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1st Session, 42nd Parliament,
Volume 150, Issue 27

Thursday, April 14, 2016
The Honourable George J. Furey, Speaker

THE SENATE

Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Senate met at 1:30 p.m., the Speaker in the chair.

Prayers.

[Translation]

SENATORS' STATEMENTS

The Late Honourable Jean Lapierre, P.C.

Hon. Jean-Guy Dagenais: Honourable senators, the tragic, accidental death of Jean Lapierre on March 29 shook Quebec and all of Canada.

I rise today, hopefully on behalf of all Canadians, to pay him the tribute he so deserves and to tell his mother, children, and grandchildren that our thoughts are with them at this difficult time. No one deserves to go through such suffering.

To me, the tragic deaths of Jean Lapierre, his wife, his sister, and two of his brothers in that terrible plane crash are simply too much to bear.

For many of us here, Jean Lapierre was part of our daily routine as he analyzed the political landscape in which we live and work. Both on radio and television, he established himself as the go-to person for political commentary. He could make any story interesting, even to the most indifferent audience.

We didn't always agree with what he said, but every morning, we learned something new by listening to him. He even made me spill my coffee in 2011 when he said that I was going to be the Conservative candidate for the riding of Saint-Hyacinthe-Bagot, when I thought that was the best-kept secret and that no one in my professional circle knew about it. When something like that happens, I can assure you that it shakes up your whole day.

However, before becoming a media personality, Jean Lapierre spent some time in politics. At 24, he became the youngest Member of Parliament in the House of Commons when he was elected in the riding of Shefford. Then, at 28, he became the youngest federal cabinet minister.

Then there was his little political indiscretion — I kid — when he and Lucien Bouchard founded the Bloc Québécois. I could not believe that he had become an advocate for Quebec separation. It was probably a reasonable accommodation.

Fortunately, in 1992, he got an offer to be a commentator for CKAC radio in Montreal, which pulled him out of politics and, especially, out of the Bloc Québécois. His "shock talk" and vibrant, colourful language quickly made him a radio and television star, in English and in French, in Quebec and across Canada.

[English]

On the air, Mr. Lapierre had the great talent to show Canadians elements of political life that no one before him was able to relate — with so much gossip. Regarding political decisions and life here in Ottawa, he had an edge on all journalists on the Hill, and he was living in Montreal. Clearly, he had serious contacts.

[Translation]

I have to mention Jean Lapierre's amazing ability to keep his friends in politics, from all parties, even after embarrassing them with his revelations.

In addition to having an impact on political aficionados, Jean Lapierre also helped illuminate politics for those who were trying to better understand the impact of political decisions, whether at the federal, provincial or municipal levels. His light was extinguished on his island, on the Magdalen Islands. He often boasted of the islands' beauty — and its lobster.

Let's hope that there is something after death and that wherever he is, he will continue to tell stories and entertain.

I'll miss hearing that voice at 7 a.m., and I fear that no one will be able to fill his shoes.

Thank you.

[English]

Bijaan Lalani

Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, today I rise to speak on behalf of the majority of young Muslim Canadians. Their voices need to be heard in our Senate Chamber. Young Muslim Canadian men do not want to be associated with the illegal actions of a handful.

This rap was written by Bijaan Lalani from Calgary, Alberta. He is a chiropractic student in Toronto and also a musician. I am presenting Bijaan Lalani's rap, as no words I write will convey the sentiment of young Canadian Muslim men. His rap is entitled "They Are Not Me."

They are not me
You are not me
So don't claim to be
Because that label then hangs from me painfully
You are not me Should be plain to see
But you call out my name just so angrily
I know it's all scripted with victims it's vicious
Give us your victims then call us the killers
You play the system to make us the villains
How can you kill a man and call it religious
Mothers, children
Burnt down buildings
More afraid of dying
Than they're thankful for living
You've killed Muslims without any affliction
You attacked Paris with no inhibitions
So swing swords and try to break our convictions
Call yourself Muslim, or Jewish, or Christian
But don't think we're foolish enough that we'll listen
When we lost lives, you lost religion
You can twist words and quote the Quran
But I know for damn sure this is not Islam
So the next time you go on and mention a God
Pray for forgiveness and pray we move on
They are not me
Please believe
I live with intentions of peace
They are not me
Though they seem to be
That's just what they want you to see
I'm a Canadian, I'm a Muslim, I'm a student
I love sports, I love friends, I love music
I fall in love and girls drive me stupid
I want to live life to the fullest and truest
They want you to fear us, they want a divide
They want us to hate so that we pick sides
But we are the same, we are alive
And if we're together they cannot survive
Only light can drive out the dark
Only love can quell the hate that tears us apart
We are brothers and sisters so don't let them strip us
Of the humanity we hold in our hearts

(1340)

Honourable senators, these are the words of a young Canadian who is standing up to the illegal acts of a few. I ask you to remember the words of Bijaan Lalani: When the young people speak out as if they are speaking for all, there are only a handful who are doing these illegal actions.

Thank you.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

Visitors in the Gallery

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I wish to draw your attention to the presence in the gallery of Ms. Edith Ruth Armson and Ms. Margarete Hanulik, recipients of the Sovereign's Medal for Volunteers. They are guests of the Honourable Senator Lang.

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

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

Inaugural Presentation of the Sovereign's Medal for Volunteers

Hon. Daniel Lang: Honourable senators, I rise today to salute the 55 Canadians who on Tuesday, April 12, were presented with the Sovereign's Medal for Volunteers in a ceremony presided over by His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General, at Rideau Hall.

According to His Excellency, this official Canadian honour, the Medal for Volunteers, incorporates and replaces the Governor General's Caring Canadian Award created in 1995 by then-Governor General the Right Honourable Roméo LeBlanc.

The medal builds on the legacy and spirit of the Caring Canadian Award by honouring the dedication and commitment of volunteers.

With this inaugural presentation, new recipients will now receive a medal and past Caring Canadian Award recipients will subsequently receive a medal to complement their pin.

Colleagues, amongst the 55 recipients of this official honour are two outstanding Yukoners, Ms. Edith Ruth Armson and Ms. Margarete White. With your indulgence, I will read their citations into the official record.

For more than 30 years, Edith Ruth Armson fostered the development of creativity and self-confidence through literature and theatre. She has volunteered thousands of hours with the Yukon Arts Centre as a teacher, as a mentorship program coordinator, and as a facilitator of a memoir-writing class for seniors.

Margarete White has given more than 25 years of volunteer service to the Yukon Curling Association and to Yukon Athletics. She is recognized for her participation as a head official, timer, event organizer and cheerleader. Her devotion and efforts have led to the success of Whitehorse's athletic community, where she has provided local athletes with opportunities to learn and grow.

Colleagues, Yukon is blessed to have a great number of outstanding volunteers, teachers, mentors and First Nation elders who guide our community.

Edith Ruth Armson and Margarete White, the recipients of this national honour, represent the very best of Canada and Yukon, where our harsh winters and rugged terrain unites us and brings out our best.

I am pleased that Ruth Armson is here with us today in the gallery. She is accompanied by another Yukoner, Ms. Peggy Hanulik, a retired teacher.

Please join with me in welcoming our guests and congratulating Edith Ruth Armson and Margarete White, along with the other 53 Canadians who have received the Sovereign's Medal for Volunteers.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

National Commissioner for Children and Youth

Hon. Jim Munson: Honourable senators, the time feels right to renew discussions and action on the creation of a national commissioner for children and youth.

Children are the most vulnerable segment of any population. They depend on adults for their education, nutrition, safe water, housing, community services and protection. They do not vote or participate in the political process. They lack a voice in decisions affecting them.

Honourable senators, in our 2007 report called Children: The Silenced Citizens, the Standing Senate Committee Human Rights explained that by signing the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Canadian government committed to working ". . . diligently towards effective implementation of that treaty at home."

Human rights apply to all children at all times, without exception.

What do I see in the hardship and injustice in the lives of Canada's indigenous children and youth? Or the lives of young people with disabilities? Or the more than 1 million Canadian children living in poverty? I see evidence that Canada is falling short of its obligations to our youngest citizens.

The Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights has recommended that Parliament establish a national commissioner for children and youth with real influence and responsibilities, including monitoring progress, investigating complaints, raising awareness and working with provincial and territorial counterparts.

Honourable senators, the Canadian Council of Provincial Child and Youth Advocates has written a letter to Prime Minister Trudeau with the same recommendation. Two Liberal members of Parliament have previously introduced private members' bills to establish this position. But before dying on the Order Paper, these bills received strong support.

Yesterday, Marc Garneau, the Minister of Transport, was here talking about his portfolio. Before that, it was his private member's bill that he wanted to get passed, so I am sure we have strong support on the other side.

According to UNICEF Canada:

Our youngest citizens need an independent voice at the highest level to make sure they're not at the end of the line when it comes to deciding on policy, programs, laws and budgets.

I am pleased again to lend my voice to the mounting call for a national commissioner for children and youth.

Honourable senators, I hope you and other parliamentarians on the Hill, and especially the new senators who are with us, join us to be part of this new initiative. Stay tuned; more will be coming. I will keep after this, along with disabilities and you name it. We will never stop. I won't stop for five years and four months at least, when I retire, because I love it here.

It is so important, honourable senators, to give children a voice. We have to do that; it is our moral responsibility. I hope that you and other parliamentarians on the Hill join in the necessary discussions and actions for realizing this goal.

Visitors in the Gallery

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I wish to draw your attention to the presence in the gallery of Ms. Karen Sibbeston and Jerald Sibbeston. They are not only the guests of Honourable Senator Nick Sibbeston, they are also his wife and son.

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

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

Recognition of Metis and Non-Status Indians

Hon. Nick G. Sibbeston: Honourable senators, today's Supreme Court decision to recognize Metis and non-status Indians as "Indians" under section 91(24) of the Constitution is the end of a long court battle, 17 years in fact.

It was Harry Daniels who, in the 1980s, worked hard to have Metis included in the Constitution. Now you see the result of that work.

For a long time, Metis people have found themselves in a jurisdictional wasteland, with neither federal nor provincial governments taking constitutional responsibility for them.

In making their decision, the justices have adopted an expansive and inclusive definition of "Indian" in keeping with the history of our country. In a unanimous decision, they sided with the original trial judge and not with the narrower interpretation of the Federal Court of Appeal.

As Justice Abella put it, Canada has always recognized Metis and non-status people as Indians when it was convenient for them to do so. Now they will be recognized not because it is convenient but because it is just and legal.

The court did not grant the other two declarations the Metis and non-status Indians had sought — that is, that the federal government had a fiduciary responsibility toward them and that Canada must consult and negotiate with them.

This in no way limits the impact of the decision. Rather, the fiduciary relationship towards Indians is a clearly established legal principle as is the requirement to consult and negotiate.

Now that the Metis are recognized as Indians under section 91(24), they automatically have these rights.

To put in context what it meant historically to be Metis or non-status, I'd like to tell you the story of my Uncle, Ted Trindle.

(1350)

He was a hunter and trapper who lived in the Northwest Territories during the 1990s in the area where I am from. He was a hunter and trapper living off the land out in the bush. One time he became very sick. He came to town to see a doctor. Although the doctor was sympathetic with him — in fact, the doctor said, "You may die." The doctor said he couldn't help him. So Ted asked if he could be sent to Edmonton to have an operation. The doctor said, "No, I can't, because you are not Metis, you are not treaty, and there is no program to help you." So Ted said, "Well, I am either going to die or I will have to find a way to get to Edmonton."

