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1st Session, 42nd Parliament,
Volume 150, Issue 59

Tuesday, October 4, 2016
The Honourable George J. Furey, Speaker

THE SENATE

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

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

Prayers.

[Translation]

SENATORS' STATEMENTS

The Honourable Jacques Demers

Congratulations on Induction into Quebec Sports Hall of Fame

Hon. Claude Carignan (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, for the second year in a row a member of the Senate of Canada has been inducted into the Quebec Sports Hall of Fame. Last year it was Larry Smith's turn and this year it is our distinguished colleague the Honourable Jacques Demers' turn.

Like me, many of you grew up watching hockey on television or, if you were lucky, from the ice-cold seat of an arena, following the puck being shot around the rink by great athletes wearing jerseys of all colours.

The strategy behind these games requires a sharp mind, one of the main qualities our colleague Senator Jacques Demers, brought to the game of hockey during his coaching career, before arriving in the Senate.

I had the honour of attending Senator Demers' induction ceremony with him last week. He was in a wheelchair and did not say much, but in his eyes you could see the pride and humility he is known for when he accepted this prestigious award. The smile he flashed at me when we met was priceless. Today I want to pay tribute to Senator Demers and remind you why we are fortunate to have him here among us in the Senate.

Senator Demers became one of the most successful hockey coaches who never played hockey. What he accomplished was unprecedented, dear colleagues, but he was determined to succeed.

At age 20, he had already lost his parents and had to support his three young brothers and sisters. He had a great sense of responsibility. Despite having experienced fear and uncertainty during his difficult childhood, he grew up to become the only coach to win the National Hockey League's Jack Adams Award for coach of the year two years in a row.

Winning Coach of the Year means having the talent to do the job while earning the admiration of one's colleagues. It is a delicate balance that is not easy to achieve or maintain. I am here today to pay tribute to him for those same reasons. He is a truly gracious and extraordinary man for whom I have tremendous respect and boundless admiration.

[English]

He started off as a coach of the Coca-Cola hockey team — the good old hockey game — and it led him to the Quebec Nordiques in 1978, the St. Louis Blues, the Detroit Red Wings, the Montreal Canadiens and the Tampa Bay Lightning, and a career in coaching that lasted for more than 20 years.

[Translation]

In 1993, he led the Canadiens to a Stanley Cup victory. That was the last time a Canadian team won the cup. He coached some of the winningest teams ever, as well as key players including Steve Yzerman, Vincent Lecavalier and Patrick Roy during their glory years.

All this he did never knowing how to read or write, a fact he revealed to us only later. He quit school after grade 8 at age 13 and had to shovel coal into a furnace to support his family.

With his coaching career well established, he continued to adhere to a strong work ethic. We were lucky enough to see him regularly on television, where he appeared as a sports commentator on RDS, CBC and TSN. He also worked with Canadian charities as a fierce advocate for literacy.

[English]

And then, in August 2009, he became Coach Senator Demers here in the Senate. He is a current member of the Social Affairs Committee and has been on the Transport and Communications, Human Rights, Aboriginal Peoples and Foreign Affairs Committees.

[Translation]

I think we can all agree that his talent for bringing people together and his role as an ambassador are what we value most here in the Senate. We never know when he will decide to speak to an issue. He rises spontaneously to make statements and delights in taking us by surprise with his heartfelt remarks.

In April, our good friend and colleague suffered a massive stroke. We were all devastated by the news and are praying fervently for his recovery.

Senator Demers, if you are listening right now, we want to congratulate you on your induction into the Quebec Sports Hall of Fame. You are in good company there with our colleague Senator Larry Smith. You are a great source of inspiration and pride to your Senate family. Thank you, Senator Demers, and please come back to us soon.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

[English]

Visitors to the Senate

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I wish to draw your attention to the presence at the bar of Her Excellency Gabriela Michetti, Vice-President of the Argentine Republic. She is accompanied by His Excellency Marcelo Salvia, Ambassador from the Argentine Republic to Canada.

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

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

Prince Edward Island

Senior Islanders of the Year

Hon. Elizabeth Hubley: Honourable senators, yesterday five outstanding seniors from my home province of Prince Edward Island were named as Senior Islanders of the Year for their incredible contributions to their communities.

Verna Barlow, from Poplar Grove, has been actively volunteering in her community for decades. She has been a member of the Stewart Memorial Healthcare Auxiliary for more than 40 years and has been honoured extensively for her service. She has been a member of the Poplar Grove-MacNeill's Mills Women's Institute for over 40 years as well, and has held many executive positions.

Maria Bernard of Summerside has been a leader with a variety of organizations, including the Evangeline Regional Agricultural Exhibition and Acadian Festival, and the PEI Rape and Sexual Assault Centre. She has organized education sessions on health and wellness to improve the lives of her fellow Islanders and enthusiastically shares her love of Acadian language and culture.

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Bill Hogg, of Cornwall, is a retired teacher who volunteers in support of school breakfast programs and offers presentations at schools and at the university. In addition to this work, he has been a member of the board of directors of Kids Count, a camp director for the Canadian Diabetes Association, and he played a vital role in the creation of the Terry Fox Trail Enhancement Group.

Annie Lee MacDonald, a resident of Augustine Cove, is a passionate advocate for accessibility, shining a light on hard-of-hearing issues. She is founder and president of the P.E.I. chapter of the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association and has been member of the national board for 15 years. She teaches speech reading and actively volunteers with the Crapaud Exhibition and Garden Show.

Alice Taylor, of Stratford, is actively involved in the Early Childhood Development Association of Prince Edward Island, where she has held the role of president and now serves as past president. She has proven herself a leader with Handle with Care, a parenting program aimed at the emotional well-being of children, and is a member of Education 20/20, a non-profit committed to quality education for all.

The exceptional contributions of these five individuals have no doubt had a lasting impact on their fellow Islanders and their province as a whole. They have helped to make our Island a better place to live. I would like to thank them for their good work, and I ask you to join me in congratulating them on this well-deserved recognition.

Visitors in the Gallery

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I wish to draw your attention to the presence in the gallery of a parliamentary delegation from the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland led by Ms. Helen Jones, Member of Parliament.

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

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

Ovarian Cancer

Hon. Terry M. Mercer: Honourable senators, on September 11 of this year, I had the pleasure of joining hundreds of my fellow Nova Scotians on the Halifax waterfront to walk in honour of, and to raise money for, the fight against ovarian cancer.

My wife is a 20-year survivor of ovarian cancer. The women in here will understand that that is a very unusual number, a 20-year survivor of ovarian cancer. We are very lucky. However, there are so many other women across this country who aren't as lucky as my wife, Ellen, and it's through the efforts of the Ovarian Cancer Society that money is being raised specifically to help to find a cure for ovarian cancer.

It's the silent killer of women because it's so hard to identify that you have symptoms of it because some of the symptoms of ovarian cancer are symptoms that women have quite often anyway, and so it doesn't seem unusual until, many times, it's too late.

I encourage you to support the fight against ovarian cancer. I would like to thank many of you in this room and many people around this Hill who were kind enough to sponsor me in my walk on September 11, and I encourage you, at perhaps next year's walk, to walk yourself or sponsor someone else. Indeed, I will probably give you the opportunity of sponsoring me again, and I'd welcome that opportunity.

But remember this: The fight against ovarian cancer is for your mother or your wife, your sister, your daughter and any other women you know in your life. It is a fight that is worth fighting. It is a fight that is worth supporting, and I'd encourage you to participate or, if you can't participate, to donate.

[Translation]

Visitors in the Gallery

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I wish to draw to your attention the presence in the gallery of some visitors from Donnacona, Quebec. Gilles Comeau is Senator Dagenais's brother-in-law and France Da Sylva is his sister-in-law.

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

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

Municipality of Donnacona

Hon. Jean-Guy Dagenais: Honourable senators, the presence of Ms. Da Sylva and Mr. Comeau in the gallery leads me to talk to you about the municipality of Donnacona, a community of about 6,000 people located in the county of Portneuf, about 40 kilometres from Quebec City.

Donnacona was founded in 1915 and is now 101 years old. It is named after the great Iroquois chief who allowed Jacques Cartier to erect a cross in Gaspé in 1534.

To give you a little bit of history, two of Chief Donnacona's sons then travelled for eight months on Jacques Cartier's ship. During the voyage, they learned to speak French, which later helped them to act as interpreters between the Iroquois and French explorers.

In 1536, Donnacona, his two sons and eight other Iroquois departed with Jacques Cartier for Saint-Malo, France, where they were the first ambassadors of native culture. This still captures the imaginations of the French today when they talk about Canada and Quebec. Donnacona and his sons died in France without ever returning to Canada.

Let us now come back to the municipality of Donnacona. Before it became known by that name, it was part of the Saint-Jean-Baptiste-des-Écureuils parish.

Contrary to what one might think, the town of Donnacona is not named after the Iroquois chief, but after Donnacona Paper Ltd., one of Quebec's great paper mills, which was established in 1912 at the mouth of the Jacques-Cartier River. This pulp and paper giant supplied the paper used to print the prestigious New York Times.

The company employed more than 1,500 workers and created an economic boom that led a portion of the community to be severed and become a town in 1915. It chose to take the name of the paper mill and became known as Donnacona.

Religious communities then moved to town. Development was such that, in 1967, Canada's centennial, the community of Les Écureuils, which had given rise to the town, was dissolved and merged with Donnacona.

