is more likely to be in that sense.

This means, honourable senators, that section 43 no longer protects parents, and since they are unaware of the restriction imposed by the Supreme Court's decision they are putting themselves at risk of much more serious charges than if section 43 had been repealed and an information campaign conducted.

As Ms. Laurin indicated in her case law analysis:

In most cases where section 43 is invoked as a defence against corporal punishment, the accused does not win his or her case. . . . Ironically the Supreme Court decreased the degree of predictability of a criminal sanction for parents because they are now operating within a much smaller risk zone and most of them are unaware of the nature and scope of these new restrictions.

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Section 43 sends a message that parents can use reasonable force to discipline their children, but the fine sets out many restrictions. The reality is that parents are unaware of those restrictions, putting them at risk of criminal sanctions.

[Translation]

Third point, section 43 puts children at risk. Some courts may be lenient in interpreting the Supreme Court's ruling, as was the case with an Ontario judge who, in 2006, acquitted a mother who had used a belt to hit her children. The mother was acquitted because the children did not have any physical injuries. There's also the Alberta court that, in 2008, found it was reasonable for a parent to tape a sock to the child's mouth. In 2011, another Ontario court found it reasonable for a parent to spank their child so hard that it left a hand-shaped bruise on the child, since the punishment had been preceded by a warning and followed by comfort and an explanation of the spanking. All this, even though the Supreme Court explicitly prohibits, and I quote:

. . .force that harms children. . .

After 10 years, not only does section 43 expose parents to legal proceedings more often than one would think — since they are unaware of the Supreme Court's restrictions even though the courts are generally strict in enforcing these restrictions — but section 43 also puts our children at risk when the courts are lenient in interpreting the 2004 ruling and acquit parents who should not have been acquitted.

Honourable senators, since 2004, with section 43, everyone has been a loser: parents, children and society. It has become harmful to keep enforcing this section.

Ms. Laurin reached the same conclusion. I quote:

Section 43 does more harm than good because the section is difficult to enforce, as a result of the extremely strict criteria set by the Supreme Court in 2004; parents are generally unaware of the limits of the protections in this section; and there is a risk of retrograde interpretation of its scope by certain lower courts.

This also applies to teachers. I recently read in the paper that some teachers are worried about being prosecuted if section 43 were to be repealed. Again, section 43, as it stands, already does not protect them.

Since the 2004 Supreme Court ruling, Canadian jurisprudence has so limited the scope of section 43 to specific situations such as the need to restrain a particularly agitated student or the need to remove that student from the classroom that the common law defence of necessity is enough to justify the actions of a teacher using reasonable force in these situations.

What is more, section 76 of Quebec's Education Act bans corporal punishment in schools.

I told you that the Supreme Court could not take the place of lawmakers, and it is true. However, the restrictions it imposed on section 43 in 2004 have been reflected in court decisions for the past 10 years, to the point where today this section is practically null and void. We are halfway there. Section 43 is still in the Criminal Code, sending mixed messages to parents that are widely contradicted by science and the Supreme Court's restrictions, and no one or almost no one is adhering to section 43, out of ignorance. In this case, I think that repealing section 43 just to send a clear message to society about respecting the physical integrity of children and providing parents with an awareness campaign seems like the best solution to protect everyone.

That brings me to my last point: the origin of the idea behind hitting a child in order to discipline him or her.

In his latest book, entitled Vingt siècles de maltraitance chrétienne des enfants, Olivier Maurel, an expert on violence against children, explains that Jesus' message about children was quite revolutionary at the time, since Christ gave children unprecedented importance and protection, which unfortunately society did not follow up on with any meaningful measures.

Not only did the Church not hear Jesus's message about children, and you can refer to a few gospels, but the interpretation of scripture by St. Augustine also led the Church astray on the message of Christ. In inventing the original sin, St. Augustine disregarded His original message and so did the Church, which has disregarded it for 20 centuries. I will quote Matthew 18:1-6:

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, "Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me. If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.

[English]

As Olivier Maurel said:

Hitting children is obviously inconsistent with the quadruple injunction not to despise children; to treat them as though they were Jesus himself, or better yet, as though they were God; to see children as models to emulate; and to follow the counsel that it would be better to hang a millstone around one's neck than to lead a child astray.

[Translation]

Before Jesus, the Bible spoke only of children in terms of beating them, because folly was bound in the heart of a child. Everything changed with Jesus. He told others "not to despise these little ones and not to cause them to stumble," and suggested that others see them as images of himself and of God. In a society in which hitting a child was a normal and legitimate part of child rearing, how was Christ able to speak these words that were at odds with his time?

According to Maurel, Christ benefited from a respect for his bodily integrity that was unusual by the standards of his day. The author asks, "Does one strike a child whom one believes is God or sent by God?" The answer is no.

Why did the apostles and the early theologians not hear Christ's message? Olivier Maurel believes that the answer lies in the contemporary context. He says that people could not hear the message because of the violent child-rearing practices that had been commonplace for centuries in Jewish society and all contemporary societies and because there was a total lack of scientific knowledge about child development, a field that has developed only over the past century or so. The apostles therefore reinterpreted the message in light of their own biases.

There is no trace in the New Testament of advice on how to treat children or of Jesus' pronouncements about children. According to Olivier Maurel:

The early theologians could not dispense with their notion that children are small, humble beings who obey or ought to obey and who do not experience the same passions as adults.

The worst was yet to come, however, says the author. The worst part is Saint Augustine's interpretation of the Holy Scriptures, which influences Church doctrine to this day; that applies to all Christian religions. In his book Les Confessions, Saint Augustine reinterprets the Scriptures in light of his own experience and invents original sin because he believes that sin is something transmitted by human generation, not a learned behaviour. Although Saint Augustine acknowledges that a newborn is innocent of any personal sin because it has not had the time or opportunity to commit a sin, he believes that the newborn's contact with its mother's breast is all it takes for the child to contract the original sin transmitted to all men by Adam.

