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Previous Sittings
Previous Sittings

Debates of the Senate (Hansard)

1st Session, 42nd Parliament,
Volume 150, Issue 90

Tuesday, January 31, 2017
The Honourable George J. Furey, Speaker


Tuesday, January 31, 2017

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


Le Centre culturel islamique de Québec—Victims of Tragedy

Silent Tribute

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I would like to take a moment to recognize the tragic and senseless attack on the Centre Culturel Islamique de Québec in the Sainte-Foy neighbourhood of Quebec City on Sunday. Six Muslim men lost their lives while worshipping and others were wounded, both physically and emotionally.

I know we all stand together in offering our deepest condolences to the families and friends of those who have died and a speedy recovery to those who were injured in this shameful, senseless attack.


I now invite all honourable senators to rise and observe one minute of silence in memory of the victims and to show their solidarity.

Honourable senators then stood in silent tribute.


Visitor in the Gallery

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, before commencing Senators' Statements, I wish to draw your attention to the presence in the gallery of the Honourable Linda Reid, MLA, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia.

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

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!


Business of the Senate

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I have received a message from the government representative, who is requesting that, pursuant to rule 4-3(1), the period for senators' statements be extended today to pay tribute to the Honourable John Wallace, who is retiring from the Senate tomorrow.


Given that many senators have expressed a desire to speak about the attack on the Quebec Islamic Cultural Centre, I would propose that we begin with those statements before moving to tributes to Senator Wallace, concluding with two additional statements on other topics. I remind senators that pursuant to our rule, each senator other than Senator Wallace will be allowed three minutes.

Is leave granted, honourable senators, to reverse the order of tributes and statements and to allow additional time so that everyone can be heard?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.


Le Centre culturel islamique de Québec—Victims of Tragedy

Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): Honourable senators, mere words are not sufficient to characterize the depth of sadness we all feel in the wake of the tragedy that befell so many citizens at the Centre Culturel Islamique de Québec on Sunday. As parliamentarians, we are obliged to use words, however inadequate, to bring Canadians together for a common purpose, to help us understand each other's goals and needs, and, unfortunately, to sometimes mourn each other's tragedies.

With this in mind, allow me to say that we all grieve today with the families of those slain in these senseless actions and are praying for the speedy and full recovery of those who were injured.


We also want to reach out to members of our Canadian Muslim community and Quebecers as a whole, particularly the people of Quebec City whose hearts are broken and who may be feeling fearful following this attack.

We hope that our collective grief will help them feel less alone with this heartache.

We know that, despite our best efforts to build a peaceful, tolerant and open society, senseless acts like this one can happen. While it is our duty to protect our society from such incidents happening in the future, we must remember that kindness, respect and openness are part of our national identity and our shared values and that they are our best defence against such abhorrent acts.

Hon. Claude Carignan (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, I rise today to strongly condemn Sunday's attack on a Quebec City mosque. Six people were killed, and others were injured, five of them seriously. I am deeply saddened by this incident. On behalf of all senators, I want to extend my most sincere condolences to the grieving families and friends of the victims.

A young man of 27 years is the prime suspect in this case. For now, his motives are not known, but in any event, nothing can justify his actions, this murderous act. Some are tempted to immediately reopen a debate on immigration, Islamophobia, or welcoming refugees. I encourage them to take a deep breath and allow the dust to settle. It is risky to draw hasty conclusions, often at the height of emotion and anger. We have to focus on the fact that this was nothing short of a hate crime.

That said, we must now show solidarity with the Muslim community that was attacked on Sunday, and with all Quebecers and Canadians. Sunday's attacks were directed not only at a religious minority, but also at our broader community. We are all shaken by this tragedy, by these deaths, by these lives needlessly cut short.

Let us acknowledge the fact that it is wrong to kill people because of their religious beliefs. These acts do not represent the Canada that our ancestors built or the values we inherited. The men who died on Sunday leave behind women and orphaned children for whom life will never be the same. This killing spree struck at the heart of our nation. We must never be complacent about violence, hate, or racism, but instead work even harder on prevention. We have to be proactive about preventing such barbaric and extremist acts.


In closing, I would like to recognize the excellent work of the first responders, who arrived within minutes on the scene of the tragedy and continued their efforts in the following hours. These knowledgeable men and women are compassionate and care for their fellow citizens. Let us follow their example in our everyday work.

My thoughts and prayers are with the bereaved families. Our hearts go out to them.

Hon. Dennis Dawson: Honourable senators, I had no idea that the first words I would speak upon returning to this chamber after a long absence would be about such a sombre subject. Yet, I want to thank my colleagues for their support this past year.

What happened just a few streets away from my home caused me to rethink my plans, and it is with great sadness that I add my voice to those who attended vigils for the victims last night. Setting aside partisanship, politicians of all stripes were united in condemning Sunday's events at the Centre islamique de Québec. I would like you to join me in commemorating the victims. We must name these people. They lived in my neighbourhood and I would like to name them, Your Honour, because these are actual people we are talking about.

Azzeddine Soufiane, 57, was a pillar of Quebec City's Muslim community. He was a butcher who owned his own shop; he had three children and mentored Muslims arriving in the Quebec City area. Khaled Belkacemi, 60, was a professor at Laval University along with his wife. These people were pillars of Quebec City's Muslim community. Aboubaker Thabti, 44, was a pharmacist and had two children. Mamadou Tanou Barry and Ibrahima Barry, both originally from Guinea, had children under the age of 13 and worked in information technology for the Government of Quebec. Finally, Abdelkrim Hassane, 41, had three children under the age of 10 and he was also employed by the Government of Quebec.


I want to thank two people in particular, Salma Ataullahjan and Mobina Jaffer, who tried to educate me on all things Muslim in Quebec City. We had a conference a few years ago with the Inter-Parliamentary Union, and they had the opportunity to sensitize me to the Muslim community that lives practically across the street from my house. I want to thank them for that, because there is a lot of ignorance on our part.

I, the little guy from Quebec, did not have as much sensitivity as I have learned to have because of the contributions these two colleagues have made toward me in the past.


However, Quebec remains strong. We will remain strong in the face of this horrible event, and as always, we will prevail. Quebecers stand united in the face of hatred. We stand united against terrorism and racism. I know that our great nation is up to the task and I know that we will fight hate with love and we can fight terrorism and racism with love.

Hon. André Pratte: As a member of the Senate of Canada, I want to express my sympathy to the loved ones of those who died. This attack happened three kilometres from the home where I spent the better part of my childhood. I still cannot believe this happened, because Quebec City is not just one of the most beautiful cities in the world, but it is also one of the most peaceful cities.

We all know that no place is immune to terrorism, not a café, metro station, concert hall, school, church, country, or city. Not even Canada, not even Quebec.


The attack happened in a mosque. This makes it even more cruel and incomprehensible. The victims were there to pray in peace and to meet friends, and it is there where the killer chose to hit. He must, sadly, understand nothing of Islam to have acted thusly, and know nothing of the beauty of the frailty of human life.

I would like to say to Canadians of the Muslim faith: Your pain is ours. You are us. Canada and Quebec would not have become what they are today if not for the precious contributions of the hundreds of thousands of Muslims, whether they immigrated or whether they were born here.


There have been years of intense debate in Quebec on subjects as sensitive as immigration, religious practices and religious accommodation. In a democratic society, it is quite normal and healthy to have these kinds of discussions. In the 21st century, however, political leaders and the media have the onerous responsibility of avoiding complacency and populism.

Unfortunately, not everyone is fulfilling this responsibility as they should. Quebec, like the rest of Canada, continues to be a welcoming place for all minorities, but the province nevertheless has its share of intolerant individuals and a few violent individuals, which was confirmed Sunday night.


Words can hurt. Worse, words can lead some deranged minds to pull the trigger, which is why politicians and commentators should always take great care when they talk about ethnic, cultural and religious minorities. When discussing immigration, some like to say that we should protect the values dear to Canadians and Quebecers. Well, on the list of Canada's and Quebec's values, welcome, open-mindedness and diversity should always remain near the top.

In a world where many countries are tempted to close doors and build walls, let us open our arms even wider to minorities, immigrants and refugees and do our best to lend them a hand, to cherish their contributions and, first and foremost, to protect them from evil.

Hon. Salma Ataullahjan: As-Salaam-Alaikum; Peace be upon you.

Honourable senators, I rise before you today in shock, sadness and horror over the massacre which took place at the Islamic Cultural Centre on Sunday in Quebec City.

In a targeted act of terror and hatred, six innocent people lost their lives in their place of worship: Khaled Belkacemi, 60; Azzeddine Soufiane, 57; Boubaker Thabti, 44; Abdelkrim Hassane, 41; Mamadou Tanou Barry, 42; and Ibrahima Barry, 39. Additionally, 19 innocent people were wounded, five of them critically. The victims were shot as they prayed; they were killed because they were Muslim.

In the wake of this event, our country, including our politicians, has stood together in solidarity as fellow human beings to condemn this horrific act of cowardly violence and hatred. We have also witnessed an immense outpouring of compassion and unity from citizens across our country who have sent a very strong message: When you harm one community, you harm all communities.

As a Muslim Canadian, I have never faced fear for my life because my religion. I have never had to hide and pray, because in Canada everyone has the fundamental right of freedom of religion. As a country, we are not about hate and division; we strive to be about love and inclusion. This is the Canadian way as I have always known it.

This tragedy, however, has been a sombre reminder that there are those who seek to divide us, and although we are an inclusive society that values diversity, we are not immune to acts of terror. In this regard, I reflect upon the Quran, which tells us that in times of hardship we must demonstrate patience and pray. I hope the Muslim community continues to fill our mosques and will not be deterred by fear.

Honourable senators, we must be vigilant with our dialogue in the days and months to come. We must speak out in the strongest terms against this and all acts that seek to pit one against the other. Our message must be clear: Those who seek to divide us will not succeed.

In the words of the Director General of Amnesty International Canada-Francophone:

Hate speech and Islamophobia are unacceptable and nurture violence. Let us show together, especially at the highest political level, that solidarity prevails and that respect for the rights of all people to live in security without discrimination is of the utmost importance to us.

Honourable senators, there is profound sorrow and anguish in my heart over this tragic and senseless loss of life and injury. I extend a message of condolence and support to all the families that have been affected by this tragedy. May peace be upon you in the name of God and his blessings. Thank you.


Hon. Ghislain Maltais: Honourable senators, the tragedy that took place in Quebec City will be forever etched in the minds of Quebecers and Canadians. One of the first mass shootings in Quebec was perpetrated 33 years ago in the Quebec National Assembly, where I was a member at the time. Three people were murdered. They were our colleagues.


On October 22, 2014, a soldier was killed and others were wounded in an attack on Parliament Hill. If not for the killer's misfortune, we might not be here today.

One death is already too many. Six is a lot. As we speak, an acquaintance of mine, Saïd El-Amari, who is a taxi driver, is on the brink of death. He is the father of four children. What did he do to deserve this? What did the other victims do? They were gathered in a place of prayer and worship when they were gunned down like rabid dogs.

Has human folly reached the point where human life has lost all value? Regardless of the analyses that will be conducted and the reasons that the world's most preeminent psychiatrists and psychologists will give for this tragedy, dozens of children will be left orphans. People will have paid with their lives for gathering in a place of worship. Today, my thoughts are with the families, the orphans, and the victims who are currently fighting for their lives. May God heal them to the extent possible. We are not asking for miracles, but I think we need to pray for those who are suffering on the operating table and those whom doctors spent the night working to save, the doctors of Quebec City who received an urgent call to help the injured.

We offer our sympathy to the families and children of those who died. If, God willing, the others survive, we will need to reach out to them because they are great Quebecers and great Canadians who helped to build our country.

Hon. Renée Dupuis: Honourable senators, I would like to take a few minutes to address the human beings, the girls, the boys, the men and women who lost a loved one in Quebec City, on January 29, 2017, when members of their community, gathered at a mosque in Sainte-Foy to fulfill their religious rite, were massacred. We would like to tell these human beings that we are shocked and saddened. Above all, we want to assure them that we will continue our work so that they can continue to live with us, in a society respectful of each of our lives.



The Honourable John D. Wallace

Hon. Joseph A. Day (Leader of the Senate Liberals): Honourable senators, today marks the last day in this chamber for our colleague Senator John D. Wallace. I know he wanted to slip away quietly, but as a fellow New Brunswicker and a good friend, I just could not let that happen.

Senator Wallace was appointed to this chamber effective January 2, 2009, summoned here by then Prime Minister Stephen Harper. He sat first as a member of the Conservative caucus and then as an independent, and finally as a member of the Independent Senators Group. But from the beginning, including when he sat as a member of the government caucus, Senator Wallace did not hesitate to reach across the aisle, both in the best interest of his home province of New Brunswick and in genuine friendship.

This was evident in his maiden speech in this place when he spoke about his determination to serve our province. He was a Conservative who indeed tried for a seat in Parliament as a Conservative in 2006, but one of his first acts upon learning of his appointment to the Senate was to meet with then Premier Graham of our province, a Liberal. As he said in this chamber in his maiden speech, his goal was to contribute to a strong and united voice for New Brunswick in this chamber.