That year, 1967, was very important for Donnacona. On July 24, the President of the French Republic, General Charles de Gaulle, stopped in Donnacona to give a speech, just a few hours before he blurted out his famous line, "Vive le Québec libre," from the balcony of Montreal's City Hall.

However, Donnacona has fallen on hard times in recent years. It was hit hard by the 2008 recession. Donnacona Papers, which became the Abitibi-Bowater paper mill, temporarily stopped production in Donnacona. The shock was brutal and, despite political action at all levels, the mill's closing was announced in 2011. The paper industry was in decline, but Donnacona had to survive.

Donnacona remained active and vibrant by becoming a diversified business and economic hub, and a most welcoming community.

If you are passing through the Quebec City area, I invite you to stop and pay a visit to Donnacona, if only to admire the magnificent views it offers of the St. Lawrence River.

Thank you.

[English]

Visitors in the Gallery

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I wish to draw your attention to the presence in the gallery of Ross Davidson, Erin Davidson, John Billingsley and Genevieve Billingsley. They are the guests of the Honourable Senator Martin.

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

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

Moose Hide Campaign

Hon. Murray Sinclair: Honourable senators, I rise today to highlight that tomorrow, in Ottawa, is the national gathering of the Moose Hide Campaign. This campaign is a grassroots movement of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal men who are standing up against violence toward women and children across Canada, especially Aboriginal women and girls.

The journey began in August 2011, when a man named Paul Lacerte and his daughter Raven, who are in the gallery with us, were hunting moose near the infamous Highway of Tears, a section of highway between Prince George and Prince Rupert, British Columbia, where dozens of women have gone missing or been found murdered. They had brought down a moose that would help feed the family for the winter and provide a moose hide for cultural purposes.

The father was thinking of how his own daughter deserved a life free of violence. She, in turn, had been wondering what she could do for the women of her community and all Aboriginal women who had been victimized along that highway. From their thoughts came the idea to use the moose hide to inspire men to become active in the movement against violence toward Aboriginal women and children. Together with family and friends, they cut up the moose hide into small squares, and that is how the Moose Hide Campaign began. They began by distributing it to the men they knew in their community and in their lives.

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To this point, they have cut up and distributed more than 35,000 squares of moose hide. I wear one here proudly before you.

The key messages the campaign wishes to share with you are these: "We will teach our young boys about the true meaning of love and respect. We will be healthy role models for them We will stand up with women and children, and we will speak out against violence toward them."

I would encourage all senators and those who would like to share this message outside the Senate to join the Moose Hide Campaign. If you wish, please contact my office and we will gladly provide you with a square from the Moose Hide Campaign.

Thank you.


ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

Auditor General

Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development—Fall 2016 Reports Tabled

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the Fall 2016 Reports of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development.

[Translation]

Security Intelligence Review Committee

2015-16 Annual Report Tabled

Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the 2015-16 Security Intelligence Review Committee Annual Report.

[English]

Ombudsman for the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces

2015-16 Annual Report Tabled

Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the 2015-16 Annual Report for the Office of the Ombudsman for the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces.

Senate Modernization

First Report of Special Committee Tabled with Clerk during Adjournment of the Senate

Hon. Tom McInnis: Honourable senators, I have the honour to inform the Senate that, pursuant to the order of reference adopted by the Senate on Thursday, September 29, 2016, the Special Senate Committee on Senate Modernization deposited with the Clerk of the Senate on Tuesday, October 4, 2016, its first report, an interim report, entitled Senate Modernization: Moving Forward.

(On motion of Senator McInnis, report placed on the Orders of the Day for consideration two days hence.)

Second Report of Special Committee Presented

Hon. David M. Wells, Member of the Special Senate Committee on Senate Modernization, presented the following report:

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

The Special Senate Committee on Senate Modernization has the honour to present its

SECOND REPORT

Your committee, which was authorized by the Senate on Friday, December 11, 2015, to consider methods to make the Senate more effective within the current constitutional framework, now reports as follows:

In its first report tabled on October 4, 2016, your committee examined the topic of omnibus bills and now recommends the following:

That the Senate direct the Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament to develop a process in the Rules of the Senate by which omnibus bills are referred to an appropriate committee to determine whether and how an omnibus bill ought to be divided into several bills.

That when the Senate refers an omnibus bill to a committee for such a determination, the Government and the House of Commons be informed of such referral and of any determination by a committee to sever an omnibus bill.

Respectfully submitted,

DAVID M. WELLS

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

(On motion of Senator Wells, report placed on the Orders of the Day for consideration two days hence.)

Third Report of Special Committee Presented

Hon. Art Eggleton: Honourable senators, I have the honour to present the third report of the Special Senate Committee on Senate Modernization, which deals with committees.

(For text of report, see today's Journals of the Senate, p. 802.)

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

(On motion of Senator Eggleton, report placed on the Orders of the Day for consideration two days hence.)

Fourth Report of Special Committee Presented

Hon. Stephen Greene, Member of the Special Senate Committee on Senate Modernization, presented the following report:

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

The Special Senate Committee on Senate Modernization has the honour to present its

FOURTH REPORT

Your committee, which was authorized by the Senate on Friday, December 11, 2015, to consider methods to make the Senate more effective within the current constitutional framework, now reports as follows:

In its first report tabled on October 4, 2016, your committee examined the organization of Chamber business and now recommends the following:

That the Senate direct the Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament to develop and propose to the Senate amendments to the Rules of the Senate to change the Order Paper process, particularly the process for so-called "stood" items, in line with the six elements set out on pages 34 to 35 of the first report.

That the Senate direct the Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament to recommend amendments to the Rules of the Senate to restructure the Order Paper in a coherent and predictable manner such that:

  • Bills are listed in numerical order, with Senate bills listed before House of Commons bills;
     
  • Motions and inquiries are listed in numerical order; and
     
  • Other items are listed in the order in which they were added to the Order Paper.

Respectfully submitted,

STEPHEN GREENE

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

(On motion of Senator Greene, report placed on the Orders of the Day for consideration two days hence.)

Fifth Report of Special Committee Presented

Hon. Elaine McCoy, Member of the Special Senate Committee on Senate Modernization, presented the following report:

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

The Special Senate Committee on Senate Modernization has the honour to present its

FIFTH REPORT

Your committee, which was authorized by the Senate on Friday, December 11, 2015, to consider methods to make the Senate more effective within the current constitutional framework, now reports as follows:

In its first report tabled on October 4, 2016, your committee examined the issue of independent senators and now recommends the following:

That the Senate direct the Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament and the Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration to draft amendments to the Rules of the Senate and the Senate Administrative Rules by 30 November 2016 respecting the following:

  • Include a definition of "caucus" as follows:

A group of nine (9) or more senators, formed for parliamentary and/or political purposes, and where each senator has membership in not more than one such funded caucus at any one time; or

A group of nine (9) or more senators who are members of a political party registered under the Canada Elections Act.

  • Replace the term "leader of a recognized party" with the term "leader or facilitator of a caucus or of a recognized party" wherever it appears in the Rules of the Senate and the Senate Administrative Rules.
     
  • Each group of senators seeking recognition in the Senate have a leader or facilitator, or some other such individual who is charged with coordinating, directing or facilitating, as the case may be, the functioning of that group.

That the Senate direct the Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration to prepare amendments to the Senate Administrative Rules to provide all groups (caucuses) of senators with funding for a secretariat and research projects, regardless of whether the caucuses are organized with or without political affiliations.

Respectfully submitted,

ELAINE McCOY

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

(On motion of Senator McCoy, report placed on the Orders of the Day for consideration two days hence.)

[Translation]

Criminal Code

Bill to Amend—First Reading

Hon. Claude Carignan (Leader of the Opposition) introduced Bill S-230, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (drug-impaired driving).

(Bill read first time.)

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

(On motion of Senator Carignan, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for second reading two days hence.)

[English]

The Senate

Motion to Permit Photographic Coverage during Today's Question Period—Debate Adjourned

Hon. Larry W. Campbell: Honourable senators, with leave of the Senate and notwithstanding rule 5-5(j), I move:

That a photographer be authorized in the Senate Chamber to photograph the appearance of Minister McCallum during Question Period today, with the least possible disruption of the proceedings.

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

(1430)

Senator Campbell: Honourable senators, I've asked for this permission because I believe it's important for the Senate to demonstrate outside of the Senate that we have ministers appearing before us and answering questions. I didn't foresee a problem, but if there is, I'd be happy to try to deal with it.

Hon. Anne C. Cools: Honourable senators, this is unusual. I wouldn't describe my concern as a problem. These systems are inherently resistant to novelty. They are like custom and practices which have been well established and tried. Ministers have been coming to the Senate for years, and this photography request has never been asked for and sought. On days of throne speeches, the proceedings are broadcasted very widely and broadly, but the permission of the house has always sought in this regard.

Perhaps Senator Campbell can establish or prove to me that this minister, a well-respected and learned minister, whom I know quite well, that what is occurring here is so unusual and so great to the public interest that we should do treat his situation differently.

I do not wish to sound like an old spinster type, saying that we can't change practices, but practices are changed only for very sound reasons that can be explained. There is nothing unusual about a minister coming here to the Senate in Committee of the Whole or for Question Period. Perhaps you can elucidate for my lack of understanding.

Senator Campbell: I'm not good on elucidating, and I don't deal in novelties either. What I'm proposing here is simply ongoing with the movement of the Senate, that in moving forward we become more open, that we allow pictures to be taken in here on occasion of ministers.

