- The Senate
- New Senators
- Visitor in the Gallery
- SENATORS' STATEMENTS
- ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
- Commissioner of Official Languages
- Budget Implementation Bill, 2016, No. 2
- The Senate
- Canada Pension Plan
Canada Pension Plan Investment Board Act
Income Tax Act
- The Senate
- Agriculture and Forestry
- QUESTION PERIOD
- National Defence
- Public Safety
- National Defence
- Citizenship and Immigration
- Canadian Heritage
- ORDERS OF THE DAY
- Canadian Human Rights Act
- Canada Labour Code
- The Senate
- Aboriginal Languages of Canada Bill
- Business of the Senate
- Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
- National Anthem Act
- Study on Issues Related to the Government's Current Defence Policy Review
- Legislative Work of the Senate
- Official Languages
- Human Rights
- Pipeline Safety
- Appendix - Senators Lists
- Canadian Human Rights Act
Thursday, December 1, 2016
The Senate met at 1:30 p.m., the Speaker in the chair.
Motion to Photograph the Introduction of New Senators Adopted
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, there have been consultations, and there is an agreement to allow a photographer in the Senate Chamber to photograph the introduction of new senators today.
Is it agreed, honourable senators?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I have the honour to inform the Senate that the Clerk has received certificates from the Registrar General of Canada showing that the following persons, respectively, have been summoned to the Senate:
The Hon. the Speaker having informed the Senate that there were senators without, waiting to be introduced:
The following honourable senators were introduced; presented Her Majesty's writs of summons; took the oath prescribed by law, which was administered by the Clerk; and were seated:
Hon. Marc Gold, of Montréal, Quebec, introduced between Hon. Peter Harder, P.C., and Hon. André Pratte;
Hon. Marie-Françoise Mégie, of Montréal, Quebec, introduced between Hon. Peter Harder, P.C., and Hon. Claudette Tardif; and
Hon. Raymonde Saint-Germain, of Québec, Quebec, introduced between Hon. Peter Harder, P.C., and Hon. Raymonde Gagné.
The Hon. the Speaker informed the Senate that each of the honourable senators named above had made and subscribed the Declaration of Qualification required by the Constitution Act, 1867, in the presence of the Clerk of the Senate, the Commissioner appointed to receive and witness the said declaration.
Congratulations on Appointments
Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): Every time I have the opportunity to introduce new senators, I am impressed by their dedication to the public good, the volunteer work they do in their community, and their commitment to making Canada a better place to live. The group of three senators from Quebec I am introducing you to today have these qualities.
Like many of our new senators, Marc Gold has an impressive record, both professionally and in service to his community. Early in his career, as a law professor at Osgoode Hall in Toronto, he was among a handful of academics invited to provide training to federally appointed judges in the area of constitutional law and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
His career in the private sector led him to the business world, where he was vice-president of a real estate and investment firm based in Montreal. He also worked in the public sector as a part-time member of the Parole Board of Canada. He was also Chair of Jewish Federations of Canada and is currently a member of the executive committee of the Centraide of Greater Montreal.
Senator Gold, welcome to the Senate.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Senator Harder: Since arriving in Quebec from Haiti 40 years ago, Marie-Françoise Mégie has spent more than 35 years as a family physician and nearly 30 years as a university professor. As a clinical associate professor at the University of Montreal, she participated in the seniors' care committee and worked on the curriculum review committee of the Department of Family Medicine. Her medical practice
includes providing home health care services for seniors, persons with severe disabilities, and end-of-life patients. She is also the medical director of the Maison de soins palliatifs de Laval.
The Senate is honoured to welcome you, Senator Mégie.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Senator Harder: Raymonde Saint-Germain had a distinguished career as a senior public servant with the Government of Quebec. She served as the Assistant Deputy Minister of International Relations and Deputy Minister of Citizenship and Immigration. She also served two terms as Ombudsperson, during which time she commented on over 125 bills and draft regulations, from the perspective of respect for human rights and freedoms.
She also contributed to the professional development of her peers as a trainer with professional associations and universities, and by mentoring executives. She was awarded the Prix Orange in 2009 by the Association des groupes d'intervention en santé mentale for her initiative to conduct a systemic investigation of violations of the rights of hospitalized psychiatric patients.
Colleagues, please welcome Senator Gold, Senator Mégie and Senator Saint-Germain.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Hon. Claude Carignan (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, it is my turn to welcome you to the Senate family. I will have more extensive remarks ready by the time all of the new senators are sworn in. I would nevertheless like to add a few personal notes of welcome. I mean notes in the musical sense because the opposition has a pretty good research budget, so I know, because I did my homework, that our new Senator Gold is a music lover and an excellent guitar player, and that his dream was to become a rock star.
We hope that you will be a star here in the Senate and that you will share your exceptional legal knowledge with us.
Clearly, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. As you may remember, when I was called to the bar, your father was the Chief Justice of the Quebec Superior Court. He was highly respected, and I am sure you inherited his good qualities.
Welcome to the Senate of Canada.
Ms. Marie-Françoise Mégie, it is a pleasure to welcome you. An important part of our role in the Senate is to listen to people with empathy and to represent them. As a physician, and especially a family and palliative care physician, you possess this exceptional ability to listen to others, and this will help us enormously in our work.
As you took your oath, we could not help but notice your lovely accent, which reminds us of the exceptional contribution of immigration to Canada. We can see from your history that this remarkable contribution is based on meaningful action. We welcome you. Thank you for agreeing to help us and for sharing your skills with us, here, in the Senate of Canada.
Ms. Saint-Germain, of all the senators — and I am not elevating any one person above another — you are the most qualified when it comes to the protection of peoples' rights. The Senate's key role is to protect minorities and citizens. Your outstanding background and the reputation that you have built in Quebec as a result of the exceptional quality of your investigations and findings speak to your success.
When you learn more about our Senate committees, you will discover that you will be able to put your talents and your experience to good use, which will surely be of great benefit and will help us make the best decisions and protect the interests of Canadians.
Welcome to this wonderful family.
You will all see, despite what is said about the Senate, that this is a non-partisan chamber. You will also realize that we have undertaken a modernization process that began a few years ago and continues today. You will hear debates in the coming days and weeks on how we can improve the Senate.
You may find it strange to hear about the modernization of the Senate when you were told that you had to own property worth $4,000 to sit in this chamber. Some antiquated elements are more difficult to change and originated in the Constitution. However, we will change what we can here, in the Senate, to improve the process, and we will be pleased to have you join us in this push for change.
Once again, welcome everyone. We thank your friends and family for agreeing to lend you to the Senate of Canada.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Hon. Joseph A. Day (Leader of the Senate Liberals): Honourable colleagues, I'm delighted to once again have the opportunity to welcome more new senators to our ranks. As I said in our Senate Modernization Committee yesterday, this influx of new independent senators helps to remind all of us of the importance of our own independence, both collectively and individually.
Listening to Senator Harder tell us a little about each of you was certainly interesting. I couldn't help but notice that your backgrounds in human rights, constitutional law and end-of-life care would have all come in particularly useful during our debate on medical assistance in dying this past spring. I have no doubt that there will be many future opportunities for you all to share your respective expertise.
As I have already told some of your other new colleagues who arrived earlier, this is certainly an exciting time to be joining the Senate. In addition to fulfilling our traditional role as the chamber of sober second thought, we are also in the midst of a period of renewal and modernization. Senator Carignan just talked about it, and you are likely already well aware of this fact, since the very process of your appointments has been a part of that change.
You also join us during one of our busier times, as we approach the Christmas break with a lot to get done. I hope that throwing you into the deep end isn't too overwhelming. This is a place that requires an adjustment and learning period and I assure you that you have a room full of friendly faces who are all willing to provide you with words of advice and encouragement as you settle into your new roles.
On behalf of my independent Liberal colleagues, I welcome you all to the Senate of Canada and look forward to working with each of you.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Hon. Elaine McCoy: Welcome to the Senate of Canada, on behalf of the other independent senators, my colleagues here, indeed all of us in this chamber. We are truly looking forward to working with you.
We had a standing vote yesterday. You may have been watching it in the gallery; I know some of you were here. I said to my colleague Senator Ringuette as some of the new senators were standing when their names were called out to vote, "Remember the first time that happened to you? I certainly remember the first time it happened to me." What a thrill that was. "Senator McCoy." My goodness.
So we're very pleased that you will have that same sense of awe, that same sense of dedication, that same sense of belonging to an institution that is here to serve Canadians, but at all times that humility that comes with the momentous decisions we often make.
The Constitution talks about the Senate. It says the Senate shall be comprised of 105 senators. We are not a corporation. We are not an NGO. We are a collective. That means we're all equal. It means we all work together, we all support one another, and we all make up our minds individually, but we have a collective role to ensure that the government of the country continues and that Canadians get the best legislation that we can possibly deliver.
Certainly we recognize that your outstanding careers are going to contribute to that function, and we look forward very much to working with you. Once again, thank you very much for coming and serving with us.
Visitor in the Gallery
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I wish to draw your attention to the presence in the gallery of Khélil Hamitouche, a member of the Board of Directors of the Office des personnes handicapées du Québec. He is the guest of the Honourable Senator Dupuis.
On behalf of all honourable senators, I welcome you to the Senate of Canada.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
International Day of Persons with Disabilities
Hon. Renée Dupuis: Dear colleagues, honourable senators, new senators, with the International Day of Persons with Disabilities just around the corner, I am pleased to tell the chamber about the accomplishments of the four recipients of the 2016 "Prix À part entière" prize awarded by the Office des personnes handicapées du Québec. This award recognizes individuals and organizations that demonstrate an exemplary commitment to reducing barriers to social participation for people with disabilities in Quebec.
Their accomplishments are a source of inspiration for us all. Encouraging remarkable individual and joint initiatives and rewarding concrete action also means inviting everyone to take meaningful action, whether at school, at work or in our communities, to achieve the same goal.
I will present the 2016 recipients, beginning with the "Individual" category. France Geoffroy is considered the pioneer of integrated dance in Quebec. Although an accident left her quadriplegic, that did not stop France Geoffroy from pursing an artistic career as a dancer and dance teacher for over 20 years now. She firmly believes that art plays a critical role in social participation.
In the "Non-profit Organization" category, the Freewheeling program teaches bicycle mechanics to young adults in the Brome-Missisquoi region, especially teens and young adults with intellectual disabilities or autism spectrum disorder, or those at risk of dropping out of school. The program offers them the chance to learn skills that will help them explore new professional horizons. Every bicycle that is repaired by one of the program participants is donated to one of the primary school children in the region.
The winner in the "Municipalities, RCMs and Other Communities" category, the Groupe Unique du Conseil de la Première Nation Abitibiwinni, is made up of health care workers who decided to pool their efforts and take on more responsibility to provide services to people with disabilities and mental health issues, an unprecedented initiative.
The winner in the "Ministries and their Networks, Public and Parapublic Organizations" category, the CIUSSS de la Mauricie-et-du-Centre-du-Québec, worked with partners, including the municipality of Victoriaville and a private fitness centre, to add a series of adapted fitness machines and make them available to people with physical disabilities, thereby enabling everyone in the municipality to get together to exercise.
Lastly, the jury's choice award went to the Lakeshore Soccer Club, which created the Super Sonics soccer program, which gives children with disabilities an opportunity to join a soccer team. The Super Sonics program is the first of its kind in Quebec.
As a member of the jury, I join the OPHQ in congratulating the winners. All these initiatives show that eliminating systemic discrimination against people with disabilities starts with concrete action at the individual and group, personal and institutional levels. Those actions deserve our support. We must strive not only to eliminate obstacles, but also to create a society and an economy that enable everyone to achieve their full potential.
Visitors in the Gallery
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators I wish to draw your attention to the presence in the gallery of Mr. Paul Antle, a well-known businessman and philanthropist. He is accompanied by his wife, Ms. Renée Marquis-Antle, a well-known and much-appreciated vocalist. They are both from St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador.
On behalf of all honourable senators, I welcome you to the Senate of Canada.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
The Late John "Jack" Robert Craig, C.M.
Hon. Wilfred P. Moore: Honourable senators, I rise today to pay tribute to the late John "Jack" Robert Craig, businessman and philanthropist who passed away on October 11, 2016, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, at 86 years of age. Jack was born on the family farm in Cornwall, Ontario. However, he enrolled in the Haileybury School of Mines, leaving the farm for a career in the mining business.
At this time in Kirkland Lake, Jack met a girl named Joan Lewis. They fell in love, eloped and were married in North Bay in 1954. Jack sold mining equipment for the next five years, living in South Porcupine where their son, Robert, was born. While they did not know it, Robert had Asperger syndrome, which would prove difficult at a time when little was known of the condition and there was little or no support.
Joan refused to let Asperger's define Robert's life, and she and Jack worked to support him. Robert has graduated from university and has led his own life, contrary to the opinion of doctors consulted by his parents.
The Craig family settled in Halifax in 1963 where Jack became a salesman for Nova Scotia Tractors and Equipment Limited, steadily working his way up to become its general manager and president. In 1971 Jack took out a loan and bought the company with a colleague, and in 1992 he merged it with one in New Brunswick to form Atlantic Tractors and Equipment. In 1994, Jack was inducted into the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum; in 1995, the Order of Canada; and in 2000, the Nova Scotia Business Hall of Fame.
His community involvement is renowned. He used his business acumen to rescue many struggling charities. He was a director of the Neptune Theatre and served as president from 1976 to 1978. He was an avid art collector, and his family's financial support for the arts was instrumental in creating a permanent home for the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, whose board of directors he chaired from 1980 to 1982.
Perhaps the Craig family's greatest contribution was through their leadership on the issue of autism. Their generosity through the Craig Foundation has resulted in the creation of an autism research chair at Dalhousie University. They supported the Autism Research Centre at the IWK Hospital and were instrumental in the founding of Autism Nova Scotia, in 1992. The Chronicle Herald newspaper in Halifax put it this way in their 2014 editorial, and I quote:
As a result of these gifts, Dr. Susan Bryson and Dr. Isabel Smith have used the autism chair to advance knowledge of diagnosis, treatment and early intervention. Autism Nova Scotia has been able to provide an array of supports — summer camps, job and life skills programs, social groups, digital learning devices — that didn't exist before. An innovative autism arts program allows ASD children, who often experience the world through heightened visual and hearing senses, to find means of self-expression.
I would like to extend condolences to the Craig family at this time of great loss. I would also like to offer sincere thanks. Nova Scotia is a better place because of Jack Craig. He shall be missed.
International Day of Persons with Disabilities
Hon. Jim Munson: Honourable senators, it's nice to see that one of the new senators spoke about disability. It's nice to have a new ally in Senator Renée Dupuis. To have another ally in the Senate dealing with human rights is extremely important.
Honourable senators, since 1992, December 3 has been recognized by the United Nations as International Day of Persons with Disabilities, and this year coincides with the tenth anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This was one of the most quickly and widely ratified treaties put forth by the UN to date. There has been a lot of progress in 10 years, but there is much more work to do.