In those days there were no roads, so he hitched his dogs and started heading south. He went to Fort Nelson, to Fort St. John and eventually to Edmonton and did have the operation and came back and lived to a ripe old age.

I notice my time is up. May I have a couple more minutes, please, because the rest of what I have to say is very important?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Senator Sibbeston: It was clear to Ted that being a Metis meant, in those days, not being able to get any assistance from the federal government. Ted reminded us of this throughout his life: The difference between a Metis and a treaty Indian is that treaty Indians could get help but the Metis were basically on their own. That made them very independent and strong people.

Metis people are a distinct, cultured people. In some cases, they have their own language and way of life. They are descendants of the Indian people and the Europeans. Any time there are Native people and White people, you invariably get a Metis. That is the story of our country, I think.

In the North, the Metis played a major role as go-betweens between the Indians and the White people who came into the country. They served as guides, interpreters and clerks in the Hudson Bay stores.

Most Canadians will remember and know of the Metis from the Riel Rebellion in the 1880s. The Metis people saw themselves as a distinct, unique people. They played a major role in the creation of Manitoba and I believe formed the first government in that region.

Today, as a result of the Supreme Court of Canada decision, 600,000 people from across Canada gained the right to be treated as Indian people under the law. They have regained their Aboriginal rights and are entitled to negotiate and settle their claims. They will be entitled to programs and services normally provided to Indian people.

Metis are a very proud and strong people. With these services and programs, I think they will become even better and will be able to contribute greatly to our Canadian society.

This decision could not have come at a better time. The government has expressed its desire to forge a new relationship with the Indigenous peoples of our country based on constitutional and international law. This new relationship will include all the Aboriginal Peoples of our country, including the Metis. This is a very good thing for our country. Thank you.


ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration

Fourth Report of Committee Tabled

Hon. Leo Housakos: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the fourth report of the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration, which deals with the Annual Report on Parliamentary Associations' Activities and Expenditures for the 2014-2015 fiscal year.

[Translation]

Fifth Report of Committee Tabled

Hon. Leo Housakos: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the fifth report of the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration, entitled International Travel Report, concerning Senator White's trip to Brisbane, Australia, from February 8 to 13, 2016.

[English]

Foreign Affairs and International Trade

Budget and Authorization to Travel—Study on Opportunities for Strengthening Cooperation with Mexico since the Tabling of the Committee Report Entitled North American Neighbours: Maximizing Opportunities and Strengthening Cooperation for a More Prosperous Future—Third Report of Committee Presented

Hon. A. Raynell Andreychuk, Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade, presented the following report:

Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade has the honour to present its

THIRD REPORT

Your committee, which was authorized by the Senate on Tuesday, March 22, 2016, to study opportunities for strengthening cooperation with Mexico since the tabling, in June 2015, of the committee report entitled North American Neighbours: Maximizing Opportunities and Strengthening Cooperation for a more Prosperous Future, respectfully requests funds for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2017, and requests, for the purpose of such study, that it be empowered to travel outside Canada.

Pursuant to Chapter 3:06, section 2(1)(c) of the Senate Administrative Rules, the budget submitted to the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration and the report thereon of that committee are appended to this report.

Respectfully submitted,

RAYNELL ANDREYCHUK
Chair

(For text of budget, see today's Journals of the Senate, Appendix A, p. 380.)

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this report be taken into consideration?

(On motion of Senator Andreychuk, report placed on the Orders of the Day for consideration at the next sitting of the Senate.)

Budget and Authorization to Engage Services and Travel—Study on Recent Political and Economic Developments in Argentina in the Context of their Potential Impact on Regional and Global Dynamics—Fourth Report of Committee Presented

Hon. A. Raynell Andreychuk, Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade, presented the following report:

Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade has the honour to present its

FOURTH REPORT

Your committee, which was authorized by the Senate on Tuesday, March 22, 2016, to study recent political and economic developments in Argentina in the context of their potential impact on regional and global dynamics, including on Canadian policy and interests, and other related matters, respectfully requests funds for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2017, and requests, for the purpose of such study, that it be empowered:

(a) to engage the services of such counsel, technical, clerical and other personnel as may be necessary; and

(b) to travel outside Canada.

Pursuant to Chapter 3:06, section 2(1)(c) of the Senate Administrative Rules, the budget submitted to the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration and the report thereon of that committee are appended to this report.

RAYNELL ANDREYCHUK
Chair

(For text of budget, see today's Journals of the Senate, Appendix B, p. 386.)

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this report be taken into consideration?

(On motion of Senator Andreychuk, report placed on the Orders of the Day for consideration at the next sitting of the Senate.)

[Translation]

Transport and Communications

Budget and Authorization to Engage Services and Travel—Study on the Development of a Strategy to Facilitate the Transport of Crude Oil to Eastern Canadian Refineries and to Ports on the East and West Coasts of Canada—Third Report of Committee

Hon. Dennis Dawson, Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications, presented the following report:

Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications has the honour to present its

THIRD REPORT

Your committee, which was authorized by the Senate on Wednesday, March 9, 2016, to study the development of a strategy to facilitate the transport of crude oil to eastern Canadian refineries and to ports on the East and West coasts of Canada, respectfully requests funds for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2017, and requests, for the purpose of such study, that it be empowered:

(a) to engage the services of such counsel, technical, clerical and other personnel as may be necessary;

(b) to adjourn from place to place within Canada; and

(c) to travel inside Canada.

Pursuant to Chapter 3:06, section 2(1)(c) of the Senate Administrative Rules, the budget submitted to the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration and the report thereon of that committee are appended to this report.

Respectfully submitted,

DENNIS DAWSON
Chair

(For text of budget, see today's Journals of the Senate, Appendix C, p. 394.)

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this report be taken into consideration?

(On motion of Senator Dawson, report placed on the Orders of the Day for consideration at the next sitting of the Senate.)

[English]

The Senate

Notice of Motion to Affect Question Period on April 20, 2016

Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:

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, April 20, 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, which shall last a maximum of 30 minutes;

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.

(1400)

Canada-Europe Parliamentary Association

Meeting of the Standing Committee of Parliamentarians of the Arctic Region, March 2-3, 2016—Report Tabled

Hon. Grant Mitchell: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian parliamentary delegation of the Canada-Europe Parliamentary Association respecting its participation at the Meeting of the Standing Committee of Parliamentarians of the Arctic Region, held in Stockholm, Sweden, from March 2 to 3, 2016.


[Translation]

QUESTION PERIOD

Transport

Champlain Bridge

Hon. Claude Carignan (Leader of the Opposition): Government Leader, my question is for you. We recently learned through the media that the government is reviewing its financial plan for the construction of the new Champlain Bridge, in part because it has decided to eliminate the toll on this significant infrastructure, which was one of the main sources of financing. We have also learned that the company building the bridge is apparently having difficulty meeting its obligations primarily because of the tight budget and the desire to restructure the financial arrangement.

My question is simple: Will the new Champlain Bridge be ready by December 1, 2018, according to the original schedule?

[English]

Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I thank the honourable Leader of the Opposition for his question and will take notice and respond to him.

The Senate

Selection Process for New Senators

Hon. James S. Cowan (Leader of the Senate Liberals): My question is to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. This week we were delighted to welcome seven new senators to our midst, but, as you know, there are a number of vacancies across the country, including two in my own province of Nova Scotia. It won't surprise you to know there are a number of people interested in exactly how that process is proceeding.

One of the initiatives that we adopted at our caucus when we became independent was to invite Canadians to send us questions, which we would ask of the government. You will appreciate that I can't give the names of people who asked me to ask this question. Nonetheless, the question is this: Can you tell us exactly where we are in the process of the selection of new senators for vacancies that exist particularly in Nova Scotia, and, in particular, has the government selected the two provincial representatives from, in my case, Nova Scotia to join the three federal representatives on the panel that will make recommendations to the Prime Minister?

Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I thank the honourable senator for his question. I have no information at this point as to the specific timing. I would encourage you to encourage those who are interested — and I hope there are many — to consult the website of the independent advisory committee, which has a website with the rules and procedures referenced for their attention.

I would, if the Senate will indulge me, take this opportunity to respond to a question posed by Senator Batters two days ago with respect to the nominations of the senators who joined me in this house on Tuesday. I have consulted with them and can report to this chamber that Senator Murray Sinclair was nominated by the Aboriginal Council of Winnipeg; Senator André Pratte, le Conseil du patronat du Québec; Senator Chantal Petitclerc, Défi sportif AlterGo; Senator Frances Lankin, United Way of Greater Toronto and York Region; Senator Gagné, Société franco-manitobaine; and Senator Omidvar, Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council.

I would congratulate all of these organizations for their nominations.

Hon. A. Raynell Andreychuk: I have a supplementary question to Senator Cowan's question. Senator Harder, welcome to the Senate.

It has been the practice that, if we are seeking information, as the Government Representative you would undertake to contact the government who set up the selection process to endeavour to get the information for us. I think Senator Cowan's question was rightly put to you, and I would encourage you to use your office to endeavour to get the information and to place it before all of us, which would be the best way for all of us to be informed.

Senator Harder: Thank you, Senator Andreychuk. If I could, I would be happy to do that. I do want to make sure Canadians are well aware of a website that they could consult, and I'm sure they are all reading Hansard in the Senate, and they could thereby benefit from my answer.

Senator Cowan: Senator Harder, my question had to do with whether they have selected the two representatives from Nova Scotia and, if not, why not.

Senator Harder: As I indicated, I don't have that information, and I'll respond accordingly.

[Translation]

Hon. Claude Carignan (Leader of the Opposition): I have a supplementary question since the leader has thrown the door wide open on the issue of the website. It is a source of information, but the main source of information is the government. Since you have ties to the government, you could provide us with that information. For example, the advisory committee's website indicates that a nominee must own land or a building with a value of at least $4,000 when nominated, which was not necessarily the case, and which has not always been enforced, a decision that I understand and respect. However, there can be a discrepancy between what one may read on a website and the actual information from the government. As you are the Leader of the Government, we expect that you will give us the proper accurate information, which comes directly from the executive and not a website.

Health

Suicide Prevention Policy

Hon. Jean-Guy Dagenais: Government Leader, the Senate Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs is examining the sensitive matter of suicide in the Canadian Armed Forces. This week in the other place, an emergency debate was held regarding the urgent need for action in Aboriginal communities due to a wave of suicides and suicide attempts. In both cases, I think urgent action is needed. The previous government put everything in place. In December 2012, this chamber and the other place both passed framework legislation on suicide prevention. It provides for consultations with provincial and territorial governments. It also provides for greater consistency in how we get the message out there regarding suicide prevention.

My question is as follows: Who, in the current government, is ensuring follow-up on commitments made under that legislation, and is it possible to find out where this file stands?

Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): Senator, I will seek that information and present it to the Senate.

Senator Dagenais: Government Leader, I heard your response. I don't have access to the Privy Council, as you do, and you understand that addressing this matter must be a priority, as some Liberal parliamentarians have said. I understand that you don't have an answer right away, but I imagine that you will get back to us with one very soon. Thank you, leader.

[English]

Visitors in the Gallery

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I wish to draw your attention to the presence in the gallery of Her Excellency Inara Murniece, Speaker of the Saeima of the Republic of Latvia; the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Chairman of the Group for Interparliamentary Relations with Canada of the Saeima; the Head of the Speaker's Office; Foreign Affairs Advisor to the Speaker; the Head of the Public Relations Department of the Saeima; the Senior Consultant of the Saeima Protocol Division; and Mr. Juris Audarins, His Excellency, Ambassador the Republic of Latvia to Canada.