I don't believe Minister McCallum is any more special than any other minister who has appeared before us. I just believe this is part of the process that we're going through of modernization. I'm not prepared to die on the hill of this, but I certainly don't think it's a novelty.

I would like to address novelties. Every time we do something different, somehow it is considered untoward or a novelty. At some point, everything had to be tried. At some point everything became a part of the system. This is an opportunity for us to move forward on this system. I sincerely hope I haven't offended anyone by this motion.

Hon. David Tkachuk: Senator Campbell, I'm wondering if you could tell the Senate who is taking the pictures? Is it part of the Senate administration? Is it part of the minister's office? Is it both of them? Is there going to be more than one photographer here? Perhaps you could explain it a little further.

Senator Campbell: I assume it's going to be one photographer. Quite frankly, I don't know where the photographer is from, if it's our staff or whether it's house staff. I just know that there's a photographer who would take a picture.

Senator Tkachuk: It seems to me that if it was our communications staff taking a picture, perhaps the Chair of Internal Economy or someone could have requested the photographer to come in here so that we could put it out on our media. However, if it's the minister's photographer, then we should know about that, and I'm not that happy about that, and I wouldn't have agreed to it.

If Senator Campbell is asking for a photographer, you should know where the photographer is coming from.

Senator Campbell: Well, I can endeavour to find out where that photographer is coming from. I assume he'll be passing through all of the security that's necessary, so I'm not worried on that point.

I can find out where that photographer is coming from if the honourable senator wishes so.

Senator Tkachuk: I just want to make it clear. I don't think I'm a Neanderthal about these issues. If it was Senate Communications and a Senate photographer taking a picture for Senate Communications, I would have no problem with it. If it's not, then I do have a problem with it.

Senator Campbell: I appreciate the honourable senator's comments. From my point of view, good communications are good communications for the Senate, and quite frankly, I don't really care where they come from.

Hon. Michael L. MacDonald: Is this your initiative, or are you responding to an initiative from the minister?

Senator Campbell: This is a request from the minister's office.

Hon. Jim Munson: That sort of answers the question. We had TV cameras in here not that long ago when we had ministers here on physician-assisted death. The response to that was incredible. In light of the modernization report today saying there should be cameras in here, we're masters of our own destiny. I want to agree with Senator Tkachuk that if cameras are in here, they ought to be our own cameras doing our own thing. I don't see why any preference should be given to any individual minister at this point in time.

The Hon. the Speaker: Senator Martin?

Hon. Yonah Martin (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Actually, I'm a little bit confused. I apologize to my colleagues, but I was not aware at all of such a motion. Has Senator Campbell been given leave to give notice, or is this the debate regarding it?

The Hon. the Speaker: What is happening is Senator Campbell has been given leave by the Senate to move the motion. It has not been adopted. It is being debated now.

Senator Cowan.

Hon. James S. Cowan: I don't think any of us have heard anything about this until just now, and some concerns have been expressed. If there is an opportunity for us to showcase the work we do here, particularly when we have ministers appearing, I agree with Senator Tkachuk that it would be appropriate to have photographers from our own excellent communications department. I wonder if Senator Campbell might wish to table his motion or withdraw it, and we could ask Senate Communications to see whether they could facilitate this kind of photographer or other visual presentation of future Question Periods.

Senator Campbell: I have no difficulty with that. With leave of the Senate, I have an iPhone here, and I could actually take the picture on behalf of the Senate, and we could email it to everybody, if that would work.

Some Hon. Senators: No.

Senator Campbell: No, that wouldn't work? Then I have no difficulty with the photographer being from the Senate.

Senator Martin: Well, listening to the debate and given that this is something I had not heard about until this very moment, I would either take the adjournment or ask Senator Campbell to withdraw. Okay, I'll take the adjournment of this motion.

The Hon. the Speaker: It was moved by the Honourable Senator Martin, seconded by the Honourable Senator MacDonald, that further debate be adjourned until the next sitting of the Senate. Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion? All those in favour of the motion will please say "yea."

Some Hon. Senators: Yea.

The Hon. the Speaker: All those opposed will please say "nay."

Some Hon. Senators: Nay.

The Hon. the Speaker: In my opinion, the "nays" have it.

And two honourable senators having risen:

The Hon. the Speaker: Do we have an agreement? Senator Mitchell and Senator Plett, do we have an agreement on time? Fifteen minutes. The vote will be at 2:55 p.m.

Call in the senators.

(1450)

Motion agreed to on the following division:

YEAS
THE HONOURABLE SENATORS

Andreychuk McInnis
Ataullahjan Nancy Ruth
Baker Ngo
Batters Ogilvie
Beyak Omidvar
Boisvenu Petitclerc
Carignan Plett
Cools Poirier
Day Pratte
Doyle Runciman
Eaton Seidman
Enverga Smith
Housakos Stewart Olsen
Hubley Tannas
Lankin Tkachuk
MacDonald Unger
Manning Watt
Marshall Wells
Martin White—38

(1500)

NAYS
THE HONOURABLE SENATORS

Bellemare Meredith
Campbell Mitchell
Duffy Ringuette
Eggleton Sinclair
Harder Wallace
Mercer Wallin—12

ABSTENTIONS
THE HONOURABLE SENATORS

Cordy Munson—3
Moore


QUESTION PERIOD

Business of the Senate

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, pursuant to the motion adopted in this chamber on Thursday, September 29, 2016, Question Period will take place at 3:30 p.m.


ORDERS OF THE DAY

Constitution Act, 1867Parliament of Canada Act

Bill to Amend—Second Reading—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Mercer, seconded by the Honourable Senator Day, for the second reading of Bill S-213, An Act to amend the Constitution Act, 1867 and the Parliament of Canada Act (Speakership of the Senate).

(On motion of Senator Martin, debate adjourned.)

Divorce Act

Bill to Amend—Second Reading—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Cools, seconded by the Honourable Senator McCoy, for the second reading of Bill S-202, An Act to amend the Divorce Act (shared parenting plans).

(On motion of Senator Martin, debate adjourned.)

Underground Infrastructure Safety Enhancement Bill

Second Reading—Debate Suspended

Hon. Grant Mitchell moved second reading of Bill S-229, An Act respecting underground infrastructure safety.

He said: Colleagues, there is an entire invisible world of underground infrastructure that delivers and transports energy, television, telecommunications, water and sewage all across our country. It's a web of wires, pipes, fibre optics and oil and gas pipelines that are at the very root of our quality of life and our standard of living.

This bill, Bill S-229, An Act respecting underground infrastructure safety, addresses the need for a comprehensive, rigorous damage-prevention system built around call-before-you-dig notification centres across the country. Such a system is essential to avoid tremendous risks and costs related to damage to our underground infrastructure caused far too frequently by those who dig before they find out literally what is beneath their feet.

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I hope to demonstrate in my remarks today that this bill will reduce costs — societal, economic and business — and reduce risks to public health and safety; and I believe it will build confidence in the public about pipeline safety, which will contribute to the social licence needed to build new pipelines. It will do all of this, believe it or not, at no appreciable cost to taxpayers. It doesn't get better than that.

Before I explain those points, I would like to recognize a number of people whose hard work and determination have been critical to developing this important bill. Special thanks to Mike Sullivan, who is here today in the gallery. He is the President of Alberta One-Call and the Executive Director of the Canadian Common Ground Alliance. I would also like to recognize Ginette Fortuné. She is a parliamentary counsel, a Senate lawyer who held the pen in drafting this significant legislation. Mike and Ginette have worked incredibly hard to get this bill to where it is now and to get it right. In particular, they have consulted widely and effectively with industry and with their Canadian Common Ground Alliance colleagues. Jim Tweedie and Nathalie Morneau from the Canadian Common Ground Alliance are here with Mike Sullivan. They too have been instrumental in supporting and advancing this bill.

These Canadian Common Ground Alliance people are members of a unique, special community, a group of people who are passionately dedicated to getting a proper, high-level damage prevention system developed in Canada. They know the consequences and the risks of not getting this right because they see them every day, and they simply want to fix this situation. It has been literally inspirational to work with all these people, most of whom are essentially volunteers. Tirelessly they're working to improve this situation.

I also want to recognize my chief of staff, Sarah Gray, who is also in the gallery and who has led this effort from our side with great skill. She has done an exceptional job, worked tirelessly. Thanks as well to a former member of my staff, Kyle Johnston, who was an important catalyst at the outset in seeing the significance of this project and in getting it started. I should also recognize the various government officials who have offered insight and advice. It's all been much appreciated.

When it comes to underground infrastructure, for the most part and for the longest time it has been the case of out of sight, out of mind. When we turn on water, watch TV, flick on the lights, cook, we seldom think of the web of wires, pipes and pipelines that make all these things possible. In the past several years, however, this lack of awareness of underground infrastructure has started to change, in particular with pipelines as people have become more sensitive to pipelines in light of a number of high-profile spills and in the context of the debate over whether or not it is safe to build new pipelines.

Ironically, while these spills have been very serious and cannot be diminished in their importance, the bulk of damage to pipelines in Canada is not actually caused by the kind of spontaneous structural or technical failures in pipeline systems associated with the spills that we generally see reported in the media.

Great damage and great risks actually come from people who hit pipelines while digging without locating the pipelines and other infrastructure that is unseen and unanticipated underground where they are digging. This occurs in excavations ranging from big construction projects all the way down, if you will, to homeowners digging a post hole for their back yard.

