- SENATORS' STATEMENTS
- ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
- Canada Labour Code
- Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration
- Aboriginal Peoples
- QUESTION PERIOD
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- ORDERS OF THE DAY
- Canadian Human Rights Act
- The Senate
- Canadian Jewish Heritage Month Bill
- Senate Modernization
- Aboriginal Peoples
- The Senate
- Prince Edward Island Literacy
- Ethics and Conflict of Interest for Senators
- Canadian Human Rights Act
Thursday, February 9, 2017
The Senate met at 1:30 p.m., the Speaker in the chair.
Hon. Michael Duffy: I rise today to pay tribute to Jim Eldridge, the 2016 winner of the Vanier Medal for distinctive leadership in public administration and public service in Canada.
This singular honour — which was presented by Governor General David Johnston — is named after an equally distinguished former Governor General, Georges P. Vanier.
Since 1962, the Vanier Medal has been presented by the Institute of Public Administration of Canada, which works to enhance the already high standards of the public service in this country.
Jim Eldridge spent almost 50 years serving Manitobans. He started in Finance, moved to Intergovernmental Affairs, eventually becoming deputy minister to the premier, and Clerk of the Executive Council. He was the top public servant in Manitoba.
He has been a wise and generous counsellor to eight Manitoba governments of all political stripes. From Walter Weir, Sterling Lyon and Howard Pawley, who are no longer with us, to the Right Honourable Ed Schreyer, Gary Filmon, Gary Doer, Greg Selinger and Brian Pallister, their assessment of Jim Eldridge is unanimous: He represents the very best qualities of Canada's professional public service.
When historians look at the important federal and provincial agreements over the past 50 years, from the 1982 patriation of the Constitution to free trade, they will find discreetly in the background Jim Eldridge, quietly smoothing the way.
Manitoba and Canada are better for Mr. Eldridge's dedicated public service.
Hon. Paul E. McIntyre: Honourable senators, I have here a copy of Le Mythe de Napoléon au Canada français, a book that was written by our colleague Senator Serge Joyal and was the subject of a documentary. An advanced screening of the documentary was shown in Paris on September 26, 2016, while a private screening was hosted by the Ambassador of France in Ottawa on February 1, 2017. I had the privilege of attending that event.
The book is 567 pages long and has 6 parts, with 42 chapters. It is very well written, extremely interesting, very well illustrated, and very readable. Senator Joyal takes us on a trip through the centuries with Napoleon sporting his legendary bicorn and mounted on his white horse, his right hand in his vest. Senator Joyal uncovers the mystery behind this illustrious character and relays the myth of an emperor that continues to captivate the popular imagination.
Napoleon. How many times have we heard that name throughout the decades, a name that resonates in the history of humanity as an unrelenting legend? Much more than a name or an image, Napoleon is an important historical figure, a mythical character that was the heir to the French Revolution, a character considered anti-clerical, but also responsible for countless other events around the world that are recounted in the book.
For the Church, the French Revolution led to the overthrow of the altar and throne, and Napoleon Bonaparte was entirely responsible. At the time, in Europe as in French Canada, rightly or wrongly, history will recall that as Napoleon began to rise, he was immediately characterized as a tyrant, an usurper, a pagan, a destroyer. So began an anti-Napoleon campaign in French Canada, fervently led mostly by the clergy, but also by the press and certain writers of the time.
Even his capture by British forces and exile to the island of Saint Helena did not put an end to the anti-Napoleon campaign in France and French Canada. Anything closely or remotely associated with the emperor was to be proscribed or destroyed in order to erase any memory of him from the people's minds.
According to the book, something unprecedented took root in England during the emperor's lifetime: "There was a desire to perpetuate the memory of a formidable enemy." People found his politics, his conquests, his lifestyle and his defeat fascinating. They wanted to know everything about the brilliant strategist.
The burgeoning phenomenon reached French Canada, where the exiled Napoleon Bonaparte could henceforth be praised in public. The people admired him, sang about him, played him on stage and read his writings. Once reviled, Napoleon became the great mythological hero of a society, as Senator Joyal so ably relates. The book also tells us that he was an inspiration to historians, writers and especially politicians.
Napoleon Bonaparte lives on to this day. From the Napoleonic Code, the emperor's legislative legacy, to objects bearing his likeness, from plays to theme restaurants, not to mention caricatures and museum exhibits about him, his memory transcends time and culture. He has become an object of fascination to people around the world, and he will always be a part of us.
I recommend this book to you, esteemed colleagues. Senator Joyal's words will make you feel like a member of the illustrious Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte's entourage. I congratulate Senator Joyal on his book. What a wonderful writer he is.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Hon. Serge Joyal: Honourable senators, I will not continue in the same vein as Senator McIntyre. It would be too easy for me.
Instead, I would like to draw your attention to another renowned historical figure. Honourable senators, I would like to remind you that Monday, February 6, marked the Sapphire Jubilee of Her Majesty the Queen of Canada.
Queen Elizabeth II has been our nation's sovereign for 65 years. This is unprecedented in the history of the British Crown.
What is remarkable is that, during the Queen's long reign, Canada continued to develop its institutions, laws, customs and practices, making it a model and an inspiration for countries of the free world.
Canada is fundamentally a country that adheres to the rule of law developed by a Parliament that renews itself regularly. This rule is tempered by a Charter of Rights and Freedoms based on the dignity of every individual, and this Charter is interpreted by a judicial system that is completely independent and respected.
Those are the three pillars of our constitutional democracy to which we have pledged our allegiance in the oath that we took as members of the Senate.
This stability in our system of government is perhaps best reflected in the Queen herself, who is a stellar example of dignity, dedication and service to her people, as she is always mindful of their needs and challenges.
Her Majesty has a special bond with the indigenous people of this country, who, in return, revere her fondly.
Her Majesty speaks impeccably in Canada's two official languages, thereby demonstrating her appreciation of Canadian duality.
Her Majesty loves Canada. She has often declared that she felt herself Canadian during each of her 22 visits.
We are certainly privileged to be able to cultivate such a link with our long history, one that our sovereign cares very much about. This jubilee gives us an opportunity to reflect on the unique character of our country.
It also gives us an opportunity to express the gratitude we owe to our Majesty as our head of state. May I express the wish that our Speaker would extend to Her Majesty our sincere congratulations for her sapphire jubilee.
Please also convey our profound appreciation for her tireless dedication and constant attention to Canada's good governance.