My respect for Senator Wallace has been built over many years as I watched his numerous contributions to our province. Following a stint in the private practise of law in Saint John, he served for many years as in-house legal counsel for Irving Oil Ltd., working to strengthen and build that company, which is of such high importance to our province and our region. He also had a long and impressive history of community involvement. The advancement of Saint John's waterfront, for example, into a thriving hub for tourists, locals and businesses is due in no small part to his leadership and dedication.

I am sure that Senator Wallace will not sit idle now that he is leaving us in the Senate. He will find new ways to contribute to Saint John, to New Brunswick and to Canada.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you, Senator John Wallace, for your eight years of service to the people of New Brunswick and of Canada through the fine work that you have done here in the Senate. Thank you, John.

Hon. Diane Bellemare (Legislative Deputy to the Government Representative in the Senate): Honourable senators, I rise today to pay tribute to a colleague that I respect so much and that I will certainly miss.

I got to know Senator Wallace when I was appointed to the Senate in the fall of 2012. Both of us belonged to the same Conservative caucus. I have always been impressed by his thoughtful remarks.

When John addresses a question, be assured that his view is well-considered. Senator Wallace has never been an impulsive person. This is what I like the most about him and his integrity. You cannot take his arguments lightly.

So when I learned on TV on November 8, 2015, that John changed his affiliation to become an independent and non-partisan senator, I was not too surprised. John has always been an independent senator, and he did show it on many occasions. For instance, he voted against Bill C-525 and against Bill C-377, but he will not be there to support me on Bill C-4, which I sponsor.

In the midst of the debate that intensified in 2015 — that is the debate for having a more independent Senate — Senator Wallace was one of the first senators to leave a party-affiliated caucus. Others followed, like Senator Jacques Demers, Senator Pierrette Ringuette, Senator Rivard and myself, who joined him and created, with the already independent Senator Elaine McCoy, what we called the Working Group of Independent Non-partisan Senators. That group was created on March 10, 2016. It was stipulated that the members of this working group are committed to:

. . . number one, carrying out their Senate duties and obligations, including their review and revisions to legislation received from the House of Commons, on an entirely independent, non-partisan basis, as was originally intended by the Founders of Confederation; number two, ensuring rights of equality for all senators in the performance of their diverse Senate duties, regardless of their political or non-political affiliation; and, number three, restoring the reputation of and public confidence in the Senate as a necessary and vital institution within our Canadian parliamentary system.

Time passes quickly in the Senate. For me this group was formed long ago, but it was just last year. Many new senators have been appointed to the Senate since March 2016, and independents now have a plurality in the Senate.

I want to thank Senator Wallace for presenting motions and initiating debates around the changes in the Rules that he felt were necessary to enable each senator to exercise their parliamentary role in an independent fashion. Perhaps we're not there yet, but we are headed in that direction thanks, in significant part, to the work of Senator Wallace.


John, I sincerely wish you a happy retirement, and I hope we'll have the opportunity to meet again. In the meantime, enjoy life.

Hon. Yonah Martin (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, I rise today on behalf of our Conservative caucus, Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition, to say a few words to our colleague the Honourable John Wallace on the occasion of his retirement from the Senate of Canada.

Senator Wallace was appointed to the Senate on December 22, 2008, and has served his province of New Brunswick with dedication for eight years.

On a personal note, I will remember fondly my visit to your province for the very first time, riding in your vehicle late at night as we arrived in Saint John. The next day, you spent time with small business leaders from across Canada who were convening for their AGM in your city. Your presence, your respect to the members gathered, really meant a lot to everyone who was there. They still speak about it to this day. That speaks to the kind of commitment to your province and the welcoming approach to all that you do. I want to thank you personally for that very special time we spent together.

This is all very public information, but prior to Senator Wallace's career in politics, he spent 33 years serving members of his New Brunswick community in Saint John, as corporate counsel for Irving Oil Limited and as a partner with the law firms Palmer, O'Connell, Leger, Turnbull and Turnbull, and Stewart McKelvey.

Your extensive legal experience no doubt served you very well in our institution. Those who served with you on committees know the kinds of interventions you made and the contributions you made. In this chamber, those interventions are part of the Senate archives, so you leave an indelible mark as you leave this upper chamber.

Honourable senators, I ask you to join me in wishing our colleague all the best as he leaves this place and embarks on his next adventure.

Bon voyage.

Hon. Elaine McCoy: I'm in such a position here that I'm hoping the mike will pick this up, but I can turn and look at you as I speak, Senator Wallace, because it is a very personal moment between us, I think, to see you go too soon.

I heartily endorse all of the tributes that have been given to you before, and I am very much looking forward to Senator Ringuette's comments as well. But I do well remember those early days. I was so inspired when you came over and sat on this side as an independent, and shortly after, I think, Senator Ringuette followed. You were the catalyst that began to bring us together, and Senator Bellemare joined us and Jacques Demers and Michel Rivard. Those early meetings, getting to know one another. We didn't, any of us, really. Senator Cools came, and we started to try to tease out what this might mean. What did it mean to be an autonomous senator? Did that mean that we could disagree but still be friends? You were the one who was firmest on that. You kept bringing us back: "I want to be sure that I can be my own person. Then I would be happy to collaborate on practical things like getting my name on the Speaker's list. That's what it's all about."

So we owe you a great debt in holding us to that standard all the time. I think that we're going to call it the "Wallace Principle." As a group, we adopted six foundational principles. I now propose that we have a seventh one and that we call it the "Wallace Principle."

I was talking, as we do quite frequently, with now-retired Senator Lowell Murray last night, and he asked, "How is John doing?" Then he started to reminisce, and he said that, in his observation, you were one of the most thoughtful and the most respected senators in this chamber. He went on to say, "Not only that, he was one of the most courageous." That's coming from a man that we all have such love and respect for, and I'm very pleased to add his comments, at his request, to my remarks today. Certainly, we all echo that.

Lastly, I want to share this saying — but I can never remember it. My husband was a great lawyer, as you know, and he had a great phrase that he loved to use. He was a great deliberator. He spoke very slowly, and he had this trick. He would say something and then he would stop. Until you got used to his rhythm, you wanted to leap in. I got used to the rhythm, and I'd wait and lean closer. Then he'd say something. It was just a theatrical trick but it was very powerful. He used this phrase all the time. I think it's from the Bible: "hear . . . read, mark, learn and inwardly digest." He said that that is the mark of a true man and a true wise man. For that, I give you tribute.

Hon. Pierrette Ringuette: Honourable colleagues, eight years ago, as I was sitting in the official opposition, a new New Brunswick senator, unknown to me, was being sworn in. Who was this lawyer from Saint John named John Wallace? What was his mission within this chamber?

It did not take long before Senator Wallace was on his feet introducing and sponsoring government bills with ease and also with all of his legal perspective.

In conversation with former Senator Doug Finley, i.e., our smoking caucus, I told Doug how I was impressed with Senator Wallace. Without hesitation, he proudly replied that he was also impressed and very proud that he had recommended John to be a senator.

Senator Wallace, if Doug were here today, he would still be very impressed and very proud.

As the years went by, Senator Wallace's strength and dedication to the Senate were obvious, particularly when his party in the Senate moved to suspend senators without, as he said, due process.

I believe that started, to put it mildly, the beginning of Senator Wallace's "divorce process" from partisanship in the Senate. There were attempts at reconciliation, but, in December 2015, he signed the divorce and was the first senator to sit as an independent to promote the responsibility of individual senators and the responsibility of the Senate Rules to enable individual senators to fulfill their constitutional mandate, not only in the Senate Chamber but in its committees. He tabled motion after motion to change so that independent senators could fulfill their roles. If progress has been made in this chamber, it is thanks to you, Senator Wallace.

Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!


Senator Ringuette: One cannot say that Senator Wallace is a maverick. However, one can certainly say that he is an individual with great integrity, who expresses reasoned and seasoned arguments; he is solid as a rock.

We started to meet last spring. We organized the first group of independent senators. We may have made a few mistakes along the way, but, at the end of the day, Senator Wallace has started the new path for this chamber.

Senator Wallace, some people crave power and titles such as "leader," although that has never been your ambition. But as a New Brunswicker and a proud Canadian, history will certainly describe you as a true leader.

I will miss you, my dear friend. And yes, I will keep disturbing you with my calls at all hours. I wish you and Gill happy retirement, health and good times — and especially, teach your grandson how to fish. Thank you and happy retirement.

Hon. Michael Duffy: Colleagues, I echo wholeheartedly and endorse the many well-deserved tributes to John Wallace today.

All of this talk about new beginnings and the period eight years ago brings me back to that day on January 26, 2009, when 18 of us were sworn in as new members of the Senate of Canada. It was an exciting time, a new generation bringing new blood and new thinking. But, little by little, the glitter faded, as we were pressured to put our party ahead of Parliament, the political priorities of the PMO ahead of principle and the rule of law. But a brave few didn't bend. One who stood strong was our esteemed colleague John Wallace.

No one has worked harder than John Wallace to reform the Senate of Canada and make it an institution of which Canadians can be proud. Hansard records for all time his significant and lasting contribution to the Senate modernization and reform process. Due process, the rule of law, the equality of senators, the Charter of Rights — John Wallace was fearless in standing up for these Canadian values in the face of deeply entrenched partisan interests.

It hasn't been easy. But throughout, John was fortunate to have the unwavering support of his wife Gill who is here in the gallery today, and his family. Gill, we thank you and your family for your support of John and for sharing him with all of us. The Parliament of Canada is a better place for his time here in the Senate. Thank you, and Godspeed.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

Expression of Thanks

Hon. John D. Wallace: Thank you, colleagues. I have to say that it was a lot easier to write down points that I wanted to speak to today than it is now to get up and talk about them. I thank everybody for the overly generous comments they've made. It touches me deeply, and I will remember them.

As I stand before you today, it was my intention originally to speak for two or three minutes, and when His Honour asked me if I would be speaking today, I said, "Yes. It will be very quick. I want to thank everyone and move on."

Then you start to think about, well, there are some things I would say. The next thing you know, it does get to be more than two or three minutes. I couldn't help but think as I was doing that, that it reminded me of our esteemed colleague and friend George Baker, who I think prefaces every speech he makes in this chamber with those infamous words "I will be brief." So I've fallen into the Senator Baker trap, I'm afraid. But I will try to be as brief as I can.

Colleagues, it was on January 26, 2009, that I was led into this chamber by my sponsor Senator Michael Meighen, a wonderful fellow and a great friend. It was a momentous day for me when I took my oath of office and I know this is true for each of you. We feel this when we see the new senators. When we watch them taking their oath and being led into the chamber, we know how they feel. I think that through them we relive our own experience. It's a wonderful experience. The pride and honour you feel at that time is obviously very personal and exciting, but also to have your family and friends with you is priceless. At my swearing in it was my wife Gill, who is in the gallery today; my children, my friends and my father, who was here at that time but who has since passed away. It's one of those experiences we will all remember. I have no regrets. I'm so happy that I had the chance to be here.

I was part of a group of 18 that Prime Minister Harper appointed. At that time we were the largest group to take our oath of office on the same day. It was a wonderful experience. There was a real bonding between us, and at the personal level — although some things have changed with my Conservative colleagues — that personal bond is still there. When I see them and I think of them, personally, nothing has changed. That was a major event for all of us.

There is one of the 18 I would like to mention. Any time I can mention a New Brunswicker I always do that. The two from New Brunswick who were appointed at the same time were Percy Mockler and me. Percy and I were always good friends; we are to this day. Whenever we need a strong advocate for New Brunswick, for people who know Percy, there's not a stronger advocate than him. Thank you for your friendship, Percy.

Another momentous date for me around that time was prior to my actual appointment taking the oath of office, and that was on December 17, 2008, at 9:15 in the evening. Gill and I had been out for dinner. We had just come in and the phone rang. Gill answered it. She calls me Wally. She said, "Wally, the Prime Minister's Office is on the phone." Of course, it was Prime Minister Harper, and he extended me this tremendous opportunity that I have had to sit in the Senate.

Colleagues, although, in my own situation, my Senate career didn't unfold exactly the way it would have been envisaged by either of us at that time, I will forever be indebted to him and thank him for having given me this opportunity. At that time it was my expectation and intention that I would be a senator for an eight-year term. It arose from that time and that conversation.

I see so many colleagues here — some more recent friends, some that have grown together over the last eight years, and many on the side opposite — and it's wonderful to see you all today and get a chance to say a few words. But there are some who aren't here today. There are three individuals who served with us in the Conservative caucus who have passed away and I did want to acknowledge and mention them. First, Senator Fred Dickson, from Nova Scotia, a wonderful Maritimer and a wonderful person. Mike MacDonald knew him well. He is sorely missed.


As mentioned earlier, there was Doug Finley. For all the issues I've had around partisanship, there was no person more partisan than Doug Finley. I had great discussions with him and have great respect for him. We worked on projects together and brought an inquiry together before the chamber on freedom of speech. I can look up there now and still see him standing and hear that Scottish brogue echoing throughout this chamber; it's indelible in the minds of all of us. Doug was a great guy.