I commend the Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities for her announcement today — I was there this morning — that the Government of Canada has begun a consultation process on Canada's commitment to the UN's Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
I am also encouraged to know that the drafting of legislation towards an accessible Canada has already started and is expected next year. I hope we can continue to build on these initiatives. This is extremely exciting. This is not just about physical disabilities; this is intellectual disabilities. In a forum I was at two weeks ago, there were self-advocates coming from across the country who are putting this new Accessible Canada legislation together with the minister and others.
Colleagues, today is about inclusion, making sure all Canadians can participate in our workplaces and in our communities. I believe each of us has a role in creating an accessible future for everyone. Whether as policy-makers, community leaders, advocates or neighbours, there is a part for all of us to play.
This begins with the way we look at the issue. Instead of seeing the disability, we need to create accessibility, with our attitudes and our decisions for all disabilities, physical and intellectual disabilities.
Senator Petitclerc is a strong advocate for accessibility issues, and I'm honoured to work with her. I know she wants to say more about this in the chamber next week. This is so important.
I would like to invite all of you — we can pack the room — to room 160-S downstairs to celebrate the International Day of Persons with Disabilities at a reception hosted by the minister. That's this evening in room 160-S at five o'clock.
Commissioner of Official Languages
Investigation into the Courts Administration Service—Report Tabled
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the report to Parliament of the Commissioner of Official Languages on the investigation into the Courts Administration Service, pursuant to the Official Languages Act.
Budget Implementation Bill, 2016, No. 2
Seventh Report of Social Affairs, Science and Technology Committee on Subject Matter Tabled
Hon. Kelvin Kenneth Ogilvie: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the seventh report of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology, which deals with the subject matter of those elements contained in Division 1 and 2 of Part 4 of Bill C-29.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, pursuant to the order of the Senate of November 22, 2016, the report will be placed on the Orders of the Day for consideration at the next sitting of the Senate, and the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance is simultaneously authorized to consider the report during its study of the subject matter of all of Bill C-29.
Notice of Motion
Hon. Diane Bellemare (Legislative Deputy to the Government Representative in the Senate): Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:
That when the Senate next adjourns after the adoption of this motion, it do stand adjourned until Monday, December 5, 2016 at 5 p.m.;
That committees of the Senate scheduled to meet on Monday, December 5, 2016 be authorized to sit even though the Senate may then be sitting and that rule 12-18(1) be suspended in relation thereto; and
That rule 3-3(1) be suspended on that day.
Statutes Repeal Act—Notice of Motion to Resolve that the Act and the Provisions of Other Acts not be Repealed
Hon. Diane Bellemare (Legislative Deputy to the Government Representative in the Senate): Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:
That, pursuant to section 3 of the Statutes Repeal Act, S.C. 2008, c. 20, the Senate resolve that the Act and the provisions of the other Acts listed below, which have not come into force in the period since their adoption, not be repealed:
1. Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act, R.S., c. 33 (2nd Supp):
Parts II and III;
2. Contraventions Act, S.C. 1992, c. 47:
-paragraph 8(1)(d), sections 9, 10 and 12 to 16, subsections 17(1) to (3), sections 18 and 19, subsection 21(1) and sections 22, 23, 25, 26, 28 to 38, 40, 41, 44 to 47, 50 to 53, 56, 57, 60 to 62, 84 (in respect of the following provisions of the schedule: sections 1, 2.1, 2.2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 7.1, 9 to 12, 14 and 16) and 85;
3. Agreement on Internal Trade Implementation Act, S.C. 1996, c. 17:
-sections 17 and 18;
4. Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty Implementation Act, S.C. 1998, c. 32;
5. Preclearance Act, S.C. 1999, c. 20:
6. Public Sector Pension Investment Board Act, S.C. 1999, c. 34:
-sections 155, 157, 158 and 160, subsections 161(1) and (4) and section 168;
7. Modernization of Benefits and Obligations Act, L S.C. 2000, c. 12:
-sections 89 and 90, subsections 107(1) and (3) and section 109;
8. Marine Liability Act, S.C. 2001, c. 6:
9. Yukon Act, S.C. 2002, c. 7:
-sections 70 to 75 and 77, subsection 117(2) and sections 167, 168, 210, 211, 221, 227, 233 and 283;
10. An Act to amend the Canadian Forces Superannuation Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, S.C. 2003, c. 26:
-sections 4 and 5, subsection 13(3), section 21, subsections 26(1) to (3) and sections 30, 32, 34, 36 (with respect to section 81 of the Canadian Forces Superannuation Act), 42 and 43;
11. Assisted Human Reproduction Act, S.C. 2004, c. 2:
-sections 12 and 45 to 58;
12. Public Safety Act, 2002, S.C. 2004, c. 15:
13. Amendments and Corrections Act, 2003, S.C. 2004, c. 16:
-sections 10 to 17 and 25 to 27;
14. Budget Implementation Act, 2005, S.C. 2005, c. 30:
-Part 18 other than sections 124 and 125; and
15. An Act to amend certain Acts in relation to financial institutions, S.C. 2005, c. 54:
-subsections 1(1) and 27(2), sections 29 and 102, subsections 140(1) and 166(2), sections 168 and 213, subsections 214(1) and 239(2), section 241, subsection 322(2), section 324, subsections 368(1) and 392(2), and section 394.
Canada Pension Plan
Canada Pension Plan Investment Board
Income Tax Act
Bill to Amend—First Reading
The Hon. the Speaker informed the Senate that a message had been received from the House of Commons with Bill C-26, An Act to amend the Canada Pension Plan, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board Act and the Income Tax Act.
(Bill read first time.)
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be read the second time?
(On motion of Senator Harder, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for second reading two days hence.)
Notice of Motion to Urge Government to Establish a National Portrait Gallery
Hon. Serge Joyal: Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:
That with Canada celebrating 150 years as a nation and acknowledging the lasting contribution of the first nations, early settlers, and the continuing immigration of peoples from around the world who have made and continue to make Canada the great nation that it is, the Senate urge the Government to commit to establishing a National Portrait Gallery using the former US Embassy across from Parliament Hill as a lasting legacy to mark this important milestone in Canada's history and in recognition of the people who contributed to its success.
Agriculture and Forestry
Notice of Motion to Authorize Committee to Meet During Sitting of the Senate
Hon. Ghislain Maltais: Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:
That the Standing Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry have the power to meet on Tuesday, December 6, 2016, at 5 p.m., even though the Senate may then be sitting, and that rule 12-18(1) be suspended in relation thereto.
Marijuana Companies—Information Leak
Hon. Claude Carignan (Leader of the Opposition): My question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate.
Leader, have you had the chance to follow up with the office of the Minister of Justice regarding the question I asked you in Question Period yesterday? Do you know whether the Minister of Justice will try to find out whether an information leak from the Task Force on Marijuana Legalization and Regulation was responsible for the sudden volatility in the stock prices of six marijuana companies on November 16, 2016?
Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): As I indicated in the house yesterday, I am seeking to have the answer to that question. I have not yet spoken with the minister.
Senator Carignan: Given that the report must also be submitted to the Minister of Health and the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, will you ask them whether they are planning to conduct similar investigations?
Senator Harder: Yes.
Armed Forces—Sexual Misconduct
Hon. Claude Carignan (Leader of the Opposition): My main question, honourable senators, has to do with sexual misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces.
Monday, Statistics Canada published the results of an investigation into sexual misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces, particularly among men and women in the Regular Force and the Primary Reserve.
The results of the survey are troubling and worrisome: 960 members of the Canadian Forces, or just under 2 per cent of the Regular Force, reported being victims of sexual assault in the 12 months preceding the survey.
Every Canadian is entitled to expect a workplace free from sexual harassment or assault and that is especially true for the men and women who serve our country in the Canadian Armed Forces.
Can the Leader of the Government tell us what the government has done in the past year to help eliminate such unacceptable behaviour in the Canadian Armed Forces?
Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I thank the honourable senator for his question on this important subject. I share his concern with respect to this report, as does the government and, I'm sure, all senators. Every man and woman who serves the country deserves to be treated with respect and dignity regardless of gender or background. Since the release of Ms. Deschamps's report, the Canadian Armed Forces have been focused primarily on providing more effective support to victims. I would like to reference several specific measures that have been taken to date to eliminate the harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour that was identified.
Number one, dedicated sexual offence response teams have been established across the country.
Second, over 40,000 military members responded to a Statistics Canada survey on sexual misconduct, the survey to which the honourable senator referred, and the results are informing the government as it reviews those findings to determine further measures. New training products are being developed on inappropriate sexual behaviour and increased awareness and prevention.
There is much to be done, and I can assure the honourable senator that this is a top priority of the Canadian Armed Forces, both at the civilian and military levels.
Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: I have a supplementary question.
Thank you for that answer, leader. I understand there are two programs set up by the military. One is Operation HONOUR, and I would appreciate it if you could find out exactly what is happening with Operation HONOUR.
The other program that has been set up — and I've asked this question even in committees — is called the Bystander Program. This is where people watch out for each other and make sure others are not compromised.
I have previously asked the military, and I ask you again, if we can find out exactly what the results of these two programs are.
Senator Harder: I thank the honourable senator for her question and for her ongoing work on this issue in particular. I would happy to report back to the Senate and to the honourable senator with respect to the questions she has posed.
Hon. Larry W. Smith: My question is for the Leader of the Government. The other day, Senator Bellemare held up charts from the Finance Department to discuss how all budget measures would benefit Canadians. These are the charts. I took it upon myself to make sure these were sent to all senators, because it is important information to show the benefits of the budget.
We have Bill C-2 to evaluate, and it is supposed to help the middle class. The middle class, defined by Bill C-2, is in bracket 2, between $45,282 to $90,563.
I need your help, sir, to get the Finance Department to produce the same type of report for Bill C-2 alone that shows the winners, the losers and no change, so that we can have the proper analytical information on Bill C-2 sent to all senators so they can make an evaluation of how the bill stands alone to benefit Canadians.
My simple request is that we would receive that information prior to being asked to vote on the bill. I haven't found it. We have done quite a bit of research and were able to create our own table, but I haven't seen a full table from the government covering all the brackets.
My request is whether you are able to help in terms of having the Finance Department provide that to us, because I do not think we should be voting on a bill unless people see all the information available so they can make a totally conscious decision.
Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I thank the honourable senator for his question, which speaks to the work that has been done in the committee and the debate that has yet to be had in the Senate. I look forward to participating in that debate.
Senator Smith: Sir, if you could answer the question, it would be helpful. I feel strongly, as you know, about Bill C-2 and the positive things we can do to help, but what I need is for the Finance Department to do exactly the same type of table that was done and distributed by us to everyone after Senator Bellemare brought the table up to discuss the total benefits accruing to all Canadians.
We have been asked to study Bill C-2 on a stand-alone basis, and I would like to see the same type of information on Bill C-2: winners, losers, no change, by the tax brackets, which are the same tax brackets we undertook in our study, so that senators can be better informed before making the decision on a vote. I don't think we should be voting if we do not have all the knowledge required to make a decision.
Could you do this? Could you get the Finance Department to do this for us, please?
Senator Harder: I will certainly inquire of the Finance Department. I would be happy to contribute, as best as I can, to the understanding of the honourable senator in terms of the tax measures that are being referred to.
Senator Smith: This is an important bill. The only thing I ask is that it is essential that people are fully informed before they take a conscious vote. It is our job as senators to do sober second thought, but we cannot do sober second thought without the facts. We want to make sure that all the facts are on the table.
Protection of Journalists
Hon. André Pratte: Honourable senators, my question relates to surveillance of journalists. The government has said that it will form a committee of academics to provide advice on the subject before it tables a bill on the protection of journalists and their sources.
Can the Leader of the Government in the Senate inform us as to when the committee of academics in question will be appointed, and what is the deadline for the work of that committee?
Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I thank the honourable senator for his question and for his early interest in this important matter.
The precise time frame and appointments are, as I understand it, soon to be made, and I would be happy to determine more precisely when that will take place and inform the honourable senator.
Senator Pratte: Thank you. Would the government then commit to make the report of the said committee public?
Senator Harder: I, of course, can't make that commitment on behalf of the government, but I can bring your request to the attention of the appropriate authorities.
Support for Military Personnel
Hon. Carolyn Stewart Olsen: My question is directed to the Government Representative in the Senate.
It is clear that the government will be deploying hundreds of our military to Africa. The last time our troops went to Africa, they had to watch first-hand as a genocide unfolded. The kind of trauma they experienced was unspeakable.
Post-traumatic stress disorder is a critical issue in our military today. It devastated many of our Bosnia veterans, who you may recall were also deployed in a peacekeeping mission.
Our men and women in uniform need to know that this government has their backs. What is the government doing to ensure that our troops have the support they need, both on the ground in Africa and when they come home?
Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I thank the honourable senator for her question. In some respects it is multi-faceted, as it relates not only to a specific potential mission but also to the ability of our military to pursue potential missions, peacekeeping or otherwise, in the years ahead, and that we've learned from recent experience.
It is entirely appropriate that this question is posed today, when our former colleague Senator Dallaire is launching a book that speaks to this issue in a broader context, and I commend the honourable senator for her interest in this subject.
With respect to the specific mission that has yet to be determined and is yet to be announced, I can assure the honourable senator that the questions she is posing are part of the considerations that the minister and the government are undertaking so that they can assure the women and men who participate that this mission has benefited from the tragic experiences of previous missions and that the issues you are raising in the house are part of the consideration as we go forward.
Senator Stewart Olsen: Thank you, leader. However, our troops need to know now that this government has their back when they are in trouble. In Iraq, the government recalled our CF-18s, which were to provide air support; and our troops are in combat now, without any Canadian to call when things are getting tough.
It's incumbent on our government to ensure that our men and women in uniform are not abandoned to the indecision much like the Belgian paratroopers were in Rwanda.
Will the troops deployed to Africa be under Canadian command, and who will they call on when they are in danger?
Senator Harder: Again, the honourable senator raises very legitimate questions, which ought to be more properly answered in the context of the specific mission. Like her, I await the announcement from the minister with respect to the specific mission.
In a more broad-based reference, I would also speak to the upcoming defence policy review, which the minister has launched and is well under way. I do believe that is also an opportunity for us all to be vigilant in ensuring that Canada's Armed Forces, the women and men who serve — and, as you properly say, put their life on the line for us — have the appropriate policy and operational requirements necessary, which includes equipment obviously, to serve in the policy capacity that we put forward for them.
Hon. Percy E. Downe: Is it the intention of the government to have a vote in Parliament before any of our troops are sent into danger zones?
Senator Harder: No announcement has been made with respect to that. I would expect that announcement to be made by the appropriate ministers.
Citizenship and Immigration
Hon. Victor Oh: Honourable senators, my question for the Leader of the Government in the Senate concerns immigration.
