- SENATORS' STATEMENTS
- ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
- The Senate
- National Strategy for Safe and Environmentally Sound Disposal of Lamps Containing Mercury Bill
- Foreign Affairs and International Trade
- QUESTION PERIOD
- Democratic Reform
- Innovation, Science and Economic Development
- Canadian Heritage
- Innovation, Science and Economic Development
- Agriculture and Agri-Food
- Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship
- Natural Resources
- Innovation, Science and Economic Development
- ORDERS OF THE DAY
- Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians Bill
- Conveyance Presentation and Reporting Requirements Modernization Bill
- Senate Modernization
- Immigration and Refugee Protection Act
Civil Marriage Act
- Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament
- The Senate
- Appendix—Senators List
Wednesday, February 1, 2017
The Senate met at 2 p.m., the Speaker in the chair.
Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, I rise today in deep sadness as I, along with the rest of our country, mourn the loss of six Canadians and many others who were injured in a deadly act of terror targeted at the Muslim community in Quebec. These are the Canadians who died that day: Khaled Belkacemi, 60 years old, survived by three children; Azzedine Soufiane, 57 years old, survived by three children; Aboubaker Thabti, 44 years old, survived by two children; Abdelkrim Hassane, 41 years old, survived by three children; Tanou Barry, 42 years old; Ibrahima Barry, 39 years old, survived by four children.
I would like to express my deepest condolences to their families.
Honourable senators, when Muslims go to the mosque to pray, they place their head on the ground to humble themselves before God. They submit themselves by taking the most vulnerable and peaceful position imaginable. It was in that vulnerable state that this terrorist shot at our fellow Canadians.
Honourable senators, last year this same mosque was the victim of hate crime. A pig's head was left at the doors of the mosque. Yesterday the president of the mosque said, "They left us a pig's head. We were told that it was an isolated act, but today we have deaths."
Honourable senators, Islamophobia, xenophobia, hateful rhetoric and policy, no matter where it comes from, cannot go unchecked. Today we see the consequences.
My heart is breaking for the victims' families and the people of Quebec City. I mourn with them, and I mourn with every other Canadian who is feeling this loss and the effects of Islamophobia.
I pledge to all those Canadians that I will meet hatred with love. I will call out hateful and hurtful targeted policies and rhetoric, and I will stand up for the most vulnerable in our society.
I ask that my honourable colleagues and Canadians around the country stand up as well. It is the only acceptable way to honour these innocent Canadians who were lost in this act of terror.
Honourable senators, I would like to conclude by reading a passage from the Quran that fits this tragedy:
O mankind, We have created you from a male and a female; and We have made you into tribes and sub-tribes that you may know one another. Verily, the most honourable among you, in the sight of Allah, is he who is the most righteous among you. Surely, Allah is All-knowing, All-Aware.
Thank you. May their souls rest in peace.
Hon. Kelvin Kenneth Ogilvie: Honourable senators, today I would like to bring your attention to a marvelous opportunity to interact with Canada's world-leading scientists and discuss the most recent exciting developments and applications in genomics.
Genomics is the science that helps us read and understand the "code of life," the "DNA" or the "genes" within all living things.
Canada is a recognized global leader in this field, thanks to sustained federal investment in the science through Genome Canada and the co-funding of large-scale Canadian genomics research by key partners, including provinces, industry and not-for-profit organizations within Canada and internationally.
Genome Canada, along with six regional genome centres, is the catalyst for Canada's genomic enterprise. Their work is transformative.
Genomic breakthroughs are saving lives, revolutionizing agriculture and forestry, and delivering novel approaches to address challenges facing the extraction industries. They are driving innovations across many sectors and growing Canada's bioeconomy.
On February 6, some of Canada's best and brightest genome scientists will be right here on the Hill to showcase how genomic technologies are being applied in Canada today to solve big challenges, specifically in the areas of precision health and climate change.
They will be joined by end-users, such as rare disease patients whose lives have been changed due to research breakthroughs, and organizations that are using genomics to advance clean technology, reduce pollution, protect Arctic marine life and improve the yield of Canada's most important crops.
Genome Canada and representatives from all the regional genome centres will be present.
I invite you and encourage you to join me between 4 and 7 p.m., Monday, February 6 — that's next week — in room 256-S, just around the corner out here, in Centre Block, to experience the 2017 edition of Genomics on the Hill. I assure you, you won't want to miss it.
Hon. Don Meredith: Honourable senators, February has been officially designated by Parliament as Black History Month across Canada.
As our country celebrates its one hundred and fiftieth anniversary, we have a unique opportunity to recognize the iconic men and women of colour who have weaved the tapestry of diversity which helps to define the course of our nation.
In this hallowed chamber, as I celebrate the sixth anniversary of being sworn into the Senate on this very day, I take the time to acknowledge that the journey in becoming the first senator of Jamaican descent was paved by great patriots who accepted the call to serve, pioneers who courageously challenged the status quo, by presenting perspectives from citizens with journeys unlike that of any honourable senator prior.
I pay tribute to the Honourable Senator Mobina Jaffer, the Ugandan native appointed in 2001, simultaneously becoming the first African-born and first Muslim in the Senate. Her passion and dedication to this institution are evident to all, and we owe her our utmost respect.
I pay tribute to Senator Calvin Ruck, born in Sydney, Nova Scotia, to Barbadian parents. He worked as a porter with the Canadian National Railway, a post also held by the father of another remarkable African-Canadian, the Honourable Lincoln Alexander, Canada's first Black member of Parliament, cabinet minister, and Lieutenant-Governor. Ruck, a Dalhousie University graduate, served on the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission. His efforts to preserve and commemorate the history of Black World War I veterans resulted in a permanent memorial being erected at Pictou, Nova Scotia, in honour of the "No. 2 Construction Battalion." Appointed in 1998, Calvin Ruck became Canada's third African-Canadian senator.
I pay tribute to Senator Donald Oliver. The Acadia University alumnus earned his law degree from Dalhousie University and was called to the bar in 1965. He began working with the Progressive Conservative Party in 1972, remaining involved for over three decades. Donald Oliver became Canada's second African-Canadian senator, being appointed in 1990. Senator Oliver leaves a lasting legacy as our Speaker pro tempore.
Finally, I honour the Dean of the Senate, our beloved Senator Anne Cools. The Barbadian native and McGill University graduate displays an unbridled devotion to country and community. With a myriad of accolades from a life of service spanning almost a third of our nation's history, she is truly "one of 100 greatest Canadians of all time."
Anne Cools was summoned to the Senate in January 1984, simultaneously becoming the first African-Canadian person appointed to the Senate of Canada and the first Black female senator in North America.
I stand on the shoulders of these stalwarts. Their invaluable contributions will live in the annals of our nation.
Today, in 2017, we have the honour of serving with more African-Canadians in the upper chamber. In our most recent elections, we welcomed yet more African-Canadian members to Parliament. We applaud the Honourable Ahmed Hussen — an African-Canadian — our Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, who began his Canadian journey as a Somalian refugee.