It is this kind of digging damage to pipelines, electrical transmission lines, telecommunication, TV and Internet wires and cables, water mains and sewage pipes that cause enormous societal, business and economic costs, and present great risk of serious injury and even death to members of the public.

It is very hard to assess definitively what these costs amount to each year in Canada because reporting incidents is voluntary and therefore probably quite limited. But here are some indicators: In 2015 we know there were over 10,000 voluntary reports of damage to underground infrastructure in this country. That's 40 damage incidents every day somewhere in Canada, and that is just what is reported, as I say, under a regime where there is no requirement to report. Of those, 79 per cent caused a service disruption. In some cases it also causes health risks and it can endanger lives.

While once again based on limited reporting, costs for reported damage in a recent year in Quebec were assessed at $37 million. A similar study for a recent year in Ontario assessed digging damage and related costs from reported incidents to be $75 million.

Some effort has been made to estimate, by those in the know, that the total cost of digging damage unreported and reported in Canada probably could run as high as $5 billion a year. The cost of disruption to business, repair of damage, deployment of first responders, health care and environmental clean-up can be extremely high. Even if this figure were just 20 per cent of that estimate, $1 billion, this is still an extremely significant cost in addition to the risks inherent to public health and safety.

Let me mention two examples that illustrate the risks and costs of inaction perhaps more vividly. In August of this year, a telecommunications line in northern B.C. was damaged, knocking out services to most of Yellowknife, including 9-1-1. That alone could have serious consequences. One business owner estimated the loss of business to be $35,000.

In June 2015 a gas line was damaged by a contractor digging in Canmore, Alberta, my province. Escaping gas exploded, levelling two homes and damaging 15 others. Four hundred people were evacuated, 50 from a seniors' home; 40 people were injured and 3 hospitalized. Clearly, there is a problem that needs to be dealt with, but the good news is that it is fixable.

It's actually quite hard to believe that there is no coordinated national system of damage prevention through one-call notification systems in this country. I can vividly remember my personal surprise when this was first brought to my attention several years ago during a study by the Senate Energy and Environment Committee on the transportation of dangerous goods. In two separate meetings — one in Calgary, one in Sarnia — two senior executives — one from a pipeline company, one from a gas company — made the same point, that there was only one jurisdiction in Canada that had legislation governing call-before-you-dig notification centres and processes, one jurisdiction. That jurisdiction was Ontario, and they in fact had just recently passed the legislation.

I should say as an aside that the bill was developed and sponsored by MPP Bob Bailey, who was an opposition member, and the bill was passed with all-party support.

That there was not a comprehensive national system backed by legislation truly surprised me and caught me off guard. Since then, it has surprised many others to whom I have told this story. How could it be that something so important and so doable would in some sense be left to chance?

The Energy and Environment Committee subsequently undertook a specific study of call-before-you-dig notification in Canada. It was published in December 2014. It is titled, as you might expect, DIGGING SAFELY — One-call Notification Systems and the Prevention of Damage to Canada's Buried Infrastructure and is worth a read. In addition to confirming the inherent costs and risks in not dealing with this issue, one thing became crystal clear throughout this study. This damage due to inappropriate digging, these costs and these serious risks are preventable if we improve excavation safety systems. Doing so would include the following: All excavators need to call or click — click is becoming more and more prevalent now — to contact a One Call notification centre to request locates before digging. Underground infrastructure owners like pipeline companies, telecommunication companies, et cetera, need to register their buried infrastructure with notification centres. Jurisdictions without notification centres and/or without broadly functioning notification centres need to get those.

It was out of the committee's study and these conclusions that my staff and I made the decision to produce this legislation, Bill S-229. We approached the Canadian Common Ground Alliance and began working with them in earnest.

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Initially, and interestingly, we were distracted by the thought that this matter fell largely under provincial jurisdiction, so what was the federal role in this? However, it was also the case, we realized, that the U.S., where they have a very comprehensive, well-managed and well-regulated system, has done that, in spite of the same federal, state and jurisdictional issues. In fact, all 50 states and the federal government participate fully in a coordinated national "call before you dig" system.

What we realized, however, in the Canadian case, was that the federal government in fact has two areas of responsibility for underground infrastructure that provide both the justification and the responsibility for federal involvement and initiative.

First, there are a variety of federal lands under which there is infrastructure. These include parks, Crown lands, military bases, land on which there are federal buildings, and so on.

Second, the federal government also regulates a number of areas — not geographic areas — that involve underground infrastructure. These include interprovincial pipelines under NEB jurisdiction and regulated telecommunication lines under CRTC and Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, as well as ports, airports and rail line right of way that fall under Transport Canada.

With that in mind, we have produced Bill S-229, which will create a federal underground infrastructure notification system that will require operators of a federally regulated underground infrastructure, or infrastructure that is located in federal land, to register that infrastructure with a notification centre. It will require someone planning to undertake a ground disturbance to make a locate request to the appropriate notification centre, and it will require operators of registered underground infrastructure, as a result of the locate requests, to identify clearly and quickly the location of the underground infrastructure with markings and relevant descriptive information or, on the other hand, indicate that the proposed ground disturbance is not likely to cause damage to the underground infrastructure.

The notification centres to which I am referring here essentially exist; we would not have to create them. They are serving each province in one form or another, to one level or another, and we could piggyback on those for these federal responsibilities.

The bill also provides a mechanism by which reserves and some other lands subject to the Indian Act can participate in this notification system at their discretion after consultation with the council of any band in question. There will be penalties of up to $10,000 for people and/or companies who do not comply.

Of course, I expect that each of you is thinking: Yes, okay, but what is all this going to cost?

As I alluded to earlier, it's going to cost the government essentially nothing. First, the cost of running notification centres is covered by a nominal fee of $1 or so, paid by infrastructure owners each time a call is made by a potential digger to a notification centre by asking for a locate. You pick up the phone and you ask for a locate in your backyard because you want to dig a fence post or you want to dig a hole to begin a high-rise building. The companies that own the infrastructure will pay the notification centre that fee for each call.

Second, the cost of the locates — that is, sending somebody out to spray-paint the area and to provide more detailed information about location — will be borne by the infrastructure owners.

Third, the cost of providing the data on their underground physical plant to notification centre databases is also borne by infrastructure owners.

There is a provision for the federal government to provide grants to provinces and territories to encourage their work in accommodating this legislation and building upon it in their jurisdictions. These are completely discretionary and would be nominal.

To be sure, this bill will not cover the entire ground infrastructure in the country. The rest falls under provincial and territorial jurisdiction. However, it will cover a significant amount of underground infrastructure, that which is in federal lands or regulated under federal jurisdiction.

It will also add, along with Ontario's legislation, another model for provinces to follow. It is our hope that the bill and the process of debating, passing and implementing it will raise the prominence and priority of this kind of legislation in the agendas of provincial and territorial governments.

This federal initiative can contribute to momentum for a national system. It is an opportunity for positive, collaborative national leadership that is clearly in the common interest. It will further contribute in another very significant way: Canadians, as I have said — and as we all know — are concerned about pipeline safety. These concerns have affected the public confidence necessary to secure the social licence to allow at least some new pipelines to be built. This bill demonstrates concrete action to significantly enhance pipeline safety and to encourage public confidence in it.

Bill S-229 represents the kind of positive public policy that is in some senses unique. It will significantly reduce societal, economic and business costs, and it will significantly enhance public safety. It will do this at no appreciable cost to governments. At a time when pipeline safety is being widely debated, public confidence remains essential to achieving the social licence required to permit new pipelines to be built. It will contribute to that.

Bill S-229 will enhance the confidence that Canadians can have in pipeline safety and in the safety and security of all their underground infrastructure. All of this seems to me to be immensely good. I welcome your debate and encourage your support.

Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

Hon. Yonah Martin (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): I have a few questions for the senator.

Out of sight, out of mind; however, senator, listening to you I'm awoken to what must be underground and, as you say, to be able to check and be sure, because we're talking about the safety of Canadians, wherever they may be.

Is there some kind of a map? There must be a lot underground, but is there some sort of a map or grid that someone has that tracks everything? Is there such a thing that exists at this time?

Senator Mitchell: It is an extremely pertinent question. Certainly, depending on the nature of the infrastructure and the nature of the owner, there is more or less information available.

At this point, with the variety of notification centres that aren't backed by legislation, except in Ontario, there is a voluntary submission by some infrastructure owners that information and databases are beginning to be built. This would facilitate that further.

With respect to pipelines at a national level, there is a great amount of information and mapping. When you get into municipal areas — which wouldn't be covered by this legislation because it's provincial — there are all kinds of infrastructure that probably aren't adequately identified. Over time, to make this function properly as a national quality system, effort would have to be put into that. That will, of course, cost money and would have to be done over time.

It is a very relevant question. This piece of legislation will cause underground infrastructure owners on federal lands or under federal jurisdiction to ensure that their data of where their underground infrastructure is located is submitted to official notification centres and kept in official quality databases.

The Hon. the Speaker: Excuse me, Senator Martin.

Honourable colleagues, the minister has not yet arrived, but the time for Question Period has arrived. With leave of the Senate, we can continue with Orders of the Day until the minister arrives, and then I will interrupt.

Is leave granted?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Senator Martin: I have one more question before I take the adjournment.

When you talk about notification centres, are they provincially run or are there also municipal centres? Are they run by different jurisdictions, depending on who owns the land?

Senator Mitchell: They are, by and large, essentially run by the Common Ground Alliance, which is an alliance of industry, and they will have various forms of provincial support or interest. However, because there isn't legislation, except in Ontario, they're not necessarily run in a consistent way; they are not run in a comprehensive way. People aren't required to report or ask for a locate and underground infrastructure owners aren't required to register and provide the information on their underground infrastructure.