Fraudulent immigration consultants are taking advantage of innocent refugee claimants and immigration applicants. Despite previous efforts to address this problem, critics say that not enough is being done to protect victims.
Will the Liberal government propose new measures to effectively crack down on unregulated consultants and protect would-be Canadians?
Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I thank the honourable senator for his question. I thought I was going to enlighten you.
This is an important subject which those of us involved in immigration over the years have had to confront. In some respects, it reflects the nature of the division of powers between the provinces and the federal government and the difficulty of regulating in this sector.
I know that the minister is very concerned about the reports that you reference, and I am assured that he is reviewing whether or not further action is appropriate and can be accomplished within the responsibilities of the Government of Canada.
Memorial to Victims of Communism
Hon. Thanh Hai Ngo: Honourable senators, this question was intended for Ms. Joly on Tuesday. I did not have the chance to ask it, so I will put the question to the Leader of the Government.
On December 2015, the minister announced that the Memorial to the Victims of Communism will be located in the Garden of the Provinces and Territories in recognition of the millions of Canadians and their families who suffered as a result of communism. Minister Joly also said they are working wholeheartedly to erecting the Memorial to the Victims of Communism as a landmark in Canada's capital.
Given the simplicity of this project, which has reduced its cost, changed the design and relocated the monument to the Garden of the Provinces and Territories, will the government ensure that the 8 million Canadians who identify themselves as victims of communism be honoured in 2017, in time for Canada's one hundred fiftieth anniversary?
Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): As the son of refugees who were victims of communism, I can assure the honourable senator that I know something of what he speaks. Of course I will inquire of the minister and ensure a response is provided.
Sesquicentennial Events—Role of Korean War Veterans
Hon. Yonah Martin (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Leader, I have a question that may sound a bit familiar, but I assure you that it is sort of the next question to what I have been asking because I have discovered a potential gap. I am hoping that you might be able to fill that gap and help provide the answers.
Yesterday I had a chance to speak briefly to Minister Joly, not during QP but after the chamber rose. When I asked whether she could give assurances about the inclusion of the Korean War veterans and our veterans in the official 150 anniversary programs, as well as in any literature that may be produced for the one hundred and fiftieth, she told me that she thought her colleague Minister Kent Hehr would be looking after the veterans to ensure they were included.
But I recalled a conversation I had with Minister Hehr. He is very dedicated to his file, so I don't in any way question whether he would like to include the veterans, but he told me that it was something his colleague Minister Joly would be looking at.
My question to you, leader, is whether you would be able to speak to officials of both ministries and get an answer regarding the assurances that I have been asking for concerning the inclusion of our Korean War veterans, and other veterans, in the official programming for Canada's one hundred and fiftieth.
Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I thank the honourable senator for her question and ongoing interest in this issue and will indeed seek to determine a whole-of-government response.
Senator Martin: Thank you, leader.
Veterans' Week—Absence of Korean War in Communications
Hon. Yonah Martin (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, I would be remiss if I didn't raise another oversight that I think was not intentional. We recently had Veterans' Week. We had a ceremony in our chamber and various posters and literature were prepared for Veterans' Week. However, I note that the Korean War veterans were not mentioned and officially recognized. We often talk about that war as the forgotten war, but I want to assure this chamber that it certainly isn't forgotten and should not be forgotten. Could you bring that to the attention of officials at Veterans Affairs and Canada Remembers that we should make sure that we double-check on the content before it is published?
Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I will do that and I will also bring it to the attention of those who organize events in this chamber.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Canadian Human Rights Act
Bill to Amend—Second Reading—Debate Continued
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Mitchell, seconded by the Honourable Senator Fraser, for the second reading of Bill C-16, An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code.
Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, I rise today to speak to Bill C-16, An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code, and to express my unwavering support, as I have done every time this issue has come before the Senate.
The bill amends the Canadian Human Rights Act to add gender identity and gender expression to the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination.
The enactment also amends the Criminal Code to extend the protection against hate propaganda set out in that Act to any section of the public that is distinguished by gender identity or expression and to clearly set out that evidence that an offence was motivated by bias, prejudice or hate based on gender identity or expression constitutes an aggravating circumstance that a court must take into consideration when it imposes a sentence.
Transgender people currently suffer from discrimination in many areas of their lives. For example, they suffer from much higher rates of unemployment, they are often refused housing on the basis of their gender identity, and they have disproportionate difficulty accessing necessary health and social services. Combined, these factors lead to higher levels of poverty among transgender people.
Rupert Raj, a psychiatrist at the Sherbourne Health Centre, further describes the discrimination transgender people face. He states that 85 to 90 per cent of trans people are homeless, unemployed or underemployed. Despite this, some shelters will not even accept them until they have sex assignment surgery. Bill C-16's purpose is to provide transgender Canadians with the dignity they deserve.
When transgender people cannot enjoy the right of employment, shelter and the right to freedom of expression, they are being denied their human dignity. As senators, we have been appointed to the Senate of Canada to protect the rights of Canadians, including minorities.
I was pleased that the Leader of the Opposition reminded us of the responsibility of the Senate when he spoke this afternoon about how we protect the rights of minorities.
Through our work we have protected racial minorities, ethnic minorities and religious minorities.
Today, we have a great opportunity to protect Canada's transgender community, too. This is an opportunity to end their long wait for the protection of their human dignity.
Honourable senators, the provinces are well ahead of the federal government in addressing this discrimination faced by transgender people.
For example, my province of British Columbia passed the Gender Identity and Expression Human Rights Recognition Act, which states:
This Bill supports the ongoing evolution of the term sex in Human Rights legislation by formally recognizing that the term is intended to include protection for Gender Identity and Gender Expression.
This Bill affirms the rights of persons who are transsexual, transgender, intersex, genderqueer, non-binary and other groups who routinely suffer discrimination based on the expression of their gender or the gender identity they experience.
The Ontario Human Rights Code also addresses discrimination based on gender identity and expression. Under the code, all persons are protected from discrimination and harassment based on their gender identity and expression in employment, housing, services, contracts, and membership in unions, trade, or professional associations.
It is time for this recognition of transgender rights to be represented at the federal level. When transgender people are able to express their identity, they are able to live far more fulfilling lives than ever before.
Honourable senators, I remember receiving a letter from Nina, an Air Force reservist, who told me about her experience coming out to her family and colleagues. She told me this:
Senator Jaffer, I'm writing to tell you my story as a member of the Canadian Armed Forces, with 35 years' service. As far back as I can remember, I dreamed about what it would be like if I was a girl. As a small, skinny kid, I was frequently bullied. I frequently wore, secretly, my sister and mother's clothes. Occasionally, my parents caught me. I am so lucky my parents never punished me as they thought I would grow out of it. While still in high school, I joined the Canadian Forces in the Air Reserves. During my military career, I have been an aircraft technician for more than 30 years. On the night that Saddam Hussein fired the scud missile that landed a few miles north of the Doha airport, I was changing a fuel quantity probe of a CF-18 in the dark with a flashlight, while the fuel ran out over the wing. During my 35 years of service to Canada, I had many experiences, both good and bad. I have served my country, Canada, faithfully. I never turned my back when the Canadian Forces needed me and was always the first to volunteer. I continued to wear female clothing every chance I could. Living in barracks was very hard, keeping my stash of clothes hidden. In 2009, at age 47, feeling safe, I came out to my family and the Canadian Forces as transgender. I have lived full time since August 2009. The Canadian Forces was supportive and worked to help me transition in the workplace. Having no more need to be secretive, I can finally be who I always was. I have a much happier life.
Honourable senators, patriots like Nina and other members of the transgender community should be free to express themselves without fearing discrimination.
I am particularly concerned with the discrimination faced by transgender children, who may be exploring their gender and wondering if they will ever be able to freely express their identity. These children need protection as they discover their true gender, and will continue to face alarming rates of discrimination if this bill does not pass.
According to the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, 90 per cent of transgender youth currently hear transphobic comments in their schools; 25 per cent are physically harassed; and 78 per cent report feeling unsafe at school and have missed school days as a result.
Honourable senators, I want to share with you a story that was told to me by Ryan Dyck about a six-year-old transgender child who knew from a very early age that he was not a girl, but rather a boy. This child presents himself as a boy at school and dresses as a boy. However, his school will not provide him with a safe place to use the washroom. His mother is therefore forced to leave work to go and get her child at recess and at lunch hour to take him to the washroom at a gas station across from the school.
Honourable senators, we cannot allow these children to feel unsafe and be denied of their most basic needs.
As we discuss this bill, there has been much discussion of the washroom argument. This has been hurtful to trans people, as it paints them as dangerous, when the truth is that they actually deal with fear of violence when using public washrooms.
A poet from Vancouver, Ivan E. Coyote wrote a poem entitled The Facilities after talking with a young trans girl about her challenges using public washrooms. I believe it illustrates their challenges well. He writes:
I can hold my pee for hours. Nearly all day. It's a skill I developed out of necessity, after years of navigating public washrooms. I hold it for as long as I can, until I can get myself to the theatre or the green room or my hotel room, or home. Using a public washroom is a very last resort for me. I try to use the wheelchair-accessible, gender-neutral facilities whenever possible, always after a thorough search of the area to make sure no one in an actual wheelchair or with mobility issues is en route. I always hold my breath a little on the way out though, hoping there isn't an angry person leaning on crutches waiting there when I exit. Sometimes I rehearse a little speech as I pee quickly and wash my hands, just to be prepared. I would say something like, I apologize for inconveniencing you by using the washroom that is accessible to disabled people, but we live in a world that is not able to make room enough for trans people to pee in safety, and after many years of tribulation in women's washrooms, I have taken to using the only place provided for people of all genders.
Honourable senators, when Bill C-279 was before this chamber, I received a letter from the mother of a transgender girl that further emphasizes this reality. She told me:
The bathroom amendment to Bill C-279 [has] the trans community, including the network of parents with trans children, absolutely terrified that our children will become the victims, having to go to the bathroom in the room reserved for the gender to which they do not belong.
Honourable Senators, the truth is that trans people simply wish to use the facilities that match their gender. In fact, denying this right to trans people only places them at risk of violence and further discrimination.
Honourable senators, Bill C-16 recognizes the distinct challenges and realities that transgender people face in Canada every day. By accounting for the experiences of trans people in the Criminal Code and the Canadian Human Rights Act, Bill C-16 is an expression of cherished Canadian values: equality of opportunity and equal protection under the law.
Honourable Senators, I would like to conclude by sharing the experience of Professor Buechner, an Associate Professor of Music from the University of British Columbia. Professor Buechner graduated from the Juilliard School of Music in 1984 as a piano soloist. Senator Mitchell referred to her the other day. In 1986, she won the top American prize of the International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, and her accomplishments were recognized by Ronald Reagan. Throughout her career, Professor Buechner has played for the likes of former President Bill Clinton and former First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, and many of the world's leading orchestras.
At the age of 37, after a lifetime of questioning, Professor Buechner was diagnosed with gender dysphoria. Professor Buechner subsequently transitioned to her "core" gender, which is female.
Although her musical talent had not changed, Professor Buechner's world suddenly came crashing down around her. Prior to her gender transition, Professor Buechner used to perform for audiences worldwide at least 50 times a year. After her physical transition, she was only invited two or three times a year. Professor Buechner was also fired from her job and subject to frequent verbal and physical harassment. She told our committee, and I quote:
For transgendered folks, identity issues are matters of life and death and of living openly, honestly and freely without fear of prejudice, malice, or worse, violence. We do not ask for or deserve extra rights. We need the same rights as our Canadian brothers and sisters of all races, creeds, denominations and identity.
Honourable senators, I rise today to ask you to support Bill C-16 and have this bill passed before Christmas. I ask you this because the last time this bill was rejected by this house or not dealt with as fast as it should, I cannot tell you how disappointed I saw the transgender community. It broke my heart.
Senators, it would be a wonderful gift to give to that community, to say we senators care, and we want to bring you in line with all other communities.
Honourable senators I have given a lot of thought to the next thing I'm going to say. I really do not want to say it, but I feel compelled to share something with you, the toilet question. I do this today in honour of Charlie.
Charlie came to Parliament Hill, and she referred to the flag on the Hill. She is a little girl, 12 years old, who came to our committee and said, "Make me equal to all children."
Honourable senators, I share this story with you. My siblings don't know about this; only my parents and I know. When I was a four-year-old girl, my parents sent me to a neighbourhood school. It was at a time when my country of birth, Uganda, was in a British protectorate. Our neighbours were all White.
I insisted, and begged my parents to send me to a school with my friends, as these friends played at my home every day. They were my friends. I didn't see them as White. They were my friends.
I remember being sent home after the third day at school. I remember my father came to the school, holding my hand. I never knew why my father was so angry. I had never seen my father like that. When he took me out of that school, I thought I had done something. I was devastated. My father and mother did not have the heart to tell me why I was asked to leave that school.
For a long time, when I went to other schools and my friends were uninvited to my home by my parents, I did not understand why my friends were not allowed to come to my home, and why I could not go to my neighbourhood school.
When I got older, and my dad was a prominent politician in the government, the principal came to our home to ask for a favour. When my dad showed him the door, he said, "You destroyed my daughter's self-esteem." The principal said, "Mr. Jaffer, you must understand that the parents didn't want your daughter to use their children's toilet for security reasons, as you know that she would be carrying some diseases."
Honourable senators, when we make the toilet argument, and when we tell our children these things, we are destroying our children. I will never be the same. I will always worry about who I am. It destroyed my psyche.
I share this with you with great reluctance because I don't want to open old wounds. I am an equal here now and very much loved. I want you to understand that the longer we sit here and the longer we debate the toilet — may I have five minutes?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Jaffer: The longer we debate this issue, the longer our precious Canadian children are getting hurt in schools. I ask you humbly, don't let them get hurt.
I did not have any diseases. To this day, I don't have a disease, but for the rest of my life, I carry a disease that I was not as good as my friends. Don't do that to other children that we love. Let us pass this legislation. The time has arrived.
I opened my soul to you because of little Charlie who came to the Hill. I owe it to her. I tell you, the longer we do not pass this bill, we cause great disservice to our little Canadian children.
I ask you to pass this bill, and then work with us so that once we have passed the bill, we will work with Canadians to change attitudes. Transgender people in Canada are also our people.
Hon. Donald Neil Plett: Will Senator Jaffer take a question?
Senator Jaffer, I listened very seriously to your arguments, and I'm not about to debate any of them here today. The time will come for me to make my speech.
I am a little perplexed that you would want us to pass a bill without debate, which you kind of suggested, but we'll leave that aside for now.
I think all legislation needs thorough debate. I have always supported legislation going to committee. At some point I will support this legislation going to committee, by all means, whether it be in the next few days or weeks.
My question to you is this: I have received, on this particular bill, dozens of e-mails, phone calls and letters from transgender people who are not supporting this bill; from feminists who are not supporting this bill, feminists who are saying they have worked their whole lives in favour of the feminist situation now biological men are saying they are becoming that.