I thank all the great Black men and women who have made an indelible mark upon our national identity, personifying multiculturalism at its best — like Viola Desmond, who will grace our Canadian currency very soon.
The history of Black Canadians is rich and full of extraordinary individuals. While the challenges have been many, I am proud of the progress we have made and look forward to the future we will create.
I wish you all a very happy Black History Month, filled with the celebration of African-Canadian culture and people.
Hon. Jane Cordy: Honourable senators, the community of Upper Big Tracadie in Nova Scotia continues to grieve for the Desmond family. Their lives were taken in an unfathomable tragedy on January 3, 2017. RCMP confirmed that retired soldier Lionel Desmond shot his wife Shanna Desmond, their 10-year-old daughter Aaliyah and his mother Brenda Desmond before turning the gun on himself.
Shanna Desmond was only 31 and had recently completed her nursing degree at St. Francis Xavier University and was just beginning her nursing career in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. By all accounts, 10-year-old Aaliyah was a typical, happy and active girl who enjoyed horseback riding, skating and singing. She dreamed of becoming a veterinarian.
Through the outpouring of love from family and neighbours, we heard that the Desmond family was a very close family. However, honourable senators, what was hidden from view from many of those family members and neighbours was the suffering that too many of our Armed Forces personnel carry with them when they return home from the battlefield. Lionel Desmond was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after two tours in Afghanistan, and it has been reported he did receive some treatment for his PTSD.
Honourable senators, as we know, living with PTSD is often a life-long battle. We have learned from close family and friends that the family was struggling to deal with Mr. Desmond's PTSD.
We may never know the full extent that PTSD plays in this tragedy, but many believe it was likely a major factor. The events of that horrific day have rekindled the conversation of PTSD in Canada, particularly for military personnel.
Unfortunately, in this era of the 24-hour news cycle, it is all too common for real life stories like these to fade quickly and to leave the national consciousness.
In Senator Roméo Dallaire's final speech in this place on June 16, 2014, he spoke passionately about Canada's international responsibilities to help broker peace in some of the world's worst conflicts. He concluded his speech thusly:
However, our responsibilities do not end with the missions abroad. Indeed, we have related duties at home that we must carry out to the fullest extent. If Canada were to send troops and other personnel into conflict zones, such as the Central African Republic, we would have to ensure absolutely that we provide them and their families with the proper care after they return home, for you cannot return from those conflicts without being affected. This includes care not only of the physical injuries but those of the psychological variety, which have a lasting and potentially deadly impact. PTSD can be a terminal injury.
Honourable senators, it is incumbent on us as parliamentarians to ensure that the conversation does not fade away. Canadians who serve our country, protecting our rights and freedoms and our lives at home and in some of the most dangerous areas of the world, must be cared for.
Honourable senators, we owe this to our military, to our police officers, to our first responders and, of course, to their families.
Hon. Victor Oh: Honourable senators, this year we are celebrating the one hundred fiftieth birthday of Canada. At the beginning of 2017, I joined Minister of Canadian Heritage Mélanie Joly to launch Canada 150 in China, promoting Canadian culture abroad. I want to thank her for the invitation.
Back at home, there are more than 100 Lunar New Year events taking place across the country in the local communities and here on the Hill. Beyond the lion/dragon dances, lanterns and fireworks, the new year is about family, love, peace and hope.
January 28, 2017, marks the beginning of the Year of the Rooster. Occupying the tenth position in the Chinese zodiac, the rooster symbolizes confidence, motivation and determination. In the Chinese language, the word "rooster" is also pronounced the same as the word "luck."
This evening, at 6:30 p.m. in room 256-S, the Honourable Senators Dyck, Martin, Ngo, Woo and I will cohost a Lunar New Year event on the Hill. I invite all honourable senators to take part in this celebration and experience the richness of our multicultural society.
This year, the first day of the lunar year has been officially proclaimed as the beginning of the 15-day Spring Festival, adding a Canadian flavour to the biggest celebration on Earth.
Billions of people living in China, Vietnam, Korea, Malaysia and my birthplace of Singapore are gathering with family and friends to ring in the new year.
Canada prides itself on its rich culture and history of diversity and the benefits derived from communities around the world. Inclusiveness is our strength. It is what makes Canada great and strong. We value cross-cultural communication and we are grateful for the freedom and respect every Canadian enjoys. Diversity has become an integral part of the Canadian culture landscape.
Honourable senators, I would like to take this opportunity to wish all of you, as well as Canadians from coast to coast to coast, a happy, healthy, hopeful Lunar New Year with good luck. Gong Xi Fa Cai!
Hon. Pamela Wallin: Honourable senators, right now in Canada there are some 560,000 veterans — men and women who proudly served either here at home or in some far-flung corner of our world. Their average age is 57, but the average age of retirement is 46. So do the math; we are losing the value and the contribution of a huge, still young, highly trained and skilled number of people who have many years to contribute and benefit our economy. It's a resource that's truly being wasted.
Veterans Affairs Canada and their Hire a Veteran program provide assistance for vets with their job search. National Defence's Transition Services encourages the federal government and other employers to hire veterans, but the onus is still largely on the veteran to navigate the maze of programs to access work. There are many other private sector programs, but the issue is still the same.
In the U.S., there is a much more powerful connection between the military, the civilian world and the corporate sector. There are some 40,000 organizations that support or advocate for veterans.
One small example: The U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative is looking to train 50,000 new solar installers by 2020 and the program is expanding every day. There are thousands of senior military men and women who are key players in the ranks of Fortune 500 companies and there are thousands more in the Home Depots, Walmarts and Campbell Soups of the world.
Canada needs to take a page from this book and proactively consider the recruiting of veterans at all levels. There is one program I want to single out for mention today. The Prince's Charities Canada helps those transitioning from the Canadian Forces to entrepreneurship. It has launched the Prince's — as in Charles — "Operation Entrepreneur." It offers a veteran-specific business directory that allows Canadians to identify and locate veteran-friendly businesses. It offers education, tools and resources that veterans need to launch and run successful businesses. And they also sponsor and run "boot camps" for vets looking to start their own businesses.
I want to congratulate the Prince's Charities for Operation Entrepreneur. It already operates on four campuses, including my own alma mater, the University of Regina.
Colleagues, our veterans are motivated, highly trained, disciplined and experienced. Their discharge or retirement from the Canadian Armed Forces should not put them in a position of starting over with very real skills but ones that are still not recognized formally by industry or educational institutions.
They have given us our futures — let us help to ensure theirs.