That is the most absurd interpretation. A mother's most beautiful gesture of nursing her child at her breast is considered by St. Augustine to be a stain that sullies the child. St. Augustine considered these babies to be "angry children, poisoned, tainted by the bite of the infernal serpent."

According to Olivier Maurel:

We have difficulty recognizing, in this description, the children that Jesus held up as examples for his disciples and who were held close by the angels to His Father in heaven. St. Augustine could only imagine them in the hands of the devil and poisoned by him.

This eccentric interpretation of children gave biblical legitimacy to child-rearing violence. We must go back very far in time to understand why children were beaten because it was believed that beating them was an integral part of loving them. This interpretation is the work of someone with a troubled mind. Indeed, the philosophy of Saint Augustine is closely intertwined with his life and, specifically, his experiences of guilt.

(1550)

In Book One, Chapter VII, of his Confessions, Saint Augustine explains why he believes that infants are not without sin. He talks about his own infancy and describes his need to feed at his mother's breast as a vice worthy of ridicule and rebuke. He also talks about his capricious desires and his outbursts, and criticizes the fact that these faults must be tolerated with a caress, behaviour that later would only be met with rebuke. He refers to an infant who, he believes, looked at his brother with jealousy, proof that, for him, even children are not without sin.

That is a rather heavy interpretation.

These are the troubled reflections of a man who would influence the Church regarding the need to strike a child as part of child rearing, which would lead to millions of victims through the centuries. I would like to quote from Saint Augustine's Confessions:

In what ways, in that time, did I sin? Was it that I cried for the breast? If I should now so cry — not indeed for the breast, but for food suitable to my condition — I should be most justly laughed at and rebuked. What I did then deserved rebuke but, since I could not understand those who rebuked me, neither custom nor common sense permitted me to be rebuked. As we grow we root out and cast away from us such childish habits. Yet I have not seen anyone who is wise who cast away the good when trying to purge the bad. Nor was it good, even in that time, to strive to get by crying what, if it had been given me, would have been hurtful; or to be bitterly indignant at those who, because they were older — not slaves, either, but free — and wiser than I, would not indulge my capricious desires. Was it a good thing for me to try, by struggling as hard as I could, to harm them for not obeying me, even when it would have done me harm to have been obeyed?

Thus, the infant's innocence lies in the weakness of his body and not in the infant mind. I have myself observed a baby to be jealous, though it could not speak; it was livid as it watched another infant at the breast. Who is ignorant of this? Mothers and nurses tell us that they cure these things by I know not what remedies. But is this innocence, when the fountain of milk is flowing fresh and abundant, that another who needs it should not be allowed to share it, even though he requires such nourishment to sustain his life? Yet we look leniently on such things, not because they are not faults, or even small faults, but because they will vanish as the years pass. For, although we allow for such things in an infant, the same things could not be tolerated patiently in an adult.

Saint Augustine is a 5th-century man with 5th-century beliefs, 5th-century superstitions, 5th-century fears, 5th-century knowledge and a 5th-century concept of child rearing. Have we not progressed since then? It doesn't surprise us that the Church wants to hold on to that world view. Didn't it take the Church 400 years to acknowledge that the Earth is round?

Honourable senators, why wouldn't we listen to 21st-century scientists?

If science contradicts the restrictions set out by the Supreme Court justices, then it also contradicts the biblical message invented by Saint Augustine. Contrary to what religious dogma claims, children are not born aggressive. Violence is a learned behaviour. An international scientific consensus was reached on this point and expressed in the Seville Statement in 1986, which was distributed by UNESCO in 1989.

As this is a little-known document, I will take the time to read three of the five propositions that address more specifically the topic we are discussing.

The second proposition reads as follows:

It is scientifically incorrect to say that war or any other violent behaviour is genetically programmed into our human nature. While genes are involved at all levels of nervous system function, they provide a developmental potential that can be actualised only in conjunction with the ecological and social environment. While individuals vary in their predispositions to be affected by their experience, it is the interaction between their genetic endowment and conditions of nurturance that determines their personalities. Except for rare pathologies, the genes do not produce individuals necessarily predisposed to violence. Neither do they determine the opposite. While genes are co-involved in establishing our behavioural capacities, they do not by themselves specify the outcome.

According to this 20th-century scientific statement, the idea put forward by the Old Testament over 2,000 years ago that to spare the rod is to spoil the child, and the idea that hitting children to discipline them makes sense because they are carriers of original sin, make no sense. However, because individual behaviour results from the interaction between genes and upbringing, we can foresee that corporal punishment will have a negative effect on child development.

The third proposition reads as follows:

It is scientifically incorrect to say that in the course of human evolution there has been a selection for aggressive behaviour more than for other kinds of behaviour. In all well-studied species, status within the group is achieved by the ability to co-operate and to fulfil social functions relevant to the structure of that group. `Dominance' involves social bondings and affiliations; it is not simply a matter of the possession and use of superior physical power, although it does involve aggressive behaviours. Where genetic selection for aggressive behaviour has been artificially instituted in animals, it has rapidly succeeded in producing hyper-aggressive individuals; this indicates that aggression was not maximally selected under natural conditions. When such experimentally-created hyperaggressive animals are present in a social group, they either disrupt its social structure or are driven out. Violence is neither in our evolutionary legacy nor in our genes.

The fourth proposition states:

It is scientifically incorrect to say that humans have a 'violent brain. While we do have the neural apparatus to act violently, it is not automatically activated by internal or external stimuli. Like higher primates and unlike other animals, our higher neural processes filter such stimuli before they can be acted upon. How we act is shaped by how we have been conditioned and socialised. There is nothing in our neurophysiology that compels us to react violently.

Thus, the scientific community tells us that man is not violent by nature; he becomes violent and learns to be violent. If we consider this globally accepted premise, a society that believes in original sin and accepts that children are disciplined by being struck can only create beings who will resort to violence in raising their children, in an almost endless cycle. Sadly, this cycle continues today. Bill S-206 would help stop it.