The transgender community that believes there are only two genders, their issue is they want to be the other gender. Yet, 70-plus genders will be included in this bill.
This bill compels speech. It doesn't just work against freedom of speech. It actually compels certain speech.
What do you say to the transgender community that says there should only be two genders?
An Hon. Senator: There are.
Senator Plett: No, there are not.
My question is to Senator Jaffer. There should only be two genders. They just simply want to be the other gender.
Senator Jaffer: Thank you for your question. I know how hard you also work on this issue, and I honour that.
Senator, I would be the last person who would say not to debate. I'm not saying do not debate. Let's debate, but as we do, as on many bills, we work hard on it. Let's make this a bill we pass before Christmas. That's all I'm asking.
Senator, you speak about getting a lot of letters. I have received them, and every senator here has as well. Trust me, I have gotten many letters. I truly believe that if you're a leader or a politician in this place, I genuinely believe you have a responsibility to make every Canadian equal.
I'll give you my experience. When we were having the civil marriage debate — may I have two minutes?
The Hon. the Speaker: Two minutes, colleagues?
Senator Plett: To answer the question, yes.
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Jaffer: When we were having the civil-marriage debate in this house, I received, as a Muslim woman, 10,000 letters from people telling me that I should not support that bill. I supported it because I felt, as a politician, it was my duty.
To this day, there are some mosques that I'm not welcome to. But I believe that if there is a Canadian that is asking us not to let this discrimination continue, I, as a politician, have to hear that plea.
(On motion of Senator Martin, debate adjourned.)
Canada Labour Code
Bill to Amend—Second Reading—Debate Continued
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Bellemare, seconded by the Honourable Senator Harder, P.C., for the second reading of Bill C-4, An Act to amend the Canada Labour Code, the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act, the Public Service Labour Relations Act and the Income Tax Act.
Hon. Jean-Guy Dagenais: Honourable senators, I would first like to take this opportunity to welcome our newly-appointed senators. It is a privilege to welcome you to this place of sober second thought, this place of work that you will come to discover over time.
The independence that the Prime Minister has given you will allow you to appreciate the merits of the arguments against Bill C-4 that I will present to you. This bill would essentially release unions from the recently-imposed legal obligation to submit their financial statements every year and for workers wishing to unionize to return to a vote by show of hands.
Those two provisions alone are reason enough for us to reject what I consider a political gift that the government is giving the powerful union leaders to the detriment of many Canadian workers. These provisions were well hidden in a bill that the government christened "An Act to amend the Canada Labour Code, the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act, the Public Service Labour Relations Act and the Income Tax Act". What a nice long title.
Those who received briefing notes from the Department of Employment and Social Development need only go to page 2 to understand the objectives. These two paragraphs sum up quite well the government's intentions.
The first paragraph reads as follows:
The primary objective is to overturn the provisions of Bill 377 that come under the Department of National Revenue and force unions to submit their financial statements.
The second paragraph says:
The second objective is to repeal the rules in Bill 525 that come under the Department of Labour, on the secret ballot.
I will be brief, but I would like to take a moment of your time to explain the insidious nature of these provisions, should they be passed. First, you should know that I am a former union leader and that I sponsored Bill C-377, which was adopted by the previous government and sought to require unions to submit their financial statements to the Canada Revenue Agency.
I fought for that measure. It was the result of the careful consideration and disturbing observations made by the Charbonneau Commission of Inquiry in Quebec, which shed light on the unscrupulous wrongdoing of union leaders who personally benefitted from their members' union dues. Something similar happened in Ontario where, last year, Ontario Provincial Police Association leaders misappropriated members' money and invested it for personal gain. Despite calls for greater transparency, union leaders are putting pressure on politicians to excuse them from this obligation
Why are very powerful unions, which have become virtual corporations larger than small and medium-sized businesses, not subject to this transparency requirement and the same obligations as Canadian charities, which are required to open their books?
Why do they deserve special treatment? Why are some politicians willing to give in to these union bosses who, may I remind you, were so quick to orchestrate a disinformation campaign and positioned themselves as poor victims of a union-busting government?
Contrary to what some would have you believe, Bill C-377 was not anti-union in the least. Would anyone openly suggest that the government is anti-charity because non-profits have to open their books?
I have never heard anyone say anything like that, and everyone obeys the law. Bill C-377 was designed to protect union members from wrongdoing on the part of their leaders, but the current government fell right into their trap. Then, to get union leaders' support in the last election campaign, the Liberals promised to overturn the bill once in office. Now we're paying the price for that election promise.
What are some of the arguments being used by the proponents of Bill C-4? They will tell you that it is an onerous requirement and that it will be costly for unions. They will also tell you that having to process all those financial statements means an additional expenditure for the Canada Revenue Agency. Personally, I don't think that those arguments hold water.
As for the argument that it is an onerous and costly requirement for unions, I'm having a really hard time understanding that. On the one hand, we are told that the provision is not needed given that union members already have access to their union's financial statements. If union members really do have access, how is that requirement going to be costly? In fact, the accountant would only have to make an extra copy.
Let me go even further. I would guess that many proponents of Bill C-4 have never seen the financial statements of a union. I would like to show them a copy of one so that they are not influenced when it comes time for us to vote on this bill.
I brought copies of some of the financial statements I prepared every year when I was president of Quebec's provincial police association, statements that I had to submit to the Autorité des marchés financiers du Québec for insurance purposes. These are audited financial statements. In this ten-page document, there is no mention of the names of the head of the association, the director, nor the names of suppliers or any professionals such as lawyers or actuaries. The document contains only budgetary items and figures that show how the union dues were used. The only name in the financial statements is mine, which appears at the bottom of the last page because I had to sign the document as president of the association.
I am telling you this because I prepared financial statements for eight years as vice-president of finance, and I approved them for seven years in my capacity as president. Those who support Bill C-4 would have you believe that privacy rights could be compromised by the presence of identifying information in financial statements. When you look at these financial statements, you will see that they do not violate privacy rights.
Some presidents of police unions stated that their names appearing on financial statements could endanger their safety. I invite you to view the financial statements of the Association des policières et policiers provinciaux du Québec. You will see the president's photograph. If having one's photo on a website does not pose a risk, having one's name appear on financial statements sure doesn't. There are no names on our financial statements, so there is not much of a risk.
I would like to come back to the costs that this measure will create. Unless the union's photocopiers use gold paper, every copy costs all of four cents.
Let us do the math. It will take 40 cents for the photocopy to be sent to the Canada Revenue Agency, and let us not forget the 85-cent stamp. It will cost $1.25. What a burden. In my opinion, we are nowhere near overwhelming a union with that kind of cost.
To justify the repeal of Bill C-377, the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, MaryAnn Mihychuk, said that the provisions in question were "punitive and unnecessary". It is no more punitive for a union to file financial statements than it is for a charitable organization.
I will ask you the following question once again: Why is the government giving unions this gift? Why is it giving more privileges to unions than to charitable organizations that are required to file their financial statements every year?
I am asking you a very important question. I sincerely hope that you'll think about it before endorsing the bill that is before you.
Bill C-377, which was passed in 2015, was the result of several years of work by Russ Hiebert. He introduced a private member's bill that led to countless consultations at the other place and even here, in the Senate. Serious work was done by parliamentarians, work that the current government and the minister want to undo, claiming that was the mandate the public gave them in the 2015 election.
Minister Mihychuk even said that Canadians were consulted on the matter during the election. I believe that the only people this government consulted were union leaders.
Today, what we have here is nothing more than a shameless election promise that was made to powerful union leaders to the detriment of protecting workers who pay their dues. We also have here a silly and ridiculous argument about the cost of such a measure to the Canada Revenue Agency.
Am I living in an alternate reality or is there a chance that this argument might one day lead us to voting on exempting an individual, a business, or an organization from filing an annual income tax return because it is too hard and too expensive for officials to verify? Let's get serious. This isn't theatre. We are working for the common good of a society called Canada. To me, everyone is equal, including the union I belonged to. Citizens, businesses, charities and unions are equal in the eyes of the taxman. That is the law.
I would like to move on to the second provision hidden in Bill C-4, voting by show of hands. There are provisions covering various percentages for certification and decertification. I can live with that because these measures are the same as in the Province of Quebec. The problem, as I see it, is replacing the secret ballot with a card check system. That is a joke to anyone who genuinely wants to protect workers.
It's a real shame that I have to talk about how workers can be stigmatized whether they're for or against unionizing. A secret ballot is their only protection. When unions want to unionize a group of workers, no holds are barred, and some people give in to avoid being singled out or even attacked, sometimes violently, by unions known for their forceful methods, such as the construction union.
The same goes for employers who want to prevent their workers from unionizing. Sometimes anonymity is best if one hopes to move up in the company later. A secret ballot is the wisest and safest way for workers to express their will. It creates a safe space for freedom of expression.
In my opinion, this provision of Bill 525 needs to be in the Public Service Relations Act. I really do not understand what is driving this government to return to outdated rules and to speak of membership cards. In fact, you should know that some unions no longer have membership cards and that some unions never even used them, as is the case for the association where I served as president.
What role does a card system play in controlling the membership of a union? Why use a flawed system when we could easily use the secret ballot? This is a fine example of the outdated methods I referred to. You will therefore understand that I cannot support Bill C-4 if it contains this provision.
In closing, I wish to speak briefly about the procedures mentioned in Senator Ringuette's speech at the beginning of the week. Our new senators should know that our work is governed by clear rules and that we have all the legal services we need to ensure they are enforced.
To cite irregularities after losing a vote seems to me to be an insult to the institution. The Senator claims that one day she had the support of 23 Conservative senators to prevent the passage of Bill C-377. In my opinion, that only proves that senators, both independent senators and those with a party affiliation, are capable of listening, analyzing, and making decisions independently for the good of Canadians.
However I would like to add one thing: this support was given well before I was entrusted with Bill C-377. At the time, I was the only senator with a union background. I had seen and gone through certain situations, which is entirely different than relying on academic theories that often don't reflect the reality on the ground. I am not claiming to have a university degree in labour law, but when you spend 28 years in the thick of it, including 15 years on the executive of a union as both vice-president and president, I think you learn a lot more from working on the ground. I think some people would do well to think carefully about how much of their knowledge they want to share, and leave more room for people with experience when it comes to deciding such important matters for workers.
The results of the June 2015 vote were very different because I took the time to meet with senators, Conservatives and Liberals alike, to explain to them what was in the bill and why it was so important that it be passed, not for union leaders, but rather for the well-being of workers. Those senators, who had become the messengers of politicians and union leaders whose claims they were blindly defending, had to weigh the personal experience I shared with them against that rhetoric.
Bill C-377 passed. There you have the legislative history if this bill.
You now have before you Bill C-4, which removes the obligation for unions to submit their financial statements, and replaces secret ballot voting with union membership. It is clear that this step backwards is unacceptable and that the bill serves as a gift not to workers, but rather to union leaders. It's particularly clear that Bill C-4 is not in the interest of workers, labour relations in Canada or in the interest of the tax fairness that must exist in our society among citizens, businesses, charities and unions.
Hon. Pierrette Ringuette: Would the honourable senator take a few questions?
Senator Dagenais: Yes.
Senator Ringuette: At the beginning of your speech you said that you had a 10-page document from the association you worked for previously. Can you tell us whether those financial statements were given to members and whether they were also submitted to the Quebec minister responsible for labour relations?
Senator Dagenais: Thank you for the question, Senator. At the annual convention I would hand out 200 copies to my delegates. I knew very well that one copy of this report would end up on the desk of the chief of the Quebec Provincial Police, and the Minister of Public Security also had a copy. As I mentioned, my association administered the health insurance plans, hospital insurance, medical and dental insurance, and life insurance. I had to submit the financial statements to the Quebec ministry of revenue because we paid a tax on insurance. I also had to submit my reports to the Autorité des marchés financiers du Québec, which required that we have a quorum of 175 people in order to approve the financial statements and the insurance. All the information was in one document. At that point everyone had a copy of the documents. We only needed to produce one supplementary copy, which did not cost a fortune.
Senator Ringuette: Senator Dagenais, I did not hear you say that you were responsible for submitting a copy of your document to the federal labour minister. You just supported the comments I made Monday evening and the arguments made by this chamber, from 2011 to 2015, to the effect that Bill C-377 was unconstitutional a priori, because it interfered with provincial labour relations laws, which is a provincial jurisdiction under the Constitution.
Thank you for answering our questions, confirming this provincial jurisdiction and also the fact that Bill C-377 is unconstitutional. The primary responsibility of this chamber is to examine whether the bills before us are constitutional.
Senator Dagenais: Madam Senator, as I mentioned in my presentation, charitable organizations are required to submit financial statements to the Canada Revenue Agency. Within the framework of Bill C-377, I would not have hesitated to submit my income statements.
I heard some say that this will represent a cost to the unions. I proved that this did not cost a penny. I had no objection and I was fully prepared to do so if asked. I am no constitutional expert. However, I am an expert in union financial statements and I am totally comfortable submitting them to the CRA. I don't understand what people have against submitting these financial statements.
Senator Ringuette: Senator Dagenais, you still don't understand, after four years, that you cannot compare the situation with that of charitable organizations, which fall under federal jurisdiction and can only be certified by the federal government. Within their charters, charitable organizations are under no obligation to provide their annual financial statements, not to their donors or to their members. It is not the case for union organizations. Ninety per cent of union organizations are certified by provincial governments.
You may well know all about the content of union financial statements, but you have never understood, and still don't to this day, the implications of Bill C-377.
Senator Dagenais: Madam Senator, I hope you know that unions are non-profit organizations. In fact, they are tax exempt. It is important to know the difference between a non-profit organization and a charitable organization. If the bill is referred to committee and you wish to make amendments to it, we will review them in due course.
Hon. André Pratte: Would the honourable senator take another question?
Senator Dagenais: Gladly.
Senator Pratte: I'm sure the senator will agree that, besides the financial statements he talked about, which he said were the only requirement in Bill C-377, that bill actually requires unions to submit a lot more documentation and information. I would like to read a brief excerpt from the requirements in Bill C-377:
(viii) a statement with the aggregate amount of disbursements to employees and contractors including gross salary, stipends, periodic payments, benefits (including pension obligations), vehicles, bonuses, gifts, service credits, lump sum payments . . .
(viii.1) a statement with a reasonable estimate of the percentage of time dedicated by persons referred to . . . to each of political activities . . .
(ix) a statement with the aggregate amount of disbursements on labour relations activities,
(x) a statement of disbursements on political activities . . .
(xiii) a statement with the aggregate amount of disbursements on administration,
(xiv) a statement with the aggregate amount of disbursements on general overhead,
(xv) a statement with the aggregate amount of disbursements on organizing activities . . .
It goes on for three pages.
Would the senator agree that Bill C-377 requires quite a lot more than financial statements?