Hon. Pamela Wallin: Honourable senators, the Canadian Armed Forces now has the greatest number of women in the senior ranks in CAF history. These women have risen through the ranks of the Canadian military and are now leaders and commanders.
Their dedication and perseverance have been rewarded and their leadership is an example to all — girls and women particularly — that merit matters. Lieutenant-General Christine Whitecross, of whom I have spoken before, is Commander, Military Personnel Command.
Later this year, Major-General Tammy Harris will become the first Deputy Commander of the Royal Canadian Air Force.
Rear-Admiral Jennifer Bennett is the first female Chief, Reserves and Cadets.
Brigadier-General Frances Allen is a general in the Canadian Armed Forces and Director General for Cyberspace.
Brigadier-General Lise Bourgon was previously commander of 12 WingShearwater and is currently Canadian commander of Joint Task Force-Iraq.
Brigadier-General Jennie Carignan is in charge of the Canadian Army's day-to-day operations including training and deployments, Canada's first female combat general.
Brigadier-General Danielle Savard is the Director General Military Personnel Management Capability Transformation Project.
Commodore Marta Mulkin is commander of the reserve component of the Royal Canadian Navy.
Colonel Virginia Tattersall has been promoted acting to the rank of Brigadier-General.
We should not understate the importance of this achievement. Major-General Tammy Harris said it best herself:
Among my cohort of nine female general officers — that's a high water mark — the firsts are only important because some day there will be sixth and sevenths and eighths.
Each of these women deserves recognition for their amazing accomplishments. But we should not discount the significance of the way made easier by them for the young women who will follow their lead.
Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, it is with a very heavy heart that I rise today to address the attack that was perpetrated last week in Quebec City.
First of all, I would like to thank Prime Minister Trudeau, Premier Couillard and Mayor Labeaume for their leadership following the tragedy. Their words really resonated with me. Prime Minister Trudeau stated:
Reach out to your friends and neighbours. Gather your communities. Be there for your people. They need you.
The Premier of Quebec said this, and I quote:
Our cause, the one that drives me, is that of an open and confident society, a welcoming place in which there is only one level of citizenship and it is the same for all.
I was also very touched by the words of the Mayor of Quebec City, when he said:
No person should have to pay with their life for their race, their colour, their sexual orientation or their religious beliefs.
I would like to sincerely thank MP Joël Lightbound for the role he played in this crisis. Thank you so very much.
Gentlemen, your meaningful words have been vital at this difficult time. They have made it clear how strong, united, compassionate and supportive our country is when faced with adversity.
I have visited Quebec City often since the time my son was a young university student there, working as a guide at city hall. As a parliamentarian, I stayed in Quebec City a number of times. Every time I stayed with people there, they opened their homes and hearts to me.
In closing, I will share with you what my father used to say to me when I was young. There are two types of political decision makers. The first are those who use their power like scissors to divide the community rather than to bring it together. The second are those who use their power like sewing needles to piece together this great mosaic that unites the community and rallies its members in support of a common goal, that of living in peace and harmony with one another.
I would like to say how proud I am to be Canadian and how touched I am by the unconditional love that our fellow Canadians have shown to us, the Muslims of this country. I will always be grateful to our Prime Minister and all of our leaders, who work together to unite Canadians rather than divide them, to open our doors rather than shut them. Thank you for this unity and for your solidarity.
Hon. Bob Runciman, Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, presented the following report:
Thursday, February 9, 2017
The Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs has the honour to present its
Your committee, to which was referred Bill C-4, An Act to amend the Canada Labour Code, the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act, the Public Service Labour Relations Act and the Income Tax Act, has, in obedience to the order of reference of December 15, 2016, examined the said bill and now reports the same without amendment.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be read the third time?
(On motion of Senator Runciman, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for third reading at the next sitting of the Senate.)
Hon. Leo Housakos: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the eleventh report of the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration, which deals with funding for the Independent Senators Group and the Senate budget for 2017-18.
Hon. Lillian Eva Dyck, Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples, presented the following report:
Thursday, February 9, 2017
The Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples has the honour to present its
Your committee, which was authorized by the Senate on Thursday, February 18, 2016, to study best practices and on-going challenges relating to housing in First Nation and Inuit communities in Nunavut, Nunavik, Nunatsiavut and the Northwest Territories, respectfully requests supplementary funds for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2017.
The original budget application submitted to the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration and the report thereon of that committee were printed in the Journals of the Senate on March 24, 2016. On March 24, 2016, the Senate approved the release of $212,550 to the committee.
Pursuant to Chapter 3:06, section 2(1)(c) of the Senate Administrative Rules, the supplementary budget submitted to the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration and the report thereon of that committee are appended to this report.
LILLIAN EVA DYCK
(For text of budget, see today's Journals of the Senate, Appendix, p. 1252.)
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this report be taken into consideration?
Senator Dyck: Honourable senators, with leave of the Senate and notwithstanding rule 5-5(f), I move that the report be considered later this day.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted, honourable senators?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
(On motion of Senator Dyck, report placed on the Orders of the Day for consideration later this day.)
Hon. Claude Carignan (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate and concerns the elimination of the tax exempt status of Canadian Forces members participating in Operation IMPACT, which is Canada's contribution to the coalition to dismantle and defeat Daesh.
Last fall, Canadian soldiers stationed at a U.S. base in Kuwait lost the tax exemption of up to $1,800 a month. On December 1, before a committee in the other place, the Minister of National Defence was asked if he would take the necessary action to address this unfairness and ensure that these soldiers would receive the same treatment and benefits as other troops participating in Operation IMPACT.
Minister Sajjan replied, "Absolutely." However, despite the minister's promise, we see today that the situation has not been addressed and has even deteriorated. At first, 15 Canadian soldiers posted to this military base were affected. Now, more than 300 soldiers based in Kuwait have learned that they will lose this exemption effective June 1.
Will the Minister of National Defence keep his word and restore this tax exemption for our soldiers?
Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I thank the honourable senator for his question and the ongoing interest in the well-being of our troops, both those that serve in the region that he referenced and elsewhere. I would be happy to take this issue up with the minister and report back in a detailed response to the honourable senator.
Senator Carignan: Since you plan on asking for information, could you also ask whether Canada is the only country in the coalition against Daesh that does not treat all its soldiers equally in terms of tax exemptions?
Senator Harder: Yes, I will ask the minister that question when I talk to him.