There are all kinds of holes, as it were, in this system, which this legislation will contribute to filling, and hopefully will contribute to encouraging provincial jurisdictions to use this model or the Ontario model, or both, to fill the holes in their system. We can then have a national system that's comprehensive, effective and efficient that would one day hopefully catch up to the quality of systems that the United States has.

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It's difficult to imagine that the United States would actually be ahead of us in something like this when we are a country that has a great deal of pipeline infrastructure, for example, among many other forms of infrastructure.

Hon. Nancy Greene Raine: Senator, what would the model be internationally? What are other countries doing? Do other countries have this jurisdictional issue? Our lands are governed by provincial laws, so this would be federally enacted legislation. Are there other examples of this kind of legislation?

Senator Mitchell: Those are great questions.

I can speak with some competence about the U.S. system, which has more or less the same division of responsibilities that we have in Canada. There's federal responsibility, but it's largely state responsibility. Through a system of coordination, encouragement and incentivizing, they've built a national system in which every state and the federal government participate. No government runs it; it's run by the Common Ground Alliance in the United States. That is a precedent.

I don't know about other countries, but in Canada there is a great deal of federal jurisdiction, as I say, federal lands and federal legislation that covers some underground infrastructure, and we have to coordinate that with the provinces so that it meshes in the same way it does in the United States.

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I regret to inform you that the minister is here now. We will interrupt Routine Proceedings and return to questions for Senator Mitchell following Question Period.

(Debate suspended.)


QUESTION PERIOD

Pursuant to the order adopted by the Senate on December 10, 2015, to receive a Minister of the Crown, the Honourable John McCallum, the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, appeared before Honourable senators during Question Period.

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, pursuant to the order, the Senate will proceed to Question Period. I will ask the minister to please take his seat.

Honourable senators, I wish to advise that pursuant to the order adopted on December 10, 2015, the Honourable John McCallum, P.C., M.P., Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, is with us today to take part in proceedings by responding to questions relating to his ministerial responsibilities.

Honourable senators, as was the case in the past, there is a long list of senators who wish to ask questions of the minister. I would ask senators to please keep their preambles brief and get to their question so that we can get as many senators as possible involved in Question Period.

Also, as was the case in the past, if possible, we will limit supplementary questions to one per senator, and if time permits towards the end of Question Period, we will go back to any senators who have more than one supplementary question.

Welcome, Minister McCallum.

[Translation]

Ministry of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

Fraudulent Citizenship Applications

Hon. Claude Carignan (Leader of the Opposition): Minister, thank you for being with us today. As I'm sure you are aware, the Auditor General noted in his spring 2016 report that there were approximately 50 rather clear cases in which applicants tried to obtain Canadian citizenship fraudulently. In response to that report, you confirmed that your department was investigating about a dozen of the cases reported by the Auditor General, which means that some individuals could eventually have their citizenship revoked.

Could you please tell the chamber how many cases of possible revocation your department is examining at this time?

Are any of those cases the same ones that the Auditor General of Canada had pointed to as suspicious earlier this year?

Hon. John McCallum, P.C., M.P., Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It is truly a pleasure and a privilege to have an opportunity to address this chamber for the first time ever. Thank you for giving me this opportunity.

Regarding the senator's question, yes, I am aware of the Auditor General's report. I would like to point out that those problems occurred under the previous government's watch. Nevertheless, now they are our responsibility.

Since those investigations are under way, I cannot give you exact figures. However, I can get that information and send it to you later.

What I can tell you, however, is that we are taking this matter very seriously. In fact, Bill C-6, which you are currently studying, contains measures to maximize the ability of authorities to access documents they believe to be fraudulent. This bill will enable us to better protect ourselves against fraudulent applications.

Senator Carignan: Thank you, Mr. Minister. I understand from what you are saying that you are agreeing to provide us with the number of files involving the revocation of citizenship and those the Auditor General deemed suspect this year.

You probably cannot give us the numbers now, but I would also like you to agree to provide this chamber with the number of Canadian citizens who live in each country with which Canada has diplomatic relations and how many of those people have dual citizenship.

Could you also tell us how many Canadian citizens live in countries where Canada does not have a diplomatic representative and how many of them have dual citizenship?

That information will be of great value to us, particularly as we study Bill C-6.

Mr. McCallum: I will do my best to provide you with all the statistics you asked me for.

[English]

Integration of Economic Immigrants and Refugees

Hon. Joseph A. Day (Leader of the Senate Liberals): Minister, welcome.

We know from research conducted by your department that the economic outcomes of refugees and individuals who immigrate to Canada under family reunification policies lag far behind people who enter our nation as economic immigrants. We understand your policy objective seeks to move away from an emphasis on economic immigration to more family reunification and more refugees.

In my province of New Brunswick, JD Irving Limited has made a point of hiring refugees instead of temporary foreign workers, for example, for seasonal tree planting. That is an example of what the private sector can do.

Can you tell us what your government is planning to do to ensure that those individuals who come here are more quickly adjusted to the economic realities of Canada?

Hon. John McCallum, P.C., M.P., Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and thank you, Mr. Senator, for your question.

I think your question has two parts: one, the settlement and integration of refugees and, two, economic immigrants.

In terms of refugees, you are right that refugees tend to settle slower than economic immigrants. If you think about where they are coming from, it is hardly surprising that the Syrian refugees, the government-assisted ones in particular, tend to have very little education and almost no ability to speak English or French, so naturally it takes them longer to settle down. We knew that when we got into this because we wanted to help the most vulnerable, and so we understand that it takes longer for them to become integrated.

But over the medium term, past waves of refugees have also been good investments and over time they do extremely well. The children of refugees do just as well or better than Canadian-born of the same age. So it is a humanitarian act in the short term, but it is also an economic investment for the country in the medium and longer term.

In terms of the second part of the question about economic immigrants, yes, in our first year we had made a commitment on refugees. We had made a commitment to speed up family class unification, but that does not mean going forward we would neglect the economic class. The economic class is still by far the largest of any three, and to the extent there is growth in immigration, the preponderance of that additional growth will be economic class.

Not only that, we were taking measures to reform express entry to facilitate the entry of international students, to facilitate the entry of high-value people in high-tech and IT sectors, and so it is our hope that with these reforms new immigrants will settle in quicker than they have in the past. They will be employed faster at higher paying jobs and, indeed, they will often facilitate the hiring of more Canadians so that they will make a contribution through their own work efforts to Canadian economic growth and also through the hiring of other Canadians.

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Senator Day: Thank you, Mr. Minister, for your comments with respect to economic immigrants who have helped to build this great country. You have also stated publicly that your government intends to make it easier for employers to hire temporary foreign workers.

Will you have to reduce the number of economic immigrants to permit your objective of improving family reunification and welcoming refugees and bringing in more temporary foreign workers?

I'm concerned that your government may be choosing to address bona fide labour shortages with more temporary foreign workers instead of more economic immigrants. Would you give us your assurance that this is not the direction your government is going?

Mr. McCallum: I don't remember making the statement of bringing in more temporary foreign workers. I do not believe I said that. That issue was before a parliamentary committee. That report has just been released, and the government has not yet responded to those recommendations.

In terms of spousal or immediate family reunification, yes, we think it is unconscionable and unacceptable that the processing time be in the order of two years. We think it should be much less, and we are working to that end. In the current year we did admit more people in that category to speed up the process.

Going forward, the demand for spousal unification will depend on the number of Canadians who marry foreigners, and that number tends to go up gradually. It is not going to be a major factor in terms of the displacement of economic immigrants. As I said earlier, the great majority of any increment to immigrants will indeed be economic immigrants. We are in the process of taking measures to ensure that those economic immigrants are better equipped to integrate quickly into the Canadian economy.

Senator Day: Thank you. That is reassuring.

Information Kit for Newcomers—Oath of Citizenship

Hon. Ratna Omidvar: Thank you, minister, for coming to speak to us. In the summer I had the privilege of speaking to a group of young people at the Couchiching Institute on Public Affairs on citizenship. You and I were both there, but we were like ships passing on the sea.

I spoke to Coty Zachariah, Chair of the National Aboriginal Caucus of the Canadian Federation of Students, and he talked to me about the emotional, informational and knowledge distance between the only two demographics in our country that are growing, the Native and indigenous peoples and Canada's immigrants, and he referred me to Recommendation 93 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which your government has agreed to implement.

Could you give us an update on your efforts, in the information kit for newcomers and the citizenship test, to reflect a more inclusive history of Canada and on any efforts you have made on Recommendation 94, which calls for the Oath of Citizenship to be adjusted and adapted in a similar way?

Hon. John McCallum, P.C., M.P., Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship: Thank you, madam senator, and congratulations on your recent appointment to this August body. I thank you for sponsoring Bill C-6 through the Senate.

Yes, as I have said, we have asked officials to rework that booklet, and they are working on this. We will see drafts. There won't be major changes, but there will be some changes that will reflect the critically important Aboriginal component of our history.

I have spoken to the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, Carolyn Bennett, and she has assured me that she will be working with others to suggest wording in the citizenship oath that would better reflect the Aboriginal or indigenous role in our history.