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

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

(1410)

Justice

Selection Process for Judges

Hon. Joan Fraser (Deputy Leader of the Senate Liberals): I have a supplementary question to an earlier round. It can be a stand-alone question, if you wish, Your Honour.

Back to the matter of appointments, leader, I'm sure we have all seen the cri de coeur from Alberta about the dire shortage of judges, and it's not a problem only in Alberta. To the best of my knowledge, the government's response has been, "We're putting in place a proper appointment process that will be transparent, et cetera, et cetera," with no timeline attached.

Well, that is sort of what they said about nominations to this place, and it was a very plausible response because the new nominations process was in fact a real innovation; it was the first time since Confederation that this particular approach to nominations to the Senate had been launched.

But the nomination of judges is not a new system. Fine processes have been established over the years to nominate judges. The quality of the Canadian judiciary stands, I believe, in extremely high regard around the world, so it's not that the old processes didn't work.

Can you give us some indication of when we may expect to see those vacant judgeships filled?

Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I'll take notice of your question and respond.

Hon. Bob Runciman: Senator Harder, the Trudeau government was elected nearly six months ago, but the justice minister has not even appointed members to the Federal Judicial Advisory Committee, which screens candidates. We know the consequences of justice delayed are cases thrown out and the guilty going free.

If the Minister of Justice can find time to attend a Bay Street law firm's $500-a-plate fundraiser, why can't she roll up her sleeves and get to work to make sure our courts are staffed properly?

Senator Harder: I take note of your question and will respond.

Privy Council

Transition Team—Government Appointments

Hon. David Tkachuk: I have a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I'd like to welcome Senator Harder to the Senate. Congratulations on your appointment.

Senator Harder, you were the head of the Prime Minister's transition team. Were guidelines or policies put in place for how members of the transition team were to conduct themselves as to future government appointments?

Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): Designated members of the transition team were subject to the post-employment conflict of interest guidelines, which prevented anybody involved in the transition process to undertake lobbying activity. And as a member of that, obviously I was subject to that prohibition.

Senator Tkachuk: Were there any other members of the transition team — obviously besides yourself — who received government appointments?

Senator Harder: Well, the people involved in transition included members of the Prime Minister's staff — then Prime Minister designate — some of whom are in various government roles with the Prime Minister and other ministers.

With respect to other appointments that I'm aware of, the only one I can reference, if my memory serves me right, is Mr. Mendelsohn, who was announced as a senior official in the Privy Council Office by the Clerk of the Privy Council.

Industry

Energy East Pipeline

Hon. Denise Batters: I would also reference the new UN ambassador.

Senator Harder, my question is to you, the leader of the Trudeau government in the Senate. Senator Harder, transportation infrastructure in the form of pipelines is a vital issue for my home province of Saskatchewan. Energy East could transport the equivalent of 1,600 rail cars of crude oil per day across Canada more safely than rail.

Gerald Butts, Prime Minister Trudeau's principal secretary, said this about pipelines in 2012:

Truth be told, we don't think there ought to be a carbon-based energy industry by the middle of the century. That's our policy in Canada and it's our policy all over the world.

Senator Harder, is the position of Mr. Butts on pipelines in the Canadian oil industry also the policy of the Trudeau government?

Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): The policy of the Government of Canada is articulated by the Prime Minister and the minister responsible.

Senator Batters: Wow.

[Translation]

Official Languages

Linguistic Duality

Hon. Rose-May Poirier: Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Currently, immigrants between the ages of 18 and 65 must know one of the country's two official languages to obtain Canadian citizenship. The Liberal government announced plans to change that requirement to 18 to 55 years of age.

The Standing Senate Committee on Official Languages released a report in December 2014. This is what it says on page 27:

Several recent studies found that proficiency in the official languages is a key determinant in the integration of immigrants.

Even so, on April 12, Minister McCallum told the committee that his department has done no research or consultations to justify making this change. How can they say that this change will benefit newcomers when studies say the opposite?

[English]

Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I will consult and return with information for the senator.

[Translation]

Senator Poirier: I would also like to point out that many Canadian citizens over 55 who are in good health can live for many more years. Given the needs in our communities across Canada, how can people benefit from the services they are entitled to, be that health care or just going to a convenience store or a restaurant, if they don't know one of our two official languages? I think this decision is unacceptable. I would therefore like the government to tell me how these people are supposed to live in this country for another 30 or 40 years if they don't speak one of Canada's official languages.

[English]

Senator Harder: Again, I thank the honourable senator for her question and her supplementary, and I will return with an appropriate answer.

Transport

Expansion of Toronto City Airport

Hon. Leo Housakos: Welcome to the Leader of the Government in the Senate.

I just want to remind him that during Question Period, when senators in this house, like Senator Batters, pose a question, as Leader of the Government in the Senate and with all the privileges you have being named by the Prime Minister as Leader of the Government in the Senate and the resources that go with that position, you have a moral obligation to answer senators' questions.

Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.

Some Hon. Senators: Oh, oh.

Senator Housakos: My question, leader, is in regard to Bombardier in Montreal and the free market economy that I think deserves to operate with free hands. There is a private company that came forward and offered a major order to Bombardier regarding a C Series aircraft that they would showcase and champion around the world.

Canadians are concerned, leader, that your government might be doling out $1 billion of taxpayer money without any conditions and no strings attached. Your government is ignoring a private sector solution that would cost taxpayers not a dime and would preserve thousands of jobs in my city, yet your government has kneecapped a major opportunity for Bombardier by overriding Toronto City Council and Toronto Port Authority, blocking any development at the Toronto City Airport.

Leader, why won't the Trudeau government protect Canadian jobs and Bombardier by allowing Toronto City Airport to expand?

Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you, senator, for your question. I believe it has been answered publicly in the other chamber by the minister, and I will have a specific response in the days ahead.

Public Safety

Airport Security

Hon. Vernon White: To the Leader of the Government in the Senate, again congratulations and welcome.

Minister Garneau and Minister Goodale have been asked similar questions about airport security in Canada, both here and in committee, where they gave similar responses, one being that they do not know the answer.

In our airports we have airport authorities, CATSA, police, CBSA, NAV CANADA, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada — I can go on and on — who have responsibilities at our airports. But for this place to focus on ensuring we ask government what they are doing to make sure the next Brussels doesn't happen in Canada, we need to know who is responsible for airport security. If you could answer that question for me now or bring it forward later.

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Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I will bring it forward as appropriate.

Transport

Airport Capital Assistance Program—Northern and Remote Airports

Hon. Dennis Glen Patterson: I will ask a question that I was hoping to ask of Minister Garneau yesterday but maybe didn't have time because of the verbosity of some of my honourable colleagues.

Some Hon. Senators: Oh, oh!

Senator Patterson: Air transportation is the only means of year-round access to most communities in the North. Indeed, in my home territory of Nunavut, there are no roads between communities or to Southern Canada. So the need to maintain safe and acceptable airports is vital to the well-being of northerners and the northern economy; yet the Airports Capital Assistance Program frankly has not provided significant funds for the territories.

The recently released Canada Transportation Act Review Report references a number of submissions to improve the safety of small northern and remote airports, yet no money was specifically promised to the North in the recent budget.

My questions are the following: Does the government plan to significantly increase funding for the Airports Capital Assistance Program, as recommended by the review? Will the department carve out a dedicated northern program with funding and eligibility criteria that recognize the unique challenges and exceptional needs of the North?

Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I thank the honourable senator for his question and assure him that I will ensure an appropriate response from Mr. Garneau and other appropriate government officials.

British Columbia—Broadway Corridor

Hon. Yonah Martin (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): I also did not have the opportunity to ask my question yesterday. To the Leader of the Government in the Senate, I wanted to ask Minister Garneau about an urgent project in the Lower Mainland, Metro Vancouver. During the election, Justin Trudeau made pledges and promises to British Columbians. The Broadway corridor, which includes UBC and the second largest business district, is an important health and social sciences precinct. It services literally hundreds of thousands of people. Budget 2016 did not allocate enough funding to cover even a portion of these important projects, which were part of the election promises. When and how will these projects be completed? Could I ask you to provide the answer to us?

Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you for your question. Yes, of course, I will be happy to take your question and ensure a response.

For the consideration of all senators, verbose and non-verbose, the government has agreed in the ministerial Question Period here to go to 40 minutes beginning the week after next, so we can enjoy more interaction with ministers who are here.

[Translation]

Magdalen Islands—Extension of Airport Runway

Hon. Claude Carignan (Leader of the Opposition): Leader, our colleague, Senator Dagenais, spoke earlier about the death of former minister Jean Lapierre. The night before the plane crash — not to make a connection between the accident and the Magdalen Islands airport runway — the mayor of the Magdalen Islands municipality, Jonathan Lapierre, was calling for the airport runway to be extended in order to ensure the safety of passengers travelling to the Magdalen Islands, despite weather conditions that can be tricky at times. Can the Leader of the Government confirm that the government plans to do something about this?

The recent budget includes investments for the Magdalen Islands airport, including for hangar facilities and firefighting services. However, there are no provisions for extending the airport runway. Can the leader of the government tell us whether the government will invest in extending the Magdalen Islands runway and, if so, when?

Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I'll take notice of your question and will come back with an answer shortly.

[English]

Airline Competition

Hon. Don Meredith: Government leader, this is a question as well that I had for the minister yesterday — unfortunately, I was not able to ask this question — with respect to the Blue Sky Policy. Since 2006, when it was adopted by Canada, 85 countries have signed on to that agreement with respect to air traffic. We know that the cost of air travel in Canada is increasing and that lack of competition exists within Canada.

I would ask you, senator, to inquire with the minister with respect to expansion and the allocation of more airlines coming into Canada, especially from international destinations, in our major hubs of Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal, as well as domestic travel. The Transport Committee has studied extensively the reduction in the number of Canadian passengers going to the U.S. to travel to other destinations in Canada, which, in my opinion — as I sat on that committee previously — was a loss to our economy.

My question would be to determine whether there would be further competition. We recently saw the grounding of a new airline that started up in Winnipeg. What is the opportunity for further competition in Canada to allow for Canadians to travel more frequently across this country?

Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I thank the honourable senator for his question. I will respond to his question and also take his comments as a gesture of support for such an initiative.


ORDERS OF THE DAY

Genetic Non-Discrimination Bill

Declaration of Private Interest

Hon. Scott Tannas: Colleagues, I want to note for the record that I believe I have a private interest that might be affected by this matter currently before the Senate. The general nature is that I am a director of a life insurance company in Canada, and they have a particular interest in this bill. I apologize; I filed my conflict and my notice in the previous Parliament but neglected to do so again and felt that I should do so orally here today.

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, Senator Tannas has made a declaration of private interest in relation to Bill S-201. In accordance with rule 15-7, the declaration will be recorded in the Journals of the Senate.

Third Reading

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Cowan, seconded by the Honourable Senator Fraser, for the third reading of Bill S-201, An Act to prohibit and prevent genetic discrimination, as amended.

Hon. David M. Wells: Honourable senators, I rise today to speak on an act to prohibit and prevent genetic discrimination, introduced by our colleague Senator Cowan in the previous Parliament as Bill S-218 and reintroduced in this Parliament as Bill S-201.

I would first like to thank Senator Cowan for his work on this bill, for addressing this important issue and bringing it to our attention in the Senate.

Colleagues, as many of you know, as I have mentioned several times in this place, I suffer from a condition known as hemochromatosis, which happens to be Canada's most common genetic disorder. People who have this genetic disorder are unable to metabolize iron absorbed from the diet. This means we have too much iron in our blood, which can cause damage to our joints, liver, pancreas, heart, brain and endocrine glands.