Unfortunately, very few civilizations have escaped this custom of child-rearing violence, so much so, as certain archives show, that French missionaries who arrived in Canada in the 18th century were astounded to find that the Amerindians never hit their children. This observation comes from a 1985 publication entitled Les petits innocents. L'enfance en Nouvelle-France, by Denise Lemieux of the l'Institut québécois de la recherche sur la culture.

Therefore, it had already been proven, at that time, that Amerindians did not rely on child-rearing violence to bring up their children. The use of force or physical or psychological abuse in child rearing was not always part of man's history as some peoples were spared longer than others.

[English]

Finally, I would like to conclude with the words of some imams from a Montreal mosque that appeared in the January 19, 2016, edition of the Journal de Montréal. They said "A man has a right to beat his wife when she disobeys him." And that "The man is not beating his wife to cause her pain but to bring her to her senses and to re-establish his authority."

[Translation]

You must know as well as I do that women and children were the first to be beaten. Fortunately, women were able to mobilize to have that aspect of the law changed. When I was in law school, the section that allowed husbands to beat their wives still existed in the Civil Code of Quebec.

[English]

Replace the word "wife" with "children" and you will see a notion of discipline that is not so far removed from the Supreme Court decision. A man has a right to beat his children when they disobey him; and the man is not beating his children to cause them pain but to bring them to their senses and to re-establish his authority.

Honourable senators, I hope you will understand that this attitude is unacceptable when it comes to both women and children, and that the behaviour arising from this archaic view of the family is also unacceptable where both women and children are concerned.

[Translation]

The realization of the horrors of the child-rearing practices at Indian residential schools should be enough to convince the Government of Canada that it should be a leader in protecting children as well as women. If the Pope must apologize, the government must also do its part.

(1600)

Aboriginal children are part of an endless list of victims that Christianity has been unable to protect as Jesus asked. Instead, it has justified the use of child-rearing violence on the basis of questionable interpretations of Saint Augustine made 1,500 years ago.

Section 43 is a relic of that archaic approach, an outdated section that the Supreme Court virtually gutted in 2004 by imposing restrictions that science shows can almost never be found in reality. This being the case, neither parents nor teachers are protected any longer by section 43, which, moreover, sill does not protect children from abuse.

Canadian children have been neglected for too long. Since standard child-rearing violence has been minimized too often, and since the consequences for children and the costs to society have been ignored for too long, it is now urgent to change our attitude and our Criminal Code to protect the most vulnerable citizens of our country. The message must be clear: we do not rear children by striking them.

Today, it seems to me that it is time to help parents move toward positive discipline by letting parents know that there are other ways of rearing their children, and it is time to repeal section 43 of the Criminal Code by voting for Bill S-206.

The Hon. the Speaker: Senator, would you like a few more minutes to answer questions?

Senator Hervieux-Payette: Yes.

The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted, honourable senators?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Hon. Jacques Demers: Honourable senators, in the 1950s, I myself was a victim of physical and verbal violence, verbal and psychological violence that hurt more than physical violence.

Since I became a senator, I have been visiting young people in schools, youth centres and jails. Whenever I talk about child-rearing violence, people tell me that they like my idea, that it is not the first time I have talked about it, but it does not seem to go anywhere.

This year, I have not visited any schools yet; I will do so in February and March. This is 2016, and people are still telling me that we need the provincial government's help as well.

You were absolutely right about everything you said. Teachers, people from the youth protection branch and prison staff tell me that they do not have enough help and that violence continues unabated. What is your opinion on that?

Senator Hervieux-Payette: We have a very good example, In view of the fact that Quebec has prohibited violence against children in the schools since 1994, that teachers can no longer strike children for disciplinary purposes, and that parents in Quebec are not permitted to strike children, even though authority to do so under the Criminal Code was severely limited in 2004. I would remind you that Quebec adopted a policy under which the health and social services department and the public safety department established a working group and wrote a code of conduct indicating who could intervene and how.

When neighbours, physicians or others know that children are being struck regularly, when the abuse is reported, the health and social services department prepares an assessment. When the violence reaches a level where it becomes a criminal offence, the case is referred to police. Everything is codified and organized.

The same thing can be done across Canada. In fact, the juvenile crime rate is much lower in Quebec than in the rest of Canada. And one of the reasons is precisely the fact that we stepped in about 20 years ago.

Obviously, it takes more than one generation to change behaviour, since we are talking about behaviour that dates back more than 2,000 years. Let us be patient, Senator Demers. We still have a few years ahead of us to learn how to be parents. But since Prime Minister Cameron, in England, is saying at this point that parents need to be educated, we will probably need to take the same measures in Canada.

Senator Demers: Thank you very much.

(On the motion of Senator Plett, debate adjourned.)

[English]

Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament

Motion to Authorize Committee to Examine and Report on Committee Membership— Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Wallace, seconded by the Honourable Senator McCoy:

That the Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament, when and if it is formed, be authorized to examine and report on Senate practices, and provisions in the Rules of the Senate, relating to committees, including senators' memberships on committees, in order to evaluate whether all senators:

(a) are, in practice, treated equally, and with fairness and equity, irrespective of whether they sit as government members, as opposition members, as members of recognized parties or as independent senators; and

(b) have reasonable and equal opportunities to fully participate in and contribute, through committee work and membership, to this chamber's role as a complementary legislative body of sober second thought, thereby enabling all senators to adequately fulfill their constitutional roles and responsibilities;

That in conducting this evaluation the Rules Committee pay particular attention to:

(a) the process for selecting members of the Committee of Selection, so that all senators can be considered for membership on that committee, and so that the interests of all senators, whether they sit as government members, as opposition members, as members of recognized parties or as independent senators, are represented in the membership of that committee; and

(b) the process whereby the Committee of Selection develops its recommendations for membership of the other committees;

That the Rules Committee also take into account the anticipated increase in the number of senators who are not members of a recognized party and how this emerging reality should be taken into account, including during the current session;

That the Rules Committee recommend necessary amendments to the Rules and adjustments in Senate practice based upon the results of its examination; and

That the Rules Committee present its final report on this study to the Senate no later than March 31, 2016.