Backlog of Privately Sponsored Refugees—Language Training

Hon. Salma Ataullahjan: Welcome to the Senate, minister. The government has recently been representing Canada's private refugee sponsorship program on the global stage. While it is worthy of praise, the government should be acknowledging its deficiencies. In particular, it should be noted that the countless Syrian refugee sponsorship groups across Canada who have raised the necessary funds to support a refugee family for a year are still waiting after many months to receive their sponsored refugees.

Minister, you have said that the government is doing everything it can to accommodate the desire on the part of Canadians to sponsor Syrian refugees, but the measures and additional resources put in place to expedite the process were implemented only on a temporary basis, while the backlog remains.

It has been widely reported that language classes for newly arrived Syrian refugees have largely been scaled back or cancelled altogether because of significant shortages in federal funding.

Given that learning one of Canada's official languages is the vital first step in the integration process for newly arrived refugees, what is the government doing on an immediate basis to address the backlog of private sponsors waiting for sponsored refugees to arrive in Canada? What is the government doing to ensure that every Syrian refugee has access to English or French language classes, including classes with child care attached, as soon as they arrive in Canada?

Hon. John McCallum, P.C., M.P., Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship: Thank you, madam senator. That's perhaps a triple-barrelled question. You talked about the international dimension, the fact that some people are waiting to receive refugees and issues in our settlement services.

On the international dimension, the world has taken notice of Canada. When I go internationally, it's almost as if we walk on water. I know we don't, but the international community is almost in awe of what we have done. I think it's partly because while many countries around the world are closing their doors to refugees, we have opened ours wide, and that has been noted.

When I was at the UN conference and the Obama conference, we were trying to sell our system. It's far from perfect, as we know, but it's far better than most countries'.

In particular, our privately sponsored refugee program played a huge role in bringing in the Vietnamese boat people and a big role in the Syrian refugees. We think that model would be great for the rest of the world because you're miles ahead if you can bring in refugees sponsored by your own citizens, rather than refugees coming alone or illegally.

No fewer than 13 countries have expressed an interest. We launched an initiative jointly with George Soros's foundation, UNHCR and the Government of Canada. The U.S. State Department is about to begin a pilot project, and the U.K. is well on their way. Notwithstanding its deficiencies, which I acknowledge are there, I think our program is a model to the world, and are exporting it through this joint agency.

You mentioned those who are waiting to receive refugees. I acknowledge that is a problem, but I would say I'm the only immigration minister in the world who has the problem that I can't bring in the refugees fast enough to satisfy all the Canadians who want to take them in. That's a problem. But every country longs to have that problem because it reflects the generosity of our people, of which I am very proud.

I have said that all those who have applied for Syrian refugees before the end of March would be guaranteed to get them by the end of the year or early next year, and I intend to keep that promise.

I cannot promise more because we are at 300,000. If I were to add 5,000 more Syrian refugees, I would have to subtract 5,000 what? African refugees or spouses who have been waiting forever? Provincial nominees in the provinces would kill me. It's a question of balance, and we have gone way out for Syrian refugees, and we cannot go further in the year 2016.

Finally on the settlement issues, nothing ever goes perfectly when you bring in 30,000 people quickly, but I think it's going well. One hundred per cent of those refugees now have permanent housing. In terms of language training, we haven't taken resources away; we have put in additional resources. The latest statistics are that 86 per cent have received language assessment, and 64 per cent are currently enrolled in language training provided by the government. Yes, it's imperfect and yes, it could be better, but with 100 per cent housed and a very high proportion learning languages, I think it is going quite well.

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Regulations for Citizenship

Hon. Nicole Eaton: Welcome, minister. It's nice to see you in the Senate.

I'd like to ask you today about your views on the value you place on Canadian citizenship. Under the proposed provisions contained in Bill C-6, you would remove the requirement that an applicant intends, if granted citizenship, to reside in Canada.

Secondly, this government, I think, views citizenship as a portable convenience for globetrotters rather than a privilege. So often we facilitate people coming to Canada as a means of gaining a safe haven, and then we see them leave quickly. Look at what happened with the whole Lebanese thing, when we went and rescued people and then 70 or 80 per cent of Lebanese-Canadians returned to their happy homes in Lebanon. If this becomes the case, when and if this bill becomes law, is the government prepared to insist that Canadians working offshore be required to file Canadian income tax, similar to the requirement to do so in the United States?

Hon. John McCallum, P.C., M.P., Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship: Well, Mr. Speaker, I don't think Bill C-6, which is before the Senate today, has much to do with those issues. I don't think we are changing what the Conservatives had previously imposed in terms of those rules. I think it will take one year less than it used to in order to become a citizen. But in terms of the rules dictating the time an applicant is required to spend in Canada before becoming a citizen, those have not changed, except that we are restoring the 50 per cent credit to students. We really value students, so we think that is absolutely the right thing to do.

I don't think the law changes those issues one way or the other compared with what the previous government had in place. What the law does do is that it basically re-establishes the principle that there should only be one class of Canadians, not two classes of Canadians. We will eliminate the differential revocation of citizenship for dual citizens but not for other citizens.

We have a number other changes, which I've gone through in committee and I'm happy to discuss further, but unless I'm missing something, I don't think it really impinges on the issues you raised.

Senator Eaton: You had to move it back a year from three out of five years, instead of four out of six.

Mr. McCallum: Yes.

Senator Eaton: What is so arduous, if a Canadian passport is a privilege and something precious, about asking a person to live in this country for four out of six years? I don't see why you moved it back.

Mr. McCallum: I guess whether it's three out of five or four out of six doesn't really change the state of the world. We think that three out of five is sufficient.

Revocation of Citizenship

Hon. Art Eggleton: Minister, welcome. It's good to see you.

Hon. John McCallum, P.C., M.P., Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship: It's good to be here.

Senator Eggleton: Some scholars have noted that citizenship is the right to all other rights, so having one's citizenship revoked is a very serious matter. Canadians who receive notice that their citizenship will be revoked on grounds of false representation or fraud no longer have the right to a hearing or to an appeal, amongst other things. The previous government cut due process for these individuals through the former Bill C-24.

You, minister, have acknowledged that this process needs to be fixed, and yet your departmental officials continue to issue revocation notices to Canadians on these grounds. Your department continues to initiate revocation proceedings despite repeated requests from groups like the B.C. Civil Liberties Association or the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers to impose a moratorium until due process is restored.

My question, quite simply, is: Will you ask your department to immediately impose a moratorium on revocation proceedings?

Mr. McCallum: The short answer to that question is no. But, on the other hand, I think one has to distinguish between two types of revocation: revocation of the kind we're getting rid of, which is that for dual citizens but not for other citizens for the commission of crimes. That we are abolishing. We are retaining revocation of citizenship for those who give false information in applying.

We believe that has always been a part of Canadian citizenship since the beginning, and we believe it is appropriate that people who give false information to become citizens should have their citizenship removed.

On the other hand, I do think people should have a proper right to appeal, and I'm coming to your point.

There was an attempt to amend Bill C-6 in the house to include a stronger appeal right for citizenship revocation for reasons of false information. In the house, that was ruled out of scope, and so it was not allowed to be included in the bill.

I know that Senator Omidvar has indicated a desire to include an amendment in the Senate bill which would establish a stronger appeal mechanism for those whose citizenship is revoked for reasons of misrepresentation. I would certainly welcome such an amendment, and I know that she plans to work with officials in my department.

It's a question for the Senate as to whether such an amendment would be in scope in this house. That's none of my business. But I would certainly be very much open to such an amendment if senators wish to include that and if it was declared by the Senate to be in scope.

Senator Eggleton: I don't understand that disconnect. You say you'd welcome this, that you understand due process and that people should have the right to appeal and to a hearing, and all of these things. And yet you won't stop your department from going under this old system, which came from the previous government and which denies them all of those opportunities. I don't understand. There is a disconnect there. Why don't you put a moratorium on that process which you agree is wrong?

Mr. McCallum: I will consider that moratorium. I won't rule it out unconditionally. What I am saying is that we would welcome a reform to the system.

Right now the individuals do not have zero appeal; they have a relatively weak route of appeal. My department would insist that it's not zero appeal. There is at least a review process. What Senator Omidvar wants to do is to strengthen that, and I am open to that. Whether we should put a moratorium on the current system is something I will consider.

Temporary Foreign Workers

Hon. Don Meredith: Minister McCallum, welcome to the Senate.

Yesterday, on the fiftieth anniversary of the Farm Workers' Program, migrant workers held a news conference demanding permanent residency in Canada. Do you believe that temporary foreign workers should have an avenue toward permanent residency? If so, how do you envision this plan working?

Hon. John McCallum, P.C., M.P., Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship: Thank you, senator, for that very good question. As I said earlier, the report by the House of Commons committee was recently deposited, and the government has not had an official answer to that.

However, for many months, if not years, our party has said that, in general, we thought that temporary foreign workers should have a pathway to permanent residency. I think what has happened is that, perhaps four or five years ago, the previous government let in untold numbers of temporary foreign workers, more than permanent residents in certain periods of time. Then, the whole thing exploded with a set of sandals and we went from letting everybody in to letting almost no one in. It became much stricter. That's a slight exaggeration, but I think the extreme pendulum swing is at least in the spirit of what happened.

Now, I think we want to find an appropriate middle ground. We think temporary foreign workers are needed and justified in some sectors in some regions. The details are still to be determined. We think those who come into the country as temporary foreign workers should, in general, have a pathway to permanent residency. Our view of Canadian citizenship — and I think it has been shared by Canadians of all parties over the years — is that, by and large, we want our immigrants to be permanent. We want them to come here, raise their families here and work here, and become full-fledged Canadians like all of us. So, temporary foreign workers are fine, but generally we would like to see them with a pathway to permanent residency so that they are only temporarily temporary and are on their way to becoming permanent Canadians like all of us. The devil is in the details; exactly how we would implement that remains to be discussed. It's not entirely under my department; it's something before the government. But I think I'm giving you the general flavour of where we would like to go.