If someone has hemochromatosis and is not aware of it, if they have not been diagnosed with it, the consequences can be fatal.

Many thousands of Canadians have the genetic potential to suffer from this genetic disorder, with it being prevalent in those of European and Celtic descent. This is a matter of particular concern to the people of my home province of Newfoundland and Labrador, where we have a higher rate than the national average.

Honourable senators, this disorder can overload organs with iron and ultimately lead to death. There is no cure. However, there is treatment that can reduce or eliminate most of the severe complications, which include arthritis, diabetes, heart failure, cirrhosis and cancer. The treatment includes regular removal of blood, known as phlebotomies.

Colleagues, the reason this disorder, hemochromatosis, is pertinent to our debate today on this bill is that diagnosis is made through blood tests, which can give an indication of the possibility, and genetic testing, which can confirm that indication.

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As I've mentioned before, the burden of undiagnosed hemochromatosis in Canada results in avoidable costs to the health care system of premature chronic diseases, the financial loss to families due to disabilities and the preventable loss of loved ones.

Genetic testing can confirm a diagnosis and help to identify family members who may be at risk for this disease. Most commonly, the genetic test is performed with a simple cheek swab. Mine was done with a genetically tested blood sample.

Awareness is the cure to hemochromatosis. As the late Marie Warder, founder of the Canadian Hemochromatosis Society, so accurately stated and as I have said here before:

Find us one victim, and we will save a whole family.

Colleagues, unfortunately, many Canadians have a great fear of getting genetic testing done. They fear, correctly, that if they get tested and something negative comes back, they won't be able to get insured for it or their premiums will go up.

Currently, insurance companies and employers can request to have the results of someone's genetic testing. I have a friend who sought life insurance and was required, as a condition of the insurance, to provide the insurance company with a blood sample for a genetic test. They were the ones who told him he had hemochromatosis, and then they denied him insurance.

Genetic testing is a valuable tool. It can be used to determine whether you may be susceptible to certain diseases. It doesn't mean you have the disease, just that you may get it.

We all know that so many diseases, including cancer, are manageable and beatable if we catch them early enough and develop a plan to manage and beat them. Hemochromatosis is a perfect example.

Imagine if we could determine whether someone may get it. Imagine the impact on our health care system by the advances made in genetic testing.

Colleagues, genetic testing should be encouraged, and we should be promoting it. But genetic discrimination is a serious barrier to this.

Insurance companies currently have access to these results as Canada is the only G7 country without any form of protection from genetic discrimination. The United Kingdom, the U.S, Japan, all of these countries have protection from genetic discrimination. It is time Canada does as well.

Colleagues, one of the concerns with this bill in the previous Parliament was whether it was constitutional or possibly outside of federal jurisdiction. The bill's sponsor, Senator Cowan, took the suggestions made by us here and made important changes to this bill to ensure that it is constitutional and within our jurisdiction.

Having reviewed this bill in its entirety, having paid close attention to the discussions of this bill here in the Senate and after consulting Senator Cowan and others, I believe this bill not only has merit but also passes the constitutional test and, therefore, should be passed.

Colleagues, I ask you to vote in favour of Bill S-201, An Act to prohibit and prevent genetic discrimination. It will lessen the burden on our health care system and, more importantly, save lives.

Hon. A. Raynell Andreychuk: Honourable senators, I want to rise on Bill S-201 and state some of my concerns about the bill. Before I do so, I want to thank Senator Cowan for his persistence and dedication to this topic. No one on the Human Rights Committee or on the floor of this Senate has ever indicated that they are against the principle of the bill. In fact, I would say that we are genuinely concerned in this chamber that something be done about genetic discrimination. I'm not going to take the time of honourable senators to go through why there should be no discrimination on a genetic basis; I think Senator Cowan has put it not only once on the floor of the chamber here but many times and has gone into great detail. Anyone who has read his speech could not come to any other conclusion than the decision Senator Cowan came to, that we must do something about genetic discrimination.

I would only add — and I picked this up from my colleague Senator Wells — that if we are concerned about prevention in health, we should look not only at genetic discrimination but also at other testing and other aspects of technologies now that encourage us to take preventive measures but that may be used against us. My concern has been that we are dealing with genetic discrimination, which is, by a large measure, the biggest issue that we should deal with, but not the only issue. Therefore, I think the legislation is warranted.

I know that previous governments have wrestled with the issue. I am not aware of whether the new government is wrestling with this issue. We are aware that certain provinces, because we have a federal system, are dealing with this issue. Yet, no legislation has been produced.

So I commend Senator Cowan for bringing the action here. That's the true role of the Senate: first, to educate ourselves, and second, to educate the public and to determine whether it is urgent. In this case, I think introducing the private member's bill is the right impetus for an issue such as this.

Senator Cowan, you should be congratulated. You have shown the worth of the Senate in bringing this bill forward.

However, when we had the first iterations of the bill, we heard about insurance contracts. Of course, that's provincial legislation. We have a duty here to ensure that whatever we pass, for whatever motives — and they are all good in this case — can meet a constitutional test. Many questions were raised about constitutionality, whether we are infringing on provincial legislation.

The bill was amended and amended again, trying to address that issue. We have had some evidence to say that it is constitutional. However, I had asked at second reading — in fact pleaded — to have it go to the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs. The Human Rights Committee can deal with the content, the need, the justice, the rights of individuals, but our committee has a unique legal and constitutional capacity and expertise to deal with constitutional issues.

I'm still left with some concerns about whether this bill will pass a constitutional test. The reason I am worried — and I would say, "Let's pass it" — is for two reasons. One is that we often say that the house doesn't do its job. It gets a commendable issue, passes it quickly, and we find that it has all kinds of troubling issues with regard to the Constitution or public interest.

Here we're doing the same thing. I think we will lose our high moral ground, which Senator Baker often reminds us of, if we pass this bill too quickly. At least we took our time and at least we tried to amend it.

My greatest concern is that this is a very urgent issue and one that the government should be taking up. My concern is that this bill will leave this place, and I'm not sure what will happen on the other side. The government could move on it quickly. The house could move on it, but it is out of our hands. It could languish there. That is troublesome to me.

Second, if it passes in its current form, it could be tied up in the courts for years. In the end, it might be a negative decision, which would be more harmful to the people of Canada than no legislation.

I have tried to fight for getting a constitutional bill. I commend Senator Cowan and all the members of the Human Rights Committee who really struggled with this issue, and there have been many. Therefore, I am very pleased to have supported the observations. So I am not stopping the bill; I am sounding a warning.

I still think that the issues raised are important. Let me voice some of these concerns through of our witnesses, notably Frank Swedlove, President and CEO of the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association, who noted:

We are strongly of the view that the first part of the bill, including clause 4, is not within the constitutional jurisdiction of the federal government. While this version of the bill has no specific reference to insurance, this bill would nevertheless have the effect of applying to insurance transactions and contracts, as has already been noted, a matter that has been shown consistently to be held within the exclusive jurisdiction of the provincial government under the property and civil rights heads of power. As a result, the first part of the bill raises serious constitutional issues.

In a written submission circulated to our committee, Torys law firm noted:

. . . Clauses 1 through 7 of the Bill therefore fall squarely within exclusive provincial jurisdiction and are ultra vires the federal Parliament.

Clauses 1 through 7 of the Bill likely cannot be supported by the federal criminal law power since, although they are drafted so as to contain prohibitions and penalties, they appear to lack a true criminal purpose. In particular, they are not directed to "public health evil"; nor do they prohibit human conduct that has an injurious or undesirable effect on the health of the members of the public.

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Additionally, the amended legislation could enable the federal government to overstep its jurisdictional boundaries with regard to other matters. This concern was also underlined in a written submission submitted by Karen Jensen on behalf of the Canadian Association of Counsel to Employers. She wrote:

. . . CACE is of the view that courts would likely see the use of the Federal criminal law powers in Bill S-201 as a colourable attempt to pass legislation in the area of property and civil rights, which is within provincial jurisdiction.

Now, we did try to consult the provinces, and I appreciate that the committee accepted that recommendation. The provinces either gave us a quick answer that they did not wish to engage with the committee, or they did not respond. Either way, having sat in this place for a long time, provincial governments rarely want to engage with the Senate. They would rather engage with the Government of Canada, and so be it, so their answers were not inspiring or helpful to our debate.

I raise these issues, as I say, for constitutional. The issue is so important that I think the observations are the part we should look at, and we should put the feet of all governments to the fire — the Government of Canada and the provinces — to move immediately because this bill will not cover all of the provincial areas or the areas of health that need to be addressed. There has to be a national attempt to address this issue, as other governments have. Now, it may be easier for other governments because they are not a federal system, but in our case that is not an excuse for proper legislation.

I hope that if senators — and I am getting that feeling that you do — have an appetite to pass the bill that we follow up immediately with the government to ensure that Senator Cowan's intent in the bill is carried through and not delayed, sidetracked or held up in the courts when they do their due diligence in their respective authority.

We have a number of things we can do: We can ask the government to move immediately, or the government could respond itself. I simply want to say to those Canadians who care about getting rid of genetic discrimination, and prohibiting it, that I will certainly continue to dog this issue, as I think my colleague Senator Cowan will, to ensure that there is an enforceable piece of legislation very soon. Thank you.

The Hon. the Speaker: Are senators ready for the question?

It was moved by the Honourable Senator Cowan, seconded by the Honourable Senator Fraser, that this bill, as amended, be read a third time. Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Motion agreed to and bill, as amended, read third time and passed.)

National Seal Products Day Bill

Second Report of Fisheries and Oceans—Adopted

The Senate proceeded to consideration of the second report of the Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans (Bill S-208, An Act respecting National Seal Products Day, with an amendment), presented in the Senate on March 10, 2016.

Hon. Fabian Manning moved the adoption of the report.

He said: Honourable senators, during clause-by-clause consideration of Bill S-208, a member of the Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans proposed an amendment, which was adopted, to replace "Aboriginal" with the word "Indigenous" in four instances within the preamble of the bill in English. This brings the bill into alignment with the new title of the minister and new name of the department, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada. It should be noted that a similar change is not required in the French version of the bill as the minister's title and department's name have not changed in French.

[Translation]

Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette: I would like to begin by thanking the committee members who studied this issue, which has been near and dear to my heart for quite some time, as you all know. I would also like to tell them that, now that the seal hunt is under way, passing this bill will certainly provide some encouragement to our Magdalen Islanders, our northerners, and our Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who are going to be working in very difficult conditions.

It's one thing to head to the office every morning, but it is something else entirely to go off in a boat or wait on an ice floe all day or even longer to hunt seal. It takes a lot of heart. This bill will give them a sense of validation and enable them to practice a centuries-old profession.

The seal hunt is a tradition in Canada, and I think that all senators here are proud of our easterners, especially, and the northerners who participate. I hope that this bill will be passed in the Senate and that the House of Commons will move it through the system quickly so that it can come into force on May 20.

Thank you.

[English]

The Hon. the Speaker: Are honourable senators ready for the question?

Hon. Senators: Question.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Motion agreed to.)

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be read the third time?