Hon. Colin Kenny: Honourable senators, in last year's budget, the government restored funding to Canada's four heavy urban search and rescue teams located in Vancouver, Calgary, Brandon and Toronto. The funding totalled $15.5 million over five years and will go a long way toward helping provide financial stability for these valuable teams.
I ask the government leader: What about the other areas of the country without disaster management teams? Does the government plan to establish a team in Quebec or return a team to the Maritimes, and, if so, when?
Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I thank the honourable senator for his question. The Minister of Public Safety, in his statement of October 7 of last year, indicated the relaunching of this program to the tune that he referenced, $3.1 million.
It is designed to support and strengthen the programming of the existing task forces, as he knows, in Vancouver, Calgary, Manitoba and Toronto, and also to further the development of capabilities in Toronto and Halifax and to address underserved areas.
I am assured that the minister is intending to make announcements in the near future with greater specificity as to how this will take place.
Senator Kenny: Honourable senators, the Leader of the Government in the Senate made reference to a team in Halifax. There is no such team there. It needs to be re-established. There also is no team in Quebec. It seems remarkable that that province would not have this sort of support.
Honourable senators, during the 2015 election, the government campaigned on an old a promise to establish a death benefit for public safety officers: firefighters, police, paramedics and other first-responders. It was to be called the community heroes fund, and it has not yet been funded. Is the government still planning to proceed with this program?
Senator Harder: Thank you for the question. I want to emphasize that I was referencing Halifax and Montreal as areas where the fund is designed to develop the capacities, and the announcements will be made soon with respect to how that will take place.
With regard to the heroes fund, the government is intending on making an announcement shortly.
Hon. Pamela Wallin: Honourable senators, my question is for the Government Representative. It relates to the ongoing issues surrounding the delivery of pensions and disability benefits. I want to ask you, at the outset, that you just express our growing concern on this issue, in the strongest terms.
Today the CBC reported the story of a 27-year veteran, a woman who served on six overseas deployments, including Somalia, Kosovo, Haiti and Afghanistan. She is a two-time cancer survivor. She was medically released last summer.
She's a single mother, who was evicted from her home in November for nonpayment of rent because she had yet to receive her severance, pension or benefits.
It took Veterans Affairs more than five months to come through with her severance — too late, obviously, for her to remain in her home — and the only explanation was, "We have a backlog."
To quote the ombudsman, Mr. Walbourne, who has repeatedly recommended that the military hold on to its members until the benefits are in place on the Veterans' side, he said in regard to this, "This is what I have been talking about almost until I'm sick of talking about it." His frustration level is high.
Minister Hehr stated last October that delivering timely benefits is an area where we can and must do better, and ministers before him have made similar promises for a decade.
Honourable senator, can you please ask for assurances from the minister that this reprehensible situation will be resolved now, no matter what it takes, and that Veterans Affairs will do better in the future?
Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I thank the honourable senator for raising the issue in general and this case in particular. I will reference the case, as well as the broader question, with the minister and ensure that the minister is aware of not only your but all honourable senators' concerns that the well-being of veterans and their families remains at the heart of our concerns in respect of Veterans Affairs and those who serve our country.
While I cannot comment specifically on this case, I can assure the honourable senator that I will indeed raise this issue directly and personally.
Hon. David Tkachuk: Senator Harder, during the last election, the Liberal Party platform included a commitment to ensuring that 2015 would be the last time that the federal election would be conducted under the first-past-the-post voting system.
Last week, the new Minister for Democratic Institutions announced that the Liberals were no longer pursuing electoral reform.
Last week in Parliament, the Prime Minister confirmed his minister's announcement by uttering probably the biggest non sequitur in parliamentary history. The Prime Minister said:
There is no consensus among Canadians on how, or even whether, to reform our electoral system, and to change the mode of the election system.
That is why we are going to focus on strengthening our resistance and resilience to cyber-attacks from foreign intervenors . . . .
The thing is, Senator Harder, when I looked at the Liberal Party website this morning, the promise of electoral reform is still there. This is misleading information, Senator Harder. It's outdated.
I know how the Prime Minister's Office feels about misleading information and fake news that is contradicted by the facts.
Senator Harder, I feel that Canadians would be misled by the false information on the Liberal Party website that promises electoral reform when we know by the Prime Minister's own words what he meant by electoral reform was strengthening our resistance to cybersecurity.
I was wondering if you could ask Kate Purchase from the Prime Minister's Office to write a letter to the Liberal Party of Canada and tell them to remove the misleading information.
Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I thank the honourable senator for his question. I'm intrigued that the senator is engaged in that many hours being spent reading the Liberal Party platform, even as recently as today. I'm sure it's enlightening reading for the honourable senator.
Senator Neufeld: Maybe you should follow it.
Senator Harder: Maybe.
I would encourage all senators to raise these issues, if they remain of concern, next Tuesday when the minister responsible will be here in the chamber to answer questions directly.
As to the specific question asked, I will take it as a request from the honourable senator, which I'm happy to forward and ensure an enlightened response.
Senator Tkachuk: Thank you.
Hon. Denise Batters: Honourable senators, my question is for the government leader in the Senate.
Senator Harder, in November you were asked whether individuals associated with the Trudeau Foundation had been rewarded by the Trudeau government. You replied "not to my knowledge." Yet when I look at the Trudeau Foundation website, lo and behold I see many names that are strangely familiar. You, Senator Harder, were appointed as head of the Trudeau government transition team, then you were appointed to the Senate, and then you were appointed as the Trudeau government's leader in the Senate.
Huguette Labelle was appointed chair of the Trudeau government's advisory board on Senate appointments. Trudeau Foundation mentors include Senators Lankin, Bovey and Dupuis, who have now all been appointed to this chamber. Anne McLellan was appointed chair of the Trudeau government's marijuana task force. The Trudeau government appointed Pierre Pettigrew as CETA envoy. It just goes on, Senator Harder.
We found out last week that the Trudeau government's Senate appointee from Manitoba has turned down the job, creating another Senate vacancy. Could you please advise if the new appointee will also be drawn from the ranks of the Trudeau Foundation farm team?
Senator Tkachuk: How do I get on that foundation?
Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): Ask Chuck Strahl.
I want to respond to the honourable senator's question by assuring her that there's an arm's-length process in place for the recommendation to the Prime Minister of all Senate appointments, including the one that she references.
As to the Trudeau Foundation mentor program, it is a long list of distinguished Canadians, quite apart from myself, who have participated in this and will continue to participate in this. I frankly find it hard to believe that anybody would take seriously the accusation that there is a line between being a mentor and being a senator.