Hon. Diane Bellemare (Legislative Deputy to the Government Representative in the Senate): Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:
That, in order to allow the Senate to receive a Minister of the Crown during Question Period as authorized by the Senate on December 10, 2015, and notwithstanding rule 4-7, when the Senate sits on Tuesday, February 7, 2017, Question Period shall begin at 3:30 p.m., with any proceedings then before the Senate being interrupted until the end of Question Period, which shall last a maximum of 40 minutes;
That, if a standing vote would conflict with the holding of Question Period at 3:30 p.m. on that day, the vote be postponed until immediately after the conclusion of Question Period;
That, if the bells are ringing for a vote at 3:30 p.m. on that day, they be interrupted for Question Period at that time, and resume thereafter for the balance of any time remaining; and
That, if the Senate concludes its business before 3:30 p.m. on that day, the sitting be suspended until that time for the purpose of holding Question Period.
Hon. Diane Bellemare (Legislative Deputy to the Government Representative in the Senate): Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:
That, when the Senate next adjourns after the adoption of this motion, it do stand adjourned until Tuesday, February 7, 2017 at 2 p.m.
The Hon. the Speaker informed the Senate that a message had been received from the House of Commons with Bill C-238, An Act respecting the development of a national strategy for the safe and environmentally sound disposal of lamps containing mercury.
(Bill read first time.)
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be read the second time?
(On motion of Senator Cordy, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for second reading two days hence.)
Hon. A. Raynell Andreychuk: Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:
That the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade be permitted, notwithstanding usual practices, to deposit with the Clerk of the Senate, between February 6 and 15, 2017, its report dealing with Free Trade Agreements, if the Senate is not then sitting, and that the report be deemed to have been tabled in the Chamber.
Hon. Claude Carignan (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. This morning, we learned from an unexpected source, the new Minister of Democratic Institutions' mandate letter, that the government is breaking yet another of its election promises, its promise to reform the voting system.
Can the Leader of the Government help us understand why the government is breaking yet another election promise?
Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I thank the honourable leader for his question and welcome him and all senators back to Question Period for the Senate.
As the honourable senator referenced, earlier this morning in a press conference, the minister spoke to this issue and indicated that it was the view of the Government of Canada that changing the electoral system requires a broad consensus, which the government has concluded doesn't exist.
I want to emphasize that there are a number of other aspects of enhancing our democratic practices in Canada that will continue to be examined and supported by the government and will come forward in legislation as appropriate.
Senator Carignan: Mr. Leader, as you know, more and more Canadians are becoming cynical about politics and politicians.
The Prime Minister broke an important election promise and got the new Minister of Democratic Institutions to announce the decision instead of talking directly to Canadians and explaining the reasons behind it. Does the Leader of the Government in the Senate agree that this approach in no way boosts Canadians' confidence in politicians and could instead fuel cynicism?
Senator Harder: Briefly, no, but let me indicate that the cynicism that the honourable senator references is best countered by ensuring that our democratic practices are modern and are supportive of participation by Canadians. There is, in terms of electoral practices, some modernization that would benefit that participation and the government is intending to pursue it.
I would also argue and point out that consulting with Canadians and members of Parliament and reaching a conclusion different from one held is not at all cynicism-producing but rather respective of discourse and engagement.
Hon. Paul E. McIntyre: Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I would ask him to refer my question to Minister Bains. I didn't have time to ask the minister my question yesterday.
I am a member of the Standing Senate Committee on Official Languages. If I am not mistaken, the Conseil scolaire francophone de la Colombie-Britannique, better known as CSF, wrote to Minister Bains, the minister responsible for Statistics Canada, to ask him to amend the Canada Census questionnaire in order to better assess the number of students with at least one parent who has minority language education rights under section 23 of the Charter. Of course, the Statistics Canada census is the most effective way to obtain that information.
Government Representative, I also understand that consultations for the next census have begun, and that Statistics Canada will be testing new questions and amended questions in 2018 for possible inclusion in the 2021 census. My question is this: could you find out from the minister whether that is indeed the case?
Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I share the honourable senator's wish that he had been able to ask the minister yesterday, because he would have gotten his answer more efficiently, and it would have been of a higher quality than the one I will offer today.
I will commit to seeking an answer from the minister and table it as quickly as possible.
Hon. Don Meredith: My question is for the Government Representative in the Senate.
You heard me talking about iconic figures and those who have made contributions from the African-Canadian community. I am wondering what the government is doing with respect to the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of Canada with respect to cultural events that will be in honour of some of these great Canadians in terms of the participation of these particular artists and so forth in cultural activities that will be taking place. Can you relay to this chamber any activities that you are aware of that will be taking place and how the African communities will be engaged in that?
Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): Again, I thank the honourable senator for his question. With respect to, in particular, the African-Canadian community, I will seek to have a specific response. But I do know that Minister Joly has indicated a number of events across the country throughout the year to celebrate individual Canadians and the diversity of the country. I'm sure that will reflect itself in an inclusive fashion with all groups, including Canadians with African-Canadian heritage. That is very much part of the expression that we all are, both in this chamber and, happily, outside this chamber.
Hon. Thanh Hai Ngo: My question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. In early November, the Liberal government overturned a decision made by the previous Conservative government in 2015 to cancel the sale of ITF Technologies of Montreal to a Chinese firm, O-Net Communications. The previous government's decision was made for reasons linked to national security. Also in early November, the Prime Minister attended a private fundraiser providing privileged access, in exchange for donations, with Chinese billionaires who paid $1,500 each to enjoy preferential access to the Prime Minister.
Canadians are well aware that that was not the only private fundraiser the Prime Minister attended last year with wealthy Chinese business people. The Prime Minister has admitted that he was lobbied during those Liberal Party fundraising activities.
In his response yesterday to the Leader of the Opposition, the Minister of Innovation did not deny that the Prime Minister was lobbied on this file. Can the Leader of the Government in the Senate tell us, then, who lobbied the Prime Minister regarding the O-Net Communications file, and at which Liberal fundraising activities involving privileged access in exchange for donations did that lobbying take place?
Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I thank the honourable senator for his question. As he references in the question itself, this important issue was raised by the Leader of the Opposition yesterday. I thought the minister gave an entirely appropriate response to the government's position in respect of the review of this matter.
With respect to the assertions that the honourable senator makes with regard to fundraising activity, I can only point to the statements made by the Prime Minister in this regard and leave it at that.
Senator Ngo: You have had dealings with the Canada China Business Council for quite some time. Can you tell honourable senators whether you were involved in any way in the federal government's deliberations leading to its decision to set aside the order made by the previous government?
Senator Harder: Not to my knowledge.
Hon. Scott Tannas: My question is for the Government Representative in the Senate and it concerns bovine tuberculosis. We've got about 58 cattle ranches in southeastern Alberta and southwestern Saskatchewan that remain under quarantine because of the discovery of six cases of bovine tuberculosis. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has been investigating this outbreak since October, and they've now said that the investigation and the quarantine will take several more months.
You may recall, leader, that I specifically asked the minister who is in charge of this file and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Minister Philpott, if local labs and veterinarians could be used to speed up the process. We haven't heard anything about this, and I'm wondering if you could find out an answer: Are labs and local vets being utilized to help speed up the situation? If not, why not?
Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I thank the honourable senator for his question. I'll follow up. I do recall the question being given, and the response and undertakings that the minister spoke to. I would be happy to request an update.
Hon. Scott Tannas: While the honourable senator is making his inquiries, could you find out if all the impacted ranchers who have requested compensation under the AgriRecovery framework have, indeed, received financial assistance?
Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I will add that to my inquiry. I know from my previous briefing that was under way. I don't know to what extent it has been completed.
Hon. Tobias C. Enverga, Jr.: My question is for the Government Representative in the Senate. In December, the previous Minister of Immigration announced changes to the Family Reunification Program, replacing the previous first-come-first-served program for sponsorship applications with a new lottery-based system. The change was announced on December 14 and put into effect on January 3.
Could the Leader of the Government in the Senate tell us why the government chose not to provide more advance notice of this important change to the families already waiting in line?
Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I thank the honourable senator for his question and his ongoing interest in matters respecting immigration and refugee issues. It is not unusual, from time to time, for the minister responsible to make adjustments to ensure that the management of immigration applications is such that we can meet our commitments in terms of the immigration levels with the flows that are before the department.
I will inquire with respect to the specific announcement that he references, but it is not unusual at all, and it is usually done as quickly as possible, which I assume is the motivation of the minister at the time.
Senator Enverga: As a supplementary question, Citizenship and Immigration Canada has stated that it will randomly choose 10,000 individuals from those who filled out an online form. Those 10,000 people will be invited to send in their completed application package. Could the Leader of the Government in the Senate please tell all honourable senators how the department intends to conduct this random draw? What algorithms will the department use?
Senator Harder: I haven't studied the algorithms that will be used, but I'm happy to inquire.
Hon. Percy Mockler: Honourable senators, my question is for the Government Representative in the Senate, and it's all about Energy East. With President Trump's recent executive order to move forward on the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, there has been some speculation and confusion as to whether the Energy East project is still necessary.
There is no doubt in my mind that the Energy East project should be treated by the Government of Canada in the national interest of all Canadians. There seems to be confusion on that again.
To the leader, does the Government of Canada believe that the approval of Keystone XL has any impact on whether Energy East should be built?
Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I thank the honourable senator for his question and his devotion to this issue. As all senators will know, he has followed this issue with great intensity and appropriate concern.
The Government of Canada's view is that major energy projects require appropriate review, and that must be carried out in a fashion that brings confidence to Canadians. That is why on January 9 the National Energy Board panel was struck, for reasons that the senator knows, and that panel is now deliberating and determining how it will go about its work.
The Government of Canada welcomes this process. It also welcomes the private sector commitment or ongoing interest, restated yesterday before a Senate process, in this project in light of the Keystone XL decision. The review process will go forward, and at the appropriate moment, when the government's responsibilities are called on, the government will make a final decision.
Senator Mockler: I have a supplementary question for the Leader of the Government in the Senate.
On January 27, the National Energy Board announced that all of the decisions made by the former review panel were void and that it would start the review process over from scratch. Leader of the Government in the Senate, you just alluded to that. Energy East is just as important for Canadians as the construction of the Canadian railway, the Trans-Canada Highway from east to west and the St. Lawrence Seaway were in building the Canada of today. Leader, when does the Government of Canada expect the public hearings on the Energy East project to begin? Will it be in 2017?
Senator Harder: I thank the honourable senator for his supplementary question. I want to reinforce two things. One is the government's view that projects such as this need to be examined by the appropriate review panels in a fashion that is viewed as credible by all stakeholders so that the result is one that can win broad approval, even though there are obviously differing views. That process was in doubt, and the new panel began its work on January 9, and that review panel will make its own judgment as to the pacing, the location and the design of its hearings.
That process must be respected by all parties, including the Government of Canada, as it exercises its responsibilities.
Hon. Yonah Martin (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, I have a question for the Government Representative in the Senate. Leader, I didn't get to ask these questions of the minister. They are very specific questions, so I ask you to take note of them and see if you can get some answers for us from the minister.
It is regarding the agreement reached between the provinces and territories last July to dismantle internal trade barriers, in particular, what's actually missing from the agreement. I know he answered some questions regarding these trade barriers yesterday. Although the forthcoming interprovincial and territorial trade deal is welcomed, it does not include trade in beer, wine and spirits. While other consumers in foreign jurisdictions are enjoying Canadian products, it's quite a shame that Canadians themselves are not able to toast, perhaps, to Canada's one hundred and fiftieth with products from our country, from other provinces, in a way that others may be able to.
My question regarding the working committee is: What is the date for the next meeting and what is the timeline for this working committee to address what's missing in the trade agreement to include beer, wine and spirits? Those are my first two questions.
Specifically, what is the role of the minister in actively being a part of these discussions? As you know, and as all senators know in committees, Canada is a very vast and diverse country, and it does take a federal presence where there are gaps, particularly gaps where provincial-territorial jurisdictions may override federal ones, but our role is important.
I wanted to get assurances from the minister that he will be at the table, that there's a very specific timeline, and that we will see the inclusion of these goods in the trade agreement.
An Hon. Senator: Free the beer.
Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): As a son of the best wine growing region in Canada — that would be Vineland, Ontario — I would salute any opportunity to raise a glass of wine on the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary in British Columbia.
Let me take note of the questions and their specifics, but I'd like to make a couple of points. After a year in office, Minister Bains has achieved significant progress on the interprovincial trade file. As he indicated yesterday, he acknowledged the work of the Senate, but it does take the minister responsible at the federal level to bring together all of the parties. I think we should all recognize that in one year he's done more than perhaps the last decade has achieved.
Having said that, a number of outstanding barriers in our system are province-to-province, not federal jurisdiction, and you quite rightly identified that. It does take a degree of diplomacy, encouragement and other ways of engaging stakeholders to make progress, but I want to be vigilant to the question and recognize that this is an important file.
Senator Martin: Yes, and thank you for all of the points that you made, but leadership from the minister himself will be critical in trying to bridge these provincial and territorial gaps that naturally exist because they are looking at what's best for the provinces. Hopefully the minister is looking at the whole picture.
If I may, I will set the record straight. As a daughter of British Columbia, we have some of the finest wines that the world enjoys. I wish to make that clear.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.
Senator Harder: I certainly don't take the superfluous mention of another region of wine growing, but there is an act of diplomacy here. I do know from my own experience on this file, frustrating as it was, federal exhortations are not always welcome.
Hon. Claude Carignan (Leader of the Opposition): I do not want to get into the icewine debate because the best icewine is produced in Saint-Eustache in any case.
My question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate and deals with a more serious subject related to the comments published last week by Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, the Liberal member for Beaches—East York. In the article that he wrote, Mr. Erskine-Smith said that he was in favour of decriminalizing and eventually legalizing the use and possession of every type of drug. He is talking not just about marijuana but about all drugs.