Hon. Diane Bellemare: I rise today to comment on the motion of Senator Wallace. First, I want to thank Senator Wallace for bringing this motion and raising issues that have waited too long to be addressed. It is also of immense importance for the new senators who will be appointed and for the capacity to accomplish their constitutional duties. This motion could bring changes in our practices and solve some problems that we, as senators, experience or have experienced in this chamber.

[Translation]

Second, I want to stress that this motion is part of our efforts to modernize our institution. Adopting the motion could help improve the image of the Senate of Canada by making it a less partisan and more independent institution than it has been in the past.

My observations today pertain to the broader context of modernization of the Senate and the imminent arrival of new senators who aren't affiliated with any political party. I would argue that the changes proposed in this motion, although necessary in my view, don't go far enough to transform the Senate into the place of sober second thought that Canadians clamour for.

In a few moments, I will propose an amendment to Senator Wallace's motion to have the Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament report to the Senate on the changes that would need to be made to the Rules of the Senate to allow a group of senators who aren't affiliated with any political party to form a recognized group of independent senators whose status would be similar to that of a recognized party.

Why does the creation of a group of independent senators seem necessary?

Whether we like it or not, in recent years, the Senate's reputation has been seriously tarnished, and doubts about its usefulness have spread among the public and also among the members of some political parties in the House of Commons. The Senate of Canada has to work in troubled waters. It has to take control of itself and change its rules and practices to promote what Canadians want us to do, which is give sober second thought to legislation coming from the House of Commons.

In that regard, restoring the Senate's reputation is not simply a matter of developing a communications strategy. Today, too many Canadians feel that senators' loyalty to the party to which they belong is more important than their loyalty to defending the interests of Canadians and the common good of the country. That is why many people believe that the Senate is a waste of public money.

Currently, our rules and practices favour partisanship. It can even be shown that partisanship is institutionalized in our Rules; one example is the difficulty that independent senators have in performing their constitutional duty. If our Rules are preventing independent senators from doing their work properly, there is an institutional problem that must be fixed.

Senator Wallace's motion addresses this problem by asking the Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament to recommend changes in the rules after evaluating whether all senators are, in practice, treated with fairness and equity. Senator Wallace's motion also asks the committee to take into account the anticipated increase in the number of senators who are not members of a party and the repercussions of that reality.

Senator Wallace's approach is intended to give each and every senator the same status, whether he or she is a member of a political party or not.

(1610)

This individualistic approach is interesting. However, in my opinion, it does not go far enough. It is not enough to appoint senators who are considered independent. We must also establish the conditions that will enable these senators to remain independent. We must undertake institutional changes to make this possible.

Before going any further, I believe it is important to answer the following question: Can we imagine a Canadian Senate comprised solely of unaffiliated senators? Is this realistic? Is this desirable? When we examine how Senate institutions function around the world, senators in major democratic countries are usually affiliated with a political party. According to political scientists Meg Russell and Maria Sciara in their article on the role of crossbenchers in the House of Lords, which appeared in the scientific journal Parliamentary Affairs, and I quote:

[English]

It is generally accepted that parliaments in modern democracies are party dominated.

A survey of information within the Inter-Parliamentary Union's database, realized in 2006, found few Parliaments where the numbers of independent senators were significant. This can be explained, as suggested by Russell and Sciara, by the fact that senators are elected in many countries.

[Translation]

The United Kingdom is one country with a significant number of independent senators. In the United Kingdom, Lords are appointed, as is the case in Canada. Independent Lords make up over 20 per cent of the upper chamber, and since 2000, they have accounted for approximately 20 per cent of new appointments. The other 80 per cent are appointments of Lords who are affiliated with political parties. As you are aware, the independent commission that recommends the list of people who may qualify to become Lords is composed of independent Lords. Candidates can also be recommended by political parties. In the United Kingdom, the commission's role is to review all the candidates, those put forward by the people and by the political parties.

In light of the experiences of other countries, I think it is unrealistic to think that the Senate of Canada could be made up entirely of unaffiliated senators. If nothing else, this might not be good for the quality of the debates. Even in federations, where senators are mandated to represent a certain region, they are also affiliated with a political party. However, and this is the important bit, a senator affiliated with a political party can in fact be non-partisan. In other words, we need to distinguish between partisanship and political affiliation, and many of you have already made that distinction, but, I repeat, common sense dictates that an individual is described as partisan when his or her judgment and actions are tainted by the immediate interests of the political party he or she is affiliated with.

Basically, to be partisan means that an individual is incapable of looking at things in an objective, rational manner, without considering the consequences of his analysis for his political party. That individual is biased. His loyalty to the party takes precedence over his loyalty to the search for the common good.

Clearly, someone can be affiliated with a political party without being partisan. In other words, political affiliation is not synonymous with partisanship.

Honourable senators, I am certain that the Fathers of Confederation wanted Canadian senators to be able to be affiliated with a political party without being partisan. They did not want senators to be elected and, as a result, to act like members of the House of Commons, who of course think first and foremost of the cause and interests of their respective parties.

The Fathers of Confederation felt that when senators were elected, as they were before 1867, their actions didn't set them apart enough from the members of the House of Commons. They wanted senators to act with greater wisdom, independently of the vote-getting strategies of their political parties. That is why they decided to appoint senators for life.

The question now is: What practices encourage senators, who are generally affiliated with a party, and the upper chamber as a whole to be less partisan or non-partisan? Again, observing how senates around the world operate is instructive. At least two clear characteristics stand out from an overview of how a number of senates around the world operate.

As I already said, senators are generally affiliated with a political party. However, in most senates around the world, there are more than three political parties represented. In Australia, for example, there are 76 senators who are divided among eight political parties and a group of four independents. In Belgium, the senators are divided among nine political groups; in the United Kingdom the 820 lords are affiliated with the Labour Party, the Conservatives, the Liberals, or the independents, known as the crossbenchers, not to mention the representatives of the Church, who also form a group in the United Kingdom.