I do want to acknowledge one of our former Speakers, Pierre Claude Nolin. He was absolutely wonderful; no question. I spent many hours talking to him about the Senate, about independence, how all of that could work and how the Senate should function. As you would remember, he brought seven inquiries before the Senate Chamber back in 2014 that dealt with different aspects of the Senate. It was those inquiries that laid the foundation, the groundwork, for the work of the Modernization Committee that has produced some tremendous and positive results. I have always regarded Pierre Claude as a mentor and a role model, and he truly is the father of Senate modernization.

Following up on the foundation he laid has been the excellent work of Senators Greene and Massicotte. They deserve huge credit for what they've done. They've pushed, faced obstacles and this chamber will bear the fruits of their efforts. Thank you so much, Stephen and Paul.

When I think back on my time at the Senate, with all of us, there are different ways you can make a contribution. For me, the committee work is extremely important. It's at committee that so much of the important work takes place. It was something I felt strongly about, as far as the representation and opportunities for independent senators to be able to participate fully in committees.

When I think back on my career, the one committee that stands out is the Legal Committee. I served on a number of them, but in the Legal Committee we dealt with many highly contentious issues. I was fortunate to be the chair of that committee for a few years and a deputy chair prior. I was deputy chair under Senator Fraser, for whom I have immense respect. I learned a great deal from Senator Fraser, but then I punished her when I became chair. She had to listen to me. But it was a wonderful experience.

In my time as a senator I found that you learn from people explaining things to you. You read, and so on, but so much of it comes from the example that others create, seeing how others do it and how they conduct themselves. I can say to you in that Legal Committee I had excellent role models and mentors. I'd like to mention a few of them: Senator Joan Fraser, of course; Senator Serge Joyal; Senator George Baker; Senator Mobina Jaffer; Senator Dan Lang; Senator Vern White; and of course the current chair, Senator Bob Runciman. These are wonderful people. Now, I don't want any of you who aren't named to feel that that's the A-list and you're on the B-list. There is a lengthy A-list. I'm just giving examples of who is on it, but I'll post the full list later, full disclosure. You can see that you're in my thoughts.

Those are wonderful senators who have been helpful to me in my career, but someone else on that committee really was the glue, I would say, who held me together. I can't thank her enough for what she did, and that's Shaila Anwar. Shaila was the Clerk of the Legal Committee. We get so involved in what we as senators are doing and what others are doing, but those around us, and we see them here, do all they can to make us look good and help us and support us. Shaila, I can't thank you enough. Your work is wonderful.

In more recent times, as mentioned earlier, my focus has been the Senate, where the Senate is going in the future and the need for the Senate to reflect an independent and, as much as possible, non-partisan chamber, so that decisions made are objectively based on merit. I believe that was the intention at the time of Confederation.

As has been mentioned, in March 2016, six of us formed the first independent senators working group. One of the main focuses of that group was to ensure fairness, equity and equality among all senators, in particular independent senators, building on the work of Senators Greene and Massicotte. I would say we're there on that.

The six of us at that time included Senator Ringuette — again, another proud New Brunswicker. There are a lot of New Brunswickers. I keep mentioning New Brunswickers, but I can't help it. There was also Diane Bellemare — a wonderful friend — Jacques Demers, Michel Rivard and Elaine McCoy. We asked Elaine to be the first facilitator of this small group of six. She agreed to do that. The independent group has now grown to 43. Elaine is still the facilitator, and the work she has done to make that group what it is today has been outstanding. I know I speak for all of us. I can't thank you enough, Elaine, for what you've done.

Senator McCoy: Thank you.

Senator Wallace: As I leave the Senate, I have to say we've all had our issues and ups and downs. You get opinionated people and we all believe we're right, but that's fine. That's what this place is about. That's what being a parliamentarian is about. You give it and you have to take it. Hopefully there's a median somewhere in the middle, and generally that does happen.

I leave the Senate with a great deal of optimism about its future and the path it is on. I believe it is on the right path, a much improved path, and I know going forward it will be successful. I say that because success in anything we do in life, in any organization, is dependent upon the quality of the people that make up the organization. Without exception, I'm absolutely certain there is no shortage of quality people in this chamber, no shortage whatsoever. That tells me the end result of all of this will be very positive.

As I mentioned earlier, we have people who work for us and support us. I've had two excellent people who have worked for me, tried to keep me on the tracks when at many times I tend to get off them. Hilary Bittle, my executive assistant, has been with me six and a half years, and Ewan Dunn, my parliamentary adviser, has worked with me for five years. They are excellent people, solid. We worked together as a team. Many of the ideas that you had to endure, I would bounce off them, hear their response, and I can't thank them enough for the support they've given me and all the assistance. It goes beyond just a job. It's very much a personal feeling between us. I will miss each of you.

To all of my colleagues, I wish each of you good health, nothing but the best. You've got exciting times coming up, and I look forward to when I see each of you again, maybe on the golf course; who knows. Thank you.


Roberta Bondar

Hon. Patricia Bovey: Honourable senators, I rise today to join all parliamentarians, Canadians from coast to coast to coast and people around the world to pay tribute to Dr. Roberta Bondar who is on Parliament Hill today. Twenty-five years ago, on January 22, 1992, she lifted off in the Space Shuttle Discovery, becoming the first Canadian woman and the first neuro-physician to go into space. She was there for eight days, working in the precursor of the International Space Station. She returned to earth 25 years ago yesterday.

Roberta Bondar has been and is an inspiration to many of all ages and all backgrounds. Space called to her even as a young child, her innate curiosity inspiring her to learn more, to experiment and question, to seek understanding, and to encourage others to do so with her. This Sault Ste. Marie native was encouraged by her parents to get a university degree, "You need that piece of paper." She got many, including a science degree, an MA in experimental pathology, a doctorate in neurobiology, a medical degree, a pilot's licence and scuba diving and parachuting credentials.

Much of her life has been focused on the way our brains see and perceive things. As if that is not enough, Dr. Bondar is a former Chancellor of Trent University. She is an environmentalist who continues to champion endangered species around the world. Since 2009, The Roberta Bondar Foundation has been opening the minds and visions of children across Canada fusing art, science and the environment. More than half a dozen schools are named after her.

On top of all of that, Roberta Bondar is an artist, her chosen medium being photography. Her work demonstrates her unbounded passion for this country, weaving her many talents, interests and professions together in a truly accessible way. To get the right shot, she has hung from planes, off branches and climbed heights few would dare to do. She has given us images of places and flora and fauna we are unlikely to see in person. She has brought all of Canada's national parks and many provincial parks to our attention.

Roberta Bondar's insights into both the micro and macro give us pause to look and see what is really around us. Beauty and majesty imbue every work — colour, texture, depth and light — whether she is looking into space, back to earth, into the tiny bud of an alpine flower, or portraying a herd of buffalo in the Salt Flats, Hoodoo Gorge or a Long Beach sunset. Dr. Bondar has had exhibitions across this country and abroad, and as a curator and writer for one of those, I can attest to her professionalism, her curiosity, her sense of humour and her joy in engaging with all audiences, especially children.

Honours accorded her — the Order of Canada, Order of Ontario, lifetime awards, and 27 honorary degrees — have been well deserved, and it is a privilege to honour her here today. We are indeed fortunate for all the accomplishments of this inspiring Canadian pioneer. Thank you, Roberta.



The Senate

Motion to Affect Today's Question Period Adopted

Hon. Diane Bellemare (Legislative Deputy to the Government Representative in the Senate): Honourable senators, with leave of the Senate and notwithstanding rule 5-5(j), I move:

That, in order to allow the Senate to receive a Minister of the Crown during Question Period as authorized by the Senate on December 10, 2015, and notwithstanding rule 4-7, Question Period shall begin today 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. today, 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. today, 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. today, the sitting be suspended until that time for the purpose of holding Question Period.

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

Hon. Senators: Yes.

Senator Bellemare: Today we will receive the Honourable Navdeep Singh Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science, and Economic Development.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Motion agreed to)


Business of the Senate

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, pursuant to the motion adopted in the chamber earlier today, Question Period will take place at 3:30 p.m.


Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians Bill

Bill to Amend—Fifth Report of Transport and Communications Committee Adopted

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator MacDonald, seconded by the Honourable Senator Carignan, P.C., for the adoption of the fifth report of the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications (Bill S-2, An Act to amend the Motor Vehicle Safety Act and to make a consequential amendment to another Act, with an amendment), presented in the Senate on November 24, 2016.

Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): Honourable senators, I would like to take a moment to thank the members of the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications who reviewed this bill thoroughly. I did take the adjournment at the report stage late last year, and I would ask that we adopt the bill, as amended, going forward at the earliest possible opportunity. I will speak to the bill at that time.

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?

(Motion agreed to and report adopted.)

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

Senator Harder: Honourable senators, I move that the bill, as amended, be placed on the Orders of the Day for third reading at the next sitting.

(On motion of Senator Harder, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for third reading at the next sitting of the Senate.)


Immigration and Refugee Protection Act
Civil Marriage Act
Criminal Code

Bill to Amend a Bill to Amend—Second Reading—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Jaffer, seconded by the Honourable Senator Baker, P.C., for the second reading of Bill S-210, An Act to amend An Act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, the Civil Marriage Act and the Criminal Code and to make consequential amendments to other Acts.

Hon. Donald Neil Plett: I would like to take the adjournment, please.

(On motion of Senator Plett, debate adjourned.)

Conveyance Presentation and Reporting Requirements Modernization Bill

Bill to Amend—Second Reading—Debate Adjourned

Hon. Bob Runciman moved second reading of Bill S-233, An Act to amend the Customs Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (presentation and reporting requirements).

He said: Honourable senators, I am pleased to speak to Bill S-233, An Act to amend the Customs Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (presentation and reporting requirements). Before I explain the bill itself, I'd like to talk about the circumstances that led to its introduction.

On May 30, 2011, Roy Andersen, a seasonal resident of Wellesley Island, an American island in the heart of the Thousand Islands, was fishing from his boat in Canadian waters of the St. Lawrence River in an area known as the Gananoque Narrows. Mr. Andersen had an Ontario fishing licence. He was not anchored or docked; he was doing what we call "drift fishing." He did not believe he was doing anything wrong. Certainly, a Canadian doing the same thing in American waters wouldn't be doing anything wrong.

But Mr. Andersen's boat was boarded and seized by Canada Border Services Agency officers, and he received a fine set at $1,000 if he wished to reclaim his boat. His offence? He had not reported to Canadian customs when he crossed into Canadian waters.

This incident caused a furor on the American side of what had previously been considered a friendly and accessible border. I was contacted by a very upset New York State senator, Patty Ritchie. I subsequently complained very loudly on this side of the border, and I was joined by local, provincial and federal officials. As a result, Mr. Andersen's fine was reduced to a dollar, but the damage to the relationship had already been done.

The charge in this case was to many a break from a century of existing practice for pleasure boaters and fishermen in this beautiful part of the province of Ontario, an area I call home. It's called the Thousand Islands, but in fact this 80-kilometre-long stretch of the St. Lawrence River straddling the Canada-U.S. border between Kingston and Brockville contains 1,864 islands. I can think of few other places where Canadians and Americans come together the way they do in the Thousand Islands to protect the environment, to promote the economy and to enjoy the magnificent surroundings.

The border zigs and zags around various islands. It's not marked, and in many instances, it's virtually impossible for boaters to know which side of the border they are on at any given time. If you've boated in the Thousand Islands, you know exactly what I'm talking about.

As I mentioned earlier, for Canadians who cross into U.S. waters, no reporting is required unless the boater drops anchor, docks or touches land. Most Americans who have crossed into Canadian waters over the years believed similar rules were in place for them — until this infamous incident.

How did the Canada Border Services Agency react to the storm of controversy that flowed from that arrest? Unfortunately, they doubled down. In 2012, they publicly clarified the reporting rules to emphasize that any boat entering Canadian waters, even if it didn't stop, was required to report to Canadian customs. They went to public meetings in the United States and reinforced that message.

I have to be fair to the Canada Border Services Agency that the law currently says exactly that. Section 11 of the Customs Act says every person arriving in Canada must report without delay. The only exception is if they already reported to customs at a customs office outside of Canada, or when they enter Canadian waters or the airspace over Canada "while proceeding directly from one place outside Canada to another place outside Canada."

So a person can cross into Canadian waters without reporting only if they are taking the shortest route between two destinations outside Canada. All other travellers have to report by telephone if they are not stopping or in person if they touch land.

This current situation has deterred pleasure boaters and fishers from crossing into Canada and has hurt the economy of this tourist-dependent region. It would be one thing if the reporting requirements as written enhanced Canada's border security, but in this case they do not. A pleasure boater admiring riverfront properties on the Canadian side of the river, or a fisher after northern pike is no threat to Canadian security. If anything, the current reporting requirements are a threat themselves by taking CBSA officers away from more pressing matters to deal with calls related to these boaters.

Bill S-233 seeks to simplify the situation and bring the Canadian requirements in line with those in the United States. This bill amends the Customs Act to exempt occupants of a conveyance that enters Canadian waters or Canadian airspace and returns to the U.S. without stopping while in Canada. It would also ensure that those who leave Canadian waters are under no obligation to report upon their return if they did not stop while in the waters or airspace of the other country.