He mentioned a number of decisions that his government made recently that he sees as steps toward legalizing all drugs, namely the introduction of Bill C-37, the Minister of Health's decision to allow doctors to prescribe medical grade heroin to drug addicts, and the government's plans to legalize marijuana, including the report recently released by the task force on that subject.
It seems to me that these drugs are illegal because of their harmful effects on those who take them and on society in general. Could the Leader of the Government in the Senate tell us whether or not the Liberal government is planning, in one way or another, to eventually legalize and decriminalize all drugs?
Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): As challenging as this role is, I do not speak for backbench MPs in their statements. Rather, from a Government of Canada perspective, there are no plans.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, Senator Beyak has made a written declaration of private interest regarding Bill S-2, and, in accordance with rule 15-7, the declaration shall be recorded in the Journals of the Senate.
Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate) moved third reading of Bill S-2, An Act to amend the Motor Vehicle Safety Act and to make a consequential amendment to another Act, as amended.
He said: Honourable senators, I move that the Bill S-2, as amended, be read a third time.
Honourable senators, you will know that in June 2015 — almost two years ago — the previous government introduced similar legislation in the form of Bill C-62. Bill S-2 differs from Bill C-62 in some respects, and that was debated in committee. But I want to assure all senators that the work done by the appropriate Senate committee, the Transport and Communications Committee, in reviewing this bill was appropriately and fastidiously accomplished, and I want to thank members for that.
Throughout the debate and during the committee process, we heard that the Motor Vehicle Safety Act, as it exists today, does not provide Canadians with the same level of consumer or safety protection as afforded to Americans for similar vehicles. The purpose of this bill is to improve this situation and enhance motor vehicle safety in Canada while having a process agile enough to allow vehicle innovations and new technologies without compromising safety.
Bill S-2 accomplishes this objective in a number of ways, including empowering of the Minister of Transport to order a company to take corrective actions to address a notice of defect or a notice of non-compliance. This corrective action may, at the manufacturer's discretion, include vehicle repair, replacement, repayment of the costs for the work previously done, or refunding the full cost of the vehicle, less depreciation. This protection applies equally to consumers and motor vehicle dealers.
Bill S-2 also creates a formal process for a manufacturer to provide additional information to the minister for consideration before the issuance of an order. This process allows for additional discussions between the department and the manufacturer in advance of the minister's order for a company to issue a notice of defect. However, this potential delay does not apply to an order to conduct additional studies to assess a possible safety defect or non-compliance. In other words, it's innovation that we want to protect.
These studies would need to be conducted in a timely manner, and the additional review process would delay the gathering of crucial safety information.
The ability to order additional studies or analyses on new technologies is important as it will help Transport Canada assess possible safety defects in a timely manner. This ability will help gain consumer support for new technologies by instilling confidence that the government will be able to quickly address developing issues together with manufacturers.
The minister will also have the power to order a manufacturer to prevent the sale of new vehicles for which a notice of defect or non-compliance has been issued. The purpose of this policy is to ensure that new vehicles with an outstanding notice of defect do not get on the road before repairs are made.
The bill also allows for the creation of administrative penalties in the Motor Vehicle Safety Act consistent with other modes of transport and other areas of federal authority.
The bill also provides that, in lieu of criminal prosecution, if appropriate, as with other modes of transport, these fines will be associated with an open and transparent appeals process through the Transportation Appeals Tribunal of Canada.
The introduction of consent agreements also offers the ability to reduce fines for alternative safety actions, where penalties can be reduced in exchange for specific action on the part of a company or a person who has violated this measure.
The bill also introduces changes to existing interim orders and exemptions to make them more flexible and useful in promoting new proven technology, and safety and fuel technologies in particular, as well as other vehicle innovations, with the assurance that they will not diminish safety.
Honourable senators, you will know from the work of the Transportation and Communications Committee, that they have sought to improve the bill. My view is that the position taken in this chamber on Bill S-2 should be put to the other place. In other words, I support the amendments that were made in committee, although I did not support them then, and I am therefore supporting the bill as amended and trust that the other place will conduct a fulsome study of the bill in its entirety.
To conclude, Bill S-2 is sound public policy that will improve motor vehicle safety in Canada. As I said earlier, it is very similar to legislation brought forward by the previous government and is consistent with the legislation in the United States. I thank honourable senators for taking the time, and I do hope that we can advance this bill, even today, to the other chamber for their consideration.
(On motion of Senator Martin, debate adjourned, on division.)
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Runciman, seconded by the Honourable Senator White, for the second reading of Bill S-233, An Act to amend the Customs Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (presentation and reporting requirements).
Hon. George Baker: Honourable senators, I have just a few words concerning this particular bill before asking that it proceed to committee.
This is a very important bill. It was introduced by a member of the Conservative opposition. It is a bill that clears up a legal problem that we've had in this country since 1985. This is Senator Runciman's bill, and I wanted to repeat two sentences that he said yesterday in debate. He said yesterday, in describing the present law, that, when a boat or a vessel crosses the Canadian border, goes into American waters and then comes back into Canada, the requirement of the act is that they report to customs, that the act states that there is a requirement to do that.
He said that, in 2012, the department 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. That message was reinforced in public meetings on the American side as recently as 2015, and, to be fair to the Canada Border Services Agency, that is exactly what the law says.
Now, you can imagine that long border, and boats that would come down any of the lakes or the river and cross back and forth across the border. They would have to report to customs at any time.
He said, further, that this bill amends the Customs Act to exempt occupants of a conveyance that enters Canadian waters or Canadian air space and returns to the U.S. without stopping while in Canada. It would ensure that those who leave Canadian waters — Canadians — are under no obligation to report upon their return if they did not stop while in the waters or air space of another country. Makes sense, doesn't it? That's what I thought the law was.
He continued by saying that he would like to thank the offices of Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale and Senator Harder, along with the Canada Border Services Agency, for their help and cooperation during the consultations that led to Bill S-233. So we see that this bill is supported not just by the Conservative caucus, but it is here with the assistance of Senator Harder's office and the office of the minister responsible in the Government of Canada.
So why do we have this problem? I can remember in 1985 dealing with this bill. The Customs Act in 1985 was a revision of an act that had been in force for 110 years. It was the first major revision of the act. I was wondering to myself, why do we have this problem today? I went to case law, as I normally do, and I discovered that the Ontario Court of Appeal, back in 1992, had made this decision. I'll read just the head note of that decision so that you'll understand why we have a problem today. It says this:
. . . accused picking up truckload of fuel in Quebec for delivery to Cornwall Island, Ontario; only route being through United States; on re-entering Canada at Cornwall Island, accused stating having nothing to declare; convicted of unlawfully failing to report imported goods . . . .