Senator Batters: On the independent advisory process, I'm not sure how you can refer to that, given that it's very curious that two of the Senate advisory panel's very members — Huguette Labelle and Dawn Lavell Harvard — are associated with, you guessed it, the Trudeau Foundation. I guess you knew that because they were both on the panel that recommended your appointment to the Senate.
You said last fall that you had no knowledge of any Trudeau government reward given to individuals associated with the Trudeau Foundation. I've now outlined at least half a dozen examples for your benefit. Now that you do have knowledge of that link, will you please now admit that the straight line from the Trudeau Foundation to Trudeau government appointments is undeniable and inappropriate?
Senator Harder: The "inappropriate" is the linkage.
Senator Batters: Yet again, Senator Harder, you didn't answer my question. You are the Trudeau government's leader in the Senate. You style yourself as the Government Representative, yet you fail to answer on behalf of the government in this chamber.
On previous occasions in Senate Question Period, I have asked you about your past attendance at cabinet committees, and you would only say that you attended them "as appropriate and as invited." You refused to answer on your involvement in establishing the Senate appointment process as Trudeau government transition team head, calling it "private advice." You answered a question on the political affiliation of new senators with, "I cannot provide that which I do not have."
It seems what we do not have, Senator Harder, is adequate representation of the government in this chamber. So when will you do the job you are supposed to be here to do and give senators and all Canadians some real answers?
Senator Harder: It's very difficult for me to just respond to a string of accusations and ill-founded statements, and I will not do so.
Hon. Leo Housakos: Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate.
A week ago, on February 2, 2017, I stood in this chamber and reminded you of a promise that had been made during the last federal election campaign by now Heritage Minister, the Honourable Mélanie Joly, stating that if the Liberal Party was elected, they would open a Canadian embassy in Armenia.
In your response, you questioned the veracity of what I was saying, which was not only what some people would consider unparliamentary behaviour but also very odd, considering you were a member of the transition team following that election.
Before I get to my question, I'd be very happy to table or provide you a copy of a news release I have right here that was issued by the Liberal Party of Canada during the last election campaign. This news release describes a formal meeting between the Honourable Mélanie Joly and the Armenian federation in Quebec in which she promised to push for their interests. I will quote her:
It is in Canada's interest to strengthen ties with Armenia, which is why I am committed to building economic and political relations with that country. Canada must have an embassy in Armenia.
Now that you have clear and unequivocal evidence that your government promised in writing a Canadian embassy in Armenia, will your government carry through on that pledge or shall we add it to the growing list of the broken election promises of this government?
Your Honour, I do want to table this press release in the house.
The Hon. the Speaker: You require leave for that, Senator Housakos.
Is leave granted, honourable senators?
Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Some Hon. Senators: No.
The Hon. the Speaker: I hear "no." I'm sorry, Senator Housakos.
Senator Housakos: It's deplorable that senators will not allow evidence to be tabled in this chamber on a question.
Senator Harder: I would simply reference the answer I gave when the honourable senator asked earlier, that I will inquire with respect to the proposition that was referenced in pre-government comments by a then-candidate for the Liberal Party.
I want to assure the honourable senator that the government takes its responsibilities very seriously as to where we have diplomatic representation. It is entirely in the authority of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Prime Minister to determine where we have our embassies, and those announcements are made in the normal diplomatic established processes. I will report back when I have information as I request at the time.
Hon. Thanh Hai Ngo: Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate.
Taiwan has received an invitation to attend the annual World Health Assembly this coming May in Geneva. Under normal circumstances this would be great news, but there are several problems with this invitation because of continuous efforts trying to block their participation in international organizations.
You may recall I asked you a similar question about Canada's stance after Taiwan's unfortunate exclusion of the ICAO assembly in Montreal last October when a Canadian journalist of Taiwanese origin was barred from covering the proceeding. Your written response to my question tabled on November 30, 2016, states that Canada has consistently supported Taiwanese participation in international organizations where there is a practical imperative and where Taiwanese absence would be detrimental to global interests.
The proponents of this invitation, including the World Health Organization Secretary-General, are hoping that Taiwan can gradually be included in all important networks of the World Health Organization committee, which provides the working framework for the fight against communicable diseases worldwide.
Mr. Leader, could you confirm if the Government of Canada will be consistent with its own policy and make sure it supports the participation of Taiwan at this international meeting?
Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I thank the honourable senator for his question. The statement I made when the question you referenced was previously asked is indeed the political framework for the government that guides its policy.
With respect to the specific meeting that you're speaking of, I'll have to make inquiries as to what the circumstances are and what the position of the Government of Canada is.
Senator Ngo: I will await the proper answer from the government.
My supplementary is: Will Canada take a clear stance against any attempt in the future that aims at blocking Taiwan's participation in any other international meetings?
Senator Harder: I thank the honourable senator for his question. There are protocols that the Government of Canada has adhered to, as have other like-minded countries, with respect to the participation of Taiwan in those areas where it is important for the well-being of Taiwan and the global community. Those are negotiated in the context of diplomatic arrangements that respect our policy toward China but also respect our engagement with other entities such as Taiwan. That remains the case.
Hon. Salma Ataullahjan: Honourable senators, last Saturday, a resident from Montreal, Fadwa Alaoui, and her two children were denied entry into the United States where they were planning to go shopping. Ms. Alaoui endured four hours of interrogation about her religion. She happens to be a member of the Canadian Muslim community. Of her ordeal and encounter with the U.S. Border and Customs agent, she said, "He said, `Do you practice? Which mosque do you go to? What is the name of the imam? How often do you go to the mosque? What kind of discussions do you hear in the mosque? Does the imam talk to you directly?"'
As part of the interrogation, they took her fingerprints and cellphone. On her cellphone, she says she had videos in Arabic about prayer, which the U.S. border officers cited as the reason for her entry being denied.
According to Ms. Alaoui, the border agents said, "You're not allowed to go to the United States because we found videos on your phone that are against us."
Senator Harder, this woman is a Canadian citizen. She is originally from Morocco, which is not one of the seven countries listed on President Trump's executive order banning travel into the U.S. Further, U.S. National Security Advisor Michael Flynn told our government that President Trump's 90-day ban would not apply to Canadians who hold dual-citizenship from those countries. Apparently this is not the case.
As we have all heard, our Prime Minister is expected to meet with President Trump next week. Will our Prime Minister and government condemn what happened to Ms. Alaoui and her children with President Trump, or will the Canadian government allow this type of outrageous treatment to become the new norm for Canadian Muslims wishing to visit the United States?
Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I thank the honourable senator for her question. I would like to associate myself with the senator's concern that the free flow of people through the appropriate regulatory processes that we've enjoyed with the United States continue. That's all within, of course, the context of a sovereign right of a country to determine who enters the country.
But we have established norms. I would trust that this incident reminds us all of the importance of established norms and to use the appropriate channels to reinforce the comity that we have enjoyed across our lengthy border with the United States and the importance we hold as Canadians for that entry.
As I have said on several occasions in this chamber already, the Prime Minister and his ministers have engaged with the United States administration in reminding the new administration of the importance of our shared border and the importance of our shared economic space in the northern half of North America. I trust that the engagement will be both successful and assure Canadians that our interests are being well protected.
Hon. Tobias C. Enverga, Jr.: Honourable senators, my question for the Leader of the Government in the Senate concerns the Liberal carbon tax.
As of January 1, the already high energy costs in Ontario have further increased under the provincial Liberal government's cap-and-trade tax. One greenhouse grower in Livingston, Ontario, recently told the CBC that his energy bill for December was about $19,000. In January, it had more than doubled to over $41,000.
As we know, the Prime Minister is forcing all provinces to put a price on carbon by next year. This will hit families with an increase in the cost of gas, groceries and just about everything else. It will also hurt Canadian businesses.
Could the government leader please tell us: Why is this government intent on increasing energy costs for average Canadians and for job-creating businesses, which are already stretched to the max?
Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): The government is committed to a comprehensive and collaborative approach with the provinces in regard to climate change. That process has unfolded over the last number of months. The agreements have been reached and steps are being taken to move forward.
I'm sure that all Canadians are concerned about climate change and greenhouse gases, as well as the appropriate response for governments in Canada to coordinate and collaborate. That's what's under way.
Senator Enverga: I have a supplementary question. Last year, we also learned that Environmental Commissioner of Ontario Dianne Saxe stated in a report that the new cap-and-trade system will not limit Ontario's greenhouse gas emissions as intended. This is in part due to the impending trade system of carbon pollution credits between Ontario, Quebec and California.
Can the Leader of the Government tell us why the federal government would allow for such a trade that clearly favours large corporations, while smaller job-creating businesses and households have to pay the carbon tax?
Senator Harder: We live in a federation, and in a federation, particularly in an area like this, the federal government is working with its provincial counterparts and providing a level of provincial discretion as to how to meet the obligations. The provinces have chosen different methods of moving forward, and that is a respectful engagement with provinces and an appropriate response to an urgent need on climate change, while acknowledging that we live in a federation.
Hon. Ghislain Maltais: Honourable senators, my question is for the Government Representative and is about taxes, specifically, the family business succession tax, a tax even more noxious than the one my colleague was talking about.
These businesses, which include service providers, manufacturers and farm corporations, account for a significant share of job creation in Canada. Canada's population is aging, and this tax is a barrier to transferring these businesses. Many of these businesses were built up by parents who have kept them afloat for years and, upon reaching retirement age, would like to pass them on to their children while retaining a certain amount of capital for their old age. There's nothing wrong with that.
This tax is noxious, but we know that we will not be able to get rid of it overnight because that would cost the government too much money. Nevertheless, maybe you could have a chat over coffee with the Minister of Finance and remind him that pyramids are built not from the top down but from the bottom up. We could start by developing a plan that would be phased in over two or three years with the ultimate goal of getting rid of this tax, which impedes the transfer of businesses and is very bad for Canadians, particularly low-income workers.
Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I thank the honourable senator for his question. I'm always prepared to have coffee with the Minister of Finance, provided he pays. I will indeed use an early opportunity to raise the concerns that the honourable senator has raised here in the chamber.
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Mitchell, seconded by the Honourable Senator Fraser, for the second reading of Bill C-16, An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code.
Hon. Chantal Petitclerc: Honourable senators, I rise today in support of Bill C-16, An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code. This bill proposes amendments to two acts in order to add the terms "gender identity" and "gender expression."
Above all, let's not forget that nine provinces and the Northwest Territories have already added these terms to their human rights legislation to make their transgender population less vulnerable.
Senator Mitchell and other colleagues, including Senator Dupuis just yesterday, have already shown us how these changes are more protective of transgender and gender-diverse Canadians. Once Bill C-16 is in place, the terms "gender identity" and "gender expression" will be added to the list of prohibited grounds for discrimination and the federal laws governing hate speech will take that into account. The evidence will be considered as aggravating circumstances if it is shown that an offence is based on gender identity or gender expression.
Let me say that I welcome that finally a government bill is considering this additional protection. I do regret, however, that it has taken so long. Since 2005, private members' bills with similar intentions have died on the Order Paper. This is our opportunity to make things right.
Transphobia is a reality in Canada. According to a 2015 study on the trans population in Ontario, 96 per cent of trans people had heard that transgender people were not normal, 20 per cent had been physically or sexually assaulted for being trans, and 10 per cent of trans people who accessed an emergency room said they were refused care.
According to a 2011 study by Egale Canada Human Rights Trust on transphobia in our Canadian schools, 74 per cent of trans students were victims of psychological harassment and 25 per cent of respondents reported incidents of physical violence. I am sure you will agree that this is unacceptable.
Honourable senators, earlier I pointed out that a similar bill had been introduced in 2005. In the lengthy period of time that has elapsed, there have been many speeches and exchanges between parliamentarians and a great deal of expert testimony on the matter.
In reading these documents, it was striking to find that the "washrooms" question quietly monopolized the debate and progressively polluted it. Bill C-279 was even called the "bathroom bill." I do hope that this chamber will not fall into this. Let this be my very humble attempt to help us move past this. I fully agree with you, Senator Mitchell, when you say:
The most pernicious of arguments is the washroom argument. . . . It goes that somehow men will dress up as women to get into women's washrooms or locker rooms, engage in some criminal act and use this bill as a defence. This is a particularly hurtful argument . . . because it casts . . . all trans people with criminal suspicion.
This myth of trans predator or rover of bathrooms does not resist the facts. Senator Cordy is right to question the existence of evidence that would prove these apprehensions. The reality is that transgender people already use public toilets all across our country. Even with my best efforts, I could find no indication that these fears, which have been maintained for so many years, are founded.