Some of you may remember that I originally introduced a more restrictive version of this bill that would have exempted only occupants of private boats from the reporting requirements. However, after extensive consultation with the Canada Border Services Agency, a new bill was drafted. That is what is before you today.

I want to thank the offices of Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, Senator Harder and his office, and the Canada Border Services Agency for their help and cooperation during the consultation that led to Bill S-233.

I would like to single out Ginette Fortuné, the drafter in the Law Clerk's office, who went above and beyond in the drafting of this bill, working overtime to make sure we could get it, hopefully, in time to see it have an effect on the upcoming boating season in the Thousand Islands. I should also mention Law Clerk Michel Patrice and his team for their diligent work.

Senators, this bill is not a political or a partisan piece of legislation. It's simply a response to a situation where the wording of the current Customs Act imposes an impractical, unnecessary reporting requirement in certain circumstances. I believe Bill S-233 will fix the problem, and I ask for your support.

(On motion of Senator Bellemare, for Senator Baker, debate adjourned.)


Senate Modernization

Fourth Report of Special Committee—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Greene, seconded by the Honourable Senator Andreychuk, for the adoption of the fourth report (interim) of the Special Senate Committee on Senate Modernization, entitled Senate Modernization: Moving Forward (Order Paper), presented in the Senate on October 4, 2016.

Hon. Yonah Martin (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): I move the adjournment of the debate in my name.

(On motion of Senator Martin, debate adjourned.)

The Senate

Motion to Invite the Government to Mark the One Hundred and Fiftieth Anniversary of Confederation by Striking a Commemorative Medal to Recognize the Inestimable Contribution Made by Aboriginal Peoples to the Emergence of a Better Canada—Debate Suspended

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Joyal, P.C., seconded by the Honourable Senator Moore:

The Senate invite the Government of Canada to mark the 150th anniversary of Confederation by striking a commemorative medal which, with the traditional symbols of Canada, would recognize the inestimable contribution made by aboriginal peoples to the emergence of a better Canada; and

That this medal be distributed, among others, to those persons who contributed to improving the living conditions of all Canadians in a significant manner over the last 50 years.

Hon. Serge Joyal: Honourable senators, I'm very privileged today to almost open the debate in this chamber for the new year, starting with this motion. Let me read the motion to you so that everyone understands the symbolic debate we could have.

The Senate invite the Government of Canada to mark the 150th anniversary of Confederation by striking a commemorative medal which, with the traditional symbols of Canada, would recognize the inestimable contribution made by aboriginal peoples to the emergence of a better Canada; and

That this medal be distributed, among others, to those persons who contributed to improving the living conditions of all Canadians in a significant manner over the last 50 years.

Honourable senators, I strongly believe and am convinced of the usefulness of this motion. We have embarked since the first of January on the celebration of the one hundred fiftieth anniversary of Confederation, and the first question I'm sure you will have asked yourself is what are we going to do to mark this anniversary?

My first reaction, when I thought of the objective of this anniversary, was what did we do in the past? The first legal approach to any issue is to look at how they solved it in the past and let's see if the way they approached it is still acceptable today and me meets our objective.

How did we do in the past commemorating Confederation? Well, the first thing that they did in 1867, when Confederation was adopted, that is, when the four original provinces of Upper Canada, Ontario, Quebec, Lower Canada, plus New Brunswick and Nova Scotia united as a Confederation under the Crown of Great Britain and Ireland, they struck a medal. As a matter of fact, I have the medal here. On one side the medal bears the effigy of Queen Victoria because it was under the Crown of the United Kingdom and Ireland. On the other side of the medal is an illustration of the four original provinces, one represented by agriculture, another one by trade, another one by mines and another one by the forest industry in the forms of goddesses, of course allegory, with the personification of Great Britain holding a lion.

The medal was designed by a famous medallist of the day, Mr. Wyon. His name was Joseph Shepherd Wyon and the medal was distributed in 1869. That's what they did in 1867 to mark the birth of Confederation.

What did they do 50 years later when they wanted to mark the fiftieth anniversary of Confederation? I'm looking at my friend Senator McInnis. In 1917, 50 years later, they were in the middle of the First World War. In fact, the spring of 1917 was a horrible moment of the war — horrible because it was in the middle of the Battle of the Somme. Canada won the Battle of Vimy, which we will be commemorating at the beginning of April, and won the Battle of Hill 70 in August of that year — the only victories in the whole expedition of the Somme fight. There was no mood in Canada at that time to celebrate anything but rather to concentrate on the war effort. Therefore the government of the day — the Borden government — decided to postpone the celebration to the sixtieth anniversary.

What did they do in 1927? Well, they struck a medal. It was then the government of Mr. King. That medal represented on one side King George V with the words "Confederation Canada," and on the other side a personification of Canada and at her feet a sheaf of wheat and the maple leaf and the motto a mari usque ad mare. Why? Because in 1867 Canada was not a mari usque ad mare. There were only four provinces. However, in between, Canada was able to link the country together to have British Columbia, the Western provinces, and of course Prince Edward Island had joined already, so we were a country covering a continent. That's what the medal celebrated.

Then came the one hundredth anniversary in 1967. You will ask me what they did then. Well, they also struck a medal and what did that medal represent? On one side the medal represented the coat of arms of Canada, with 1867-1967 and, on the other side, the Royal Cipher on the background of a maple leaf. Why? Because in 1967 we had adopted a Canadian flag with the maple leaf, so it shows the identity of Canada was reflected on the medal. And that was during the time of the Pearson government.

Then what did we do with the one hundred and twenty-fifth anniversary under the Mulroney government? Well, a medal was struck for the day, and I have a representation of it here: the Royal Cipher on the background of the maple leaf, plus, on the other side, the Royal standards and the motto of the Order of Canada; in other words, celebrating those Canadians who had achieved the improvement of Canada as a society.

Then we are today at the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary and what will we do? We heard from the government that it doesn't want to strike a medal. They decided to depart from that tradition. The reason remains obscure. Why was it that the government decided to break with tradition? This tradition, honourable senators, is a long-standing one.

I'm looking at my friend Senator Maltais. He will remember when the first medal was struck in Canada. It was struck in 1690 by King Louis XIV after the British left Quebec after the Phips battle. General Phips went into Quebec, took Quebec for a year and a half, and then he went back.


King Louis XIV decided to strike a medal to mark the occasion.


And I will read the text of the medal because it's worth knowing what was written on it: KEBECA LIBERATA; Québec libre. That was 1690. That was the first medal in relation to commemorating a political event in Canada.

When was the next medal stuck by the French? It was in 1693 to mark peace with the Aboriginal peoples. In other words, when the Quebec governors were negotiating with the Aboriginal people, they were marking the treaty with a medal. The date of the medal would be on it with, of course, the effigy of the king, and on the other side a symbolic representation of the Aboriginal people. Then there was another medal struck —



The British struck a medal in 1757 to commemorate the Siege of Louisbourg and the fall of the fortress to British forces.


In 1757, there was another medal marked to commemorate the battle that was the beginning of the Seven Years' War. In 1763, there was another medal when the Treaty of Paris confirmed that Canada was under the British Crown. In other words, this tradition, honourable senators, to mark important —

(Debate suspended.)


Pursuant to the order adopted by the Senate on December 10, 2015, to receive a Minister of the Crown, the Honourable Navdeep Singh Bains, the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development appeared before honourable senators during Question Period.

Business of the Senate

The Hon. the Speaker: I am interrupting Senator Joyal now because it is 3:30 p.m.. We are about to begin Question Period. We can return to debate for the balance of the honourable senator's time following Question Period.

Honourable senators, we have the honour to have with us today for Question Period the Honourable Navdeep Singh Bains, P.C., M.P., Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development. On behalf of all senators, minister, welcome.

Honourable senators, as in the past, I would ask that senators keep their questions — and, if necessary, one supplementary question — focused and brief so that we can have as many senators as possible participate in Question Period.


Ministry of Innovation, Science and Economic Development

Military Technology Review

Hon. Claude Carignan (Leader of the Opposition): Welcome, Mr. Minister.

In recent weeks, we learned of the government's plan to launch a fresh review of the takeover of Montreal's ITF Technologies by Chinese interests. It seems the previous government made the decision for security reasons considering the risks related to transferring high-level military technology to the Chinese government, which could use it for purposes injurious to Canadian interests.

Can the minister explain why he decided to reopen this file and tell us if he plans to uphold the previous government's decision not to authorize the transaction?


Hon. Navdeep Singh Bains, P.C., M.P., Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development: Thank you very much for this opportunity. I would like to thank the senator for the question.

As the senator full well knows, I'm the minister responsible for the Investment Canada Act, and under the act we look at what is in the net benefit interest to Canada, and we also examine what is in our national security interest. I work closely with the Minister of Public Safety on these matters and any of those cases — the specific case the member talks about — are examined with our national interest in mind. I can assure this chamber — and I have assured the House of Commons as well — that any decision we make will be in the interest of all Canadians.

I can also tell the honourable senator that the specifics of this case were brought forward in light of the court hearing that was brought forward, and those documents have indicated to the government to again follow a proper and transparent process, which we are currently doing.


Senator Carignan: Is the minister aware that the subject of Chinese firm O-Net Technologies was raised with the Prime Minister during recent fundraising activities that gave the Chinese billionaire-backed company privileged access to the Prime Minister?


Mr. Bains: Again, the senator has asked that question, and this question has been asked in the other place as well. I'm the minister responsible for the Investment Canada Act. I'm the minister who oversees this process and that is done independently and accordingly, so as to advance our national interest, both when it comes to the net economic benefit and also with respect to national security concerns. We always take the advice of our national security advisers, and we are guided by that when we make our decisions.

Internal Trade

Hon. Douglas Black: Welcome, minister. Thank you very much for being here. You appeared before our Banking Committee, and you know that the Senate Banking Committee has taken a strong position in respect of internal trade. We also know — we believe we know — from media reports that you and your colleagues across Canada are on the verge of announcing an internal trade agreement for Canada.

Can you confirm that is the intention of the Government of Canada? Can you also confirm that the so-called "negative list," whereby industries can exclude or be excluded from interprovincial trade, will be as limited as possible?

Hon. Navdeep Singh Bains, P.C., M.P., Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development: I thank the senator for his question. Of course I would like to thank the committee as well for their hard work on this important matter.

I read their report with extreme excitement in respect to bringing down the walls when it comes to internal trade. It really helped guide the discussions I had with my provincial and territorial counterparts with respect to free trade opportunities within Canada going forward.

As the senator mentioned, this is a discussion that we have had extensively with our provincial and territorial counterparts. We have done so because we're also in the process of pursuing a free trade agreement with Europe. There is a potential scenario where we could have a European company that has access to Canadian procurement and a Canadian company that can be blocked out. Keeping that in mind, we have been working aggressively with my provincial and territorial counterparts to pursue this Canada free trade agreement, as we call it.

We have an agreement in principle. We announced that in July with my provincial and territorial counterparts. We are now in the process of finalizing some of those details. We'll be sharing that with the public soon.

A couple of the key elements are the ambition of the agreement. As the senator mentioned, the ambition speaks to this negative-list approach that should ensure that we have everything possible in this agreement. It's very similar to the process that we followed with CETA. The idea, again, is to bring down the barriers, harmonize regulation and create true economic benefits for our businesses that ultimately benefit our consumers as well.

Hon. Joseph A. Day (Leader of the Senate Liberals): My question, Mr. Minister, is along the same lines as Senator Black's in relation to the report of the Banking Committee entitled Tear Down These Walls.

I brought you along another copy, in case yours has gotten lost along the way, because we had not heard from you in some time, other than the announcement that things were going well. We look forward to learning some of the details.

There is one concern that I would like to bring to your attention, and it is in relation to what has transpired in New Brunswick. In 2012, Mr. Gérard Comeau received a fine because he bought some beer and alcohol in Quebec and brought it into the province of New Brunswick. He was stopped by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and fined for that.

The particular section of our Constitution is section 121 that I'm sure you're quite familiar with. I would like to read to you that particular section because it does provide an understanding of what the Fathers of Confederation were thinking when Canada was formed. It reads:

All Articles of the Growth, Produce, or Manufacture of any one of the Provinces shall, from and after the Union —

That's the creation of Canada.

— be admitted free into each of the other provinces.

It is very clear as to what was intended 150 years ago, yet someone who buys some beer in Quebec and comes into New Brunswick is stopped because of provincial laws.

I understand that leave is sought at the Supreme Court of Canada, Mr. Minister. So that doesn't show that there is a lot of excitement, at least in the province of New Brunswick, to go along with a free trade agreement.

Finally, if you could comment on the issue of services because services are a huge part of our growing Canadian economy and were not contemplated earlier on. Can you at least give us some reassurance that those comments from our report will be reflected in the agreement that you have reached? Thank you, minister.

Mr. Bains: I would like to thank the senator for bringing me a copy of the report. I have no objections to reading it again.

As the senator outlined in his last remarks, of course services would be included. I think that level of detail I can share with this chamber, and I can make it very clear that will be an important part of our overall comprehensive approach when it comes to promoting the flow of goods and services across our borders within Canada.