In France, the 348 senators are grouped within six political parties and one group of independents. For each political party, senators can be official members of the political party or can hold similar views or be linked to the party administratively. There are therefore a number of statuses for senators in France.

This characteristic in terms of the number of caucuses seems vitally important to me. Let us come back for a moment to the very origin of bicameralism. The purpose of the Senate is to prevent a political party elected by a simple majority of voters from running the country in accordance with the party's voter base. The Senate must be able to oppose such decisions made unilaterally by the party in power. However, if the party in power also has an absolute majority in the Senate, the party in power and the government, accordingly, could still find ways to impose their views in the upper chamber.

That is why democracy may be compromised when there are just two political parties in the Senate, as is presently the case. At least three caucuses are required to provide sober second thought on legislation and to take all the interests of the public into account. When there are just two caucuses, one necessarily overrides the other, but when there are at least three caucuses, there is a greater chance that not a single one can govern the upper chamber. It is a simple question of mathematics.

Furthermore, esteemed colleagues, is it not archaic that the Senate is made up of just two caucuses — a Liberal caucus and a Conservative caucus — when there are five federal political parties represented in the House of Commons and more than 20 political parties registered with Elections Canada?

Honourable senators, I want to get back to the fundamental question. How can we reduce partisanship in the Senate, as the public is requesting? In my opinion, the Senate will have to change its internal rules and procedures to ensure that independent thought is not penalized. If we want senators to uphold their constitutional duties and to become more independent, regardless of their political affiliation, we need to change our practices to ensure that duties, responsibilities and the associated privileges are governed democratically and collegially. We will then be able to get senators away from short-sighted political games. That is precisely the goal of the motion moved by the Honourable Senator Wallace, who wants to ensure that each individual senator is treated fairly.

Nevertheless, these provisions do not seem sufficient, in my mind. We need to change our rules to allow a group of independent senators, who are not affiliated with a party, to form a recognized group. We need to allow and encourage independent senators to form a group, especially those who will soon be appointed. We need to create a third caucus. It is in the best interests of the Senate as an institution to allow independent senators to form an independent caucus, similar to the United Kingdom's crossbenchers. This will not only help them integrate and get organized, but it will also make debates in the chamber run more smoothly.

This will also help ensure that all senators, regardless of their affiliation, are treated equally. It is another way of doing things.

(1620)

[English]

Dear colleagues, as you may know, in the U.K. the crossbenchers are organized in a real group, chaired by a convener who is elected by the group and who facilitates the organization of the caucus of independents. They meet weekly and they have a website. As I have said before, since the beginning of 2000, 20 per cent of appointments made by the Queen on the request of the prime minister are crossbenchers, and 80 per cent are politically affiliated lords or church representatives.

Some resources are available to support the organization of the crossbenchers. They have no whip and no party line to follow. They may differ on opinions of legislation, and they do. They participate in the different committees proportionally to their importance. There exists some mobility between members of affiliated caucuses and the crossbenchers, but they will not automatically accept anyone who wants to join.

They often raise issues that are pertinent. According to a study done by Meg Russell and Maria Sciara, the crossbenchers are not philosophically a homogeneous group. They come from different horizons. They potentially hold the balance of power.

[Translation]

The Hon. the Speaker: Senator Bellemare, would you like five more minutes?

Senator Bellemare: Yes, please. I'm almost finished.

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, is leave granted?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

[English]

Senator Bellemare: As the authors state: "The Crossbenchers personify in many ways what the Lords is known for: expertise, independence from party and reasoned debate."

[Translation]

Motion in Amendment

Hon. Diane Bellemare: Dear colleagues, for all these reasons, I propose that we prepare to welcome and integrate our new independent colleagues in the upper chamber and that we be proactive. I propose that we adopt Senator Wallace's motion, get to work quickly and amend the motion as follows:

That the motion be not now adopted, but that it be amended by replacing the paragraph reading

"That the Rules Committee also take into account the anticipated increase in the number of senators who are not members of a recognized party and how this emerging reality should be taken into account, including during the current session;"

by the following:

"That the Rules Committee also take into account the anticipated increase in the number of senators who are not members of a recognized party so that they are able to form a group of independent senators with the resources and rights available to a party recognized under the Rules of the Senate;".

In conclusion, dear colleagues, if we adopt Senator Wallace's motion as amended and if we modernize our Rules to ensure that, as individuals, all senators, regardless of whether they are affiliated with a party, have the same status and same privileges, and to ensure that, collectively, a group of senators not affiliated with a recognized party may form a caucus, we will bring about real change that will enable us to be progressive and to play the role that the Canadian public expects us to play. These changes, inspired by the Westminster model, are possible and depend on our exclusive power and therefore on our real desire to bring about change.

Thank you for listening.

[English]

Hon. John D. Wallace: Would Senator Bellemare accept a question?

Senator Bellemare: Absolutely.

Senator Wallace: Thank you for your intervention, senator. I appreciate that. It was very thoughtful and helpful.

You've raised in your amendment that we should specifically consider the fact that we're going to have a number of new senators arriving by the end of February, perhaps five.

Hon. Joan Fraser (Deputy Leader of the Senate Liberals): On a point of order, Your Honour. I'm not trying to be obstructionist here. I just had the impression that Senator Bellemare's time had expired. She had gotten five, but I thought she had taken it. She still has a little time going?

The Hon. the Speaker: She still has 2 minutes and 42 seconds, to be precise.

Senator Wallace.

Senator Wallace: Thank you, Your Honour.

Senator, you raise this issue that the Rules Committee should consider senators that will be arriving. Five new senators will arrive by the end of February, and then there are at least another 17, perhaps later in the spring, and that certainly is important. I addressed that somewhat, perhaps not as specifically as you've just suggested in the motion itself in making reference to the arrival of these new senators. So it's extremely important. They will be independent, non-partisan senators, according to what we've heard from the Prime Minister.