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Senator Meredith: In the same vein, Minister McCallum, we've seen the abuse, as well, of some of these temporary foreign workers, especially our seasonal art and cultural workers who have been sent home once they have sustained some sort of injury. We saw a case of someone from the Caribbean recently who made severe headlines. I think his name was Sheldon McKenzie.

Minister McCallum, these are abuses that go far beyond our values as Canadians and what our businesses should be espousing. How do you plan to fix that? What recommendations is your department putting forward with respect to how these workers are treated while they're here? They are sustaining our economy, but they seem to be expendable.

Mr. McCallum: Senator, I agree with you that this is another issue on which Canadians of all parties would agree. If people come to work in our country, they should be treated in a decent way. I think we would all agree with that, and we should have inspections and enforcement and penalties for those who would treat them badly.

There are certain inspection processes in train. Obviously, those do not seem to be doing a perfect job, to put it mildly. This involves my department but, more importantly, the labour department, Employment and Social Development Canada. The provinces also have a very major role in the regulation of labour markets. But what I can say to you is that I acknowledge that the situation today is unacceptable and that, amongst these various departments and governments, we should definitely improve it.

Caregiver Program

Hon. Tobias C. Enverga, Jr.: Thank you for appearing before us today, minister.

My question is about the Caregiver Program and the unacceptable wait times for applicants in this category. As you know, thousands of persons come to Canada each year to assist our society, performing caregiver jobs for children, the sick and the elderly.

Many of these caregivers are from the Philippines, and they are mainly women. The deal, so to speak, for these caregivers in Canada is that, after two years of service, they can apply for permanent residency here.

The processing time for these applications, which was recently 39 months, is currently 51 months — that is four years and three months. Adding the two years of service, the applicants are away from their families for at least six years. What are you and your department doing to shorten the processing time and limit the hardships suffered by these caregivers, including family breakup and alienation from children and spouses caused by their lengthy absence?

The only thing you have done so far is lower the quota for this class by 8,000, which has totally the opposite effect. How does this support IRCC's gender-based analysis policy that your department supposedly undertakes, considering that it mainly affects women?

Hon. John McCallum, P.C., M.P., Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship: Thank you, senator, for that very good question.

Let me, on the general subject of caregivers, begin by saluting them as to the great role they play in our country, both in looking after young people and in looking after old people. One of those old people happens to be my mother, who is now 92 years old, and she has had a Filipino caregiver helping to look after her for some time. This person is a good friend and does wonderful service.

On a personal level, I have some understanding of the contribution caregivers make, and I see many of them in my riding of Markham. So I am aware of the situation. I recently visited the Philippines; I spoke to the Filipino government. They actually are very happy with the reception their caregivers receive in Canada compared with other countries to which they go. That's not saying it's great in Canada, but it's saying it's great in Canada compared with other places.

But I acknowledge your point that the processing times are too long. The processing times for almost everything in my department are too long. Not quite everything, but many things. So we kind of have to set priorities. My first priority is the nuclear family, the immediate family, the mother, the father, the husband, the wife, the dependent children, and that is the one we are really focused on getting down as quickly as we possibly can.

But I have seen projections for the times that it will take for caregivers, and those projections are coming down. They are not coming down fast enough, but they are coming down. We have limited resources at our disposal, and we have to make choices. I am working on the caregiver front, but my highest priority, in the first year in government, is to obtain as much relief as possible, as quickly as possible, for immediate nuclear families.

Senator Enverga: I understand where you are going. I know there are some priorities that have to be made; however, you will notice that caregivers, when they stay here, serve us. Now, it's taking longer for them to be reunited with their families. You said that your priority is to shorten the wait times for everybody, but how about specifically for the caregivers?

Mr. McCallum: As I say, I have been working on this. I will look at it again. I hear you. I have great admiration for the caregivers. I very much hope that we can get things moving more quickly for them too.

Revocation of Citizenship

Hon. Lynn Beyak: Welcome, minister.

My political work over three and a half decades, at all levels of government and across party lines, has shown me that Canadians are united on many fronts, but the thing that makes them angry is when they perceive that we are wasting their taxpayer dollars.

Honourable senators know that Bill C-24 is supported by a vast number of Canadians still, to this day, and yet your bill replacing it, Bill C-6, will replace it by allowing people to keep their citizenship even though they've been accused and convicted of terrorism, espionage or treason.

I wonder if you think that's a wise use of tax dollars, repealing a previous government's bill just because you can and because you have a majority government. Could the dollars not be used more wisely, as we've heard from numbers of senators this afternoon?

Hon. John McCallum, P.C., M.P., Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship: It's not really a question of how much money it costs to make this change. I don't think the amount of money involved is very significant on this particular issue. It's a point of principle.

We ran an election campaign in which, right at the centre of our campaign, one of the major issues was the principle that a Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian, the view that was strongly held by many in my party that there should be one class of Canadian, not two classes of Canadians, and the view that the implication of that is that, if somebody commits a serious crime, terrorism or whatever it is, the place for that person is in jail, not the airport.

So for anyone who commits that crime, whether it's a native born Canadian or a dual citizen, their situation should be equal, they should go to jail. That is what we ran on. We won the election, and we are implementing what we were elected to do.

I also believe that it makes more sense from a global point of view. If the person is in jail, that person is less likely to do damage to Canadians or to other human beings than if you export that person to some other country where he or she — usually he — can continue his dastardly deeds.

Senator Beyak: Thank you, minister.

As senators, it's incumbent upon us to study all pieces of legislation that come before us for the 7 million Canadians who voted for you, the 6 million who voted Conservative and the 4 million who voted for other parties. So I still believe that we need to take tax dollars very seriously and not just replace legislation because we can. So I appreciate your answer very much, but I still think that, as senators, we will have to study this bill very carefully.

Mr. McCallum: This is the chamber of sober second thought. The last thing I would ever think is that you would not study it seriously, on behalf of all Canadians indeed.

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Mental Health Programs for Refugees

Hon. Jim Munson: Minister, welcome. We don't walk on water; we skate on ice. Sometimes it can be thin ice.

I do want to praise the government for the refugee program. You heard us at the Human Rights Committee and the issues we brought up. You saw our observations, and we're hoping to see very soon some responses from your government. We'll have more coming up, by the way.

Most of my questions about the Syrian refugees have been asked, but I put it to you about those with mental health issues and those with post-traumatic stress disorders. Dr. Morton Beiser, a psychiatrist at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto, has some statistics, which we can back up, that 12 to 15 per cent of adult refugees have post-traumatic stress disorder — the children in particular. In response to another question, you talked on a personal level. We have found here in Ottawa with the family that we have sponsored, and with other families, that there are some really serious issues with children.

We have the Mental Health Commission of Canada and we praise ourselves for always trying to make people aware of mental health and what we're doing about it, specifically hospitals doing their own thing. But what is your government doing specifically to help those refugees who have mental health issues or who are suffering from post-traumatic stress order? Does your government have programs in place, or would you encourage the government to spend a wee bit more money to have more specialists to deal specifically with the issues of Syrian refugees?

Hon. John McCallum, P.C., M.P., Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship: Senator, that is also a very good question. We are spending some $600 million a year on settlement in general. We are spending many hundreds of millions on refugees. We have spent additional money on language training.

All Canadians face inadequate funding for mental health. This is what our Minister of Health says repeatedly. I think former leader Bob Rae was eloquent in his work and words on the issue of mental health and the deficiencies in our system across the country, not just for Syrian refugees but for all Canadians.

This is a national challenge that goes well beyond just the refugees. This is a part of the work of Jane Philpott, our health minister, who is working very much on this question of health care funding and health care in general.

So, yes, I cannot say that the federal government has a special stream of money for mental health issues of Syrian refugees. That is largely provincial, anyway. But I do say we are funding refugees generously. Perhaps in some areas we could do more. My more general point is that as a country we have not done enough. We have not spent enough. We have not invested enough. We have not treated seriously enough the whole question of mental health.

That is an issue that has to be addressed at a macro level for Canadians as a whole.

Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.

Senator Munson: Minister, I agree with you, but these are really specific issues to those who have lived in pretty rough parts of the world and are suffering deeply.

Backlog of Privately Sponsored Refugees

Hon. Jim Munson: I have a brief supplementary. This was alluded to: What would you say today, minister, to families in Toronto and other parts of the country who have been waiting seven or eight months? I know we've set up this as a model, and I applaud the government for that, but we still have to acknowledge the growing pains going on with this program. Sponsoring families who know the names of the refugees who are sitting in Lebanon for seven, eight or ten months, and know a family is supposed to be coming, are then they're told, "Whoops, sorry; there are a lot of things going on that just won't make that happen and it may take two or three months or maybe one or two years." What do you say to these private sponsors regarding families who are just an airplane ride away to live in this great country? The public servants of this country —

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senator, if you want the minister to answer the question, the time has expired so you'd better sit down now and let him answer it.

Hon. John McCallum, P.C., M.P., Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship: Perhaps the time has expired for me as well. I will be very brief.

I referred to this before when I said I'm probably the only immigration minister in the world whose challenge is that I can't let refugees in fast enough to satisfy all the generous Canadians who want to take them in. Those people to whom you refer are some of those people.