You specifically talked about the fact that we are now celebrating our one hundred and fiftieth anniversary and this is obviously a very special occasion for Canada. What a unique opportunity we have as we celebrate our anniversary to put forward a comprehensive free trade agreement. I think it sends a powerful signal when we see the rise of protectionism, when we see the conversations of people building walls and looking inward, that we're bringing down walls, that we're promoting trade, ideas and the flow of goods and services in a very open manner. That's really good for innovation, creativity and economic growth.

With respect to the specific point you raised around alcohol, this is an issue that I understand. We as a government have decided not to pursue the matter in the courts. We feel that this is best discussed at the table, and this is where I've raised with my provincial and territorial counterparts. We have designed a road map going forward on how to deal with this issue. I would like to assure the senator that this is an issue I understand is very important.

More broadly, I'd like to say that the objective of the Canada free trade agreement is really to put Canada back on the map. When we pursue multilateral or bilateral free trade agreements, it's important we demonstrate that when those companies want to invest in Canada, we want to see that companies in Canada have the opportunity to grow from coast to coast to coast. That's one of the objectives in our endeavours. Again, it's a very ambitious agreement, and I look forward to providing in the near future more details on this free trade agreement with the provinces and territories.

Innovation Centres

Hon. Kelvin Kenneth Ogilvie: Minister, news reports suggest that the government has identified the creation of technology clusters as the focus of a nearly billion dollar investment in innovation. The objective will be to create companies that will grow way beyond the start-up stage in Canada. This is an excellent objective, obviously. Canada has no substantial centres with critical mass in science and technology innovation.

I completely support any initiative that will build true centres of critical mass in innovation. We simply must do it.

But, minister, the building of centres of critical mass and innovation is not the same as building centres of expertise in narrow research focus areas such as IT and artificial intelligence. The great economic centres of North America — for example, the Boston hub, San Diego and so on — that spin off dynamic companies are not focused on single technology or science objectives.

Can you tell us what your plans are to build true innovation centres that will lead directly to sustained social and economic benefit in Canada?

Hon. Navdeep Singh Bains, P.C., M.P., Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development: I'd like to thank the senator for that thoughtful question. As the senator knows full well, during the campaign we focused a great deal on infrastructure. It was our government's objective to focus on short-term jobs and create long-term prosperity by investing in infrastructure.

Another area we focused on a great deal that didn't receive a lot of fanfare during the campaign but is now gaining traction is innovation. Last year in our budget we made significant investments in innovation. One area you highlighted was clusters. We allocated $800 million for this particular initiative. This initiative is around our government's commitment to identify high-growth firms and to take advantage of the start-up ecosystem we have to focus on scaling up companies, to look at how we create strong, successful Canadian companies that are competitive globally as well.

As you mentioned, we do really well when it comes to science. We represent 0.5 per cent of the world's population and 2 per cent of the world's publication. We punch above our weight there. But with respect to business investment in research and development, we rank 23 out of 35 OECD countries, and that is big problem.

The objective of this cluster strategy is to bring in academia, government and different orders of government. The focus is industry and civil society, to come together to create an environment where we can encourage entrepreneurism, risk-taking, and the culture of innovation, as I've coined it in the past on many occasions.

I can tell you right now that one of the objectives of our cluster strategy is to look at a platform, the way you articulated it. Artificial intelligence is a great example. It's a horizontal platform that can have a meaningful impact on so many different sectors such as agriculture, aerospace, auto, shipbuilding, financial services and so forth. We want to create a cluster strategy not exclusively focused on geography or sectors but on some of these transformative platform technologies that allow Canada to embrace technology in a meaningful way.

If you look at Japan, South Korea and Germany, they are highly automated and highly intensive when it comes to robotics, with low unemployment rates. We understand as a government that we need to embrace innovation and technology, and this is one area that we think as part of our cluster strategy will allow us to differentiate ourselves and compete globally going forward.

I welcome any additional thoughts you have on what kind of platforms we need to look at, but this will be a competitive process, where we will go out there and try to create a model where businesses, academia and different levels of government come together to put forward the best possible proposals.

Senator Ogilvie: Thank you very much, minister. I think that's very encouraging, and I would like to emphasize my point by recognizing the outstanding leadership that Canada has shown in fundamental research across a broad spectrum of areas.

But, as you have indicated with numbers, and throughout my career, we have been singularly unsuccessful among the industrialized countries in translating the brilliant inspirational research we've developed into social and economic benefit for Canadians. My point, which you have partially picked up on, is that the ideas that lead to fundamental developments in how electrons move around and transport information is not the same as translating that into an actual application that delivers a benefit by distributing knowledge, collecting information or curing disease. It is essential to have those who are knowledgeable in the needs of society close to those who are developing the fundamental developments and technology in order to cross-pollinate ideas. Innovation is the application of fundamental science to something that has a practical benefit. I thank you very much.

Mr. Bains: I'd like to thank the senator for his follow-up remarks. Again, you highlight the point and the objective of the cluster strategy. The idea is individuals are innovative, creative, science-oriented, but they may not necessarily be the best CEOs. They may not necessarily have a marketing plan or how to get that idea to market, for example.

In Canada, we're partnering up to make sure we make these historic investments. As you know, we discovered stem cells in 1961. Most recently, I was at MaRS at the University of Toronto making a historic announcement for a company in stem cells: $225 million U.S. for Series A funding, the highest such investment in Canada and probably globally in biotech. The idea is we're taking that particular solution from science to how we commercialize it, bring it to market, bring it into clinics and help improve the quality of life of our citizens. I can assure you that commercialization and getting these ideas to market is a key part of our government's objectives. We understand that we do well when it comes to science and we're not going to cede ground on that, but we also want to see these good ideas materialize into meaningful outcomes for society, and that's what innovation is about.

My daughter asks me: "You're the Minister of Innovation. What does that mean?" And I say better jobs, better outcomes, a better quality of life, a better future. That's what we have to think of when it comes to innovation. It's not about the latest gadget or technologies. It is about transforming society into a much better place, and I think Canada can play a leadership role in this area.

Support for Former Nortel Employees

Hon. Art Eggleton: Welcome, minister. We all remember the days when Nortel was a flagship enterprise of this country around the world, but in 2009 they filed for bankruptcy protection. When they did that, nearly 400 Nortel employees who were on long-term disability, some of them with cancer or heart failure, lost not only their jobs but their medical benefits as well, benefits that they had paid into and the company had been paying into. But when they filed for bankruptcy protection, they ceased to pay into it. Oh, they made sure bonuses were given to their executives. They made sure all the other provisions in the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, which you have the responsibility for, minister, were met, but they were way down the list and they certainly didn't get looked after.

In the spring of 2011, I tried presenting a bill in this chamber to that effect, with the help of my colleague in the other chamber, Liberal MP Mark Eyking, and with the support of your caucus, but it died on the Order Paper. We attempted to rectify it, but it died on the Order Paper when the election was called.

Now in 2012, the previous government did provide some protection for employee long-term disability plans going forward, but it did nothing for people that were already in the system trying to get a piece of the money they so rightly deserved.


It's been eight years since that bankruptcy filing, and these individuals, I can tell you, are in dire straits. They did not ask to get sick or to be injured, and they now face an uncertain future where they will be forced to choose between medical expenses. All of their disability allowances, whatever they get, are eaten up by medical expenses. They have to decide between that, shelter and food, while the executives and the other stakeholders have been looked after under the act.

What does this government intend to do to help these disabled former Nortel employees?

Hon. Navdeep Singh Bains, P.C., M.P., Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development: Thank you very much again. I'd like to thank the honourable senator for his question. I know you've raised this issue with me and others in the past. I want to applaud the efforts of my colleague Mark Eyking on this issue. I wasn't in opposition. I was at home with my two lovely girls, getting ready to knock on doors, but Mark Eyking put a lot of effort into this initiative. It is about how we treat, in an equitable and fair fashion, our employees and pensioners.

Nortel, of course, is such an important example in Canadian history. Obviously, we talked moments ago about creating successful global companies, and it is disappointing to see the demise of Nortel, but also how employees were treated during this process.

The point from the CCAA perspective is always finding that balance of how to create investment opportunities in Canada and how to position ourselves globally vis-à-vis the CCAA and what other jurisdictions are doing. That's something we have to keep in mind because we are fighting for investment opportunities in Canada.

At the same time, we have to find that balance of how to treat our employees and pensioners in an equitable manner. That's something I look forward to working on with you and my colleagues in the other chamber to address in a meaningful way, and anything we can do to help the pensioners is important.

A few days ago, there was a court ruling with respect to this issue, so we're following that closely and seeing what benefits would be received by the pensioners. If there are issues there, we would be more than willing to work with them. I know my department officials have been engaged with the former employees from Nortel as well, and we take this issue very seriously.

Senator Eggleton: I thank you for that. I think we need to bear in mind that what we're trying to do is not to get government to pay money out. They're going to have to rely upon government support if they can't get Nortel, but they want Nortel to pay. They want the bankruptcy fund, and they want the money that's left. Instead of going to their executives, they want Nortel to live up to its obligations. There is still that possibility.

I take it what you're saying is that you're still focused on doing something to help these former Nortel employees in the system who are in dire straits, and you are focused and feel it is the right thing to do, and they should in fact get support.

Mr. Bains: Again, I thank you for your passion on this issue and your ability to communicate the concerns and the frustrations I've heard from the pensioners as well. That's why we're engaged with them, to determine what we can do to assist them. As you mention, as a government we have programs in place to deal with that. There are also obligations that Nortel has, so we're trying to determine the best path forward.

Remote Access to Digital Connectivity

Hon. Dennis Glen Patterson: Minister, I'm sure you're well aware of how digital technologies and tools have vastly improved our quality of life in Canada, in every field of human endeavour. From medicine to education, digital technology is helping Canadians live better, more productive and healthier lives.

This is especially important in my region of Nunavut, which I think is arguably the most remote region of Canada. Despite the importance of Internet and digital technologies in a region that isn't even connected by roads, we have, sadly, on average, the highest rates and the lowest service levels of any jurisdiction in Canada.

We were quite thrilled on December 22 when the CRTC responded to many appeals from the North and declared that broadband Internet is an essential service.

Here is the question and challenge I'd like to ask you about, minister: We are appreciative, of course, of the $500 million over 5 years that was announced for the Connecting Canadians program that is money meant for all of Canada. But this amount does fall short of addressing the infrastructure gap in Nunavut, which has been estimated to cost $1 billion to remedy.

Recognizing that government funding alone will not help to close that gap, is your government willing to enter into longer-term commitments of, say, 10 years or more, which I believe will encourage the private sector to invest in and further develop the much-needed communications infrastructure in the Far North?

Hon. Navdeep Singh Bains, P.C., M.P., Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development: I'd like to thank the honourable senator for that question. As the senator knows, I've spoken about this issue on numerous occasions, around two key areas of access and affordability when it comes to Internet connectivity.

Taking a step back and talking about, as you said, the new digital economy. I don't say "the economy" anymore; I always say "the digital economy." We're in the fourth Industrial Revolution. Our supply chains, our businesses and way of life have become more digitized than ever before, and every company is a tech company. The importance and prevalence of technology, especially digital technology, the speed and scope, is phenomenal compared to what we've seen with some of the industrial revolutions of the past.

When it comes to Canada, one of the challenges we deal with on access is the digital divide between urban and rural and some of our remote communities. To that effect, in the last budget, as I talked about, we made some down payments when it comes to innovation. One was the cluster initiative that I talked about a few moments ago. The other was the Connect to Innovate $500 million allocation. The program is designed based on extensive consultations with stakeholders. We think we can leverage up to $1 billion, because it is a true partnership that we want to have with others as well. That is important to note.

As you also mentioned, CRTC made a ruling with regard to this, and they also put forward a proposal of $750 million that the telecommunication companies should assist with in terms of dealing with this issue of access in rural and remote communities.

We feel that initiative, coupled with our program, is definitely a very positive step. It does not deal with the entire gap. I'm currently working with my colleagues and others to determine how to deal with those additional challenges going forward. But we wanted to act immediately, hence why we put forward the Connect to Innovate program, to provide high-speed Internet connectivity in some of these rural and remote communities.

This is coupled with the CRTC and the work I'm doing with my provincial and territorial counterparts. I've set a table around innovation and economic development, and this is one area as well. When you look at the combined dollar value, it could be over $2 billion to deal with the issues of Internet connectivity in rural and remote communities. That is a significant step, but it doesn't address all of the issues.

Access to Security Resources

Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Minister, first of all, I want to welcome you. It's an absolute honour. Since you're the first minister that I will have an opportunity to say this to, I would ask you to convey to our Prime Minister, from all Muslims in our country, the tremendous leadership the Prime Minister and the leadership in our country has shown towards Muslims. We are really touched. When the Prime Minister and Premier Couillard say that this is our home, we truly believe we are home. I humbly ask you to convey to our Prime Minister and the other leadership that we appreciate the gesture.

Minister, my question is not directly to do with the work that you do in your department, but within the cabinet, and I will ask you since you're the first person we've seen after what happened in Quebec, and I know that before, as a Member of Parliament, you also worked on this issue. There has been a lot of talk of resources being available to synagogues, gurdwaras and mosques to keep people secure. Can you elaborate on that?