You have said that the Rules Committee should consider a specific provision that would allow groups of non-affiliated senators to enter into separate caucuses and form a collective. Senator, I'm wondering if you're aware that in the Senate Administrative Rules, Chapter 5:04, there is provision that a caucus of non-affiliated senators could indeed form a caucus. Throughout Chapter 5 there are rights that that caucus would be entitled to.

I'm wondering if you're aware of it and have any comment about those provisions as they would relate to the amendment you're suggesting.

Senator Bellemare: I'm aware of the SARs, the Senate Administrative Rules. As I read them, though, it seems to me that you need the recognition of a leader of a group that is affiliated to a political party. It's not an automatic recognition. But I realize that this rule gives us a way, without changing our Rules. But I think it would be nicer and better if we could have a kind of uniformity and have the rules recognize, per se, that a group of independents can have the same rights and resources as caucuses affiliated to a political party.

(On motion of Senator McCoy, debate adjourned.)

(1630)

[Translation]

The Senate

Motion to Encourage the Government to Make Provision in the Budget for the Creation of the Canadian Infrastructure Oversight and Best Practices Council— Debate Adjourned

Hon. Diane Bellemare, pursuant to notice of January 27, 2016, moved:

That the Senate — in order to ensure transparency in the awarding of public funds and foster efficiency in infrastructure projects in the larger context of economic diversification and movement toward a greener economy, all while avoiding undue intervention in the federal-provincial division of powers — encourage the government to make provision in the budget for the creation of the Canadian Infrastructure Oversight and Best Practices Council, made up of experts in infrastructure projects from the provinces and territories, whose principal roles would be to:

1. collect information on federally funded infrastructure projects;

2. study the costs and benefits of federally funded infrastructure projects;

3. identify procurements best practices and of risk sharing;

4. promote these best practices among governments; and

5. promote project managers skills development; and

That a message be sent to the House of Commons to acquaint that House with the above.

She said: Esteemed colleagues, forgive me for taking two turns in a row, but I wanted this motion, which I feel is important and urgent, to appear in the official Debates so that I can hear your comments and have it adopted.

Honourable senators, in light of the ongoing and precipitous drop in the price of a barrel of oil, the sinking loonie and all of the economic uncertainty we are facing today, it is clear that our economy is struggling. As the Minister of Finance, Mr. Morneau, said during a recent visit to Montreal, the Canadian economy is up against stiff headwinds. He added that there has never been a better time to make targeted investments to support Canada's economic growth.

We know that the government wants to make significant investments in infrastructure. It committed to investing $60 billion more than the previous government, for a total of $125 billion over 10 years. That is an ambitious promise, but I am convinced that Canada needs those investments.

Nevertheless, we need to make sure that the government does not just spend for the sake of spending. It is certainly important to stimulate the Canadian economy, but to genuinely stimulate the economy and realize its potential, we need to do things right and invest in good projects that will be good for the entire country in the long term.

Recently, Mr. Dachis, a senior policy analyst at the C. D. Howe Institute, stated, and I quote:

[English]

There's a lot of focus right now on "stimulus," but what the government should really be focused on is the right projects for the overall economy in the long-term . . . .

[Translation]

Planning to make significant investments in public infrastructure is a good strategy to revitalize and diversify the Canadian economy, which can no longer rely exclusively on natural resource development.

Since our country was formed, Canada's economy has been based primarily on natural resource development. It is an economic sector that creates a lot of added value per employed person, but it does not necessarily create jobs in all regions of the country. What is more, the natural resource sector is extremely dependent on export markets and the status of the global economy. The current economic situation says it all: a fall in exports, an increase in unemployment in Alberta and Saskatchewan, problems in Newfoundland and Labrador, a decline in the value of the dollar and an increase in the cost of living across the country.

In the short term, the government needs to support the Canadian economy so that the decrease in demand for our natural resources does not spread to other sectors. The federal government has an obligation to stimulate the economy by spending more tax dollars. As the Governor of the Bank of Canada and the Minister of Finance have indicated, we cannot rely on our monetary policy any more. In the words of the late Lord John Maynard Keynes, a great 20th-century economist, Canada's economy is caught in a liquidity trap. Significant government deficits are therefore inevitable. Many hope that programs to renovate and repair existing infrastructure, such as schools, hospitals and roads, will be quickly approved and included in the budget.

However, many experts are saying that investment in new infrastructure cannot be counted on for short-term recovery. Canada, like many countries, needs to review its business plan, focus on enhancing productivity and diversify its economy to create jobs across the country. Canada's provinces are certainly not operating at the full potential of their human resources, and structural changes are needed. This new business plan cannot be improvised. The challenge is with the structure of Canada's economy, which has to adapt to the new global economic context and meet the challenge of climate change.

In fact, the economic challenge for the federal government is threefold. In the short term, it has to stimulate the economy through public spending that will have a multiplier effect on the economy and employment. In the medium term, it has to make major investments that will allow Canada to adapt more quickly to the new economic context related to sustainable development, climate change, new technology development and the long-term decline in demand for fossil fuels. It has to ensure that measures are taken to help the workforce adapt. This last challenge concerns all economic players, especially skills development and training businesses and institutions.

The government will have to be especially careful and diligent in its choice of public infrastructure investments in the medium term. The motion I am moving today addresses that objective specifically and suggests ways to help the government achieve it.

As you know, honourable colleagues, the Senate cannot introduce money bills. That is why I am moving this motion in the context of preparing for the upcoming budget. The Minister of Finance has said a few times that he cannot proceed with regular budget consultations. Nonetheless, the Senate has the power to draw the minister's attention to ideas that might address some of the taxpayers' concerns.

This motion proposes that the Minister of Finance create a public infrastructure oversight and best practices council. It seeks to reassure and inform Canadians that these major investments will be made transparently and according to the rules of good governance and to ensure that new infrastructure projects deliver the expected results in terms of economic diversification, increased productivity and job creation.