Senator Dagenais: I have here the financial statements page on payroll costs, which include the salaries of directors, executives, committees and employees, payroll taxes, pension funds, travel expenses, hospitality expenses, committee and subcommittee operating costs, arbitration expenses, legal expenses, actuarial and consultation expenses, expenses for conventions, union training, general assemblies, special general assemblies, contract negotiations and, of course, to top it off, occupational health and safety training.
All of these items are listed in detail in the financial statements.
Senator Pratte: The difference here is that all expenses over $5,000 must be listed. That is quite a difference compared to what is required in the financial statements.
Senator Dagenais: I would urge Senator Pratte to peruse the financial statements. He will see that all expenditures are over $5,000. I will not list all the amounts individually. Some executive salaries, for instance, are over $500,000 and $200,000. There are committee expenditures of $24,000. All expenditures over $5,000 are listed there.
Hon. Diane Bellemare (Legislative Deputy to the Government Representative in the Senate): Is it not true, Senator, that in addition to the $5,000, Bill C-377 also provides for the names of beneficiaries to be disclosed as well as the reason for all expenditures? This includes all financial advisors, economists or anyone working even as a gardener or window washer on union premises. Anyone who receives $5,000 or more at any time during the year will see their name, the reason for their remuneration, and other clear identifying information posted on the Internet. This violates the privacy charter. All the experts and everyone who appeared before the Banking Committee and the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee emphasized this.
Senator Dagenais: Talking about the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is all well and good. When I was president of the association, I, too, had to answer to my members. If someone told me I had to specify the name of the law firm when listing legal fees, I would not have hesitated. If someone told me I had to list the name of the actuaries, I would not have hesitated. I would also have not hesitated to disclose the salaries of the five vice-presidents as well as my own.
We are talking about transparency here. We have nothing to hide. When certain unions are uncomfortable with that requirement, I have to wonder why. You should know, Senator Bellemare, because you come from Quebec and you know about QFL Construction. I would not have hesitated to disclose people's names. What the president of the police union and others told me they resented was not a violation of their Charter rights, but of their safety. They were worried that their names would be seen. I would suggest they stop making websites with their pictures on them, which is worse. I raised the issue one day with Tom Stamatakis, President of the Canadian Police Association, and he told me that it was indeed a danger. I told him to take his picture down if he was so scared.
I was very comfortable with this measure. If I had been president of the provincial police association, I would have had no issue submitting my financial statements under Bill C-377. It is a question of transparency to the workers.
Senator Bellemare: I am going to switch gears with my next question. Isn't it true, Senator Dagenais, that Bill C-4 is not a bill that casts doubt on the merits of Bills C-377 and C-525, but a bill that seeks to restore the balance of power between employees, employers, unions, and bosses, in a context where legislation was adopted unilaterally?
I'm not at all against private bills, but in this particular case, two labour relations laws were imposed even though Canada's usual approach is much more consensual. The usual approach is to come to an agreement, not to unilaterally change the balance of power, as Bill C-377 and Bill C-525 were designed to do.
What do you think of this study, which was done not by an academic but by the then Department of Human Resources and Skills Development back when we started talking about Bill C-525 and then Bill C-377?
The study was entitled Union Certification Regimes and Declining Union Density in the Canadian Business Sector, and it identified factors that contributed to declining union density in Canada's private sector.
The study, which was tabled, concluded that, in Canada, if secret ballots in certain provinces had not taken place, the unionization rate would not have declined as much. The study corroborated studies done elsewhere, such as in the United States, as well as provincial studies.
The study was kept secret, and the report was released only recently. It was not until this past spring that the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, the Honourable MaryAnn Mihychuk, made it public.
Senator Dagenais, as a former union leader, how do you respond to a study like this one that shows how some tactics limit the expression of democracy in the workplace and how employers can use these somewhat heavy-handed tactics against people who want to cast a vote in the workplace?
Senator Dagenais: As I explained during my presentation, I was a member of a union for 28 years, and I can tell you that the best way to vote has always been by secret ballot. Correct me if I am mistaken. You are saying that the rate of unionization has dropped because of secret ballots.
I have chaired a meeting where 2,000 people were in the room and I can tell you that I would have had problems without the secret ballot. I will give you an example. When there is a vote on a labour contract, it is not done by a show of hands. People had a ballot to vote for or against it. They listened to the explanations and then they went to vote in a designated area. If there were pressure tactics, do you think that I would ask them to vote by show of hands? That would have been uncontrollable.
I did not come up with any theories or conduct any studies, but I saw it with my own eyes for 28 years. Having a secret ballot is a way of expressing a viewpoint. Between you and me, when we vote in Canada, it is not by show of hands. We vote by secret ballot.
In my opinion, the secret ballot is very important. Union associations have recently been lining up in my office to ask that we keep the secret ballot. I do not see how the employer could exert any pressure. The employer usually allows its unionized workers to meet and that is the case for most people. I do not wish to speak about the RCMP because that is another matter.
Do all the consultations you like; people will approve of secret ballot voting because it is a way to express oneself, and more importantly, without being subjected to any undue pressure, which is what happened with FTQ Construction on the North Shore.
(On motion of Senator Tannas, debate adjourned.)
Motion to Affect Question Period on December 6, 2016, Adopted
Hon. Diane Bellemare (Legislative Deputy to the Government Representative in the Senate), pursuant to notice of November 30, 2016, moved:
That, in order to allow the Senate to receive a Minister of the Crown during Question Period as authorized by the Senate on December 10, 2015, and notwithstanding rule 4-7, when the Senate sits on Tuesday, December 6, 2016, Question Period shall begin at 3:30 p.m., with any proceedings then before the Senate being interrupted until the end of Question Period, which shall last a maximum of 40 minutes;
That, if a standing vote would conflict with the holding of Question Period at 3:30 p.m. on that day, the vote be postponed until immediately after the conclusion of Question Period;
That, if the bells are ringing for a vote at 3:30 p.m. on that day, they be interrupted for Question Period at that time, and resume thereafter for the balance of any time remaining; and
That, if the Senate concludes its business before 3:30 p.m. on that day, the sitting be suspended until that time for the purpose of holding Question Period.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Hon Senators: Agreed.
(Motion agreed to.)
Aboriginal Languages of Canada Bill
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Joyal, P.C., seconded by the Honourable Senator Eggleton, P.C., for the second reading of Bill S-212, An Act for the advancement of the aboriginal languages of Canada and to recognize and respect aboriginal language rights.
Hon. Dennis Glen Patterson: Honourable senators, I rise today to speak to Bill S-212, An Act for the advancement of the aboriginal languages of Canada and to recognize and respect aboriginal language rights.
In February 1983, a man by the name of Daniel St. Jean was issued a traffic ticket in Yukon. He challenged the speeding ticket on the grounds that it was written only in English. The Territorial Court ordered him to pay the ticket. He challenged the ticket in the Yukon Supreme Court, arguing that he was being denied the right to communicate with and receive available services from an institution of the Parliament or Government of Canada contrary to section 20 of the Constitution Act, 1982.
On March 21, 1984, the federal government of the day introduced Bill C-26, which proposed to apply the official languages provisions of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Official Languages Act to the territories. At the request of Mr. St. Jean's lawyer, the case was adjourned indefinitely while the bill made its way through the legislative process.
Your Honour, the territories have a long and proud tradition of recognizing, respecting and protecting Aboriginal language rights. When the government tabled this bill without prior consultation, it was met with great consternation in both territorial governments.
I remember the late Honourable John Munro, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, flying in to Yellowknife for an evening meeting with the Northwest Territories Executive Council, of which I was then a member, to tell us that this bill was being introduced and official bilingualism was being imposed on the Northwest Territories. "This is an act of war," I told the minister in somewhat hyperbolic fashion. "We have more tanks than you do," the minister replied.
Of course we didn't want to start a war with the federal government, on which the territories then and now depend substantially for operating funds. This rather unilateral and arbitrary action on the part of the federal government and the parking ticket in Whitehorse actually ended up, as I will explain, leading to great progress in the Northwest Territories both for the recognition of Canada's two official languages by the territories, which I support, and for federal support for the Aboriginal languages of the North.
In the Northwest Territories, during the time I was an MLA and a minister of education, since this was before division and the creation of Nunavut, we also had a robust system in place to promote and preserve indigenous languages, such as the establishment of the Northwest Territories Interpreter Corps and the creation of the Indigenous Language Development Fund, which provided funding for skills and training development conducted in or used to further an indigenous language. However, the amendment to the Northwest Territories Act that would have made French a full official language in the territories sparked a series of important steps that I am proud to have been a part of.
During a special legislative assembly meeting in Fort Smith on May 14, 1984, our then-premier, the Honourable Richard Nerysoo, reported to the assembly on a deal that our Executive Council — or cabinet, as you would know it — had negotiated with Ottawa in the hopes of having the entire legislative assembly bless the arrangement.
Let me tell you a bit about that historic meeting in Ottawa, which I attended. In those days, it was a big event for us to obtain a meeting with a federal minister. They had all the power over us, financially and constitutionally. The significant federal contribution to our territorial budget was at that time a line item in the budget of the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs. In fact, our constitutions — the Yukon and Northwest Territories and now Nunavut Acts — are federal acts, and the federally appointed commissioner was then the de facto head of the territorial government.
So meeting a federal minister was scary, and trying to negotiate funds even more so, but this meeting was a breeze. I have never had a more successful meeting with a federal minister. The minister we met with, and the then-Secretary of State, was the Honourable Serge Joyal.
Some Hon. Senators: Oh, oh!
Senator Patterson: This minister was eager to help us further develop and recognize our Aboriginal languages. The generous funding commitment we took credit for securing had been worked out by our officials in advance. It was left to us to talk about how we could make this exciting initiative work, and it has worked well over many years since then.
The premier and I came back and recommended to our MLA colleagues that it was not wise for the mouse to take a confrontational approach with the elephant of the federal government. Our government leader spoke about his dealings with the Secretary of State, the Honourable Serge Joyal. Several members expressed concerns about the fast pace at which they were being asked to consider the deal and the official languages legislation we proposed. Others suggested that consultation with constituents was imperative.
As Minister of Education, I supported the arrangement, stating at the time:
I would like to explain that those who have developed this position that we are presenting to you today have felt just as uncomfortable and just as rushed as some members have expressed in this house. This initiative is not an initiative of the Government of the Northwest Territories; it results from an initiative of the federal government. It is something that will not just go away if we take more time or go back to our constituents, because the federal government has advanced a bill in the House of Commons which is before the house. We cannot just ignore the issue, although perhaps we all wish it would not have arisen in this manner, and I can sympathize with that. . . .
As members may know, our indigenous language fund is scheduled to terminate at the end of this coming fiscal year. I am confident that if we do not have federal help we will somehow be able to readjust our priorities and I am sure with the support of this house be able to scrape up more money to continue this work. But it would be much more progressive if we could get support from the federal government. And I think it must be understood that the strategy we are recommending to this house would, if successful, permit significant funds to be advanced for the Aboriginal languages. This is the only condition on which I can support the entrenchment of French — if there is equal, if not greater attention, paid to the Aboriginal languages.
I think if members are concerned about appearing to support a language that their constituents will not use they should understand that this is only a strategy; that we are proposing to see significant funds provided for the languages that are of importance to the vast majority of our constituents.
I went on to mention briefly that I had francophones in my constituency of Frobisher Bay, as it then was — one of the few constituencies that did have a significant number of francophones — that they had taken a reasonable stance in supporting the primacy of Aboriginal languages in the Northwest Territories.
In that historic session in Fort Smith, our government was successful in securing, with an assembly with a majority of Aboriginal members, approval for an Official Languages Act that conferred official language status to English, French and the nine Aboriginal languages of the Northwest Territories, namely, Chipewyan, Cree, Gwich'in, Inuinnaqtun, Inuktitut, Inuvialuktun, North Slavey, South Slavey and Tlicho spoken in the Northwest Territories.
We have to thank the federal government, though their first approach was provocative, but particularly the Honourable Serge Joyal, for allowing us to cajole many Aboriginal MLAs from small communities where French was not spoken to see the recognition of French in the territory as an opportunity for making history and setting a notable precedent in Canada to recognize Canada's two official languages in the North but alongside recognition of what we then called in the bill "official Aboriginal languages."
The political deal with Canada was sealed when the Secretary of State came up with $16 million over five years for activities to "preserve, develop and enhance" Aboriginal languages, which was generous. It's the equivalent of over $33 million today.
A task force was created, charged with carrying out consultation in all NWT communities and reporting back to the assembly. These agreements became known as Territorial Language Accords. These accords replaced the Indigenous Language Development Fund which expired at the end of the 1984-85 fiscal year.
In the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Senator Sinclair noted that these accords are still in place; however, the funding is diminished. An amount of $4.1 million is set aside each year to support Aboriginal language services in NWT and Nunavut, while Yukon's 11 self-government agreements receive $5 million for "language revitalization and preservation" initiatives. This is also meagrely supplemented by Canadian Heritage's Aboriginal Languages Initiative, which offers a pot of a $5 million for First Nations, Inuit and Metis communities throughout Canada that coordinators of eligible programs can apply to access.
When Nunavut was created on April 1, 1999, it adopted the NWT's Official Languages Act, and the Government of Nunavut, its boards and agencies, the courts and the legislative assembly are expected to provide services in an official language where there is a significant demand. A report released by a special committee reviewing the Official Languages Act in December 2003 recommended that a new Official Languages Act be created that recognizes the equal status of Inuit, French and English languages, and it recommended that an Inuktitut Language Protection Act be created.
On June 4, 2008, the Official Languages Act was passed in the Nunavut legislature, removing the Dene languages that do not apply in Nunavut and, on September 18, 2008, the Inuit Language Protection Act was also passed.
Honourable senators, I firmly believe that this history of federal support for Aboriginal languages, championed over 30 years ago by a colleague in this chamber, Senator Joyal, then in another capacity, was a significant factor in the exponentially higher percentage of Inuit who speak their language compared to First Nations and Metis populations, as indicated by Senator Sinclair in his November 17 speech in this chamber. To reiterate, 63.7 per cent of Inuit speak their language.
I would like to take this opportunity to note another former champion of Aboriginal languages who sits in this chamber, Senator Dan Lang of Yukon. On March 26, 1984, a motion was introduced and unanimously passed in the Yukon legislature to recognize Yukon's efforts and responsibilities to develop and protect programs and policies "which enhance the use of French and Aboriginal languages in Yukon."
The Minister responsible for Municipal and Community Affairs; and Economic Development, the Honourable Dan Lang, highlighted Yukon's previous achievements, calling on the government to ". . . examine our education system and programs instituted over the past decades, which have encouraged and fostered the preservation of native languages and heritage." I expect we will not need to persuade Senator Lang to support this bill.
Colleagues, Bill S-212 marks the third time that Senator Joyal has introduced this bill, I believe. As I have explained, he has long been an advocate for the preservation of Aboriginal language rights, and was quoted in the Yukon legislature as having emphasized that "French and aboriginal languages [have] equal status" during a television interview in 1984. Previous iterations of his bill have not been examined by a parliamentary committee and I believe this is a shame.