Hon. Navdeep Singh Bains, P.C., M.P., Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development: Thank you very much. Even though I'm the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, what happened yesterday has touched all of us in government, regardless of our portfolios. Of course, you've seen the Prime Minister clearly demonstrate leadership in this area by conveying his support in solidarity for our Muslim brothers and sisters, but more important, to reflect what Canadian values are all about, saying we're open to people and that we are a welcoming society, and that we truly value diversity.


As the son of immigrants, those remarks made by the Prime Minister touched me very much. I represent a very diverse riding with a high Muslim population. I've been in touch with many of the leaders in the community, and many of the faith leaders as well, and many of them have clearly expressed a concern and a fear that did not exist in the past. I think that's something that we take very seriously and it's something that we acknowledge.

Of course, we condemn the act of violence and terror that took place. I think there was clear recognition that there is nothing that justifies such behaviour. Of course, these were tragic events, but I gained a lot of inspiration yesterday when I saw Canadians from coast to coast to coast coming together to support their brothers and sisters, to support the community, and to support the Muslim community in particular. It showed Canada at its best. This is something that went well beyond partisan politics. Everyone rose to the occasion and I compliment not only the Prime Minister but leaders of all political parties who stood up in support of the Muslim community during these very difficult times.

With respect to some of the programs and initiatives in place on that, my colleague, the Minister of Public Safety, Ralph Goodale, is leading the charge on this, but he is working closely with many other departments. I know that he has up to $1 million allocated in his budget towards initiatives to help address some of the security concerns in places of worship or recreation centres where communities have been targeted or marginalized. The idea is to provide up to $50,000 worth of grants in these particular areas to provide them with the additional safety and security that they need.

I think in the short term the leadership provided by the Prime Minister and all our political leaders, in terms of setting a clear direction that this kind of behaviour is unacceptable, is a very important first step, but we will provide additional resources to make sure Canadians feel safe in Canada.

Senator Jaffer: Minister, thank you for your response. Minister, may I ask that this information about exactly what resources are available be communicated so that people who need to use these security resources have access?

Minister, I know you are very proud of your daughters. I know how much you care that they are part of this society, because I've known you for a very long time. Yesterday, my granddaughter, who is three years old, asked me: Should we stop being Muslims? Because it hurts to be a Muslim Canada today.

I don't care about what is happening in the south, but I see the debate in our country as well. Nobody is deaf. I'm asking: What leadership is the government going to show beyond words to deal with the issue of hate that is being created in this country?

Mr. Bains: I thank you, again, for that very thoughtful question, and you are absolutely right. I'm proud to be a father. I've got two amazing young girls: Nanki, who is nine and Kirpa, who is six, and I see the world through their eyes. I could not imagine what they were thinking when they were watching the news or what they would be talking about at school. It frightens me as a parent.

I must confess, you know, my grandfather left Pakistan and moved to India and started from scratch for a better life. My father left India to come to Canada at a very young age to have a better life for himself and his kids, so I'm a by-product of generations of immigrants who have left places to really create better opportunities for future generations. I do not want to leave Canada, and I think you raise a very important point: I want to raise my girls here, I want to stay here.

I can assure the honourable senator that, of course, we are playing a leadership role with respect to sending a clear message that there is no room for such behaviour, but we are also looking forward at programs and policies to address the issues around hate and hate speech, to look at issues of what is inciting Islamophobia and xenophobia and looking at what tools the government has.

The government can't do this alone. We need to work with our partners in society, civil society and different orders of government and make sure we deal collectively with this issue, because this is not the kind of future we want for our children. We're determined to make sure we promote good Canadian values for generations to come.

Auto Industry

Hon. Victor Oh: Minister, welcome to the Senate. My question for you today concerns Canada's auto industry, which is a key driver of our economy, and one of the largest manufacturing sectors. The Canadian auto sector is worried about the impact of the new American administration, particularly as it relates to the renegotiation of NAFTA, and the possibility of a new border tax on automobiles.

Last week, General Motors announced that it will cut 625 jobs at an assembly plant in Ontario and is sending this work to Mexico. Also, a week ago, the new President met with the heads of Ford, GM and Fiat Chrysler to press them to build more plants in the United States.

I have two questions for you. First, minister, would you please comment on this move by General Motors? Second, are you concerned for the future of Canada's auto sector under the Trump administration?

Hon. Navdeep Singh Bains, P.C., M.P., Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development: I would like to thank the senator for the question and for representing Mississauga. I'm a proud resident of Mississauga and it's great to see you here in the chamber as well.

As mentioned by you, with regard to my views around the auto sector, I started my career at the Ford Motor Company of Canada. I'm familiar with the sector and I'm very familiar with the Ford Motor Company in particular because of my personal experiences. As the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, I had the opportunity to go to the auto show in Detroit to meet with the executives to talk about investment opportunities in Canada.

In the past three months, we have seen significant investments already because of the labour agreements with our automakers: $1.6 billion have been committed with those discussions, and most recently, I made an announcement in Alliston, at Honda, for an investment of $500 million. This reflects our government's commitment to the Automotive Innovation Fund, which we mentioned in Budget 2016 and which we extended for an additional three years. More importantly, we changed the terms to allow for grants, and not simply loans, as well, which has created a unique investment opportunity.

Because of that, I was able to work with my provincial counterparts to secure 4,000 jobs in Alliston. As you know, for every one assembly job, there are six jobs created because of the multiplier effect. We are going to continue to work with the automakers in terms of looking for investment opportunities and to build on the success of the fact that we already have $2 billion of investments over the past few months.

This sector is so critical because it employs about half a million people. We have 650 suppliers in Ontario. Actually, not in Ontario, I must confess. They are dispersed across the country in Quebec and Ontario, where a lot of these suppliers deal with the integrated supply chain, particularly with our counterparts in the U.S.

We also have another program to support our supplier base called the Automotive Supplier Innovation Program. I was in Windsor with Nemak, where we announced an investment of $3 million, which secured 70 jobs there as well. We are focusing on the big automakers, the assembly plants and the OEMs. We are also strengthening the supplier base, as well.

We continue to fund the research at the 40 academic institutions that do research, particularly around auto research, so we have an incredible ecosystem when it comes to the automotive sector.

You talked about GM. I was very disappointed to hear about the job losses at GM. I have also been working closely with the company to help build the car of the future. That's why GM announced that it will hire 1,000 new engineers in Markham to build the car of the future. We are also looking at making sure we have a strong auto sector, but also how we can build a car of the future to make sure we have a vibrant auto sector going forward.

That really complements the work we're doing with BlackBerry, for example, on QNX. They recently invested $100 million — the Prime Minister was there — and this will create 650 jobs. So no doubt the announcement at GM on what happened in Ingersoll was very disappointing, but we are very committed to GM and the other automakers and we are going to continue to make sure we have more investments. We are going to focus on good quality jobs, strengthen our automotive base, our supplier base and our research base and continue to really highlight our value proposition with respect to our U.S. counterparts, and how we can strengthen ourselves in the context of North America going forward globally.

Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

Hon. Tom McInnis: Minister, thank you for this opportunity. I'm a senator from Nova Scotia. My question to you today concerns your role as minister responsible for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, commonly known as ACOA.

As all honourable senators may be aware, Minister Bains is a Member of Parliament for Mississauga—Malton, just outside of Toronto.


This is the first time that a person from outside Atlantic Canada has been named Minister with responsibility for ACOA since the agency was established by the Right Honourable Brian Mulroney some 30 years ago.

Could you explain to me and to Atlantic Canadians how a minister from Ontario can better represent the unique interests of businesses in Atlantic Canada than any of the 32 Liberal members of Parliament from the region?

Hon. Navdeep Singh Bains, P.C., M.P., Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development: I would like to thank the senator for the question. Of course, I work with all members of Parliament from Atlantic Canada, regardless of their political persuasion, because I think it's important that we all focus on the region.

So with respect to your question, I'm honoured to represent Mississauga—Malton. It's where I'm raising my family and where I spent many, many years. It's a point of pride for me, and it's something I take very seriously. I would not be in this chamber as a minister if I was not elected as a Member of Parliament for Mississauga—Malton.

With respect to Atlantic Canada and the role of regional development agencies, I remind the honourable senator that this government understands the importance of regional development agencies in the context of our overall economic agenda. We brought them together to elevate their importance and the role that they will play in terms of economic development going forward. To demonstrate that point, not only am I responsible for ACOA but all of the other regional development agencies as well. I'm working with my four ministers and the 28 MPs from Atlantic Canada to put forward an Atlantic Growth Strategy. We unveiled this a few months ago. I was there a few days ago, meeting with the four premiers, putting forward a strategy where, again, it's not a top-down approach. It's a collective approach where we work together to look at the unique needs of that region, how we can create growth and prosperity. One of the immediate results in areas of action we have taken was immigration. We put forward a pilot project so that employers can not only bring in immigrants but also find ways to retain them to deal with the aging population issue, to deal with the issues of retention. So this is one area where, potentially, 2,000 immigrants will come with their families, which will be a huge stimulus and meaningful growth opportunity. We also launched an accelerated growth service program identifying 30 firms in the Atlantic Canada region to really help them to scale up and grow. We do this in conjunction with ACOA. We work very closely with the regional development agency. To answer your question, I take pride in working with four premiers, with four ministers and 28 MPs in that region. It is a collaborative effort, and the idea is to help to advance the interests of that region. We have made some meaningful progress. I think that has always been the objective of bringing all of the RDAs under Innovation, Science and Economic Development, to elevate the importance and find additional investment opportunities in that region.

Business of the Senate

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, the time for Question Period has expired. I am sure all honourable senators will join me in thanking Minister Bains for being with us today. We look forward to seeing him again in the near future. Thank you, Minister Bains.


The Senate

Motion to Invite the Government to Mark the One Hundred and Fiftieth Anniversary of Confederation by Striking a Commemorative Medal to Recognize the Inestimable Contribution Made by Aboriginal Peoples to the Emergence of a Better Canada Adopted

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Joyal, P.C., seconded by the Honourable Senator Moore:

The Senate invite the Government of Canada to mark the 150th anniversary of Confederation by striking a commemorative medal which, with the traditional symbols of Canada, would recognize the inestimable contribution made by aboriginal peoples to the emergence of a better Canada; and

That this medal be distributed, among others, to those persons who contributed to improving the living conditions of all Canadians in a significant manner over the last 50 years.

Hon. Serge Joyal: Honourable senators, I think that the hardest thing in making a speech is to be in the middle of a development and to be cut short and have to repump the interest on the issue that one was describing.

I was mentioning, if you remember, some of you, that traditionally, in the history of Canada, dating back to the 17th century, it has been a tradition to mark the special anniversary or landmark date of evolution of our country with the striking of a medal that would have, on one of its sides, the commemoration of the evolution that Canada has had in the years passed by.

I had given the example, of course, of Confederation, the example of the sixtieth anniversary, the centennial anniversary, the one hundred and twenty-fifth anniversary. I am now, of course, at the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary.

If you read the motion that I had the privilege to table, the motion calls upon us to remember the contribution of the Aboriginal people. Let me read again the motion that:

The Senate invite the Government of Canada to mark the 150th anniversary of Confederation by striking a commemorative medal which, with the traditional symbols of Canada —

And here is the point —

— would recognize the inestimable contribution made by aboriginal peoples to the emergence of a better Canada

Honourable senators, I didn't create that idea out of the blue. As a matter of fact, it was inspired by the very report chaired by our colleague, Senator Sinclair, in his report following the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. In fact, if you read recommendation 68, what Senator Sinclair is writing in the report — and, with his permission I will quote him, recommendation 68 —

We call upon the federal government, in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, and the Canadian Museums Association to mark the 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation in 2017 by establishing a dedicated national funding program for commemoration projects on the theme of reconciliation.

I repeat "commemoration projects on the theme of reconciliation." This proposal I am making to you today is essentially that. It's a commemoration project to mark the reconciliation with the Aboriginal people on the occasion of our one hundred and fiftieth anniversary. I have been looking in the announcements that the Minister of Heritage has made of the $260 million or so that the government will spend to mark the anniversary of Confederation.

Well, honourable senators, there are very few projects that will leave a permanent legacy, a tangible, permanent legacy. Most of them are "of an ephemeral impact." In other words, there is going be a lot of hoopla in 2017. But once 2017 is over, what will be left of it? What progress will we have made in Canadian minds toward the service of the objectives that we want to achieve in terms of recognizing the unique place and role that the Aboriginal people have played in the making of Canada?

Honourable senators, at the time of Confederation, 150 years ago, life was not very good for Aboriginal people. You will remember section 91 of the British North America Act, recognizing, at section 91 paragraph 24, that the federal government is the one to have the responsibility in relation to:

Indians and Lands reserved for the Indians.

We all know what happened once that responsibility was granted in Confederation to the federal government. That was the Indian Act. In the years after Confederation, the abominable Indian Act was adopted. It's still in force in Canada. If you read again the report of our colleague Senator Sinclair in relation to the Indian Act, it is our responsibility to build a different relationship with the Aboriginal people and to set aside the infamous Indian Act.