[English]

Investing in infrastructure is not an issue that is unique to Canada. It is a global issue as many developed countries, let alone least-developed countries, are significantly behind in developing their hard and soft infrastructure. For many countries, after a three-decade post-war boom, there has been too much of a slowdown in infrastructure investment and repairs. There is an enormous amount of work awaiting countries around the world.

[Translation]

Michael Sabia, the CEO of the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, referred to this issue in Davos, when he said the following in an interview:

[English]

Infrastructure is a key driver of productivity growth, and productivity is something this world needs.

[Translation]

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce has been saying the same thing for a long time. In a speech he gave on February 6, 2013, the chamber's president and CEO, Perrin Beatty, remarked:

[English]

State of the art, effective and reliable infrastructure is a key component of economic competitiveness. Over the last decade governments have shown greater understanding of the strategic nature of investing in infrastructure. However Canada still has to maintain a steady and long-term investment in infrastructure and to develop a better picture of our existing assets. As infrastructure ages, its efficiency falls and maintenance costs rise. The recently released infrastructure report card indicated that approximately 30% of municipal infrastructure is at risk.

To remain competitive, Canada needs to develop a long-term, national infrastructure investment plan that includes strong and diversified funding models and increased private sector involvement.

[Translation]

Canada does not have a national infrastructure investment plan. Every level of government has its own plan. For example, as part of the 2015 budget, the Quebec minister responsible for the Treasury Board tabled the 2015-2025 Quebec Infrastructure Plan, which provides for $88.4 billion in investments over 10 years.

This comprehensive plan is set out in detail every year when the budget is tabled. Infrastructure spending in Quebec falls under the Public Infrastructure Act, which was passed on October 30, 2013. This legislation created the Société québécoise des infrastructures, whose main role is to support the management of infrastructure projects carried out by public bodies. This corporation is governed by a board of directors made up of experts, some of them from the private sector.

(1640)

At the federal level, Infrastructure Canada is above all a financial partner. It works with other levels of government, the private sector and non-profit organizations, along with other organizations and agencies, to help build and revitalize the infrastructure essential to everyday life and to economic development. Infrastructure Canada is governed by the Canada Strategic Infrastructure Fund Act. This legislation, which created the Canada Strategic Infrastructure Fund, gives the minister responsible a great deal of discretion when it comes to allocating investments.

[English]

Section 4 of this federal law states:

The Minister may enter into an agreement with an eligible recipient to provide for the payment of a contribution for an eligible project under this Act.

That is to say that the management of this fund could become political. There is no other criteria than that the minister administer the funds.

[Translation]

As we know, the department has regulations, but what I am trying to say is that much of the responsibility falls solely on the minster.

Considering the billions of dollars invested in public infrastructure in Canada, we need to make sure that those investments are carefully managed based on good management practices and with no hint of any partisan political influences that could interfere in these files.

Furthermore, according to a number of experts, the federal government should invest these billions of dollars based on a national plan with meaningful targets. It would no doubt be very difficult to come up with a national infrastructure plan, considering the number of provincial and municipal governments in Canada that are involved in this file. That is why projects that receive federal funding usually come from governments or organizations at the provincial and municipal levels. In the past, funding was allocated to the provinces and territories based on a formula that took into account demographic weight and needs. The provinces and territories were then accountable to the federal government.

Will the current federal government proceed in the same manner? Assuming an equitable distribution of infrastructure funding, the federal government could decide to set priorities related to the environment, for example. Australia provides a model for a federation. In that country, national infrastructure priorities are set by the Council of Australian Governments, which brings together all the first ministers.

[English]

In December 2013, the Council of Australian Governments created the Transport and Infrastructure Council, composed of the ministers responsible for those issues on a provincial level. The objective of this new council is ". . . to achieve a coordinated and integrated national transport and infrastructure system that is efficient, safe, sustainable, accessible and competitive."

Compared to Australia, Canada has a long way to go before putting into place an official structure for federal-provincial dialogue and concerted action.

[Translation]

Let us come back to Canada. Regardless of how the federal government decides to allocate the funding for infrastructure, one thing is certain: it must proceed carefully. Awarding contracts is not enough to make infrastructure investments profitable. It is a more complex and technical process than that. Canadian governments must focus on critical elements, such as the selection of projects, the awarding of contracts, project management and risk-sharing arrangements in order to ensure that the potential economic spinoffs materialize.

More specifically, there are many problems facing the governments when it comes to infrastructure investments. These challenges include cost overruns and overbilling, which can undermine the credibility of some projects in the eyes of the public.

Some of those problems result from the fact that the project managers lack the skills to manage large projects. Such projects need to be carefully planned so that they do not cause bottlenecks in the supply chain for certain goods and services or labour shortages in certain professions and trades.

The governments that commit to making major investments in infrastructure need to ensure that the projects selected are the best ones for generating the growth expected and for diversifying the economy. The choice of projects must be based on sound cost-benefit analyses. The governments must also be accountable to taxpayers. They must ensure that there is complete transparency when it comes to the management of the public funds invested in these projects and they must ensure that there is no hint of partisan maneuvering associated with any of the contracts.

May I have five more minutes?

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, is more time granted?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Senator Bellemare: Lastly, when major projects are carried out, they must follow procedures that are streamlined and fast.

[English]

I therefore suggest that we propose, through the Minister of Finance, that the government establish a Canadian council of infrastructure oversight and best practices. This would be federal-provincial council made up of experts, not politicians. It would be at arm's length from governments and have the status of an autonomous service unit or one similar to that of the Parliamentary Budget Officer. Its purpose would not be to get involved in an area of provincial jurisdiction or contract awards. It would not be intended to replace Infrastructure Canada.

This council would serve as a federal forum and showcase to inform Canadians about public infrastructure projects. The council's primary role would be to ensure that infrastructure projects achieve major objectives such as diversifying the Canadian economy, boosting competitiveness and creating new jobs across Canada. This would ensure that the council helps maximize the economic benefits of infrastructure investments promised by the government.