We made accommodations as best we could. Those who applied by the end of March, we'll get them in. But as I mentioned earlier, if we let in even more Syrian refugees, we have to let in less of someone else. Is it going to be less African refugees, fewer spouses — less of something? We went as far as we could this year on Syrian refugees.

There's still another year, but there are many other competing demands — people with equally legitimate and good reasons to come to our country, and you have to ration it when your total is limited to a given number.

If this is the end, I just want to take this opportunity to say what a pleasure it has been to have the opportunity to speak in the Senate for the first time ever.

Mr. Speaker, you referred to me as a senator. That might be an aspiration for the future, but it is not the case today. But I do thank you all for the opportunity.

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, the time for Question Period has expired. I'm sure you will join me in thanking Minister McCallum for being here today. Thank you, Minister McCallum.


ORDERS OF THE DAY

Underground Infrastructure Safety Enhancement Bill

Second Reading—Debate Adjourned

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Mitchell, seconded by Honourable Senator Omidvar, for the second reading of Bill S-229, An Act respecting underground infrastructure safety.

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when we interrupted to begin Question Period, Senator Raine was on her feet to ask Senator Mitchell a question. She isn't here now and I understand there are other senators who want to ask a question.

Hon. Elizabeth (Beth) Marshall: Senator Mitchell, when you were speaking about some of the ramifications of people not finding out what's there before they dig, you talked about power outages and things of that nature. I was thinking of people being electrocuted. Are there any statistics on deaths, or is it all power outages and things of that nature? I was wondering if there are any statistics at all about somebody being electrocuted or about somebody who died as a result?

Hon. Grant Mitchell: I really appreciate that question. I'm not sure there are comprehensive statistics on that, but there are cases. I was avoiding making those cases prominent because I didn't want to oversell. I can give you an example of one. I'm not specifically aware of something with respect to electrocution. Clearly, that happens with backhoes and above-ground wires. I expect there would be cases of that.

There are cases, of course, of people being killed with pipeline breaks. In one example, I believe it's a case of a couple who were literally pounding rebar into the ground in their backyard for whatever reason. This was in Edmonton in the last number of years. They clipped their gas line. The gas came out, leaked into their basement, ignited and blew up, killing both of them.

So it does happen. It happens more frequently, probably, than we would really hear, because it happens regionally and so on. The question of death is absolutely a problem.

We have a safe pipeline system, but it could be far safer if we avoided those kinds of risks.

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Senator Marshall: The examples you gave are just what's known? Those aren't complete statistics?

Senator Mitchell: No. I feel remiss in that in the sense that I wish I could have those statistics because then we could argue it even more forcefully, but the fact that we don't have those statistics begs the very question of the need for this kind of legislation, because it's not tracked properly. There isn't adequate reporting; so much of it is voluntary.

We do know that the 10,000 voluntarily reported cases last year equate to 40 per day, and we do know there are huge costs and injuries involved. Another case was with a backhoe in Edmonton. A fellow was digging and broke a gas line that blew up, and he was killed instantly. So this happens; it happens in my province from time to time and elsewhere, so I'm particularly sensitive about it.

(On motion of Senator Martin, debate adjourned.)

The Senate

Motion to Amend Rule 12 of the Rules of the Senate Pertaining to the Committee of Selection—Debate Continued

On the Order:

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

That the Rules of the Senate be amended:

1. by adding the following at the end of rule 12-1:

"The membership of the committee shall, as nearly as practicable, proportionally reflect the number of all Senators who are members of each of the recognized parties, as well as those who are not members of recognized parties.";

2. by adding the following new rule 12-2(2):

"Expressions of interest

12-2. (2) Before nominating Senators to serve on committees, the Committee of Selection shall invite expressions of interest from all Senators.";

3. by renumbering current rules 12-2(2) and (3) as rules 12-2(3) and (4);

4. by adding the following new rule 12-2(5):

"Content of Committee of Selection reports

12-2. (5) Any report of the Committee of Selection nominating Senators to serve on a committee shall:

(a) identify the criteria used in developing its nominations;

(b) contain nominations such that, if the report is adopted, the membership of the committee would, as nearly as practicable, proportionally reflect the number of all Senators who are members of each of the recognized parties, as well as those who are not members of recognized parties; and

(c) nominate, as far as possible, every Senator who is eligible to attend the Senate, and who expressed an interest in being a member of a committee, to a minimum of at least one committee.";

5. by renumbering current rules 12-2(4), (5) and (6) as rules 12-2(6), (7) and (8); and

6. by updating all cross references in the Rules, including the lists of exceptions, accordingly; and

That the Senate discharge the current membership of the Committee of Selection so that a new membership can be appointed, by substantive motion, in conformity with the changes made by the adoption of this motion.

Hon. Pamela Wallin: Honourable senators, I'm pleased to speak today in support of the motion proposed by Senator Wallace relating to necessary changes in Senate rules allowing for proper representation of independent senators on committees.

I realize that the Selection Committee did concede that some independents would have questioning privileges and voting rights on committees. I appreciate the recognition that independent senators are prepared and able to contribute to the business of this place. But fundamental to the basic principle of representation is the concept of proportionality. It is recognized when it comes to partisan caucuses and should be extended to a new and growing group of independents.

Having two independents on each committee does not, in any way, represent the proportionality of the standings in the Senate. Independents currently make up just 20 per cent of this chamber. When vacancies are filled, independents will make up nearly 40 per cent of this chamber. It would be unfair and unacceptable, if it is the intention of some in this chamber, to disallow the full participation of all senators in the most important of duties assigned to us.

Change can be difficult. For some, change may be near impossible, but the reality is that change within the Senate of Canada is inevitable. Canadians elected a majority government one year ago, and this particular government has chosen to modify how people are appointed to this place. More importantly, senators themselves want change. Whether one agrees or disagrees with the method of appointment, it is now a reality. By the end of 2017 independents will number 50 or perhaps even more, should other senators choose to leave their current caucus or resign in advance of retirement.

Since the appointment of our seven new colleagues, I am heartened and impressed by the enthusiasm and calibre of discussions, debates and ideas that have been flowing. For those who have been here longer, and more importantly for those who are very accustomed to making the decisions or controlling the debate or its outcomes, perhaps it is time to come to grips with the inevitable.

No senator is any less a senator regardless of who did the appointing or by what method he or she was appointed.

Senator Wallace's motion offers a realistic view of how committees should be comprised, giving a voice to all senators based on proportionality in this chamber.

For many years, while divided along partisan lines, the Senate committees worked cooperatively, and senators, regardless of stripe, recognized the value or ideas and improvements put forward by any and all senators for the good of Canadians. This past decade, however, a more intense partisanship has developed in the Senate, and it has done a disservice to Canadians and to senators, and I know whereof I speak.

According to a Nanos poll this spring, nearly three quarters of Canadians are in favour of a Senate of independent thought and action. They and we saw a glimpse of what change looks like last spring.

The debate and amendments put forward during the discussion on Bill C-14 is an example of what is possible. More than 20 senators of all stripes or no stripes gathered together to discuss the best way forward for the process. There was no rancour; there was no judgment regarding the efficacy of amendments or even whose name was attached. It was a respectful, thoughtful discussion on how amendments should be presented, in which order, so that the flow of debate would allow all senators who wished to weigh in to have the opportunity to do so.

This approach was an excellent example of what the Senate is moving toward: openness, freedom of speech, respect instead of disregard, and independence instead of partisanship.

Constitutionally, we all recognize that abolishing the Senate is, for all intents and purposes, impossible and from my point of view undesirable; but reforming and transforming the Senate and seeking some legislative change is very doable. Most changes can be accomplished through the will of this chamber.

Senator Wallace's motion is simple, that the Selection Committee itself be made up of senators proportionally based on the current standings in the chamber; that senators be allowed to express interest in specific committees, something that makes eminent sense considering the background or life's work of so many in this chamber; that membership in committees also reflect the proportionality of the standings; and that every eligible senator be considered for at least one committee.

This is not a threat to senators trying to fulfill their constitutional obligation, but it is a challenge to an old, outdated order; and though tradition may have determined how the Selection Committee worked in the past, democracy should take precedence today.

Each day more join the debate on Senate transformation. The public policy foreign paper authored by two outstanding former colleagues here in the Senate, Michael Kirby and Hugh Segal, proposed, among many other things, that committee chairs be elected by committee members.

The independent senators group has been working together to propose change and a vision of many aspects of a transformed Senate, and the interim report on modernization released today also endorses the principle of proportionality.

The Senate is no longer a two-party institution with the occasional independent thrown into the mix. Before the end of this calendar year, there will be more independent senators than there are Conservative senators and more than double independent senators as there are Senate Liberals. So the times, they are truly changing.

The motion put forward by Senator Wallace is one of but several that will be coming forward in the next weeks and months in order to better reflect the reality of this place. We ask you, colleagues, that you work with us because it is the right thing to do. Thank you.

(On motion of Senator Sinclair, debate adjourned.)

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Legislative Work of the Senate

Inquiry—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Bellemare, calling the attention of the Senate to the Senate's legislative work from the 24th to the 41st Parliament and on elements of evaluation.

Hon. Yonah Martin (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, Senator Andreychuk has asked me on her behalf to advise the chamber that she does intend to speak to this item and would like this to be adjourned in her name for the balance of her time.

(On motion of Senator Martin, for Senator Andreychuk, debate adjourned.)

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