On the contrary, the only thing that is documented is that it would be the transgenders who are vulnerable in these public places, as underlined by Hershel Russell's testimony at the Justice Committee in November 2012:
. . . I remember situations where in the first year I at first would go to the women's bathroom. Towards the end of that year, sometimes I would have a woman open the door, go "oh!", and leave. A little further on I had a woman point at me and say: "You get out of here. You don't belong." Then I began to go to the men's washroom . . . where I faced a small but very real threat of physical and/or sexual assault.
In the U.S., they even have a scholar name for it — the "bathroom myth."
Honourable senators, in the United States, as historian and social commentator Eileen Boris points out, and I quote:
The toilet and bathroom . . . became sites of conflict; their integration starkly symbolized social equality.
That is true. I would remind honourable senators that during segregation in the U.S., all public toilets were off limits to black people. Fortunately, that is a thing of the past.
It was not all that long ago that homosexual people were perceived as potential child molesters, and public toilets were therefore considered dangerous places where young children might be sexually assaulted. Once again, that is a thing of the past. Now it is transgendered people who are the victims of the same kind of discrimination and many others. I would be willing to bet that in a few years' time, this too will be a thing of the past. That is called social evolution.
Let's not lag behind this evolution. On the contrary, let's be at the vanguard of this change. We cannot solve everything, but with Bill C-16, we can send a clear message that trans people are protected and respected.
Honourable senators, listening to Senator Dupuis yesterday reminded me of my very first contact, over 10 years ago, with a transgender person. At the time it opened my eyes and made me realize that it could be very difficult to go through that reality without the support of all. It is a much more complicated experience than one can imagine.
Allow me to step away from my speech a little, as I want to tell you that story the way I remember it. Every week I would go to a small deli at the Jean-Talon market, not too far from my house, and at that small deli was Michel. Michel was this tall Italian guy, strong, very articulate and loud. I would go there every week and after a while we became friends and just chatted. Then one day I went to the deli again and Michel was now Michelle, with a dress and makeup.
I'm going to be honest with you; I froze a little because I did not see that coming. What I remember the most was that Michelle then was completely different.
It was not because of the dress, but she was suddenly very vulnerable, very fragile, avoiding eye contact with me for minutes until I broke the ice and just said, "How are you doing?" I just made it very casual.
All of a sudden I physically saw the weight lift off her shoulders, because I sent the message that it was okay and I didn't care that she was wearing a dress and make-up.
I will never forget that because to me that really made me realize the power that we have when we choose to accept everyone for who they are —
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Senator Petitclerc: — not for who we want them to be, not even for who we think they should be, but just for who they are. We have that power; we have it every day.
I respectfully submit that it must be possible to avoid basing our decisions on myths, stereotypes and considerations that are inconsistent with our values and our history. I think we owe that to the thousands of transgender Canadians of all ages who experience violence, harassment and discrimination on a daily basis.
We do not need to understand someone's situation or experience fully to respect and support it. One thing we need to know, and one thing I can tell you for sure, is it is tough to live with a difference, especially for teenagers. Let's not add judgment on top of an already very challenging experience.
On the contrary, I believe it is our job to show support and to protect. Every Canadian should have the right to feel safe, accepted and to feel equal to others. This is why I am very proud to support Bill C-16. Together we can make this happen, hopefully sooner than later. Merci.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
(On motion of Senator Martin, debate adjourned.)
Hon. Diane Bellemare (Legislative Deputy to the Government Representative in the Senate), pursuant to notice of February 8, 2017, moved:
That, in order to allow the Senate to receive a Minister of the Crown during Question Period as authorized by the Senate on December 10, 2015, and notwithstanding rule 4-7, when the Senate sits on Tuesday, February 14, 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.
She said: Honourable senators, I wish to inform you that Minister Gould, Minister of Democratic Institutions, will be joining us during Question Period on Tuesday, February 14, 2017.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
(Motion agreed to.)
Hon. Diane Bellemare (Legislative Deputy to the Government Representative in the Senate), pursuant to notice of February 8, 2017, moved:
That when the Senate next adjourns after the adoption of this motion, it do stand adjourned until Tuesday, February 14, 2017 at 2 p.m.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
(Motion agreed to.)
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Frum, seconded by the Honourable Senator Pratte, for the second reading of Bill S-232, An Act respecting Canadian Jewish Heritage Month.
Hon. Howard Wetston: Honourable senators, I stand today in support of the Jewish Canadian heritage month act. I would like to thank Senator Frum for introducing Bill S-232.
Members of the Jewish community have made Canada their home for more than 250 years. Successive generations have thrived through hard work, dedication and an enduring sense of community. Jewish immigrants often came to Canada with nothing, yet persevered and prospered while making indelible contributions to the fabric of Canadian society.
Personally, I was born in a displaced person camp in Ulm, Germany, in 1947. I know I look older than that. I should say that home is also the birthplace of Albert Einstein. He and I have two things in common — we are both Jewish and we have similar hair.
My parents immigrated to Canada with little more than hope, hope that Canada would provide security, opportunity and a place to raise their family in a free and democratic society. My parents were Polish Jews. They fled Poland to escape the Nazi regime. In 1941, they walked 100 miles to the Russian border and remained in Uzbekistan where they lived until the end of the war.
My mother worked as a seamstress, except that she lacked the appropriate skills to be a seamstress, but she persevered. My father took a job as a shoemaker. That didn't work out very well when his first pair of boots consisted of two lefts instead of one left and one right. He decided that selling boots would be better than making them. My parents were strong, hardworking and resilient people.
We arrived in Canada in 1949 and settled in Sydney, Nova Scotia, on beautiful Cape Breton Island where my parents raised their children. They lived there for 60 years.
Growing up in a diverse community in Nova Scotia, I witnessed the unselfish contributions made by members of the Jewish community in areas of medicine, law, business, philanthropy and community service. As I travelled the country, it became clear that these contributions were not unique to my hometown, or only the Maritimes, but that Jewish Canadians were making contributions across Canada in rural towns and cities.
Honourable senators, today there are about 400,000 Jews living in Canada who share my heritage, my faith and proud identity as Canadians. Canada has been and should always remain a haven for Jews and all ethnic groups seeking to contribute to the social, economic, political and cultural life of Canada.
Honourable senators, as Canadians, I believe we should all be proud and acknowledge the impact that the Jewish community has had on our history. This is why I'm pleased to support Bill S-232, to recognize and celebrate the contributions of the Jewish community from coast to coast to coast.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
(On motion of Senator Fraser, debate adjourned.)