Colleagues, the Trudeau government has committed to implementing all 94 calls to action put forward by the TRC report. Number 14 specifically calls upon the federal government to:
. . . enact an Aboriginal Languages Act that incorporates the following principles:
i. Aboriginal languages are a fundamental and valued element of Canadian culture and society, and there is an urgency to preserve them.
ii. Aboriginal language rights are reinforced by the Treaties.
iii. The federal government has a responsibility to provide sufficient funds for Aboriginal-language revitalization and preservation.
iv. The preservation, revitalization, and strengthening of Aboriginal languages and cultures are best managed by Aboriginal people and communities.
v. Funding for Aboriginal language initiatives must reflect the diversity of Aboriginal languages.
I believe that this proposed action is not dissimilar to what we are committed to and have made progress in accomplishing in the North.
Honourable senators, I believe the time is right for us to take a closer look at what this bill can do for indigenous languages throughout the country. I applaud Senator Joyal for his persistent and unwavering support of indigenous language and support the movement of this bill to committee.
The Hon. the Speaker: Are honourable senators ready for the question?
Hon. Senators: Question.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
(Motion agreed to and bill read second time.)
Referred to committee
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be read the third time?
(On motion of Senator Joyal, bill referred to the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Affairs.)
Business of the Senate
Hon. Diane Bellemare (Legislative Deputy to the Government Representative in the Senate): This is for clarification, Your Honour, about the minister who will come next week for QP. It will be the Minister of Justice, Jody Wilson-Raybould, so that everyone knows.
Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
Bill to Amend—Second Reading
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Campbell, seconded by the Honourable Senator Pratte, for the second reading of Bill C-224, An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (assistance — drug overdose).
Hon. Vernon White: Honourable senators, I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-224, An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (assistance — drug overdose).
The Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Bill amends the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act with respect to assistance during drug overdose. This legislation aims to lift the fear of reporting a drug overdose by providing those who call 911 during an overdose amnesty from being charged with drug possession.
Fear of prosecution continues to be a barrier in calling for help even as the number of drug overdose deaths rises across this country. It has been indicated that a high number of people would not call 911 during an overdose situation, citing potential criminal charges as a primary barrier. Young people are afraid to get arrested or that their parents or family will find out what happened. That hesitation has and will cost lives!
This bill would be a first in Canada to encourage people to seek medical attention for an overdose or for follow-up care after naloxone has been administered. Honourable senators, 37 U.S. states and the District of Columbia have enacted some form of a good Samaritan or 911 drug immunity law already. These laws generally provide immunity from supervision violations and low-level drug possession and use offences when a person who is either experiencing or observing an opiate-related overdose calls 911 for assistance or otherwise seeks medical attention for themselves or another.
In 2015, nearly every U.S. state enacted legislation addressing the use of opioids, including heroin and prescription drugs. In 2016, policymakers have continued to seek solutions that try to curb abuse by deterring distribution, increasing treatment and diversion opportunities and expanding immunity programs to save lives.
Bill C-224 only provides an exemption to drug possession charges, not trafficking; not impaired driving. In other words, it will not protect people from arrest for other offences such as trafficking or selling drugs. It protects only the caller and overdose victim from arrest, prosecution for simple drug possession or being under the influence of such substances.
In essence, two individuals are using an illegal drug; one individual is in an overdose situation, an ever growing problem with opioids as we discussed here previously. The second individual can now call for help and do so with the clear knowledge that they will not be charged with drug possession or other similar charges.
The British Columbia Coroners Service, who appeared in the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health, testified that in a study they did on a child death review panel in 2015, the review of cases found that in a significant number of cases the person who died was actually in the company of another person or persons when they took the overdose. In many of those cases, medical help was not summoned in time to be effective in saving the person's life, particularly in the case of overdose with opioid drugs where prompt administration of the antidote naloxone can reverse the effect of the opioid before death ensues. In some cases, the companions may have been reluctant to call for help because they were afraid that call would also bring police, which, they feared, could lead to them being charged themselves with offences such as possession of illegal drugs. Several other studies have also found that the fear of police involvement is likely to make drug users hesitant to call for immediate help.
Honourable senators, let me share an example of how important this legislation is. A few months ago, you had Bill S-225, An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, before you. We invited Ms. Marie Agioritis to appear at the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs. Ms. Agioritis is the mother of Kelly Best, a 19-year-old young man who overdosed and subsequently died from an overdose of fentanyl. On January 3, 2015, as Kelly lay dying on the couch of a fentanyl drug overdose, the other person in the room didn't call 911. Instead, the young man panicked, fearing he would be held responsible for the event, and phoned his father several times over a 40-minute period before reaching him. The father in turn called first responders, who declared Kelly dead at his home. Ms. Agioritis told us that by the time help arrived, it was too late. There was no opportunity to revive him.
As difficult as it was for her to relive this traumatic event in committee, I would like to use this moment to thank her from the bottom of my heart for her important contribution in our fight on the opioid overdose crisis.
Honourable senators, there is a very small window of opportunity to save the life of a person overdosing. In the case of fentanyl, it is less than 20 minutes. That 20-minute overdose window between life and death is more often more than not plenty of time for our first responders to react and arrive. When a 911 call is received, it becomes a priority. That priority determines the sense of urgency with respect to response times and sets standards within their emergency models. Essentially, they often arrive within minutes of receiving a call. Kelly's friend was not only panicking because a friend was dying in front of him. He was panicking because he feared he would be held responsible for the event.
Honourable senators, this bill, which has received support from all parties in the House of Commons, brings attention to the epidemic crisis of overdose, which still requires more action from government. I thank Senator Campbell for carrying the torch on this bill, and I hope you'll join me in supporting C-224, as I believe it will be one of those life-saving steps in our continuous battle against drug addiction.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
The Hon. the Speaker: Are honourable senators ready for the question?
Some Hon. Senators: Question.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
(Motion agreed to and bill read second time.)
Referred to Committee
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be read the third time?
(On motion of Senator Campbell, bill referred to the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs)
National Anthem Act
Bill to Amend—Second Reading—Debate Continued
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Nancy Ruth, seconded by the Honourable Senator Tkachuk, for the second reading of Bill C-210, An Act to amend the National Anthem Act (gender).
Hon. David M. Wells: Honourable colleagues, I rise today to speak on Bill C-210, An Act to amend the National Anthem Act (gender).
A country's national anthem is arguably one of the most important aspects of a country's history and a symbol of its patriotism. Here in Canada, "O Canada" is a composition that evokes and praises our history, traditions and struggles.
I will speak a little further about the nature, origins and history of our national anthem in a few moments. But first I want to talk to you a little about tradition.
Tradition is the transmission of customs or beliefs from generation to generation. That's important to me, and it's important to most Canadians. It's something that has been fought for and fought over and something that has passed the test of time and, yes, colleagues, the test of politics and political flavour as well. No matter how hard the winds of change blow, they cannot move the traditions that we stand on, because we have passed them from generation to generation.
Traditions are important because they remind us who we are and where we have come from. They are the foundation under our feet in this chamber, which opens and closes each session with the same traditions. They are the art and culture and very fabric of our country. We can change a lot of things about ourselves, but we cannot change our traditions, because then we would lose something — a vital part of ourselves.
In this new era of new political correctness, some have decided that they would change our traditions, like our national anthem, because they want to retell our story. They want to rewrite our history as a country and as a people. For the sake of what they believe, they are willing to take away a piece of our past, a piece of our traditions, but they are not the majority of Canadians.
Their voices cannot be allowed to overshadow the choirs of Canadians who have sung "O Canada" in both official languages for a long time. What the changes proposed in this legislation, and changes to our national anthem, will do is to place a mark on our traditions, a mark that will alter our tradition and rewrite our story in a manner that suits a political viewpoint.
To me that is a dangerous precedent, and I hope you will agree. I spoke earlier about traditions as a part of our art and culture as a country. When you look around the Senate chamber, you can see the traditions that we have maintained, ones that have been passed from generation to generation. All around us are not just symbols, but the embodiment of our democracy and democratic traditions.
Above us, in the set of murals around this room, is a collection of art that is known collectively as the War Paintings. When the Parliament Buildings were being rebuilt after the fire of 1916, these works were commissioned and then displayed to pay homage to the sacrifice of Canadian troops during the Great War. They were rededicated to the Senate Chamber in 1998 as a ". . . measure of devotion in a valiant fight to preserve peace and justice."
All of these paintings are scenes from the First World War, and no one in this chamber would ever dream of asking that they be removed because they reference war. Or that they would be altered, because they are part of our history, our traditions. The one entitled "On Leave" was painted by British artist Clare Atwood, and it depicts a war canteen at a YMCA in one of London's railway stations.
I would point out that there are no female soldiers in this painting and that the only woman in view is serving at the canteen. Would a politically correct purist request this painting be taken down and airbrushed to include female soldiers and perhaps some First Nations soldiers as well? Because they would want us to show their version of history, even if it meant altering an artist's portrayal of what they saw exactly in London in those awful war days. Our anthem is such a portrayal.
On the subject of traditions, I would like to remind colleagues that we have a long series of parliamentary rules, procedures and traditions. One of those is the ability for any member of the other house of our Parliament to bring forward his or her suggestions for changes to our laws and legislation. This process is known as a private member's bill. That is exactly what happened to get this bill in front of us today.
Bill C-210 is a private member's bill. It is not the law of the land, and it is not the policy of the government, the opposition, or even here where we are obligated to give consideration to private members' bills. As such, it is open to our individual debate and individual opinion to make a judgement on whether or not this suggestion should move forward and become the law of the land, something that should be mandated to all Canadians. There are no party lines in this debate; we have only our conscience as our guide.
As many of you know, the late Mauril Bélanger, Member of Parliament for Ottawa—Vanier, put forward this suggestion, this private member's bill, and it received the necessary preliminary approvals from the other place to bring it before us. We all acknowledge the hard work that Mauril Bélanger did within Parliament and his community.
We will all miss Mauril Bélanger, but I would remind my colleagues that his death is not reason enough to pass this legislation and move it closer to enactment, as some have suggested. In fact, that is probably the worst reason to pass legislation or to make government and public policy.
We do not have a practice or tradition of naming legislation after people or honouring them in this way. In this country, we name parks and put up plaques and build statues for people who have earned our respect. We do not honour Mauril Bélanger by passing this legislation, and we do not dishonour his memory by turning it down in favour of our sacred traditions. We need to make good decisions in this chamber by examining the facts and judging each case on its merits.
In the case of this legislation, I would submit to you that the proponents of this change have not made any solid argument to sway me to that side of the question. The challenge that this proposed legislation offers is neither sought nor required in order to make our country more free, more equal or more fair. The change is minimal, that is true, but you simply cannot minimize a change to a long-held tradition like our revered national anthem.
"O Canada" is a musical composition that draws at our hearts and brings us together. At hockey games and on the international stage, we rejoice in singing, along with our family, friends and neighbours. It is part of our fabric as a nation that invokes and praises all of our other history and traditions. What Canadian would not have a deep sense of pride upon hearing our anthem 14 times when our own Senator Petitclerc won gold at the Olympics in Atlanta, Sydney, Athens and Beijing, or Senator Greene Raine at the 1968 Olympics in Grenoble? This is the anthem we know; this is the anthem that is our tradition.
The French lyrics for "O Canada" were written in 1880 by Adolphe-Basile Routhier, and the music was composed by Calixa Lavallée. Many English versions followed, with the most popular one written by Robert Stanley Weir in 1908. Both versions were adopted as the official national anthem in 1980. Since this adoption, many attempts to change the lyrics were made, and none has succeeded.
Even though both songs use the same melody, their lyrics present different messages. For instance, the French version mentions religion, la croix, and conflict, l'épée; and the English version makes allusion to freedom and patriotism. All symbols are honourable aspects of our history.
Honourable senators, Bill C-210 seeks to change the English version. It is not the actual proposed change that is worrisome, but it is the underlying reasons and motivation that serve as the impetus for this change that are troubling.
Changing the words to "in all of us command" is a token of appeasement that is a slippery slope which can inspire other demands for change. We are essentially tossing away an important piece of our history and tradition, all in the name of political correctness.
To take it to the extreme — which is what political correctness does — if we are to be politically correct, why do it in a partial manner? Why not be thorough? For instance, the line, "Our home and native land!" Canada is home to all of its residents, but it would be incorrect to keep the word "our" in front of "native land." Should that term apply only to those born in Canada? No. It is inclusive of all Canadians. Or perhaps to take it to a further politically correct extreme, should "native land" only apply to our First Nations? The cultures of Europe, Asia and Africa are not native to Canada. It is their native land, not ours. Wouldn't this be a much more accurate reflection of our reality?
Colleagues, that is what political correctness does.
The line, "God keep our land glorious and free!" might be problematic for many. When the anthem was first penned, Canada looked quite different than it does today. As I mentioned earlier, French lyrics for "O Canada" were written in 1880 by Monsieur Routhier. In 1880, it is safe to say, the Roman Catholics were a dominant presence in Lower Canada. Although Roman Catholics are still very present today in Canada, there are a myriad of other religions and non-religions that should also be recognized if we are to be so politically correct. Millions of Canadians are atheist, agnostic or humanist. What of them? Why should we not give politically correct consideration to them? Are they not representative of what Canada is today? Should we not make that change? Are our First Nations and Canadians of all other religions or non-religions less deserving of this politically correct treatment?
Let me also talk about my own experience in my home province of Newfoundland and Labrador. The "Ode to Newfoundland" is the official provincial anthem of Newfoundland and Labrador, composed by Sir Cavendish Boyle in 1902. It was chosen as the province's official national anthem in May 1904. In 1949, when our province joined Canada, we adopted the Canadian national anthem, and I can tell you that we proudly sing our Canadian national anthem at all official functions. But we have also maintained the "Ode to Newfoundland."
In 1980, not coincidentally, when "O Canada" was officially proclaimed Canada's national anthem, Newfoundland and Labrador re-adopted the "Ode" as our official provincial anthem, the first province to do so. If you're so fortunate to come to my province, you will certainly hear us sing that proudly as well.
The reason I raise the "Ode to Newfoundland" is to tell you, without hesitation, that the people of my home province would never tolerate changing the words of what many believe it is their sacred duty to uphold. Not all the words of the "Ode" are politically correct. In each of the refrains you will find the word "God" repeated several times, but I have never heard anyone seriously suggest that that particular word be removed. If they did, it would be quickly shot down, if not worse. My honourable colleagues Senator Baker, Senator Doyle, Senator Manning, Senator Marshall and Speaker Furey all know the words and how sacred it is to all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.
I know this because the people of my home province, like most Canadians, favour and support maintaining our traditions. As proof, I offer you the results of a poll taken by VOCM, the most popular media outlet in Newfoundland and Labrador.