Third Reading—Debate Adjourned

Hon. Fabian Manning: Honourable senators, with leave of the Senate and notwithstanding rule 5-5, I move that the bill be read the third time now.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Senator Manning: I want to thank the committee members and Senator Hervieux-Payette for their efforts on this bill. I echoed the words of Senator Hervieux-Payette in saying that this is a dangerous occupation and, certainly, that many of my fellow Newfoundlanders and Labradorians have taken part in it for many years. We have received much negativity from around the world on the efforts of the seal industry and seal hunt, so, certainly, any way that we can promote the industry and give credit to the people involved in it, I think, is good not only for the people that pursue the industry itself but, indeed, for Canada as a whole. I certainly want to thank everyone involved with the bill and look forward to having it passed here, as soon as possible.

(On motion of Senator Martin, debate adjourned.)

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Financial Administration Act

Bill to Amend—Second Reading—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Moore, seconded by the Honourable Senator Day, for the second reading of Bill S-204, An Act to amend the Financial Administration Act (borrowing of money).

Hon. Elizabeth (Beth) Marshall: Honourable senators, I rise today to speak to Bill S-204.

I listened with great interest to Senator Moore when he spoke to this bill before us today. I also read the speeches of our colleagues who have spoken on Bill S-204 and to the many other versions of this bill and reviewed the testimony of expert witnesses who have appeared before the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance.

As Senator Moore points out, there is an historic role for parliamentarians to set limits on how much the government goes into debt, and to approve how much the government can borrow to keep the government operating even if it is incapable at times of avoiding debt.

That responsibility was perhaps unknowingly cut out from under us in 2007 when an amendment to the Financial Administration Act transferred the authority to borrow money from Parliament to the cabinet, where they now use an order-in-council severely restricting, as Senator Moore argues, Parliament's power to conduct oversight.

Prior to 2007, the Financial Administration Act gave the government standing authority to refinance its market debt, while specific authority had to be granted by Parliament to undertake additional borrowing beyond an existing $4 billion of non-lapsing borrowing authority, as per the Borrowing Authority Act.

The Budget Implementation Act of 2007 changed all of this so that the government no longer required the approval of Parliament to borrow.

Rather, annual borrowing limits would be approved by the Governor-in-Council, and Parliament no longer had to approve the borrowing limits of the government before it borrowed.

The Minister of Finance was, and still is, required to report on the Debt Management Strategy of the government on an annual basis and to disclose in advance the projected borrowings of the government. This Debt Management Strategy is tabled as an annex to the budget document.

There was an annex with this information attached to the budget document that was tabled on March 22.

The Minister of Finance is also required to table annually in Parliament the Debt Management Report which discloses the actual borrowings of the government after the fact.

An attempt was made in 2007 to reverse the amendment in the 2007 Budget Implementation Bill by introducing Bill S-236. However, this bill died on the Order Paper in 2008, when Parliament was dissolved.

A second attempt to reverse the 2007 amendment was made in 2009 as Bill S-221. This bill also died on the Order Paper when Parliament was prorogued in 2009.

A third attempt was made in 2011 with Bill S-229. Again, this bill died on the Order Paper when Parliament was dissolved in 2011. A fourth attempt was made in 2013, with Bill S-217, which was identical to the three predecessor bills. This was also Senator's Moore's predecessor bill. Bill S-217 did make some progress as it was sent to the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance and was reported back to the Senate in 2013.

The committee report recommended that the bill not be proceeded with further in the Senate for several reasons. I will outline a couple of them.

First, officials from the Department of Finance testified that, in comparison to the previous legal framework, the new borrowing regime, under the 2007 Budget Implementation Act, provided for a more efficient, flexible, responsive and prudent financial management and greater transparency and accountability.

In addition, Bill S-217, as drafted, did not have a coming-into-force provision, which was a significant structural concern for some members of the committee.

I would like to note that this has been rectified in the version before us now, which is Bill S-204.

Bill S-217 also died on the Order Paper in 2013, when Parliament was prorogued.

This brings us to Bill S-204, which is before us today.

Prior to 2007, the Financial Administration Act gave the government standing authority to refinance its market debt, while specific authority was to be granted by Parliament to undertake additional borrowing beyond an existing $4 billion of non-lapsing borrowing authority. If additional borrowing was required, a borrowing authority act had to be introduced in Parliament and approved.

Accordingly, Parliament enacted Borrowing Authority Acts from 1991 to 1996 and there was no borrowing authority legislation after 1996.

Interestingly, Canada's Auditor General, in his spring 2012 report, established that for 11 fiscal years, from 1997 to 2007, government recorded budgetary surpluses and did not require a borrowing authority act.

The Auditor General also referred to the 2007 amendments to the Financial Administration Act in his 2012 report, establishing them as a fact but providing neither negative nor positive comments on the amendments.

We now have to decide whether we will support Bill S-204.

The current Liberal government, in its election platform last year, committed to a deficit of $9.9 billion in the current fiscal year. We now know that the budget tabled on March 22 projects much larger deficits of $29.4 billion. The Liberal government also committed in its election platform to deficits of $9.5 billion and $5.7 billion in the following two years, and a $1 billion surplus in 2019-20. Clearly, Canadians were told we would be back to balanced budgets in 2019-20. We now know that the deficits for next year and the following year will be much larger than originally committed in their election platform, and that the election commitment to return to a balanced budget in 2019-20 will no longer be honoured. In fact, there is no plan to return to a balanced budget.

All of these deficits are projected numbers. We should be aware that actual deficits may be higher — they may be lower, too, but they will probably be higher. And these deficits will be funded by debts.

While the budget provides a contingency of $6 billion, it does not include anticipated expenditures. For example, the Minister of Agriculture recently said that a compensation package for Canada's dairy industry, with respect to the impact of CETA, is not in the budget. In addition, interest rates are low now, but if they rise, debt charges can escalate quickly, further increasing the deficit. If deficits increase, so will our debt.

Honourable senators, in its election platform, this government clearly indicated:

We have two fiscal anchors that guide our overall fiscal framework.

The first one is:

In 2019-20, we will:

  • Reduce the federal debt-to-GDP ratio to 27 per cent.

The net debt-to-GDP ratio compares what a government owes to what it produces and indicates the government's abilities to pay back its debt. We now know this is another commitment that will not be honoured. The net debt-to-GDP ratio is projected to be higher in 2019-20 than it is now.

The question posed by Bill S-204 is the following: Do we want to be told what the new borrowings are likely to be and then have the actual amount disclosed after the fact, or do we want the government to ask Parliament for its approval to borrow before it actually borrows?

Honourable senators, we have entered an era of deficit spending, financed by debt. For this reason, Senator Moore's Bill S-204 makes perfect sense to me. I would like to indicate that I will be supporting the bill.

(On motion of Senator Day, debate adjourned.)

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Canada Border Services Agency Act

Bill to Amend—Second Reading

Leave having been given to revert to Other Business, Senate Public Bills, Second Reading, Order No. 4:

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Moore, seconded by the Honourable Senator Day, for the second reading of Bill S-205, An Act to amend the Canada Border Services Agency Act (Inspector General of the Canada Border Services Agency) and to make consequential amendments to other Acts.

Hon. Vernon White: Honourable senators, I rise today to speak at second reading of Bill S-205, An Act to amend the Canada Border Services Agency Act (Inspector General of the Canada Border Services Agency) and to make consequential amendments to other Acts. This bill seeks to create a specific review body for the CBSA, to be headed by an inspector general with a mandate to monitor and report on CBSA's activities, conduct investigations in relation to complaints made to this new inspector general, disclose to the Attorney General of Canada information relating to the commission of any offence, and prepare and submit annual and special reports to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness for tabling in Parliament.

It is clear that we agree that robust review over our nation's national security-related activities is of the utmost importance in ensuring public trust. The primary duty of any government is to protect the country's borders; thus, much responsibility and power is bestowed upon the Canada Border Services Agency to keep our people safe. In a world that is fraught with the menace of terrorism, the role of customs officials becomes more significant.

The role of the Canada Border Services Agency is far more complex than we realize. Most Canadians are familiar with land crossings and airport officials, but this organization does much more.

Following the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, the Canada Border Services Agency was created with border and enforcement personnel from Citizenship and Immigration Canada, the former Canada Customs and Revenue Agency and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. CBSA carries out its responsibilities with a workforce of approximately 13,000 employees, including over 7,200 uniformed CBSA officers, providing services at approximately 1,200 points across Canada and in 39 locations.

The CBSA investigates, detects and apprehends violators of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, and conducts lengthy and complex investigations of suspected war criminals, national security cases and organized crime groups. There is a vast array of responsibilities, and we are becoming increasingly alarmed by reports of the treatment of individuals in certain interactions with border officials, and we are particularly alarmed about recent deaths of individuals held in detention facilities.

This is not to suggest proof of wrongdoing on the part of CBSA, but in order for public confidence to be managed in this vital organization, I believe a new approach to oversight is due. The office of the Minister of Public Safety has suggested that the government is open to considering a CBSA oversight body and this is welcome news.

As honourable senators are aware, the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence concluded a study last year on the policies, practices and collaborative efforts of the CBSA in determining admissibility to Canada and the removal of inadmissible individuals. The result was an informative and compelling report entitled Vigilance, Accountability and Security at Canada's Borders.

The report notes:

In addition, the Committee heard from several witnesses who advocated for greater oversight of the process, as well as the need for recourse to review and complaints-assessment bodies to ensure that the security and rights to privacy of individuals are respected. In particular, concerns were raised about the lack of recorded interviews for refugee claimant cases and the serious consequences resulting from disputed interviews. The Committee is of the opinion that there is a need to establish an oversight body, as well as a body to handle reviews and civilian complaints, including investigations.

This resulted in two significant recommendations: First, that the Government of Canada establish an oversight body for the CBSA to ensure appropriate compliance with legislation and policy, including adequate protection for Canada's privacy rights; and, second, that the Government of Canada establish an independent civilian review and complaints body for all Canada Border Services Agency activities.

The committee process will allow us to examine a number of important questions that arise from considering the appointment of an independent inspector general. These ought to be pursued in a committee of the Senate. For example, the Professional Standards Directorate investigates all allegations of improper, illegal conduct by CBSA's employers and contractors. This directorate and program, and the resources they currently have, could be transferred to the inspector general or remain in their place. We will need to examine overall costing and look at how the oversight proposal compares to other organizations, such as the Security Intelligence Review Committee, SIRC, the Office of the Communications Security Establishment and others.

We have an opportunity here, a chance to protect the integrity of our valuable and critical border agency by giving Canadians confidence that there is an avenue for appeal should they have a cause to do so.

Second, two deaths in detention centres only weeks apart are a cause for concern. Unless we know what occurred, doubt will remain. In addition to the concern expressed by Canadians, our international reputation could be diminished. An oversight body will demonstrate to Canadians and other countries that we are shining a light where one is needed. Although a vast majority of CBSA officers perform their roles with professionalism and courtesy, the lack of details in certain instances harms them all.

Honourable senators, I support Bill S-205, and I believe the merits of this bill deserve a full discussion at the committee stage. I encourage all senators to support this bill that will make the Canada Border Services Agency stronger for the years ahead.

The Hon. the Speaker: Are honourable senators ready for the question?

Hon. Senators: Question.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Motion agreed to and bill read second time.)

Referred to Committee

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be read the third time?

(On the motion of Senator Moore, bill referred to the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence.)

Latin American Heritage Month Bill

Second Reading—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Enverga, seconded by the Honourable Senator Stewart Olsen, for the second reading of Bill S-218, An Act respecting Latin American Heritage Month.

Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, I rise to speak on Bill S-218, An Act respecting Latin American Heritage Month. But before I speak, I would like to thank Senator Enverga for tabling this bill. I'm particularly pleased that he has tabled this bill, because our Latin American friends are our neighbours, and the more connections we can have with them, the better it is, and the more understanding we have of each other, the stronger our diversity is. Senator Enverga, I thank you for tabling this bill.