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. Claude Carignan (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, I am pleased to speak to the fourth report of the Senate Committee on Senate Modernization, dealing with items on the Order Paper.
First, I would like to thank you for allowing me to adjourn debate on this report last Tuesday, in order to give me the opportunity to fully participate. I realize debate on the modernization of the Senate is not advancing as quickly as some would like. However, we must move forward with caution and without diminishing the right of senators who wish to speak, under the pretext that we must quickly change a process that has allowed the Senate to operate for 150 years. The rules governing our debates are procedural in nature and, as we often say in law, procedure is the servant of rights.
Last week, Senator Ringuette said during a debate that preventing senators from speaking when they wanted to represented a breach of their constitutional right to freedom of expression. She must have changed her mind over the weekend because she supported attempts to prevent adjournment of the debate, which would have deprived me of the right to speak. Honourable senators, I invite you to be cautious. The report, as it is currently drafted, could infringe on a senator's right to speak by putting an item at the very end of the Orders of the Day when the senator is absent from the chamber, contravening this right, and attempting to take him or her by surprise.
Now that I have clarified that, I would like to inform you right away that I agree with the principles established by the Senate Modernization Committee regarding the changes that need to be made to how debates are conducted. I believe that the Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament must carefully examine these issues and provide us with concrete proposals regarding how to make those changes. However, I have some reservations about a few technicalities that I would like to share with you.
In my opinion, our main objective in reviewing how the Order Paper is prepared and debated is conducted is predictability. One must be able to know which item will be debated and be able to predict with a certain chance of success when it will be debated.
There are three reasons why I think we need such predictability to be a more modern institution.
First, the public and journalists in particular must know what the Senate is debating and when. Let's not kid ourselves. No journalist follows our debates on an ongoing basis. The media is in crisis, and there are fewer and fewer journalists who cover what is happening on Parliament Hill. Those who remain have to juggle a number of priorities. How many times journalists have asked me, "Are you going to be debating such and such a topic and, if so, at what time?" The only answers I can give them are "I don't know," "maybe," or "it depends."
Why then are we surprised that no one is following our debates? How can we complain that Canadians do not know what we are doing? We are like a movie theatre where you have to buy your ticket without knowing what movie is playing or at what time. What chance of success would a business like that have in 2017?
Dear colleagues, we can lament the fact that our press gallery is always empty and that Canadians don't know how good our debates are. But if we do not tell anyone that these debates will take place, and when, how can we blame anyone other than ourselves if nobody tunes in?
The second reason why I think this principle of predictability is important is that it would help with the quality of our debates.
By having a structured Order Paper that is announced ahead of time, senators could then prepare accordingly. This would make for tougher debates, especially on more pointed issues.
Lastly, a predictable Order Paper would allow senators to better manage their time. I understand that, in the past, all senators could be expected to attend all Senate meetings. Has that not become a little unrealistic today? The growing number of committees, subcommittees, working groups, associations of all kinds, and all the meetings and travel that those things require make it nearly impossible for senators to be present in the chamber all day long.
By adopting a formula whereby we know in advance what will be discussed, we could manage our agenda better, more specifically, the form of our debates. In particular, we could better manage our weekend travel, which is a source of frustration for senators who have to travel long distances to be with their families. I'm not saying that we need to organize our work to finish earlier on Thursdays. I'm simply saying that senators who need to book flights should be able to reasonably predict when Senate work will wrap up for the week.
This is why I fully support the principle of predictability that the Committee on Modernization followed in its study on how the Order Paper is prepared and followed. This is why I do not agree with some of the technicalities of the committee's fourth report.
More specifically, I do not agree with the fact that a senator can wait until the very end of the Order Paper to begin a debate on an item that has not been announced. This goes against the principle of predictability and, more importantly, against the most basic rules of propriety.
Imagine this: A senator leaves Ottawa on a Thursday evening, thinking that his bill or his motion won't be debated, only to learn when he gets off the plane five hours later that his bill was debated, voted on and defeated. That would be unacceptable, which is why I supported the amendment brought forward by Senator Tannas, since the principle he is espousing is very important.
Let's be realistic, honourable senators. What subject could be so burning that a senator would suddenly decide it must be debated without notice even though it is not an emergency debate as provided for in the Rules? I should point out that this is not allowed in the other place. Is democracy any worse for it?
I encourage the Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament to take a close look at this matter. The committee must ensure that we strike a balance between one senator's right to speak to all items on the Order Paper and another senator's right to speak to it later if he or she wishes.
I haven't had time to fully familiarize myself with the rules of the House of Lords, but I gather they're supposed to give no less than one day's notice that they wish to speak on a given subject. The penalty for adding one's name to the list at the last minute is reduced speaking time.
Is that something we might consider? The House of Lords' Order Paper is clear and precise about the items to be debated. It is a preview of the days and weeks ahead. Perhaps we could do something similar.
The Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament would certainly do well to look at how other parliaments operate. I'm sure ours is not the only institution that faces the challenge of striking a balance between predictability and parliamentarians' right to debate. Raising other business at the end of the Orders of the Day results in greater unpredictability. That can have the perverse effect of violating a senator's right to speak if others take advantage of his or her absence to bring up an item at the very end without giving notice.
Colleagues, I invite you to adopt the committee's fourth report so our colleagues on the Rules Committee can start working on this issue as soon as possible. I am confident that they will be able to present to us innovative solutions and that we will be able to achieve the goal we have been working on for the past six years or so to make the Senate a more transparent, modern and efficient institution.
Hon. Joan Fraser: As Senator Carignan noted today — and on Tuesday Senator Lankin — this particular report of the Modernization Committee is attempting to square a circle, to reconcile objectives that are not necessarily easy to reconcile, but reconcile them we must. We must both respect every senator's right to speak, and the comparatively modern concept of some degree of predictability and efficiency in the use of our time in the chamber.
I do find a couple of things about the form of this report a little difficult. I would like to put that on the record. One of them is that, in this report as in others from the Modernization Committee, the language used in the report says that the Senate "directs" the Rules Committee, or on occasion the Internal Economy Committee, to do something.
This is not unheard of, but it is quite unusual for the Senate to "direct" a committee to do specific things unless there is some degree of urgency or some imperative element at stake. In this case, I don't think either of those requirements applies. I understand the impatience of those who want to get on with this work — indeed to some extent I share that impatience.
However, I caution colleagues that we should not fall into the trap of having the Senate direct committees to do in fine detail the work that we have a committee to study and to determine the best way to proceed.