On June 16, 2016, the question of the day was, "Do you think the words of our National Anthem should be changed from the line 'in all thy sons' to 'in all of us command'?" Almost 13,000 Newfoundlanders and Labradorians responded. A clear majority said to leave it alone, that our traditions are sacred.
With the introduction of Bill C-210, we have decided to tinker with our foundation so that we may appease, so that we can be politically correct. With time, our anthem will look different because we have decided to forego our history and have our anthem read more like a politically correct testimonial rather than a song of patriotism and a representation of our past.
Honourable colleagues, we need to decide whether we are to have an anthem that contains our proud historical components and is representative of our history, or we are to have an anthem that will undoubtedly be the first step to blanching it with political correctness. A vote for Bill C-210 would most definitely be reflective of the latter.
I want to leave you with a quote and a wish. First the quote:
Canadians can be radical, but they must be radical in their own peculiar way, and that way must be in harmony with our national traditions and ideals.
That quote, colleagues, is from Agnes Macphail, the first woman elected to the Canadian Parliament.
My wish is that you stand with me in this chamber and that you stand up to support our anthem and our traditions. Political correctness may be the passing fashion of today, but what will sustain us and our country is the foundation of our traditions.
When the call for the vote on this bill comes to the floor of the Senate, I hope that you will follow your heart and your conscience. There is a proverb that says, "To change and to change for the better are two different things." Bill C-210 will not change our anthem or our country for the better.
The Hon. the Speaker: Senator Wells, will you take a question?
Senator Wells: I will.
Hon. Joan Fraser: Thank you, Senator Wells.
Colleagues with long memories may recall that I do not support this bill, but may I also say that in spite of that, I am a diehard feminist. For that reason, I would ask you to withdraw the word "appeasement" from your remarks. That is a word which carries its own loaded connotation. To suggest that the bill now before us would constitute appeasement of women or feminists strikes me as an offensive step too far.
The Hon. the Speaker: Excuse me, Senator Wells. Your time has expired. I know you want to answer the question. I did see another senator rise. Are you going to ask for more time?
Senator Wells: I will, yes.
The Hon. the Speaker: Five more minutes?
Senator Wells: I'll take whatever questions are available.
The Hon. the Speaker: Agreed, honourable senators?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Wells: Thank you, Your Honour.
Senator Fraser, I do have great respect for you; you know that. I'm also an ardent feminist. I'm a member of equal voice, and I'm supportive of full equality in our nation.
It's more than just many feminists who are supportive of changing the anthem. Many men are in favour of it as well, so I attach appeasement to them as well. So please don't take this as a direct line of attack or questioning of feminists or women. Many men, obviously, support the change.
I will not change it. I think very carefully before I speak and before I write. I think this is a question of appeasement.
Hon. André Pratte: Would the senator take another question?
Senator Wells: I would, Senator Pratte.
Senator Pratte: Thank you. I am very fond of tradition. I'm also a modest student of history.
Some traditions come to pass and are eventually forgotten. History is oftentimes interpreted differently with time. For a long time we ignored the role of women in history, as we did that of native people.
In your view, what distinguishes traditions that should have a permanent place in our history, in our culture, from traditions that eventually could come to pass? I know, for instance, the language in the French version of our anthem has become dépassé, we might say, and maybe has come to not mean much to many francophones and maybe shouldn't be modernized in some sense.
Senator Wells: Thank you for your question, Senator Pratte.
One thing we can't change is our history. Our history is the foundation of what we are today.
I'm not suggesting that things didn't happen. I'm sincerely and merely saying that what Canada is today, just like what each of us individually is today, is a product what have our foundation is.
I'm not saying that women didn't have an important role — of course they did — as men had an important role. I don't make that distinction between men and women in our history.
Our song is part of our history. That is, I don't think that even ardent feminists stand when they hear the anthem and are ashamed that it's not gender-neutral or politically correct in that way. I simply don't believe that.
I think the anthem, like our flag, like these murals, like all the traditions that we have, are part of our foundation, and I see that as a very important part of our foundation that we can't just change because it might be the fashion of today, which I believe it to be.
Hon. Art Eggleton: You mentioned the flag. That was a change, as well, back in the early 1960s. We all embraced the flag as it exists today.
Actually, the change of the flag also reminds me of a change in the anthem. "O Canada" did not always have the words "in thy sons command." It had other wording, wording closer to what Senator Nancy Ruth and the late Mauril Bélanger, M.P., had moved.
Why is this so difficult for you to embrace when, in fact, the wording of "O Canada" has already been changed in the past?
Senator Wells: Thank you, Senator Eggleton.
Since 1980, it hasn't changed. As long as it has been our official anthem, those are the words. Of course, you'll remember the Conservative Party attempted to change it some years back. I think it was 2007 or 2008. It was quickly knocked down by public opinion.
Our anthem is our anthem. That is the song that represents us when we have that feeling of pride, whenever we sing it before a hockey game or, when I was a child, before our classes.
Directly to your question, it hasn't changed since it's become our official anthem.
(On motion of Senator MacDonald, debate adjourned.)
Study on Issues Related to the Government's Current Defence Policy Review
Seventh Report of National Security and Defence Committee and Request for Government Response—Debate Adjourned
The Senate proceeded to consideration of the seventh report of the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence, entitled UN Deployment: Prioritizing commitments at home and abroad, deposited with the Clerk of the Senate on November 28, 2016.
Hon. Daniel Lang: Honourable senators, I move:
That the report be adopted and that, pursuant to rule 12-24(1), the Senate request a complete and detailed response from the government, with the Minister of National Defence being identified as minister responsible for responding to the report.
Honourable senators, I am pleased to rise and speak about the report from the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence entitled UN Deployment: Prioritizing Commitments at Home and Abroad.
The report was unanimously adopted at the committee and represents a significant effort to examine and report on issues related to the defence policy review, which the Minister of National Defence recommended that we consider on behalf of the government.
Before I get into the substance of the report, I wish to acknowledge the work of the staff, whose contributions were invaluable, including our committee clerk, Adam Thompson; Senator Jaffer's legislative assistant, Alex Mendes; Senator Carignan's policy advisor, Wes McLean; and my director of policy, Naresh Raghubeer; and our Library of Parliament staff, Katherine Simmons and Holly Porteous.
I also wish to thank the members of the committee for their contributions to this study, especially the deputy chair, Senator Jaffer, and the third member of steering, Senator Dagenais. I also very much appreciate the guidance offered to me by Senator Kenny.
Colleagues, with this report, your committee has completed part one of our study. We intend to conclude the second part, more specifically related to the issues of the defence policy review, in early 2017.
As part of this study, your committee heard from 45 witnesses and conducted a fact-finding visit to the United Nations headquarters in New York in October 2016.
Broadly speaking, your committee agrees that participating in peace support operations is a laudable goal. However, we cannot ignore the fact that Canadian military resources are stretched thin.
Canada has commitments to NORAD and NATO which are not being fully met. In fact, our defence spending is below 1 per cent, approximately $20 billion short of our 2 per cent commitment. Canada also has its own national security and defence obligations which are our first priority.
Despite talk of "re-engagement," Canada has never stopped contributing to the United Nations. Over the course of this study, we learned that Canadians provide approximately $1.5 billion dollars to UN programs and agencies annually, including $324 million in 2015-16 for peace support operations.
More than 100 Canadians are presently deployed on UN missions. In addition, more than 1,000 military personnel are deployed on Coalition and NATO missions in Iraq, Syria and Ukraine, and an additional 455 members of the military will be deployed early next year to Latvia.
Your committee notes that Canada has a proud tradition in which 120,000 Canadians have served on UN peacekeeping missions, though these missions have cost 122 Canadian lives.
Colleagues, UN peacekeeping missions have changed dramatically over time. Today's missions are undertaken when there is often no peace to keep. They are more about peace support and the protection of civilians than they are about traditional peacekeeping, where parties agree to end hostilities and international observers monitor the "peace."
Your committee noted that the "Canadian Armed Forces has many ongoing commitments, including to our national defence and our contributions to NORAD and NATO."
What are some of these needs? Let me identify a few.
We are well below the number of reservists we need, in fact, approximately 10,000. This increase is essential and must be funded on an ongoing basis.
We must invest in recruitment, training and retention of our military personnel across all spectrums, including for our reserves, regular force members and members of the air force.
We must ensure we have full support for members of the military pre- and post-deployment, as well as post-retirement. It is worth noting that issues of PTSD are higher on UN deployments as compared to regular military missions. The needs in this area are high, especially in relation to PTSD and suicides.
Colleagues, earlier today I had the opportunity of welcoming Senator Dallaire back into this building, and we had him present his book that he just launched. He indicated during the course of his remarks to those who were there that there are over 3,000 veterans presently who are homeless and on the street and getting very little service, if any.
Those are some of the obligations that we have yet to take on.
Also, colleagues, we have a $1 billion funding gap confirmed by the Auditor General yesterday in the area of equipment and maintenance support.
When it comes to equipment, we have learned that there are capacity gaps which Canada must address, such as replacing our submarine fleet, air force transportation, tactical helicopters, Sea King replacements, acquiring a drone fleet and many more needs
We also have to address our replacement of the early warning system in the North, which is becoming obsolete, and our participation in ballistic missile defence.
All of these areas deal with our national security, the defence of Canada and our sovereignty.
Colleagues, before Canada further extends its commitments to UN peace support operations, the committee highlights the following Statement of National Interest:
Prior to increasing the commitments for UN peace support operations, the government must ensure adequate funding is available to meet the current national and international operational priorities for the Canadian Armed Forces.
The report contains eight specific recommendations. Let me briefly touch on them. The first recommendation is based on the principle of open government, transparency and accountability to Parliament and the need for a national consensus when deploying Canadians in harm's way.
That recommendation reads as follows:
The Government table a "Statement of Justification" in both houses of Parliament outlining the specifics of any UN deployment including the size of the mission, its goals, the risks involved, the costs, rules of engagement and a fixed-term deployment plan so as to ensure bi-partisan and multi-partisan support through open parliamentary debate prior to confirmation and deployment of members of the Canadian Armed Forces.
This inclusion of a parliamentary debate on missions demonstrates that the deployment of the military in significant numbers has the support of Canadians as represented by Parliament.
The committee reviewed correspondence between the government of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and their parliament when it came to their 2013 decision to deploy Dutch troops and equipment to Mali in support of the UN mission.
The letter from all Dutch ministers involved in the deployment was revealing for its clarity and transparency. Our committee felt it was an excellent example which should be adopted in Canada. That is why we included a copy of the letter in the appendix of the report.
This first recommendation calling for a debate and a vote affirms, in the words of House of Commons Speaker John Fraser, who so ruled in 1989, that Canada is a parliamentary democracy, not "a so-called executive democracy nor a so-called administrative democracy." Colleagues, this is an important principle.
Our second recommendation is that ". . . the government clearly articulate the rules of engagement for internationally deployed Canadian personnel so as to allow Canadian military or police to take appropriate action to defend themselves and/or civilians from harm or abuse."
This is in response to the failures of previous engagements on UN peacekeeping operations where Canadians were placed in harm's way or were prevented from acting to save lives. This must never happen again.
Our former colleague retired Lieutenant-General Roméo Dallaire reminded the committee in testimony that we stumbled in the 1990s because we were an experientially-based military. Our leadership structure failed us, and Somalia was simply the high watermark of that.
Our third recommendation — that Canada expedite implementation of Resolution 1325, that it encourage the inclusion of more women in all aspects of peace support operations and that it ensure that Canadian and United Nations personnel deployed receive extensive training related to the women, peace and security agenda — is very clear. We need more action here and less talk. This is an important issue that has been raised in the Senate in the past. It has been championed by our colleagues Senator Nancy Ruth and the deputy chair of the committee, Senator Jaffer. We will look forward to action on this front from Canada.
Our fourth recommendation recognizes the burden that a deployment to a francophone nation will have on Franco-Canadians and calls on the government to develop a strategy to better support those units and their families.
Our fifth recommendation calls on the government to ensure sufficient financial and support resources will be available for women and men who return from dangerous peace support operations, especially those who develop post-traumatic stress disorders.
The sixth recommendation calls on the government to prioritize and focus its efforts in helping to build the capacity of regional organizations like the Organization of American States and the African Union. The committee felt there needs to be some focus and specific benchmarks for success.
When it comes to building capacity, witnesses recommended that Canada should become more involved in training — especially for police and military from developing countries — as well as in providing intelligence and equipment rather than putting boots on the ground. If Canada were to become more involved in training, the committee felt that it would contribute to long-term capacity-building for regional organizations and those developing countries that are deploying troops so they meet a basic performance standard, hence our seventh recommendation focused on this area.
Our final recommendation calls on the government to work with the UN Secretary-General to define and implement a framework to prosecute sexual exploitation and assault, human trafficking, abuse of minors and prostitution, which have occurred during UN peace support operations. The UN is a work-in-progress. Reform, while often talked about, is slow to come into practice. There need to be changes in the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations, especially in how missions are managed. There also needs to be more accountability for those peacekeepers who abuse their positions and violate the rights of women, minors or minorities.
Colleagues, in conclusion, I ask all honourable senators to adopt this important report and allow the government the opportunity to respond to our recommendations.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
(On motion of Senator Day, for Senator Jaffer, debate adjourned.)
Legislative Work of the Senate
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. A. Raynell Andreychuk: Honourable senators, my name is attached to this inquiry, and I want to assure Senator Bellemare that I take it very seriously and want an opportunity to give it a full debate and airing here.
At this time, I would like to adjourn in my name for continuance, with the assurance that I will deal with it at the appropriate time, when it fits between our legislation.
(On motion of Senator Andreychuk, debate adjourned.)
Committee Authorized to Extend Date of Final Report on Study of the Challenges Associated with Access to French-Language Schools and French Immersion Programs in British Columbia
Hon. Claudette Tardif, pursuant to notice of November 30, 2016, moved:
That, notwithstanding the order of the Senate adopted on Wednesday, April 20, 2016, the date for the final report of the Standing Senate Committee on Official Languages in relation to its study on the challenges associated with access to French-language schools and French immersion programs in British Columbia be extended from December 15, 2016 to March 30, 2017.
She said: Honourable senators, your Standing Committee on Official Languages is asking that the date of the final report be extended from December 15, 2016 to March 30, 2017.
Following our fact-finding mission in British Columbia, it became necessary to hear more witnesses on the matter here in Ottawa. The report cannot begin to be drafted until 2017, and it could then be tabled in the Senate before March 30, 2017.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
(Motion agreed to.)
Committee Authorized to Deposit Report on Study of the Steps Being Taken to Facilitate the Integration of Newly-Arrived Syrian Refugees and to Address the Challenges They are Facing with Clerk During Adjournment of the Senate
Hon. Jim Munson, pursuant to notice of November 30, 2016, moved:
That the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights be permitted, notwithstanding usual practices, to deposit with the Clerk of the Senate, between December 5 and December 16, 2016, a report relating to its study on the steps being taken to facilitate the integration of newly-arrived Syrian refugees, and that the report be deemed to have been tabled in the Chamber.