This medal commemorating the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary will mark a beginning, the beginning a new kind of relationship with the Aboriginal people. It is, in my opinion, by striking that message on metal so that it will last for years to come for all those who will be granted those medals, in their pocket or in their hands or on their walls, that 2017 was a landmark, a new beginning.

I reviewed the record of the answers that the Minister of Heritage has been giving, why she has set aside the idea of striking a medal. In fact honourable senators, with due respect to the Minister of Heritage, I don't think there was an answer. Her answer is essentially, "Well, we want to make the celebration inclusive." Well, what is contradictory —

The Hon. the Speaker: Excuse me, Senator Joyal. Your time is up. Are you asking for five more minutes?

Senator Joyal: Yes, honourable senators.

The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Senator Joyal: I repeat: The answer of the Minister of Heritage is very simple.


I will quote her, because I want to give exactly the words that she pronounced in relation to that. I quote from an article that was published by L'Agence QMI:


When asked to explain her decision, Ms. Joly said that the celebrations "are going to be in every community . . . and under the circumstances, we want to make sure that our approach is very inclusive."


I don't see any contradiction in having an inclusive celebration with the idea of striking a commemorative medal as Canada has had for centuries. Whatever the stripe of the government, be it a Liberal or a Tory government, be it an absolute monarchy like under Louis XIV or a tempered monarchy like under King George III, this is part of our history. Why do we turn our backs to our history? What are we ashamed of? Is it that striking a medal is old-fashioned, that with the new generation, because you have your little tablets and everything is there, you don't need a medal?

To me, this needs a sober second thought. It is our responsibility to bring the honourable minister to reconsider her decision. I think we owe that to the Aboriginal people of Canada and to the recommendation of the report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, that we mark this year of 2017 with elements of memory that would last and survive the ephemera of the year, and remind future generations of Canadians that 2017 was a starting point in our history.

In my opinion, this is not a partisan issue. There is nothing partisan in there. It's to honour our tradition. It's to honour the memory of our people. This chamber is the memory of Parliament. We praise ourselves on being the institutional memory of Parliament. This is a decision that calls upon our role, along with that of the other place, to bring forth the memory of what we have done in the past, what we have achieved in the past, and what lies ahead of us, to make Canada a better country with the full contribution of the Aboriginal peoples.

Honourable senators, this is why I solicit your support. I will further invite you to sign a common letter from all the senators to the minister. I think that's the way to do it, because in the other place sometimes they say, "Oh, they can talk as much as they want," but the day passes, there is another crisis and then the mind is on something else.

Honourable senators, if we all sign the same letter asking the minister to reconsider her decision, to strike a medal in full compliance with our tradition to mark the special role and special departure of the Aboriginal people of Canada for the future of our country, we will have done something that we remember in 2017.

Thank you, honourable senators.

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

Hon. Senators: Question.

The Hon. the Speaker: It was moved by the Honourable Senator Joyal, seconded by the Honourable Senator Moore, that the Senate invite the Government of Canada to mark the one hundred fiftieth anniversary of Confederation — may I dispense?

Hon. Senators: Dispense.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Motion agreed to.)

Motion to Encourage the Government to Evaluate the Cost and Impact of Implementing a National Basic Income Program—Motion in Amendment—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Eggleton, P.C., seconded by the Honourable Senator Dawson:

That the Senate encourage the federal government, after appropriate consultations, to sponsor along with one or more of the provinces/territories a pilot project, and any complementary studies, to evaluate the cost and impact of implementing a national basic income program based on a negative income tax for the purpose of helping Canadians to escape poverty.

And on the motion in amendment of the Honourable Senator Bellemare, seconded by the Honourable Senator Harder, P.C.:

That the motion be amended to read as follows:

That the Senate encourage the federal government, after appropriate consultations, to provide support to initiatives by Provinces/Territories, including the Aboriginal Communities, aimed at evaluating the cost and impact of implementing measures, programs and pilot projects for the purpose of helping Canadians to escape poverty, by way of a basic income program (such as a negative income tax) and to report on their relative efficiency.

Hon. Art Eggleton: Honourable senators, this is Motion No. 51, with an amendment. It's on page 17. You can see both the original motion that I moved several months ago as well as the amendment. I rise to speak specifically on the amendment that was moved by Senator Bellemare in her wonderful set of remarks a few months ago, in which she talked about things like a full employment strategy.

The amendment she moved at that time changes the idea of the federal government sponsoring, along with one or more provinces, a pilot project. She puts the initiation of this onto the provinces by saying:

. . . to provide support to initiatives by Provinces/ Territories, including the Aboriginal Communities . . . .

I find that completely compatible. I have no difficulty with it whatsoever. I appreciate her remarks and support, and the remarks that Senator Wallin gave on this motion.

What I'm asking you to do is not to make a final a decision on whether you support or do not support a permanent basic income. I am saying it is worthy of being tested. It is worthy of the pilot projects that are now being considered by provinces.

We did a pilot project previously. It was done in Manitoba back in the 1970s. It was called "Mincome." It was done primarily in the city of Dauphin, Manitoba. It proved that in fact there are advantages to a basic income or guaranteed annual income program. Hospital visits dropped. Visits to people in medical professions and costs in those medical professions, particularly when it came to mental illness, with less stress as a result of this program, all showed savings in the health care system.

Workforce attachment has always been an issue for a lot of people with guaranteed income or a basic income program. Will people just leave their jobs, stay at home and live off that money? That experiment proved that workforce attachment was still quite strong. The only people that dropped off the workforce to any great degree were new mothers who wanted to stay at home and look after their children. This is before there were those types of benefits under the CPP that one can get today.

There were also teenagers who actually went back to school, got a better education, ended up going into the workforce and were able to earn a greater amount of money, having graduated in higher numbers.

What is needed today is current data. This experiment was 40 years ago. We need current data for today, and we have better methods of assembling information and being able to analyze that data.

At the same time, these pilot projects, or it could be a single project, help to build confidence. They help to provide the kind of evidence base that we need to be able to make a final decision on whether this is the way to move forward.

When it comes to income security, the federal government is very much involved with income security now, and a number of programs. One of them is very much akin to a basic income program. It is the Guaranteed Income Supplement, or GIS, for seniors. In fact, when that was added on to the CPP and the OAS payments back in late 1970s, it took the poverty rate among seniors from 30 per cent down to 5 per cent.

We also have additional programs like the Canada Child Benefit and the Working Income Tax Benefit, which are all part of income security, but none of them in total have been able to make a dent in terms of poverty, aside from seniors poverty, in this country.

The support for doing these pilot projects is gaining momentum. Ontario announced in their last budget they intend to do that. As a volunteer, they got our former colleague Hugh Segal to write up a paper on how that project might proceed. Quebec is looking at the matter as well. In P.E.I., all the party leaders — the NDP, Liberal and Conservative leaders of that province — all said that they would like to engage in a pilot project relevant to basic income. There are mayors and counsellors right across this country in major cities who have also come on board.


A study done a couple of years ago by Environics found that 52 per cent of the people they polled indicated they thought it was something worth pursuing.

Why is this kind of momentum happening? Why are people talking about this now and saying, "Let's look at it a little further and see if it will work"? I'd say there are three reasons for this. First is the persistence of poverty. Statistics Canada says that one in seven Canadians live below the poverty line. That's 5 million people in this country, and 1 million of them are children. Back in 1989, the House of Commons said it wanted to eliminate child poverty by the year 2000. Today, child poverty is actually a higher percentage than it was then.

So there is still a long way to go. The Canada Child Benefit has certainly helped a lot, but there are certainly still of lot of children it is not bringing out of poverty.

Almost 900,000 people use food banks every month, and 38 per cent of the people who depend upon food banks are children. Four million are in need of decent, affordable housing in this country, and there are thousands of homeless people struggling with street life. For these people, our fellow citizens, every day is a battle with insufficient income, unaffordable housing, inadequate clothing and unsatisfactory nutrition.

It affects people's health. That's one of the things they found regarding income. The Canadian Medical Association has picked up on that by saying that poverty makes us sick. They wrote a report on it. They noted that the lowest income quartile has twice the health care costs as the highest quartile in this country. One in seven children is going to school hungry in this country. There are dreadful living conditions for much of the Aboriginal population. There is greater vulnerability to poverty for them, persons with disabilities, single parents, new immigrants and people of colour. How shameful it is in a country as rich as Canada that we have so many of these poor statistics.

Make no mistake: Poverty is not being defeated or diminished. It still had as a stranglehold on many Canadian lives. As our former colleague Hugh Segal said, "Our present system doesn't fight poverty; it institutionalizes it."

Poverty doesn't just affect the poor. Poverty affects us all. Study after study has indicated that this is costing taxpayers billions and billions of dollars every year. And homelessness: It's been proven many times again that it's three to four times more costly to leave someone on the street than to give them housing support.

The kind of system we've developed is failing. The current support systems fail. I particularly would single out social welfare, a system that is degrading, puts a stigma on people, marginalizes people and it is one that I think is a very key object of these studies — to replace it with something that would be a better safety net.

Another senator, David Croll, said back in 1970 that we're pouring billions of dollars every year into a social welfare system that merely treats the symptoms of poverty but leaves the disease itself untouched. It's time to take a new path — at least to explore a new path. It's time to end the indignity, the stigma and marginalization of the current welfare social assistance system. It fails us socially; it fails us from an economic perspective. It's time to end the Band-Aid approach and explore a new direction.

The second reason that I think we are seeing rising momentum to support basic income or at least the pilot projects is rising inequality. A wide gap in wealth and income levels has evolved in the past three decades in this country. Our society is becoming more unequal. When you have the top 100 CEOs in this country making on average $9.2 million a year and the average salary of a Canadian is just over $47,000, you can see that the prosperity is not being shared. Twenty per cent of the population controls 68 per cent of the wealth.

City neighbourhoods are becoming more polarized — a threat I would suggest to our social fabric.

In Toronto, there's one statistic that I think is worth noting. In Leaside, one of the neighbourhoods in Toronto, there is 4 per cent child poverty. You take a five-minute drive into the Thorncliffe area and child poverty is 53 per cent.

In Hamilton, two neighbourhoods five kilometres apart have a 21-year difference in life expectancy. In one neighbourhood, the life expectancy is 83; five kilometres away, it's only 62.

The third reason that basic income is gaining momentum is that the labour market is changing. Globalization, outsourcing, new technology, automation, robotics, artificial intelligence — all of these things are coming into play in terms of changing the labour market as we have known it. There's a substantial loss of manufacturing jobs — blue-collar jobs — being replaced by precarious employment: more part-time work, fewer benefits. People are without the kind of secure, well-paying jobs that they've had in the past.

Professor Richard Florida at the University of Toronto says we are in the midst of the greatest, more thorough economic transformation in all of history. The Mowat Centre recently reported that 42 per cent of employment in Canada is at high risk of automation in the next two decades, particularly with new artificial intelligence and robotics technologies.

Those three reasons — poverty, inequality and the changing labour market, together with a feeble economy — contribute to the growing stress for many people to make ends meet as they live paycheque to paycheque, which half our population does, we're told. Insufficient pensions, too much household debt — these all lead to greater anxiety and a search for a better safety net.

What would a basic income pilot look like? Hugh Segal, in his report to the Province of Ontario, says it should be based on a negative income tax, or it should be like a refundable tax credit. It should top people up who are below whatever poverty line is determined in the pilot project to be followed. He believes that we can prove that a basic income would reduce poverty more effectively, encourage work, reduce stigmatization, and produce better health outcomes and better life chances for recipients. He has recommended that people be topped up. For example, people on social welfare would go from 45 per cent of the low-income measure to 75 per cent of the low-income measure. He would top up people on the disabled benefits program as well.

He suggests that all participation needs to be voluntary; no individual should be made worse off during or after the pilot as a result of participation in the pilot. All personal data collected or assessed would be kept private by a research team. Aggregate data in the form of preliminary results once it starts to flow must be accessible to Ontarians in a transparent fashion.

So he has outlined a program that the province says it's going to put forward; $25 billion has been put into its budget to do this and they may need more money. But they do need the cooperation of the federal government to be able to do this, as will other provinces that may wish to enter into this.

In talking about this kind of program, we're talking about income security. But there is more to the programs in terms of the social supports provided by the different orders of government. I want to make it clear that while basic income would replace provincial welfare and would have to be blended with or replace some other programs of a similar nature that add to the income of people of low income, we're still going to need social support programs.

The Hon. the Speaker: Senator, your time has expired. Are you asking for five more minutes?

Is leave granted, honourable colleagues?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Senator Eggleton: We're still going to need programs for affordable housing; childcare; employment supports, such as training and adult re-education; and supports for disabled seniors. I believe that, in the long run, if we get by the pilot stage, we can operate a system more efficiently and effectively and at no greater cost than it is today. There will be transitional costs but, in the short term, certainly all of the social security money, whether for income security or social supports, needs to be left on the table by the provinces, by the federal government, to make sure that people will be better off, not worse off.