[Translation]

This council would not get involved in allocating funding, which is to be allocated according to a fair formula that considers the demographic weight and specific needs of the provinces and territories and the needs of Canada as a whole. The council will aim to maximize the multiplier effects of investments in infrastructure. It will therefore prevent labour shortages.

More specifically, this council's mandate could include the following activities: conducting cost-benefit analyses of the infrastructure projects funded by the federal government; helping managers of such projects develop specific skills, in cooperation with the training institutions; publishing relevant data and information on the various projects for the public; promoting best practices for contract award and definition and risk sharing in public-private partnerships; and undertaking any activity at the request of partner governments.

The creation of this federal-provincial council will address the concerns of a number of experts, as well as those of taxpayers.

This council could be funded by the federal government. It could also fund itself by providing consulting services to the provinces and municipalities and carrying out skills development activities.

In short, this motion calls on the Minister of Finance to establish such a council to ensure that the infrastructure investment program will have a significant impact on our economy, create good jobs for Canadians and innovate by putting Canada on the path to a sustainable economy. The government certainly cannot take a haphazard approach to infrastructure spending, especially when the funding is meant to be allocated over 10 years. If the program is successful, it will put our country and our economy at the top of the pack in the 21st century.

Thank you very much, dear colleagues.

(On motion of Senator Martin, debate adjourned.)

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[English]

Aboriginal Peoples

Committee Authorized to Study the Federal Government's Responsibilities to First Nations, Inuit and Metis Peoples

Hon. Lillian Eva Dyck, pursuant to notice of January 28, 2016, moved:

That the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples be authorized to examine and report on the federal government's constitutional, treaty, political and legal responsibilities to First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples and on other matters generally relating to the Aboriginal Peoples of Canada; and

That the committee submit its final report no later than December 31, 2017, and that the committee retain all powers necessary to publicize its findings until 180 days after the tabling of the final report.

She said: The motion standing in my name is the general order of reference for the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples. It is an order for us to carry out our business, and later on we will delineate more specific items that we wish to conduct specific studies on.

Hon. Joan Fraser (Deputy Leader of the Senate Liberals): Will Senator Dyck take a question?

Senator Dyck: Yes.

Senator Fraser: I'm glad to hear you say that for more specific work you will come back with other orders of reference, but in the meantime can you tell me if the committee has an idea whether, under this general order of reference, it plans to spend much money, notably on travel?

Senator Dyck: Under the general order we intend to have specific issues where we will be bringing people into Ottawa, so there will be additional money for that. But under a specific order that we are working on now, we will be submitting a separate budget for travel.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Motion agreed to.)

[Translation]

The Senate

Motion to Affect Question Period on February 3, 2016 Adopted

Hon. Claude Carignan (Leader of the Opposition), pursuant to notice of January 28, 2016, moved:

That, in order to allow the Senate to receive a Minister of the Crown during Question Period as authorized by the Senate on December 10, 2015, and notwithstanding rule 4-7, when the Senate sits on Wednesday, February 3, 2016, Question Period shall begin at 3:30 p.m., with any proceedings then before the Senate being interrupted until the end of Question Period;

That, if a standing vote would conflict with the holding of Question Period at 3:30 p.m. on that day, the vote be postponed until immediately after the conclusion of Question Period;

That, if the bells are ringing for a vote at 3:30 p.m. on that day, they be interrupted for Question Period at that time, and resume thereafter for the balance of any time remaining; and

That, if the Senate concludes its business before 3:30 p.m. on that day, the sitting be suspended until that time for the purpose of holding Question Period.

He said: Honourable senators, I move the motion standing in my name.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Motion agreed to.)

[English]

National Security and Defence

Committee Authorized to Study Security Threats and Refer Papers and Evidence from the Second Session of the Forty-first Parliament to Current Session

Hon. Daniel Lang, pursuant to notice of January 28, 2016, moved:

That the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence be authorized to examine and report on security threats facing Canada, including but not limited to:

(a) cyber espionage;

(b) threats to critical infrastructure;

(c) terrorist recruitment and financing; and

(d) terrorist operations and prosecutions.

That the papers and evidence received and taken and the work accomplished by the committee on this subject during the Second Session of the Forty-first Parliament be referred to the committee; and

That the committee report to the Senate no later than December 31, 2017, and that it retain all powers necessary to publicize its findings until 180 days after the tabling of the final report.

He said: Colleagues, this is once again similar to Senator Dyck's motion. It is the terms of reference for the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence. It gives the general framework for our committee to get on with the work that will be sent to it over the course of this Parliament.

We have had preliminary discussions on the prospects of some possible travel. We have not made any determination, but once that's done and presented through the committee system, it will be brought eventually here for the purpose of ratification.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Motion agreed to.)

Committee Authorized to Study the National Security and Defence Issues in Indo-Asia Pacific Relations and Refer Papers and Evidence from the Second Session of the Forty-first Parliament to Current Session

Hon. Daniel Lang, pursuant to notice of January 28, 2016, moved:

That the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence be authorized to examine and report on national security and defence issues in Indo-Asia Pacific relations and their implications for Canada's national security and defence policies, practices, circumstances and capabilities;

That the papers and evidence received and taken and the work accomplished by the committee on this subject during the Second Session of the Forty-first Parliament be referred to the committee; and

That the committee report to the Senate no later than December 31, 2017, and that it retain all powers necessary to publicize its findings until 180 days after the tabling of the final report.

He said: Colleagues, similar to the last motion, once again, the terms of reference for our committee are the same terms of reference that were approved in the previous Parliament As we proceed, if there is a decision to do any travelling, obviously we will have to get the necessary approval. At this stage, for the purpose of these terms of reference, we haven't got anything planned.

There is one conference in Victoria in the late fall that is a possibility from the point of view of looking at the Indo-China situation.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Motion agreed to.)

(The Senate adjourned until tomorrow at 2 p.m.)