The preamble of the bill states that the designation of a month as Latin American Heritage Month would be a meaningful way to "celebrate, share and promote" Latin American culture and traditions.

Honourable senators, I cannot think of a more fitting month than October, which is seen as a significant month for the Latin American community around the world.

Canada is a country that finds its strength in its diversity. We just observed Black History Month in February, and we know that Black History Month is an integral part of our cultural fabric. We will be observing Asian Heritage Month in May, something that our former colleague Senator Poy introduced. Both are integral events that the Senate recognizes.

As Senator Enverga pointed out when speaking on this bill:

These months also provide a very important aspect of multiculturalism beyond learning about the culture and legacy of others. They can provide a meaningful vehicle to explore one's own culture and history. They can provide a series of events that strengthen one's own sense of identity.

He went on to say:

They can provide persons of immigrant background a sense of understanding and pride in one's heritage. This is why our country is unique. We celebrate diversity rather than enforce assimilation. A Latin American heritage month would be part of this continuous exercise in nation building.

(1510)

Honourable senators, I stand here today to echo these remarks made by my colleague. The history we learn in our textbooks is conditioned by our past biases. The cultures we learn about at school happen in isolated pockets. The reality is that our cultures in Canada are fluid. We carry multiple identities, and we as a nation stand for the right to not only protect that duality but promote the understanding and education of it.

By adopting heritage months of the various cultures in Canada, we are beginning to explore each a little more in depth. By doing this, we gain a little more depth in ourselves.

I believe a heritage month for the Latin American community would not only be an important step in that direction, but it will also be a symbol of good faith to our neighbours. The Latin American story plays a key role in the history of our country. We should honour it as such.

Allow me to end my comments by once again borrowing from Senator Enverga, who said:

By maintaining a strong sense of belonging to our origins while sharing it with our neighbours, we enrich the multicultural mosaic that Canada has become.

A national Latin American heritage month would be a vehicle that could be used to strengthen the efforts of the Latin American Canadian community to enlighten others about their contributions to and achievements in Canada. It is a platform from which stereotypes can be broken down by showing the positive aspects of the various cultures and to fight ignorance that often causes prejudice.

To create a more equal Canada, to strengthen our diversity, which in turn strengthens us, we must give adequate recognition to the variety of cultures that create us. It is for these reasons that I support the adoption of a Latin American heritage month.

Honourable senators, I urge you also to consider supporting Senator Enverga's bill on Latin American heritage month.

Thank you.

(On motion of Senator Fraser, debate adjourned.)

Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration

Third Report of Committee—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Housakos, seconded by the Honourable Senator Maltais, for the adoption of the third report of the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration (Senate budget for 2016-2017), presented in the Senate on February 25, 2016.

Hon. George Baker: Honourable senators, I will be very brief. I want to reference the three points made by the Internal Economy Committee and the chair of the committee in presenting his report to this chamber. It involves, number one, a change of rules to accommodate independent senators; number two, an extra vote, if you wish, for three retiring or retired employees in Senator Carignan's office; and number three, the decision of Internal Economy to hire an outside law firm to go after a reporter who had reported two stories concerning the Internal Economy Committee. These things were referenced during the report by the chair.

Number one, it is a matter of urgency that our independent senators be dealt with by the Rules Committee. Independent senators have just as many rights in this chamber as do other senators. They do not have, as yet, rights on our standing committees, which as all senators know — and everybody who reads case law knows — is the reason why the Senate stands out compared to the House of Commons. We're quoted in case law three times more than the House of Commons, not just referring to cases before our courts but before our quasi-judicial bodies.

It is matter of urgency that we do something to change the Rules because our Rules are paramount. I'm glad Senator Joyal is here. The Rules cannot be questioned.

The Supreme Court of Canada has decided in several judgments over the years that the Charter doesn't even apply to the Rules of the Senate or the rules of the House of Commons. It started with, as I recall, New Brunswick Broadcasting Co. v. Nova Scotia (Speaker of the House of Assembly), way back this 1993, Justice Lamer; the Charter does not apply to the rules. Then Canada (House of Commons) v. Vaid.

I look at Senator Joyal, because I forget the paragraph number — I should have remembered it — in which they quote Senator Joyal as saying that the Rules are not acts of Parliament. The significance of that perhaps we could leave for another day, but the decision of the court was that the Charter does not apply to the Rules. So an independent senator has no rights as far as the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is concerned. They cannot bring a question before the courts concerning their rights, but they also cannot bring a question before this chamber.

If you look at the Rules, and if you ask the law clerk here today or the chief clerk, "Can you move a motion here saying that my rights have been violated under the Constitution?" I'm sure that the clerk would say, "No." I haven't checked, but I'm sure he would say, "No."

The Speaker cannot even rule on a question of law. It doesn't say that in our Rules, but our Rules say that where they don't apply, we go to Beauchesne. Beauchesne says very explicitly that the Speaker cannot rule on constitutional questions or questions of law.

So we have the independent senators waiting for a change in the Rules, which only senators can do. It's important to make them equal now so that they can perform their duties, which are recognized by our courts as being far superior in their effect than those proceedings in the House of Commons. That's the first point.

I suppose somebody could say, "Well, you can form yourselves into a group of five, and if you are affiliated with a registered political party, with Elections Canada, then you could receive all kinds of financial benefits in the Senate as a group."

Well, I suppose you could. The Pirate Party is one of 23 recognized parties by Elections Canada. I suppose you could become identified with the Pirate Party and wear the skull and crossbones and sing, "Ho, ho, ho, and a bottle of rum," and you would qualify under the rules as belonging to the Pirate Party.

(1520)

That's the first point, because the Chair of Internal Economy, in presenting his report, said that we're going to wait until the Rules Committee and the special committee appointed pass their recommended changes to give some power to the independent members as far as sitting on standing committees, becoming chairs, deputy chairs of those committees.

The second point is the reference to the three employees in Senator Carignan's office. Now, I don't think Senator Carignan is right when he said that it violates the law, or the chair of the committee, in giving his report, said it violates the law. I don't think it violates a written law, but I agree with the decision of Internal Economy. But I think that that decision should apply to every single employee of every senator; in other words, the same standard should apply.

Why? Because in law in this country the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act explicitly excludes the employees of senators and the employees of members in the other place. It excludes the employees of the Leader of the Government in the Senate, as it does the employees of the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate.

If Internal Economy is meeting to address a problem, which I agree with, you can't have people employed with you and then on separation they receive no separation benefits. They get two weeks, which is prescribed by the Canada Labour Code. But the fact is that section 4 of the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act specifically excludes all of these employees. So it's up to the Internal Economy Committee to make changes.

My last point is that I don't agree that the action of Internal Economy, as far as hiring a great outside, internationally known law firm with over 1,400 lawyers, to go after a member of the media who had reported on the two matters of the monies that were allocated for the Liberal caucus and for those three members of the Leader of the Opposition's office.

When I received a copy of this letter from the law firm to all of the employers of the reporter, I went back and looked at what he had done. He had gone to Senator Cowan, verified that this money was approved by Internal Economy, and Senator Cowan gave the reason why — in order for us to do our job.

Then the reporter went to Senator Campbell and interviewed him. That's who I would go to if I were looking for, at that time, a member of the Liberal caucus, because he is a straight shooter, right from the shoulder. And I also would have gone to the other person he interviewed, and that was Senator Smith, a very judicious person. He is a former corporate lawyer — we will forgive him for that — a former commissioner as well, but what he is well known for in Canada is as the fullback of the Montreal Alouettes for 10 years. A fullback is a person who has the brawn and the brain. Not a halfback; he's a fullback. He gave a very judicious answer to the question to the reporter. He said, "Look, times change; we have a job to do." He used the word "fluidity." We are fluid and therefore this was the decision made.

Now, the news reporter came out with a report that didn't sound very good as far as reflections on the Senate are concerned, because he said that this was all done in secret, in private. We can't find out anything about it. There is extra money for the Liberals and so on. Then an employee of Senator Housakos' office, somebody by the name of "Jacqui," did a fantastic and excellent job in dealing with the media, pointing out that Internal Economy Committee had to deal with these financial matters. That's their jurisdiction. No one else has that jurisdiction. They met in secret, yes. Why? Because the Rules say you have to meet in camera when dealing with employees and their salaries.

Internal Economy went and hired this law firm. Now, I think this is not a good idea, hiring law firms to go after the media, especially sending letters to their employers and so on.

I looked at the letter. It said: "I write on behalf of my client, the Senate of Canada, in regard to budget allocations for the Senate."

The letter went on to say that Senate backroom deal secures b-u-g-g-e-r budgets for Liberals and Tories. "b-u-g-g-e-r," in big letters. They meant "bigger." Then the letter goes on to say that as this piece contains numerous acknowledged inaccuracies under the heading again of "Senate Backroom Deal secures Bugger Budgets for Liberals."

I'll let it rest at that. Even if you hire an international law firm, you should always check the letters they send out.

It is not a good practice for the Senate. The Chair of Internal Economy said they intended to do this in the future. I would recommend you not do it in the future; otherwise, I think you have made the correct decision.

Hon. Pierrette Ringuette: Would the honourable member take a few questions?

Senator Baker: Yes.

Senator Ringuette: Thank you for your presentation, Senator Baker. You are always very wise.

First, I would like to question if you agree with the fact that in relation to the last three years of history in this place, and the engagement of most of us to be transparent and accountable, do you think this chamber should agree on a Senate budget for 2015-16 that provides us with only an executive summary of that budget?

Senator Baker: No. I think the entire budget should be open to scrutiny.

Senator Ringuette: You've mentioned the letter that a private law firm sent out. I have somewhat of a photographic memory, and when I read that letter, the first item that came to my eyes that the letter started, "On behalf of my client, the Senate of Canada . . ."

Senator Baker, do you recall in this house that we agreed to a motion to hire a law firm for this particular issue?

Senator Baker: No, I don't.

Senator Ringuette: Therefore, this major international law firm has been erring as identifying that they were acting on behalf of the Senate of Canada. The reality is that was false. I guess the question that needs to be asked is: Have they been told that their client was the Senate of Canada, and that, in reality, their client was the Chair of Internal Economy?

(1530)

The Hon. the Speaker: Senator Baker, your time has expired. Are you asking for five more minutes, because I think we have another question as well?

Senator Baker: Absolutely.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Hon. Larry W. Campbell: I have a question for Senator Baker. Senator, are you aware of any rule that says that the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration cannot do something like hire an outside lawyer if need be, without coming back to the Senate?

Senator Baker: No.

Senator Campbell: That is fine. In fact, what we are talking about here is taking actions to stop what, quite frankly, is a slanderous attack on this place. In fact, we called somebody on an issue and we haven't heard back from them. So I don't find anything remotely wrong with this. I am on the Internal Economy Committee, and I might add that I am an independent on Internal. I don't see anything wrong with this.

My last question, that word you are talking about, is it with a capital or a small "b"?

Senator Baker: With a big one.

Senator Campbell: That is important.

Hon. Leo Housakos: I have a question for Senator Baker.

Senator Baker, I appreciate your words of support with regard to this motion. The question I have is with regard to some clarification on your comments of independents and that somehow they don't have equal status to members in this chamber that sit in one of the two caucuses.

Of course, you being an expert of Parliament and being the dean in many ways of this institution, the question I have for you is this: Is there any impediment for any senator in this chamber to participate in any committee, for example Internal Economy, as the independent Senator Harder did this morning and as other independent senators have participated actively on various committees? Is there any impediment for any senator in this chamber to participate on any or all committees?