Let me say in summary that I believe all Canadians should have sufficient income to pay for the necessities of life: food, clothing and decent shelter. I think we would all subscribe to that. A basic income won't provide for the good life, but it will lift people and it should lift people out of poverty. It should give them a better foundation and a stronger platform in which to move themselves forward, them and their families, into a better life, better job opportunities, more education, less stress — certainly in being able to provide for those necessities. It should move people off the costly welfare rolls and the indignities involved in an income tax managed formula — a negative income tax — and top them up to a better position.

The current systems have failed. The current systems certainly aren't working. It's time to explore something new. So let's get the evidence; let's study this approach. If proven, we will not only end poverty and reduce inequality, but we will spend smarter, more efficiently and more effectively.

Thank you very much.

Hon. Diane Bellemare (Legislative Deputy to the Government Representative in the Senate): Is it possible to ask a question?

Senator Eggleton: Certainly.

Senator Bellemare: My question is this: The way I understand your understanding of the amendment is that we may have many experiences, not only of one kind. In discussion with the provinces, some provinces may want to approach a guaranteed income through an employment strategy, as it was written in the Croll report and others may go the route of basic income without any other things.

Senator Eggleton: Yes, absolutely. I think that's the beauty of the amendment that you moved, in that it does provide for different formulas for different provinces and different approaches to this. So yes, I think it's very compatible with the main motion.

(On motion of Senator Lankin, debate adjourned.)

Softwood Lumber Crisis

Inquiry—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Maltais, calling the attention of the Senate to the softwood lumber crisis.

Hon. Diane Bellemare (Legislative Deputy to the Government Representative in the Senate): I want to make sure that after I finish my speech this inquiry will remain adjourned in the name of Senator Martin.

The Hon. the Speaker: Is it agreed, honourable senators?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.


Senator Bellemare: Honourable senators, today I want to talk to you about the Canadian forestry industry, and I thank Senator Maltais for bringing this inquiry forward. Like my colleague, I am also very worried for the thousands of Quebecers and Canadians whose economic security is threatened by the measures that are hurting the softwood lumber industry.

Before I get into the specifics of my speech, I would first like to put the importance of the forestry industry into perspective within the Canadian economy. As you may know, Canadian forests cover a surface area that is twice the size of Quebec, and Canada is home to approximately ten per cent of the world's forest cover, according to Statistics Canada. The development of this natural resource generates 1.25 per cent of Canada's GDP. Over 200 Canadian communities depend on forestry resources, and the average salary in this industry is $1,000.82 a week, according to the Forest Products Association of Canada. The vast majority of the industry's production is intended for export and falls into three main categories: pulp comprises 24.6 per cent; paper comprises 30.6 per cent; and softwood lumber comprises 44.7 per cent. The forestry industry generates a trade surplus worth $19 billion.

The forestry sector as a whole has always been a major contributor to job creation in Canada. At its height in the 1970s, it employed nearly 380,000 people, although that number has dropped over the years, levelling off at around 235,000 jobs. In 2016, the industry employed 238,000 people. If we include indirect employment, some 600,000 jobs in Canada depend on this industry, primarily in rural areas. As part of its Vision2020 challenge, the Forest Products Association of Canada expects to need at least 60,000 more workers to fill the positions that will become vacant because of 40,000 retirements and the 20,000 new positions that will be created in the future.

Employment trends in the lumber industry were similar to those in the forestry industry in general. Between 2004 and 2009, the number of jobs in Canada's lumber industry dropped from 50,000 to 26,300. Most of Canada's lumber industry jobs, 40.8 per cent, are located in British Columbia, followed by Quebec, at 30 per cent, and then Ontario and Alberta.

The softwood lumber subindustry is the one we are hearing about the most these days because of the expiration, on October 12, 2016, of trade agreements between the United States and Canada. It is a very cyclical industry that is tied to the construction industry in Canada and the United States. As you know, after the 2008 crisis, the construction of new homes was at an all-time low in the United States. That hurt the lumber industry, and American producers waged a trade war against Canadian producers. At the time, the Canadian government managed to sign a deal with the United States that stabilized Canadian forestry companies' access to the American market.

However, that agreement has expired and it will not be easy to renegotiate under the Trump administration. Since President Trump was elected, there is every reason to believe that the U.S. lumber lobby will get what it wants from U.S. federal authorities.

As you know, the American lumber industry is almost able to meet domestic demand. That being said, is it possible for Canada to improve its economic strategy and, more importantly, its employment strategy in the forestry industry? I'm not an expert on the forestry industry, but I can talk about well-designed, productive employment strategies. I have done a lot of work in that area in the past, both as an academic and on the ground with the Government of Quebec and various employers and labour organizations. I have no intention of being an employment guru, believe me. I just want to illustrate what we can do as a society to get out from under American protectionism over forestry products and safeguard ourselves.

To make my point, let me quickly go over the Finnish strategy for forestry development. In terms of natural resource development, the forestry has always supported Finland's economy. The forestry industry represents 5 per cent of Finland's GDP, which is rather significant. This industry generates a significant trade surplus for Finland and creates many jobs.

Finland's forestry industry has also had to adapt to global conditions. However, Finland seems to be adopting a different strategy from Canada's. Finland's traditional market for forestry products is Europe, including France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and Italy, but the demand for traditional products such as pulp, paper, and softwood lumber has decreased over time.


As a result, Finland turned toward Asia, in particular, in order to diversify its markets. It made sure to have a strong domestic demand by building innovative wood buildings. It focused on developing machinery and equipment for export. Some Quebec companies have even purchased machinery from Finland. Finnish companies then exported their know-how to Asia to produce wood material from Asian shrubs.

Finland also diversified its production. It has been making significant investments in research and development and now produces clean, renewable energy from forestry resources. Today, Finland's forests are also used for recreation, tourism, and environmental purposes. All of this was made possible through collective efforts, which helped not only the industry, but also educational and research institutions and local communities.

The steps that Finland took were reasonable and we can certainly learn from them. The Forest Products Association of Canada is already headed in that direction. It is encouraging its members to diversify their markets and products as demonstrated in a press release that was recently issued by the association, which reads as follows:

As we work with the federal government to defend our industry, this is a reminder of the importance of innovation to the future of Canada's forest products sector and the need to diversify our export markets and products.

The association is pleased to see that more and more wood is being used to produce energy. In short, the strategy proposed by the Forest Products Association of Canada is not very different from Finland's strategy.

However, it may take time to see the results of such a strategic shift in Canada. It may take longer than it did in Finland. Why? There is a fundamental difference between Canada and Finland. Canada is a huge country. It is also a confederation in which power is shared. In Canada, logging falls under provincial jurisdiction. The large number of stakeholders makes it difficult to implement this sort of strategy in Canada. In other words, such a strategy would involve significant collective action. It cannot be achieved through the decisions of individual companies alone.

The Forest Products Association of Canada and its provincial counterparts can hammer this message home to their members, but a strategic shift will happen only in concert with meaningful public action. It must be backed by political, public and collective policies and strategies. It cannot be left up to a single level of government or to businesses.

There are already forums in Canada for discussing forestry-related issues. For example, the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers, established in 1985, brings together all federal, provincial and territorial forest ministers. According to the council's website, its primary role is to provide the following:

A forum of discussion and exchange of views on forestry-related issues of common interest or with an intergovernmental or international standpoint.

A vehicle to work cooperatively on common forest and forestry-related issues of Canadian and international concern.

However, the council is less interested in forestry-related jobs and economic development than it is in the bioeconomy. For those who, like me, are not that familiar with bioeconomy issues, this is a sector focused on offering goods and services based on renewable resources in a sustainable fashion while limiting environmental impacts in order to address climate challenges. That is why the council's priority is to do the following:

. . . meaningfully contribute to advancing forest sector innovation in Canada to support climate change mitigation, long-term environmental sustainability, economic competitiveness and green jobs.

Its targeted outcomes are limited to indicators based on activities, such as seminars, that are not really relevant to the public and do not measure jobs created, investment in innovation or added value in any useful way.

I am not familiar enough with the forestry sector, unfortunately, to criticize the work of the council, and that is not my intention. Concerted efforts by governments, as part of a strategy to provide productive and appropriate employment, could encompass joint, provincial, and local action to rethink a forestry development strategy that is also a green strategy. As we know, job creation is not necessarily inconsistent with the development of a sustainable economy. The employment lens would allow us to adapt short-, medium-, and long-term actions to make forestry operations profitable while creating wealth that would allow us to be green.

In the short term, we must secure our exports to the United States. However, Canada has no control over the decisions made by the Americans, especially given the protectionist era that is looming. Therefore, we must try to open markets elsewhere.

Furthermore, we must also compensate employees who lose their jobs. Employment insurance can provide income for the unemployed. However, we must do more with the employment insurance program. We should use these financial means to also develop the skills of this sector's employees and to prepare them for the jobs of the future. Local and regional authorities must work together to identify the skills to be developed.

We must also diversify production and innovate. According to the Forest Products Association of Canada, the forestry industry invests 0.35 per cent of its revenue in research and development. That undoubtedly represents a large amount of money, but we must do more. There must be more processing of softwood lumber in order to increase the value added by Canada. Some B.C. firms, as we recently saw on television, have launched these types of initiatives, which should catch on. For example, Quebec could build more prefabricated homes to be exported in the event of disaster or to meet other needs in countries ravaged by climate or war.

Partnerships need to be established with educational and research institutions, with universities, architecture and engineering departments, always through a workforce lens. Through training and educational and research institutions, we will be able to innovate and find new uses for forest products. I humbly believe that, through the prism of employment, Canada will find the energy needed to further stimulate the collective action required to create a sustainable development strategy for our forests. This is what I call a full employment strategy.

Dialogue in the forestry sector that includes political forces working for the development of sustainable jobs will help mobilize industry players, including the workforce and businesses. This cooperation will also ensure consistency between the policies made and the actions taken by the players. It will also help set clear, results-oriented objectives for all industry players.

Honourable senators, in closing, I would like to point out that the real challenge facing the Canadian forestry sector will be in adapting to the new economic realities and taking the appropriate collective action. The goal of suitable, productive work, I believe, will galvanize this collective action. That is what a full employment strategy is all about.

Hon. Ghislain Maltais: Will Senator Bellemare accept a question?

The Hon. the Speaker: I'm sorry to tell you, senator, that your time has expired. Would you like to request five more minutes?

Senator Bellemare: Yes, please, to answer Senator Maltais' question.

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

Hon. Senators: Yes.

Senator Maltais: Thank you, Your Honour. Senator, you have often referred to the example of Finland as a model for forestry development. However, we can't necessarily compare Finland and Canada.


We do not produce the same wood in Canada as in Finland, as that country is much further north than Canada. Spruce and pine are much harder and better suited to pulp production. What you failed to say is that 60 per cent of Finnish businesses have relocated. They are now in Asia and Latin America because eucalyptus is a harder wood that grows much more quickly. In Canada, we cannot follow suit, as you know full well, because of our climate. Instead of a 20-year reproduction cycle, we are talking about 35 to 50 years depending on the region.

The other thing is that Canada currently produces a lot of softwood lumber and very little pulp. The pulp sector is trending upward slightly and pulp is exported to the U.S. market.

As far as softwood lumber is concerned, with the 30 per cent tariff, since the government has not signed a new agreement, do you think that we will create an extra 60,000 jobs over the next few years, or do you believe Canada's forestry and wood processing sector's current workforce will do?

Senator Bellemare: I, too, was surprised by the Forest Products Association of Canada's projections. I think that in consultation with stakeholders, we will be able to forecast labour market needs. Certainly, if we are more innovative we could do more with the quality of our wood, generate more energy use with it. In Finland, they use wood waste for that. With a trained workforce and research, possibilities abound. We can go far with human ingenuity. Necessity is the mother of invention.

Having said that, I agree with you. These labour projections indicate that 40,000 people in this sector will retire and 20,000 new jobs will have to be created. I cannot say much more than that because I did not come up with these figures. I, too, found them surprising.

However, we know that the industry likes to have a large workforce because it prefers to avoid labour shortages. I imagine that the base assumptions are nevertheless optimistic.

Senator Maltais: Does the senator agree with me that, in these difficult times for the forestry industry, it would not be prudent to throw around figures about future jobs because a tour of the major sawmills in Quebec, Ontario, and British Columbia shows that, with respect to jobs, the problem is no longer retirement, but rather wood sales. Forestry companies are cutting staff at a dizzying pace, especially in New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario, and even central Canada, as well as British Columbia. Therefore, I do not believe that it is in the forestry industry's interest to provide figures that, in reality, do not reflect the current situation.

Senator Bellemare: I believe that I have exercised due diligence in bringing forward these figures. We could ask the association to respond. I will forward these comments and we could continue, if others are interested, studying this sector, because it is a sector that definitely needs to be examined.

(On motion of Senator Martin, debate adjourned.)


Effects of Climate Change on Human Rights

Inquiry—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Jaffer, calling the attention of the Senate to the human rights implications of climate change, and how it will affect the most vulnerable in Canada and the world by threatening their right to food, water, health, adequate shelter, life, and self-determination.

Hon. Marc Gold: Honourable senators, I wish to move the adjournment of the debate.

(On motion of Senator Gold, debate adjourned.)

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

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