And the fuel oil and the truck were forfeited. On appeal, held; the appeal was dismissed. Construing the act as a whole:
. . . the Customs Act imposing complete reporting duty under s. 12(1) —
— which is being amended in this bill —
— on persons bringing goods into Canada, regardless of origin of goods; s. 12(1) not applying only to goods of foreign origin . . . .
So this is the highest court in the province of Ontario, the Ontario Court of Appeal. Usually, as the former judges in this place would know, that carries a lot of weight in Canadian courts. And there was the decision. If you go across Canada, cross the border into the United States along the way and you come back into Canada, you have to report and be assessed by the government authority.
Then the courts, specifically the Federal Court, started making decisions that were contrary to the Ontario Court of Appeal. In other words, other jurisdictions started saying, "No, the Ontario Court of Appeal is wrong." The first one that did this was a judge by the name of Campbell J. of the Federal Court of Canada, Trial Division. He ruled on this, and again I'll just read from the headnote to understand what his decision was: "Ministry arguing that all goods brought into Canada being imported, even if acquired in Canada, under section 12(1) of the Customs Act — ordinary citizen not interpreting "imported" in that way — "imported" implying goods of foreign origin — s. 12 of the Customs Act not being meant to be punitive — minister's interpretation having punitive effect contrary to values expressed in the Act.
A very wise judge. I say that for two reasons: First, when he quoted the reason for the legislation back in 1985, he quoted the Honourable Elmer MacKay, who some you in this chamber are great friends with. I can see a couple of people here who meet with him from time to time. The judge quoted him extensively, starting with the words at paragraph 49: "During the second reading of Bill C-59, the Honourable Elmer M. MacKay had quite a lot to say about this question as quoted from the official report." So Elmer MacKay is quoted extensively in saying that the old act did that, but the new act did what Senator Runciman now wants to do.
Then, the second reason for saying that this judge is a man of sound judgment is what he said at paragraph 53: "In concluding the analysis under this method, I think that the following remarks made in the debate by Mr. George Baker of are interest." He's a man of sound judgment.
Senator Mercer: We'll reserve judgment on that.
Senator Baker: He goes on for a couple of pages quoting my speech, but I will quote one part that he put in emphasis. Quoting me, he says at paragraph 53: "In other words, if you stretched it, as some interpretations by the courts did, if someone drove his car into the United States and then returned, the customs officer could legally seize his car and even his underwear if he wanted to. Under the law, he could seize anything the person had. That is eliminated in this bill." Now, that's eliminated in the bill that was introduced in 1985, the very thing that this bill is trying to accomplish.
He goes on at paragraph 54 to say that the reference to underwear in Mr. Baker's statement undoubtedly refers to the comment of Strayer J. in a decision of the Federal Court in which the judge said: "Taken literally, it means that a person entering or re-entering Canada should declare every item of personal property that he carries or is wearing on his person including, presumably, his underclothes. I think I could take judicial notice of the fact that few, if any, travellers understand this to be the law as administered by national revenue."
He was a man of sound judgment, I suppose, until paragraph 55 when he said: "While I do not put much weight on Mr. Baker's statement . . . ." He went on.
So something that we thought we had corrected in 1985, we didn't correct in 1985.
I want to draw particular emphasis, honourable senators, to the remark of the sponsor of this bill, Senator Runciman, in which he said:
I want to thank the offices of Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, Senator Harder and his office . . . for their help and cooperation during the consultation that led to Bill S-233.
Honourable senators, I've been on the Hill a long time — 43 and a half years — and I've always admired the Senate for one thing, and that is that it's quoted more in case law than the House of Commons. In the past 10 years, it has been quoted even more than it was quoted historically. I'm talking about not just the courts — the provincial court, the superior courts, the courts of appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada — but I'm talking about the quasi-judicial bodies in Canada that keep this country together. Seven to one: If you go to the quasi-judicial reports, Senate committees are referenced seven times more than the House of Commons is referenced. If you go to decisions of the court in the past 10 years, you will find that Senate committees are quoted three times more than citations from the House of Commons. That is very important because those quasi-judicial bodies, in discovering what the intent of legislation is, have to go these days to what the intent of Parliament was.
I bring that up with Senator Harder because two weeks ago I was asked to address the law school students at the University of New Brunswick, which I did. The subject concerned the Senate and the committee report investigating trial delays in Canada. But I emphasized the role of the Senate committees historically in law, and the students, I think, were interested. I got a good ovation at the end. They were interested in that very fact, the role of the Senate as sober second thought and in interpreting what Parliament was doing, what our bills were doing.
In questioning me, one student asked, "Look, how about some specificity? What about some particularization?" Those were the two words he used — legal terms. "Tell me what is different today with the new approach of the Government of Canada and what was different before the new approach by the Government of Canada." I said, "Well, we still maintain that prominence in case law of all our quasi-judicial bodies and courts that reference the Senate more than the House of Commons, but we have one additional benefit, from what I can see." And I listed two things. The first was fentanyl, Senator White's bill that took the precursors to a terrible drug on the streets in this country, killing people, and registered them under the precursor regulations to make them illegal.
It was Senator White and I think Senator Campbell and the senator behind me, Senator Moore.
Senator Mercer: He's not there anymore.
Senator Baker: Here we were in committee with four precursors in an act, and along comes Senator Harder with the agreement of the Justice Department and the Health Department and makes it 10, and today in Canada we have new legislation that prevents 10 precursors, chemicals, from being used to manufacture fentanyl to kill people on our streets. That was done by the Senate of Canada.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Senator Baker: And the second example I gave was the recent decision of the Government of Canada to drop an extraneous bill that was included in the omnibus budget legislation. Here we were for years, as long as I can remember, complaining about the government of the day having bills included with a budget bill, making it an omnibus bill, and including legislation that had nothing to do with the budget or finances, just things they wanted to get through without public examination.
Here we have a situation where Senator Carignan was involved, the committee was involved, the pre-study was involved, and Senator Pratte, who gets blamed for this, stuck to his guns and made sure that the subject remained there until it was changed, but how?
Senator Harder was here. Senator Harder has become the go-between with the Government of Canada in making sure the things that we want in the Senate are accomplished. That wasn't just for Quebec — that was for all of Canada — because under the Bank Act, civil remedy is not there. You can have credit card companies that take all your money illegally without a civil remedy if the Bank Act covered their entire activities. So now that's being re-examined. Those were the two examples.
The third example is this bill. With the assistance of Senator Harder again, a Conservative member, a former Solicitor General for the Province of Ontario and the Chair of the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee, an outstanding chairman, brings forward a piece of legislation, and Senator Harder is assisting in making sure that this legislation meets with the approval of everyone.
So what I would hope today is that we allow this bill to go to committee so that we can call in the Justice Department to say, "Here it is. What's wrong with it now? Because you've made a lot of changes to it that we've agreed to."
I hope that this is indeed referred to the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs.
Senator Mercer: Question.
The Hon. the Speaker: Are honourable senators ready for the question?