Senator Baker: Yes, there is considerable impediment. The impediment arises when you have an independent member who is sitting in on a committee and that independent member is not permitted to put forward a motion. That independent member is not permitted to vote. That independent member has no representative on the steering committee. That independent member, if the independent member wishes to become a member of the committee, must succumb to the control of, in this particular place, a politician, or somebody representing a political party — let us put it that way. That person is there, according to our Rules, at the pleasure of somebody who is either a Liberal or a Conservative, when the independent member says in the first place, "I am not connected with a political party." There is considerable restriction on their jobs. Yes, they can sit in on the committee, but in most of our committees they have to wait until after every other senator who is a member of the committee is finished even to ask a question, and in most cases, there is no time at the end.

We have this really serious problem. When you said it was against the law — I was listening to you and the Leader of the Opposition — what I thought of was a debate I once took part in in which the question was:

[Translation]

What is the difference between the term "law" and the expression "rule of law"?

[English]

In French, the word for "law" is not just a prescribed law by a legislature, but it includes the common law, the doctrines of natural justice and procedural fairness. That is the question we have with our independent members. There they are being denied natural justice and procedural fairness.

Senator Mitchell: You are right.

Senator Baker: When somebody says, "Look, something is against the law," I like to think of the law as being "règle de droit." It is used in section 72 of the Constitution Act, 1982. Senator Joyal is looking at me because he knows —

Senator Moore: He wrote it.

Senator Baker: He is questioning whether or not this carries through in logic, because equality under the law, in section 15 of the Charter, "law" is "droit." I think my argument generally is good. If we are talking about règle de droit, long live that difference between the English and the French. I prefer the French word for "law."

Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

(On motion of Senator Ringuette, debate adjourned.)

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 Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Bellemare, seconded by the Honourable Senator Enverga:

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

Hon. Michael L. MacDonald: Honourable senators, I move the adjournment of the debate in my name.

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

(On motion of Senator MacDonald, debate adjourned.)

People's Republic of China

Inquiry—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Ngo, calling the attention of the Senate to the hostile behavior of the People's Republic of China in the escalating territorial claim dispute in the South China Sea.

Hon. Tobias C. Enverga, Jr.: Honourable senators, I rise to speak to the inquiry on the increasingly alarming state of affairs in the South China Sea, also known as the West Philippine Sea. I want to thank Senator Ngo for introducing the inquiry and for his valiant effort at bringing the issues involved in the region to the Senate's attention.

As honourable senators know, I am a Canadian of Filipino heritage. I have therefore kept a close eye on the developments in the West Philippine Sea with great interest and concern. My concern, not unlike that of Senator Ngo, is with the complete disregard that the People's Republic of China shows to existing internationally available avenues for dispute resolution, and the country's increasing use of aggression and increased militarization of the area. This is in spite of China being signatory to several agreements, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, known as UNCLOS, and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, signed by China and member states of the South East Asian Nations. Our honourable colleague mentioned both of these agreements in his eloquent speech on March 8 of this year.

Honourable senators, I will pay closer attention to the actions of the Republic of the Philippines and the arbitration process that the country initiated under UNCLOS, and the direct impact this process has on Canada and the future settlement of our own territorial claims in the Arctic Ocean. In addition, an escalation of aggression in the West Philippine Sea will have direct consequences on the free passage of goods that are shipped through the region on a daily basis. Our global trade runs the risk of being severely affected should there be such an escalation.

(1540)

Honourable senators, we already heard from our colleague about China's infamous "nine-dash line" claim, which is a visually informative presentation of the Chinese claim to about 90 per cent of the waters in the region and all the islands. Since we do not use visual aids in the Senate, we miss a little of the extravagant expectation that China must have in terms of what a country can claim and how close to another country's main shores a claim can be extended. The map is a truly remarkable visual of what a strong military and economic power thinks it can claim from smaller countries based on a skewed interpretation of historical rights enforced by the largest naval force in the region.

Honourable senators, the nine-dash line is named after a 2009 submission in a note verbale by China to the United Nations in which China marked its claims by using nine dashes. I find the Vietnamese name more descriptive, roughly translated into "cow's tongue path," because that is what the claim looks like.

The Chinese claim reaches as far south as approximately 80 kilometres off the Malaysian coast, an area where the People's Liberation Army Navy has conducted live-fire exercises to assert its presence. For those honourable senators who may not have an image of the region clearly before them, I can assure you that this area is over 1,500 kilometres south of Hainan, the southernmost island of China.

Honourable senators, the current arbitration proceedings were initiated by the Philippines after a naval stand-off between the Philippines and China in 2012. The incident started with a Philippine naval vessel attempting to halt illegal activities of several Chinese fishing vessels in the Scarborough Shoal, which is 124 nautical miles off the coast of Luzon, the Philippines' largest island, where the country's capital, Manila, is situated. I say this because Luzon is clearly not a minor physical feature in the ocean but an integral part of the country, which, according to the laws of the sea, would entail a 200 nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone.

Let me be clear. I am not talking about a zone that is 200 nautical miles from a disputed area but from one of the most significant islands in the Philippine archipelago. Why the People's Republic of China is of the view that it is legally defensible to intrude that closely to several neighbours' established territories is beyond me and many others who know more about the legal framework of international law.

For a Canadian perspective, consider that the distance between Greenland and St. John's, Newfoundland, is a couple of hundred kilometres less than that of the distance between Hainan Island and the Malaysian coast, specifically that of Borneo, a rather significant piece of Malaysian territory. The closest that the Chinese claim is to the Philippines' established, inhabited and accepted territory is a little over 60 kilometres. Imagine, colleagues, that some country lays claims to Canada's oceans as close as 60 kilometres off our coast. It is approximately the distance from Oshawa to the U.S. shores of Lake Ontario.

Honourable senators, I cannot entertain all the details of the incident, but in brief, the Philippines withdrew their naval vessel and sent a smaller Coast Guard vessel to the area to defuse the tension. China did the opposite and sent its most advanced and heavily armed patrol vessel to protect the fishermen who reportedly continued the illegal harvest of coral and fish. This is the precursor to the Philippines taking its challenge to the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague, the first permanent intergovernmental organization to provide a forum for the resolution of international disputes through arbitration and other peaceful means dating back to 1899.

The Philippines initiated the arbitration on January 22, 2015.

I want to clarify to you, colleagues, that the court cannot settle disputes over territorial sovereignty. Accordingly, the Philippines is seeking resolution to the dispute over "the Parties' respective `maritime entitlements' and the lawfulness of Chinese activities in the South China Sea."

The Philippines seeks a ruling on 15 submissions, covering three inter-related matters that do not include the settlement of territorial sovereignty. First, it:

. . . seeks declarations that the parties' respective rights and obligations in regard to the waters, seabed and maritime features of the South China Sea are governed by the convention and that China's claims based on "historic rights" encompassed within its so-called "nine-dash line" are inconsistent with the convention and therefore invalid.

Second, the country:

. . . seeks determinations as to whether, under the convention, certain maritime features claimed by both China and the Philippines are properly characterized as islands, rocks, low tide elevations or submerged banks.

This is essential, as islands would allow for a 200 nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone, rocks allow for 12 nautical miles and any other feature allows for no such zones.

Third, the Philippines seeks:

. . . declarations that China has violated the Convention by interfering with the exercise of the Philippines' sovereign rights and freedoms under the Convention and through construction and fishing activities that have harmed the marine environment.

Honourable senators, China decided to respond to this by not participating in the arbitration and it challenges the jurisdiction of the court. The court ruled in favour of the Philippines regarding its jurisdiction on October 29, 2015, albeit without any official participation by China. In so doing, mindful of not accepting the Philippine claim outright, the court reserved some of its decisions for consideration of the merits of the Philippines' claims and asked the country to clarify and narrow the focus of one of its submissions.

Honourable senators, I am not asking this chamber to take the side of the Philippines on the substance of this matter, although I think that it is quite clear that the Chinese nine-dash line is indefensible. What I am asking senators to champion is the process that assures rule of law at the international level between two or more disputing states, a process that signatories to UNCLOS, which was ratified by the Philippines in 1984 and China in 1996, have agreed upon to resolve disputes in a peaceful manner; a process that may well be one sought by Canada in our own current or future maritime disputes; a process that, without our support, allows for the big countries of the world to bully those who have less military and economic might into submission.

Honourable senators, I could spend the rest of the afternoon quoting statements by world leaders on the disputes in the West Philippine Sea, but due to my time being close to expiring, I will keep to a select few.

On May 8 of last year, during a joint press conference with the President of the Philippines, Benigno Aquino III, our previous Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, stated:

. . . Canada does not take positions on these maritime territorial disputes. What I would say is this, however, that there should not be provocative and unilateral actions in this regard, that all parties should respect international responsibilities and any international rulings on the matter.

U.S. President Barack Obama gave a similar statement while visiting Jamaica one month earlier saying:

Where we get concerned with China is where it is not necessarily abiding by international norms and rules and is using its sheer size and muscle to force countries into subordinate positions. . . . We don't have a particular view on the territorial disputes, the maritime disputes. Our attitude is simply, let's use the mechanisms that we have in place internationally to resolve them.

(1550)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel made a similar point while on official visit to China, where she said:

The territorial dispute in the South China Sea is a serious conflict. I am always a bit surprised why in this case multinational courts should not be an option for a solution. . . . we wish that the sea trade routes stay free and safe, because they are important for all.

Finally, an official statement from one of the regional countries, Singapore, states:

Singapore, as a non-claimant country, does not take sides on the merits of the rival claims. We urge all parties to manage their differences calmly and peacefully in accordance with international law, including UNCLOS, with the common aim of maintaining regional peace and stability.

All agree on one issue: to ensure that the legal mechanisms available are used to reach a peaceful resolution of the current situation.

Honourable senators, Canada is not a direct claimant to this dispute. Yet, we can play a role in ensuring that the vital sea routes in the disputed area are kept open, and that all members of our global community of states follow the rule of law and use legal frameworks like UNCLOS and the dispute resolution mechanisms that such legal agreements offer.

I urge honourable senators to partake in this inquiry and ensure that other aspects of the increasingly problematic questions about conflicting claims in the South China Sea, the West Philippine Sea and even the East China Sea are brought to our attention. The settlement of these disputes may very well form a framework for potential future disputes to which Canada is a party. This is why Canada needs to call on all parties to cease and desist from future provocations. This is why we need to let international law run its course.

(On motion of Senator Martin, debate adjourned.)

Human Rights

Committee Authorized to Study the Steps Being Taken to Facilitate the Integration of Newly-Arrived Syrian Refugees and to Address the Challenges They are Facing

Hon. Jim Munson, pursuant to notice of April 13, 2016, moved:

That the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights study and report on steps being taken to facilitate the integration of newly-arrived Syrian refugees and to address the challenges they are facing, including by the various levels of government, private sponsors and non-governmental organizations.

That the committee submit its final report no later than October 31, 2016 and that the committee retain all powers necessary to publicize its findings for 180 days after the tabling of the final report.

He said: We are about to engage in a brief study of one of the most important issues our country is facing — with open arms, a welcoming attitude and a sense of gratitude that we have a nation that is accepting thousands of Syrian refugees into our country. Even on a personal basis, there is a group of us that has a family here in Ottawa, which has been one of the most profound experiences of my life for the last few months.

The Senate Human Rights Committee has chosen to take a closer look at privately sponsored refugees, along with government-sponsored refugees, to see just how they are doing. There are many stories; it is difficult for some and not so difficult for others. We plan to have probably only three hearings at this juncture.