He said: Honourable senators, briefly, because I know it's late in the day, I have just a few words.
As chair of the Human Rights Committee I can relay that we have been studying the integration of Syrian refugees. As you may recall, we had observations in June of this year. Time is of the essence, and this is really a snapshot look at how the refugees are integrating into our society, those who are government-sponsored, blended as well as privately sponsored.
We feel we have a report that is certainly worthy of strong news coverage and we plan to have a news conference next Tuesday at 10 o'clock in the National Press Theatre where we will outline in detail recommendations of some of the gaps that may be involved. Canada has done an incredible job to sponsor refugees and took up the moral responsibility of doing that, but after listening to many advocates and those who are sponsoring families, along with government officials, we feel some of the gaps have to be filled with more help and a helping hand for Syrian refugees.
That's basically the essence of it, so this is to have our news conference with the senators. I see Senator Omidvar is right beside me now, keeping an eye on me as an independent senator, making sure I'm doing my work, but Senator Ataullahjan and Senator Ngo were on the steering committee, and Senator Andreychuk and Senator Martin and Senator Hubley, all members of the committee, worked together with this report. We would like to present this on Tuesday at the National Press Theatre.
The Hon. the Speaker: Are honourable senators in agreement with the motion?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
(Motion agreed to.)
Hon. Percy Mockler rose pursuant to notice of November 1, 2016:
That he will call the attention of the Senate to the issue of pipeline safety in Canada, and the nation-building project that is the Energy East proposal, and its resulting impact on the Canadian economy.
He said: I'm very excited about this inquiry into Energy East, as are many other people across the country, especially in Eastern Canada.
I'm very excited about this inquiry because I'm motivated by action rather than inaction. Those who know me well know that I always seek to make decisions based on facts and scientific evidence rather than speculation. There is no doubt in my mind that the National Energy Board will be able to tell us everything we need to know about the Energy East proposal.
The National Energy Board, honourable senators, has my total confidence because I believe that innovation is not our enemy; it is our friend.
The purpose of this inquiry is to highlight the safety of oil pipelines and the importance of the Energy East proposal and its economic benefits. I have no doubt that this will be a win for our country. The importance of these issues cannot be understated.
In my inquiry, I will show how advances in pipeline safety, risk mitigation mechanisms and the critical importance of Energy East as an economic achievement will benefit all Canadians no matter where they live.
I encourage my colleagues to participate in this debate. Honourable senators, remember that words are important.
In the debate over pipeline construction, I find that voices raised in opposition tend to be the loudest. It is high time we set the record straight to make sure Canadians are informed. That is our duty as parliamentarians engaged in a science-based decision-making process.
The facts speak for themselves. Allow me to share some of them with you and, together, we will all see the importance of this major national project.
Honourable senators, the anti-pipeline movement was bolstered by President Obama's decision to reject Keystone XL. However, that rejection must be viewed through the lens of American domestic political consideration. It is a fact that the U.S. has increased production of oil since Mr. Obama entered the White House.
Further, pipeline construction has been booming. John Stoody, a spokesperson for the Association of Oil Pipe Lines, noted the following in December 2014 in this Financial Post article, and I quote:
While people have been debating Keystone in the U.S. we have actually built the equivalent of 10 Keystones.
Between 2009 and 2015 over 54,000 kilometres of pipelines were either constructed or converted in the United States of America south of Canada. Of these pipelines, over 30,000 kilometres were for the transport of crude oil and no one has complained or said anything.
By and large, our American neighbours are embracing pipeline development. Honourable senators, Canada should do the same, however, based on scientific data.
Second, Canadian oil exports to the United States have increased substantially since the beginning of the first Obama administration.
What does that tell us? What does that mean? Pipelines are safe. There is a demand for Canadian oil, and transporting it by pipeline is preferable to shipping it by rail. Just look at Lac-Mégantic. The oil pipeline is the safest infrastructure in the world.
Honourable senators, in terms of safety, mechanisms have been put in place to alert a control centre in the event of a leak or any other problem related to the pipeline operation.
We need to face the facts: the shipping of oil by rail has boomed in recent years. That is undeniable. We are putting our cities and towns at risk, as well as our farming and forestry operations. We are also increasing greenhouse gas emissions, which absolutely must come down. There is no doubt about it in my mind.
I find it ironic that certain groups oppose the presence of a pipeline in their community when they don't seem to realize that shipping oil by train through their cities, towns and villages is much more dangerous to the quality of life of our populations, our regions and our communities.
Honourable senators, what would we prefer? An increased risk of an oil spill because of a train derailment, or an efficient, sophisticated pipeline equipped with new technology, as proposed by TransCanada and Energy East?
Honourable senators, we must also not ignore the reality that oil will be part of the world's energy mix for many, many decades to come. However, we must be mindful of CO2.
Oil is also a central ingredient in many of the products we use and depend on every single day of our lives, from our clothing, to pharmaceutical products, car products and the food that we bring to our people.
I am a firm believer a question should be asked and answered: Where should this oil come from? Some would say foreign entities, foreign countries, which may not respect human rights and the environment in the same manner that we do in Canada and North America.
Frankly, we are aware that oil will continue to be sourced, and Canada, as the best country in the world, must have the ability to compete in the international marketplace.
Honourable senators, without access to tidewater — I repeat, without access to tidewater — as Energy East will accomplish, we will remain at a competitive disadvantage worldwide. If we reject Energy East, we are sending an incoherent message to our fellow Canadians and the rest of the world. It would suggest that while oil is integral to our economy, we are not willing to maximize its opportunities.
There is no doubt in my mind that creating wealth in Eastern Canada is all about creating wealth in all of Canada. We must build the Energy East pipeline and link the biggest Canadian refinery, Irving Oil in Saint John, New Brunswick, to the rest of the world by having access to tidewater and creating good jobs and better jobs for all Canadians.
Honourable senators, this is a nation-building opportunity. It would be a conduit to increase oil production and allow for efficient transport to the marketplace.
Honourable senators, let me share some information about Alberta. Alberta has long been a pillar of our Canadian economy. We have benefited, despite the current challenges in the economy that we face now. I am certain that Alberta will re-emerge stronger than ever and will again be creating good-paying jobs for all Canadians.
As parliamentarians, we must do everything we can to help our fellow citizens in this federation. There is no doubt in my mind that Energy East is the project of the future. To advance Alberta is to advance Canada. Alberta's success has the added benefit of positively impacting the entire Canadian economy and creating the wealth that we have seen.
Let me share with you what it means. The end terminus in Saint John, New Brunswick, would enable western oil to be shipped to various world markets via the Atlantic Ocean. Saint John is a gateway to the world, and the Irving Refinery is uniquely positioned to process the product and ship it to world markets.
Honourable senators, there are very few competing values in this project, at least for those who believe in the responsible development of the oil industry. For those who profess that oil should be left in the ground, this argument does not resonate. They cannot be convinced. But I believe the vast majority of Canadians understand the reality, and we have a duty as parliamentarians to reinforce that reality regardless of where we live.
It is a fact that 7 out of 10 New Brunswickers support Energy East. In Atlantic Canada, we support Energy East.
As we are aware, markets do not wait. The longer we dither on this project, the easier it is for our competitors to build their market share. We cannot afford to wait any longer. Time is of the essence. The government must act and act now.
The working families in Alberta, New Brunswick and all across Canada need their decision makers to be bold and fearless with the Energy East project. We cannot be consumed by indecision. When we are, we forego vital economic opportunities and job creation for our children. That is a disservice to the millions of Canadians who simply want to work hard, provide a solid future for their children and grandchildren, and have a better quality of life.
We have an obligation, honourable senators, to continually strive for the prosperity of our people regardless of where we live. Anything less is unacceptable.
Honourable senators, Energy East is the perfect opportunity, and the bonus is that not one single tax dollar will be used in the construction. This will be financed by the private sector, like it has to be.
Honourable senators, Canada must be in a position to compete in international markets.
Energy East would secure access to tidewater, without which we will remain at a competitive disadvantage. Rejecting Energy East would send an incoherent message to our fellow Canadians and the rest of the world. It would be like saying that oil is integral of our economy and our culture while refusing to maximize opportunities to develop it. That is a bizarre and indefensible position.
Honourable senators, let us not be blindfolded. The Energy East pipeline is very important as a nation-building project. It is imperative that we continue to showcase Energy East's benefits. I like its security.
As parliamentarians, honourable senators, let us remind ourselves of our past history and nation-building projects that we had agreed on and that shaped Canada as being the best country in the world. Let us not forget that building the railroad from east to west was imperative for Canada. Let us not forget that building the Trans-Canada Highway —
The Hon. the Speaker: Senator Mockler, your time has expired. Would you like five more minutes?
Senator Mockler: Yes.
Senator Mockler: Building the Trans-Canada Highway was imperative for Canada. Building the St. Lawrence Seaway was imperative for Canada. Building our airline services, the Auto Pact and aerospace industry was important to making Canada what we are today. Also building the fibre optic cable from coast to coast was imperative.
Honourable senators, Energy East is a must and there is no doubt in my mind it is a nation-building project.
I want to bring to your attention the concerns of traffic safety raised in Saint John, New Brunswick, with the Transport Committee, ably directed by Honourable Senator MacDonald, when they talked about the Bay of Fundy. I want to share with you that the entire Bay of Fundy is covered by ALERT, which is the Atlantic Emergency Response Team. It was established in 1991 and licensed under the Canada Shipping Act to handle environmental emergencies. Every tanker that enters the Bay of Fundy today must have a contract with ALERT.
The Saint John Refinery, Canaport Terminal and the East Saint John Terminal each have on-site emergency response teams with a total of over 200 members. Approximately 26 members are on duty per shift, fully equipped with an on-site fast attack truck, fire truck, incident command vehicle and other vehicles to respond to the variety of emergencies, including fire, leaks, spills and medical incidents.
It is factual that Energy East is the safest, most environmentally responsible way to get Western Canadian crude oil to Eastern Canada and international markets. This is supported by a 2015 Fraser Institute study which concludes that the pipelines are four-and-a-half times safer than rail to carry crude over a long distance.
Honourable senators, pipeline transportation also produces less greenhouse gas than other methods. In 2015, the refineries in Quebec and Atlantic Canada imported an average of 566,000 barrels of oil every single day from countries such as the U.S., Saudi Arabia and Nigeria. At last year's average oil price, this is $35 million per day leaving the Canadian economy that could be staying home and creating jobs.
As parliamentarians, the government must take action now, and our decisions must be based on scientific evidence rather than speculation and hearsay.
In closing, as Patrick Lacroix said so well during a presentation on behalf of Energy East in Saint John, New Brunswick, to the Transport Committee:
. . . Energy East is the safest and most environmentally respectful way to transport crude oil from west to east. We are committed to providing this product safely, responsibly and reliably, and our goal is to have zero incidents.
As I conclude, Energy East is a $15.7 billion, 100 per cent privately financed project that will span a total of 4,500 kilometres from Alberta to Saint John, New Brunswick. A unique feature of this pipeline is that 3,000 kilometres of it, from the Alberta-Saskatchewan border to eastern Ontario, is an existing natural gas pipeline that will be repurposed and thus significantly reduce its environmental impact.
Honourable senators, the Energy East project will deliver crude oil to two refineries in Quebec — one in Montreal and one near Quebec City — and to the Irving Oil refinery in Saint John, New Brunswick. Let us stand together and tell our government that Energy East is a nation-building project.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Hon. Terry M. Mercer: Honourable senators, my good friend Senator Mockler will be pleased to know that I support almost everything he said — almost everything he said. But one of the problems we were reminded of as the Transport Committee has gone about its study on pipelines is the fact that Canadians don't understand the situation we're in. We have one customer for our product, and that is the Americans. So that one customer has a big advantage: He or she can demand certain benefits that you wouldn't get in the world marketplace. For example, they only pay West Texas crude prices, not world prices.
That means there is money that we're losing. We have to get to another market, we have to get there quickly, and we have to be able to sell it at world prices. We have to be able to get more money, which means more revenue, more taxes — and revenue that goes into Saskatchewan and Alberta, which means there is more money available for the entire country, and that's an important thing.
That is one of the things that Senator Mockler and I agree on, but we need to remind Canadians about that. It's not just about our wanting to get new markets; it's about wanting to get to the world price as opposed to paying the discounted price at which we have to sell it to our American friends.
Senator Mockler, you were doing so well in your speech up until the point when you used the words "the end terminus in Saint John, New Brunswick."
Some Hon. Senators: Oh, oh!
Senator Mercer: You were doing so well right up to that point, Senator Mockler. I wrote it down and then I said, "Oh, well," and I scratched it out. I scratched out "Saint John, New Brunswick" because it's important that the pipeline be within use of the refinery in Saint John, New Brunswick — a refinery that I recently visited and that I'm very supportive of. If you live in Atlantic Canada, it doesn't matter what gas station you buy from; it's coming from Irving anyway because it's the only working refinery on the East Coast.
The end terminus for the Energy East Pipeline should not be in Saint John, New Brunswick; it should go by Saint John, New Brunswick, and be readily accessible to the Irving refinery. The terminus should be at the Strait of Canso in Nova Scotia. There is already a large tank farm where all of the oil that we're importing is coming into the Strait of Canso in an ice-free harbour. The largest ships in the world can come into that harbour without any problem. We visited the place. There's a large tank farm and a tank farm that could be expanded very quickly if they needed to.
The big issue that we need to look at when we talk about the Strait of Canso is the fact that it's on the Atlantic Ocean. It is not on the environmentally sensitive Bay of Fundy. Too often we talk about this pipeline and about ships in the Bay of Fundy, and we're worried about its effect on New Brunswick. The bay is only created if there is something on the other side, so that means the fishery in Nova Scotia, which forms the other side of the bay. You are going to have all of these extra tankers coming in and out of the Bay of Fundy, whereas if you add the end terminus at the Strait of Canso, you're out in the Atlantic Ocean — not as environmentally sensitive; there are no sensitive issues. We know that the right whale summers in the Bay of Fundy. It's a species that is at risk, and to add extra tankers is not helpful.
As well, you left out the fact that we need to negotiate with our First Nations people, both in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Quebec. That needs to happen.
There is an existing pipeline that runs from the American border, through New Brunswick and into Nova Scotia, which carries natural gas from the Sable Island field. We have been told that that field will be out of gas in a short while. We have not found any new commercially viable fields off the coast, so perhaps that pipeline could be reversed, as you have talked about reversing another gas pipeline as well. That will also remove some of the environmental approvals that would be needed because it's already done for that existing pipeline.
Senator Mockler, it is a good idea to have this inquiry and it's an inquiry on which I hope we hear from a lot of others.
(On motion of Senator Mercer, debate adjourned.)
(The Senate adjourned until tomorrow at 9 a.m.)