Hon. Senators: Question.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
(Motion agreed to and bill read second time.)
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be read a third time?
(On motion of Senator Runciman, bill referred to the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence.)
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Massicotte, seconded by the Honourable Senator Moore for the adoption of the seventh report (interim) of the Special Senate Committee on Senate Modernization, entitled Senate Modernization: Moving Forward (Regional interest), presented in the Senate on October 18, 2016.
Hon. Donald Neil Plett: Honourable senators, thank you very much. Since we have just returned from an extended period of time and I didn't have a whole lot of time to finish my notes on the beaches of the Dominican Republic, I would like to ask for adjournment in my name.
(On motion of Senator Plett, debate adjourned, on division.)
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the consideration of the first report (interim) of the Special Senate Committee on Senate Modernization, entitled: Senate Modernization: Moving Forward, deposited with the Clerk of the Senate on October 4, 2016.
Hon. Tom McInnis: Honourable senators, on December 11, 2015, the Senate appointed the Special Senate Committee on Senate Modernization, mandating it to "consider methods to make the Senate more effective within the current constitutional framework."
The committee exists because the Senate as a whole recognizes that it must adapt to a new reality while respecting the Constitution and the principles elucidated by the Supreme Court of Canada in the opinion rendered in 2014 in Reference re Senate Reform.
With this mandate, the committee began a wide-ranging and in-depth examination of the Senate, its rules, purpose and place in the architecture of the Canadian Constitution. After months of inquiry and debate, after having heard from constitutional and procedural experts who gave evidence on the constitutional functions of the Senate, its rules and procedures and having deliberated extensively on the most effective ways to modernize the Senate, on October 4, 2016, the Modernization Committee tabled its first report entitled Senate Modernization: Moving Forward, Part 1.
Included in this first report are 21 recommendations, spanning many aspects of the Senate's current rules, procedures and administration. Of the most immediacy to the Senate today are the committee's recommendations to extend funding, committee access and logistical capacity on a proportional basis to the newly appointed, non-affiliated senators.
To ensure that all of these recommendations were fully and properly considered by the Senate as a whole, the committee divided the report into 10 pieces and presented them separately. The first report was presented on October 4, 2016, and it is composed of the report as a whole — all of its findings, along with its recommendations and the detailed reasons behind each.
The second report was presented by Senator Wells on October 4, 2016, and it recommended that the Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament, the so-called Rules Committee, be directed to develop a process by which the Senate could divide omnibus bills into pieces that could be more thoroughly reviewed.
The third report was presented by Senator Eggleton on October 4, 2016, and it recommended that the Senate direct the Rules Committee to reform the process for determining the composition of the Committee of Selection and the composition of each standing committee.
The fourth report was presented by Senator Greene on October 4, 2016, and it recommended that the Senate direct the Rules Committee to propose amendments to the Rules of the Senate to restructure the Order Paper and the organization of chamber business.
The fifth report was presented by Senator McCoy on October 4, 2016, and it recommended that the Rules Committee amend the Rules of the Senate and the Senate Administrative Rules to accommodate the existence of caucuses that are unaffiliated with a political party.
The sixth report was presented by Senator Tannas on October 5, 2016, and it recommended that the Rules Committee be directed to develop a process by which senators could express their preference for Speaker by nominating candidates for the Prime Minister to consider, along with a process to elect the Speaker pro tempore.
The seventh report was presented by Senator Massicotte on October 18, 2016, and it recommended that the Rules Committee be directed to amend the Rules of the Senate so that standing committees be required to consider regional impacts when studying legislation or issuing reports.
The eighth report was presented by Senator Tardif on October 18, 2016, and it recommended that the Rules Committee and the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets, and Administration work to allow and facilitate the broadcasting of Senate proceedings.
The ninth report was presented by Senator Frum on October 25, 2016, and it recommended that the Rules Committee amend the Rules of the Senate to reform Question Period, formalizing the current practice of inviting government ministers to appear and extending this practice to officers of Parliament as well.
The tenth report was presented by Senator Joyal on October 26, 2016, and it recommended that the Senate develop a mission and purpose statement, that the Rules Committee be directed to review the totality of the Senate's administrative and procedural rules and processes, and to revise them to incorporate the tenets of this statement.
Of these reports, honourable senators, only one has been adopted: the eighth report on broadcasting. The rest remain on the floor of the Senate.
The modernization project is an urgent one, reflecting both the desire of the Senate and the Canadian public for a chamber of sober second thought that is effective, responsive and lives up to its intended purpose. It is thus essential that the Senate not lose momentum when it comes to acting on the committee's reports.
On the one hand, each of these recommendations should be given full consideration and attention by the Senate as a whole. Modernization is a process that senators must strive towards together. On the other hand, there are still several steps to go. The vast majority of the committee's recommendations direct either the Rules Committee or the Internal Economy Committee to act. Considering the volume and complexity of the amendments the committee has proposed, all of this will take time. Unnecessary delays will only hurt the chamber, especially as it seeks to adjust to the government's new appointment process and to ensure that all senators, regardless of affiliation, receive equal and proportional treatment and can contribute to their fullest.
Some of the immediate pressure to adopt the contents of the report has been alleviated by the Senate's decision on December 6, 2016, to authorize the Internal Economy Committee to approve funding for the Independent Senators Group for the current fiscal year and for the fiscal year 2017-18, as well as the Senate's decision on December 7, 2016, to pass a sessional order amending the rules around committee membership and to ensure that independent senators receive equal and proportional access to committees.
That said, the fact remains that these are temporary solutions and that some kind of permanent adjustment, much like the committee is advocating for its interim report, is imperative.
Honourable senators, by late spring of this year, your committee will present Part 2 of the Senate modernization report, with a number of additional recommendations. Therefore, I encourage senators who have taken adjournment of a report to please move it forward at their earliest opportunity. There is much work to complete that, in the committee's opinion, will help modernize our proceedings.
As the committee continues its study of potential reforms and turns its attention to the role of parties, partisanship and the official opposition in the Westminster system, the Senate as a whole must also push forward on modernization with similar drive. The next step should be the timely and detailed consideration of each of the committee's reports and a vote on each.
Senators, to be perfectly candid, we should either send each recommendation on to the appropriate committee for consideration or reject them. Thank you very much.
Hon. Pierrette Ringuette: Would the honourable senator take a question?
Senator McInnis: Yes.
Senator Ringuette: Senator McInnis, I am deeply moved by your comments and I really appreciate them, especially seeing that you are the chair of the committee. The majority sits within your partisan caucus, and I understand that it's not an easy position for you to be in. I heard your message loud and clear.
Because of the process of tabling these reports, there is an easy solution. The easy solution is to move forward with your first report that you tabled, which contains all the recommendations and directives for the different committees of the Senate.
My question is: Are you ready today to move the first report of the Modernization Committee so that it can be adopted and sent to the appropriate committee for the Rules to be changed?