I would like to say that it was our idea first in the Senate to do this. We noticed the House of Commons now wants to have a committee to do something; but, as we all know, ours will be better, with context and so on.

We plan to travel to Trenton, where there are refugees, and to Toronto and Montreal, and also to take a look at what is going on here in Ottawa. This is a report that will probably have three hearings on this issue.

I anticipate a question from the financial troublemaker in my caucus, Senator Fraser, who will get up in a moment and ask: How much will this cost?

As the new senator, Senator André Pratte, would know, you can't cover a news story by staying in Montreal; you have to get out on the road to see and feel what the issue is. That costs a bit of money, and in this case it costs a bit of taxpayer money. We haven't finished our budget, but at the very most it will probably cost about $17,000.

We are really looking forward to this because we think it is extremely important that we understand the trauma of families and just what is going on. If we can recommend and help out along the way with our report, I think that is a good expense of taxpayers' dollars.

Hon. Joan Fraser (Deputy Leader of the Senate Liberals): I don't think I have ever been called a troublemaker in the Senate before — in the previous incarnation, perhaps.

Senator MacDonald: Not out loud!

Senator Fraser: I think this sounds like a wonderful study. Travelling to Trenton, in particular, will probably not cost the Senate an arm and a leg.

Let me repeat what I said yesterday. When I get up and ask these questions, it is not because I oppose travel; I don't. It is just that I think the Senate should have some idea of what it is approving when it is asked to approve these orders of reference. You have given us a good and moving explanation of why and what you are doing. Thank you. Is that enough trouble for you, Senator Munson?

Senator Munson: Senator Fraser, I was just a television reporter; you were a print reporter. I asked quick, fast questions because I was always on the move. You have always been very thorough as an editor, and I have always looked up to you.

Senator Fraser: Wow. Shall I stand?

Senator Munson: No. I have always looked up to everyone. Thank you very much, Senator Fraser.

The Hon. the Speaker: Are honourable senators ready for the question?

Hon. Senators: Question.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Motion agreed to.)

Fisheries and Oceans

Committee Authorized to Study Maritime Search and Rescue Activities

Hon. Fabian Manning, pursuant to notice of April 13, 2016, moved:

That the Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans be authorized to examine and report on Maritime Search and Rescue activities, including current challenges and opportunities; and

That the Committee report from time to time to the Senate, but 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.

He said: Honourable senators, the Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans has identified maritime search and rescue activities in Canada as a topic that it wishes to examine and report upon during the current session of Parliament.

During deliberations of the committee since the end of January, many members spoke to the need for a comprehensive study on this matter. Our committee is concerned about perceived deficiencies and challenges in the current capacity of search-and-rescue activities and services managed and operated by the Canadian Coast Guard and other federal departments and agencies. We believe it is essential that the search-and-rescue operations are timely and adequate to the needs of Canadians on all three coasts and the Great Lakes. Our committee would also look at opportunities to be seized in view of improving this essential service.

Honourable senators, we have had many discussions leading up as we try to develop our work plan, and certainly there is consensus around our table of the need for a study into search-and-rescue activities. This topic has received great interest during our discussions, not only from us but indeed from other senators as well. We look forward to the participation of members of the committee but also any senator who would like to participate in our committee is more than welcome to do so. I will leave it at that for now.

Hon. Joan Fraser (Deputy Leader of the Senate Liberals): Senator Manning, this again sounds like a valuable and, indeed, much-needed study. Even those of us who live in urban centres are aware that there have been great gaps and difficulties in parts of the search-and-rescue system. There are three coasts. Are you planning to visit all three coasts? I am not saying you shouldn't; I simply, again, would like the Senate to know a bit more about what we are about to authorize.

Senator Manning: Thank you, Senator Fraser. I anticipate your questions each time I stand to do this, and I certainly welcome your questions and the opportunity to explain.

We are in the process of developing, as I said, a work plan. We are seriously looking at visiting all three coasts. We have suggestions from Minister Wat in relation to the absence of search-and-rescue infrastructure in the North.) So we'll be looking at that also. We have also had several people advise us and suggest to us that there are other countries in the world that are providing search and rescue, in some ways, in a much better fashion, at much less cost, and we are all conscious of the effect of cost. So we may be exploring the opportunity if time permits.

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But our focus today is and will remain on Canada and what we can do to improve and enhance this service in our own country first. As always, there may be an opportunity to travel elsewhere, but video conferencing is something that we can avail ourselves of from time to time and we have done so in the past. We're always concerned about any costs we would incur. We'll do our best to keep that at a bare minimum, but, with the importance of producing what we hope to, a very inclusive report, at the end of the day we'll be doing everything we can to engage with all Canadians.

Hon. Joseph A. Day: As the Deputy Chair of the National Security and Defence Committee, I thought that Senator Manning should be aware — and I'm sure he is aware — that search and rescue comes under the Department of National Defence in terms of authority. And we have been doing quite a bit of work with respect to fixed wing and rotary wing platforms, aircraft needed for search and rescue operations. In fact, we were planning a trip to Halifax, and search and rescue was going to be one of the items that we would be discussing. I wanted to make sure the honourable senator was aware of that so that we don't have two committees out there duplicating the same type of work.

Senator Manning: Thank you, Senator Day, and we are fully aware of that. Certainly, in regard to the Coast Guard, Minister Tootoo was before our committee this week, as well as the new Commissioner of the Canadian Coast Guard. Maybe that's one of the things we need to have a look at because parts of it fall under the Canadian Coast Guard and parts of it under DND and search and rescue. I'm as concerned about two committees of the Senate duplicating their work as I am concerned about departments of government duplicating their services or providing their services to Canadian taxpayers at, maybe, an increased cost.

I welcome the opportunity to work with your committee if need be, to look at ways that we can offer suggestions and recommendations to the government on how to improve and enhance and, in the most cost effective way, provide this very necessary service to Canadians.

Hon. George Baker: Could you verify, chair, that the Government of Canada has announced that they wish to have submissions sent to them on this very matter that you are now talking about, that you will be investigating, that they've asked for early submissions to be done and for consideration also to be given in the coming months to the question into next year? They have made a formal announcement. So your committee study would be completely in line with what the Government of Canada announced in a press release, I believe, three or four days ago. Could the chair verify that this is one the reasons why the Senate is going to investigate this, to respond to a specific request being made by the Government of Canada?

Senator Manning: I'll try to be brief with my answer, following the advice of the honourable senator. That is part and parcel of what we are involved in. We have had discussions, Your Honour, now, for three or four years since I've been here on the need for a comprehensive study into search and rescue activities. We didn't receive — I won't say a green light — an amber light in the past, but certainly we believe it's something necessary. But we understand that there is a review being undertaken now by the Minister of National Defence in relation to the whole department, which this is part and parcel of. We look forward to, as I said, reaching out to hear from Canadians.

Yesterday, I had a great discussion with the President of the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary, from Newfoundland and Labrador, who has been there for 25 years. He was one of the recipients of a medal at Rideau Hall yesterday for his service to the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary, his 40 years of involvement. I heard a couple of suggestions from him yesterday on ways to improve and enhance the service, just off the cuff, in a general conversation in my office. I think the opportunity to engage with people such as him and many others here will lay on the table a list of recommendations that I think the government of the day will welcome and that, certainly, Canadians will welcome with open arms.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Motion agreed to.)

Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources

Committee Authorized to Meet During Sitting of the Senate

Hon. Percy Mockler, for Senator Neufeld, pursuant to notice of April 13, 2016, moved:

That the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources has the power to sit on Tuesday, April 19, 2016, at 5 p.m., even though the Senate may then be sitting, and that rule 12-18(1) be suspended in relation thereto.

He said: Honourable senators, I want to bring forward certain information with regard to this particular motion, which is to seek the Senate's permission to allow the Energy Committee to sit at 5 p.m., on Tuesday, April 19, 2016, even though the Senate may then be sitting.

The committee is seeking this permission as a courtesy to the National Finance Committee. That committee will sit for an extraordinary meeting on Tuesday, April 19, from 6:30 to 8:30, to hear from the Honourable Scott Brison, President of the Treasury Board. Our regular sitting time is from 5 until 7.

Four members of the Energy Committee, Senators Neufeld, Mitchell, Bellemare and I, serve on both committees. So we have a witness confirmed for next Tuesday, Mr. Jacob Irving, President of the Canadian Hydropower Association, will appear on behalf of the Canadian Council on Renewable Electricity. Our committee has a busy spring, with a number of witnesses we want to hear from as part of our study on transitioning to a low carbon economy. We cannot afford to cancel the meeting or postpone our witness's appearance on that day because of our hectic schedule from now until summer adjournment. We would greatly appreciate the indulgence of the Senate to give us permission.

[Translation]

Senator Fraser: I will not ask Senator Mockler whether the committee would like to travel Tuesday afternoon.

[English]

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Motion agreed to.)

Mary Fay Rink of the Chester Curling Club

Inquiry—Debate Concluded

Hon. Wilfred P. Moore rose pursuant to notice of March 24, 2016:

That he will call the attention of the Senate to the Mary Fay Rink, of the Chester Curling Club, in Chester, Nova Scotia.

He said: Honourable senators, you might recall that, on February 2 last, I spoke in celebration of Mary Fay's Team Nova Scotia rink, from the Chester Curling Club, that won the 2016 Canadian Junior Women's Curling Championship. I'm delighted to report that, following that win, Mary Fay skipped her Team Canada rink to victory in the Winter Youth Olympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway, by defeating Team U.S.A. in the final.

We congratulate the members of that rink: Mary Fay, skip, of Chester; third, Tyler Tardi of Surrey, B.C.; second, Karlee Burgess of Brookfield, Nova Scotia; lead, Sterling Middleton of Fort St. John, British Columbia; and coach, Helen Radford of Halifax, Nova Scotia.

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After Lillehammer, Mary Fay led her rink to Taarnby, Denmark for the World Junior Curling Championships. After going 9-0 in the round robin, the Fay rink defeated the United States 7-4 in the final to take the world title and cap a stellar season. We congratulate this team of champion young women who represented the Chester Curling Club and Canada: Mary Fay, skip, of Chester; third, Kristin Clarke of Halifax; second, Karlee Burgess of Brookfield, Nova Scotia; lead Janique LeBlanc of Fall River, Nova Scotia; alternate Sarah Daniels; and coach Andrew Atherton of Chester.

Upon the completion of this magical year, skip Fay said:

At the beginning of the year I never would have dreamt that we would be where we are today. Our team has always worked so hard, and we have always set our goals very high, but it's difficult to wrap your head around the idea of winning a world championship. . . .

. . . The world championship was an amazing event, with such a high level of competition. We were honoured to be part of the event, and we were so proud to represent Canada. It's difficult to describe the feeling of winning a gold medal for your country alongside your best friends.

She concluded by saying:

The year has gone by so fast, but the memories and friendships that we have will last a lifetime.

Honourable colleagues, on behalf of Senate of Canada, we extend our congratulations to these young world champions, whose dedication and teamwork bode well for the future of curling in Canada, both at home and abroad.

Adjournment

Motion Adopted

Leave having been given to revert to Government Notices of Motions:

Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): Honourable senators, with leave of the Senate and notwithstanding rule 5-5(g), I move:

That when the Senate adjourns today, it do stand adjourned until Tuesday, April 19, 2016, at 2 p.m.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Motion agreed to.)

(The Senate adjourned until Tuesday, April 19, 2016, at 2 p.m.)