Senator McInnis: The reason that we didn't simply table the entire report in the beginning was predicated on the fact that if one of the recommendations was defeated, the entire report would be defeated. That is the reason we did it this way.
The second reason was that we didn't want to rush things through. We wanted each report considered and debated so that the Senate in its entirety could have a say, yes or no. Send on the ones to committee that they agreed with, reject the ones they don't. That's entirely why we did it, and I have not yet heard the entire debate on the respective recommendations. Senators have to know that a great deal of effort has gone into the work the committee has done. I didn't seek the position to be chair, and I rather suspect many of the people didn't seek to be on the committee. We worked hard. We invited expert witnesses on each and every recommendation. They were discussed, debated. There were no time limits. People had an opportunity to debate them, and here they are.
It's funny, from time to time, when a crisis happens, everyone wants to change things. Things have settled down now, maybe, and now people don't want to do it. I don't agree with that strategy.
I believe in my lifetime I have tried to be proactive and get things done, at least have a decision made, and that's what I expect here. It would be too easy just to present the report in the Senate and have it debated one way or the other and people say, "No, I don't remember that," or "No, let's do them one at a time."
It has been since October when most of these reports have been on the floor of the Senate, and one of the things we need to do is organize how we do things, deal with the modernization, deal with other issues in a chronological, organized fashion. We're not doing that, and it's one of the things I hope that this committee will address.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.
Senator Ringuette: I really appreciate the work you have done, and your comments. I have been paying close attention to the issues within this chamber. I honestly feel that intentional delays in adopting the recommendations are occurring in this chamber, and it's very unfortunate.
As the honourable senator said, when the crisis comes — and we have been there since 2013 — everyone wants to change, everyone wants to do this and to do that. However, when the people expect us to act in a mature way, in a concise and efficient way, it also includes the modernization of this institution.
My first question was sincere and honest, Senator McInnis: Why can we not today move the adoption of the first report, which is the entire slate of recommendations from the Modernization Committee with the hope, as you just mentioned, that the next focus of the Modernization Committee is in regard to tightening the Rules? I don't think that 15 sitting days, which is five weeks, excluding the non-sitting weeks, is an excuse to refocus again and restart the clock. It's not a tribute to the quality of people in this institution and what this institution requires.
My question is: Can we not today move the first report of the committee, which includes all the recommendations, and get on with the job we have to do?
An Hon. Senator: Hear, hear.
The Hon. the Speaker: Excuse me, Senator McInnis, I'm sorry to tell you that your time has expired. Are you asking for leave for more time?
Senator McInnis: Yes, please.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted, honourable senators?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator McInnis: I have already answered the question. First of all, I would never do what you're asking without the consent of the committee, but second, it would go against everything I believe in. I believe that all of these items should be debated fairly and squarely. That's the proper way to do it, and I have urged people in my address today to please get on with it. Say what you have to say, have the matter debated, give other people an opportunity and then send it on to committee for review, or reject it. That's the fair way. That's the proper way to do it, and that's the way that the committee instructed me to act. That's what we have done.
It is a lot of time, a lot of money, a lot of effort. It should not just be cast aside. By late spring we will come forward with part two. This is a very meaningful debate and we have a lot of work to do, but we'll have to terminate by May 15. I would like to see all of these presentations, these reports, dealt with before we come in with a number of other reports.
(On motion of Senator Bellemare, debate adjourned.)
Leave having been given to revert to Other Business, Senate Public Bills, Second Reading, Order No. 1:
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: Honourable senators, I am ready to call the question on this item.
An Hon. Senator: Question.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Hon. the Speaker: Carried.
(Motion agreed to and bill read second time.)
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be read the third time?
(On motion of Senator Jaffer, bill referred to Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology.)
The Senate proceeded to consideration of the third report (interim) of the Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament, entitled Changes to the Order Paper and Notice Paper, presented in the Senate on December 14, 2016.
Hon. Joan Fraser: Honourable senators, I will say a few words and then adjourn for the balance of my time, until tomorrow.
In response to Senator McInnis's impassioned remarks a few moments ago, I wanted to explain how the Rules Committee has been tackling things in light of the reports from the Modernization Committee. I share his view, and I think the members of the Rules Committee pretty well unanimously share the view that these items should be debated properly in the Senate, that, on many of these items, the Rules Committee did not feel it appropriate to proceed without some guidance as to the will of the Senate at large.
We have, however, looked at some of the recommendations that seemed, to us, to be entirely uncontroversial, and we have attempted to move on those. Before Christmas, we moved the report of the Rules Committee arising out of the Modernization Committee's report on broadcasting, and this report, the one to which I'm speaking now, is in response to Recommendation No. 17. It has to do with the Order Paper, and I shall try to explain tomorrow why working under a slightly revised version of the Order Paper would simplify everybody's life in this place. We believe that that is also non-controversial.
We have looked at the recommendation concerning omnibus bills because I think there is wide agreement that there has been an abuse of the use of omnibus bills under several governments. That one has turned out to be a little bit more complicated to translate into actual language for the Rules than we expected, but I wanted to assure colleagues who share Senator McInnis's concern that, while we await guidance from the Senate at large on the heftier recommendations, if you will, we have been trying to move ahead where we could because we agree that many of these recommendations are very important. Some of them are no-brainers, and let's do them. With that, I move the adjournment for the balance of my time.
(On motion of Senator Fraser, debate adjourned.)
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Boisvenu, seconded by the Honourable Senator Dawson:
That the Senate urge the government to take all necessary steps to bring into force as soon as possible by order-in-council the provisions of C-452 An Act to amend the Criminal Code (exploitation and trafficking in persons), chapter 16 of the Statutes of Canada (2015), which received royal assent on June 18, 2015.
Hon. Jean-Guy Dagenais: Question.
The Hon. the Speaker: Are senators ready for the question? Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Some Hon. Senators: On division.
(Motion agreed to, on division.)
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Bellemare, seconded by the Honourable Senator Enverga:
That the Senate — in order to ensure transparency in the awarding of public funds and foster efficiency in infrastructure projects in the larger context of economic diversification and movement toward a greener economy, all while avoiding undue intervention in the federal-provincial division of powers — encourage the government to make provision in the budget for the creation of the Canadian Infrastructure Oversight and Best Practices Council, made up of experts in infrastructure projects from the provinces and territories, whose principal roles would be to:
1. collect information on federally funded infrastructure projects;
2. study the costs and benefits of federally funded infrastructure projects;
3. identify procurements best practices and of risk sharing;
4. promote these best practices among governments; and
5. promote project managers skills development; and
That a message be sent to the House of Commons to acquaint that House with the above.
Hon. David M. Wells: Honourable senators, I move the adjournment for the balance of my time.
(On motion of Senator Wells, debate adjourned.)
(The Senate adjourned until Thursday, February 2, 2017, at 1:30 p.m.)