That particular concern is heightened in the case of this report by the fact that the Senate, under this report, is to direct the Rules Committee to change the process for so-called "stood" items in line with the six elements set out on pages 34 to 35 of the Modernization Committee's first report.
Those six elements are very detailed indeed. One wonders why one would even bother referring the matter to the Rules Committee if we just have to parrot back the six elements that are set out in the modernization report.
However, that said, I repeat: I do not oppose the fundamental concept that we have to square the circle respecting senators' rights to speak and make our procedures as effective and, if you will, modern as possible.
Senator Carignan spoke about predictability. I find the word interesting and I find the concept important. I wonder if we might not consider, since all senators now have access to the daily scroll, distributing it electronically to the press gallery, if we don't already do so, which would give them at least a little heads-up.
The scroll is never the last word. It does not remove any senator's freedom to speak or not to speak, but it is an indication of what, at about noon, the table and the leaderships of various groups expect to happen. That might be a worthwhile thing to address.
In the meantime, I draw to your attention, colleagues, the fact that under the Rules of the Senate, the Rules Committee has the authority to initiate a study on any element of the Rules, our procedures or the rights of Parliament that we consider worthy of study.
We do not have to await an order of reference from the Senate, unlike many committees. Indeed, we have already exercised that authority, in that the third report from the Rules Committee, which is before this chamber, actually addresses the second half of the recommendations in the Modernization Committee report that we are debating now.
We went ahead and did the work without having the Senate tell us to do it. That is, of course, the report that we have presented from the Rules Committee about the reordering of the Order Paper and to make it clearer and simpler for one and all to follow and understand.
In fact, the steering committee of the Rules Committee has already begun the preparatory work for addressing the matter of items that are stood on the Order Paper. Whether this report were adopted today, or ever, by the Senate, the Rules Committee would continue its work to that end and would report to this chamber as soon as we were in a position to do so.
Hon. Yonah Martin (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Will the honourable senator take a question?
Senator Fraser: Yes.
Senator Martin: Thank you, Senator Fraser, for reminding us of what happened in the Rules Committee, preempting the referral of this report that we are looking to call question on today. When you spoke to the Rules report on this very matter, there was some confusion due to a sort of overlap of these items crossing the floor in the opposite direction.
That's why I took the adjournment on that report so that our caucus could look at it again and remind ourselves what that report is, distinct from what we are debating at this time, Item No. 3, which is the fourth report on the Order Paper from the Modernization Committee.
In regard to the language where it directs Rules Committee, do you see that being an issue as we prepare to call "question," or is it still within the authority of every committee to do its work and, though the language is somewhat concerning, the Rules Committee will take this report and examine it in the way that it has always done?
Senator Fraser: Yes. I raised the question because I wanted it to be on the record that I think it is an unfortunate precedent. I would not want it to be seen as a precedent. Let us just say it is an unusual occurrence. Unusual things happen here. We adapt ourselves to live with them.
I know there are other reports from the Modernization Committee that use similar language. It would be up to the Senate to determine if it wished to adjust that language, but I know that there is a significant degree of desire that this particular report be adopted now.
I wanted to get on the record that the Rules Committee doesn't need the report and would not, in fact, consider itself bound to the fine, fine detail of the report.
I believe we all agree on the principle. And we will certainly proceed to do that work as well as we can.
Senator Martin: In response to that, would honourable senators allow me to continue?
Hon. Senators: Yes.
Senator Martin: I'm glad you made that clarification because I think that is important. What I appreciate about our Senate Rules is that there is this malleability — and I use that word very carefully — where it stretches to allow us to have these debates to deal with these idiosyncrasies and/or concerns that may potentially impact future deliberations, but it always returns to its norm that allows us to deal with each item, not precedent-setting but one by one.
It is our understanding that this report is being referred to Rules so that Rules can look at it carefully and report to the Senate chamber. So thank you for raising that specific point.
Hon. Elaine McCoy: Honourable senators, I wanted to acknowledge that the chair of the Rules Committee has made a very important point. It's one of the two committees that we have that is actually given the authority in our Rules to initiate its own studies. I'm delighted to hear that it has initiated its own study on the matter of how we defer items on the Order Paper already. So we're very encouraged by that, and I'm looking forward to hearing Senator Fraser present the Rules Committee report on renumbering items on the Order Paper, which is indeed the second part of this report.
I want to underscore, Senator Fraser and all members of the Rules Committee, that it was not our intention to deprive ourselves and other senators of any advice that the wise and learned members of Rules could bring to our attention, perhaps improving our ideas. Time and again, certainly, there are members on that committee who have an exquisite knowledge of the rules of procedure, and we would seek their sober second thought and bring that back. So we're not trying to cut off any ideas whatsoever.
You said that you were in agreement in principle, so we will trust to the process and get your report as soon as possible, if you could. As you know, there is a pent-up desire for this. Having said all of that, thank you so much for your intervention, and I, for one, will take your comments about a precedent into account as we move forward. I hope others will as well.
Having said all of that, I would like to call for the question.
Hon. Claudette Tardif (The Hon. the Acting Speaker): Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
(Motion agreed to and report adopted.)
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Wells, seconded by the Honourable Senator Enverga, for the adoption of the second report (interim) of the Special Senate Committee on Senate Modernization, entitled Senate Modernization: Moving Forward (Omnibus Bills), presented in the Senate on October 4, 2016.
Hon. Diane Bellemare (Legislative Deputy to the Government Representative in the Senate): Honourable senators, I rise today to say a few words about the second report of the Special Senate Committee on Senate Modernization.
I agree with the recommendation in the report on omnibus bills. However, I want to make a few comments in order to point out to the newly appointed senators that this issue has already generated a good deal of commentary and been subject to much debate in both chambers. You should know that our Rules and procedures do not include a clear definition for omnibus bills. There are no rules governing such bills.
According to research by the Library of Parliament, the first omnibus bill was introduced in 1868 and had to do with the railway. It wasn't until 1923 that the omnibus nature of a bill began to stir negative reactions.
As you know, omnibus bills have created tension at the other place as well as here in the Senate. In 2012, for example, Budget Implementation Bill C-38, entitled the Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act, an omnibus bill, triggered a marathon vote at the other place that lasted 22 hours.
The last time that the Senate studied this issue was in February 2014 following a point of order raised by the Honourable Senator Moore as to the acceptability of Bill C-43, which was also a budget implementation bill. The Honourable Senator Kinsella was the Speaker of the Senate at the time.
Omnibus bills can raise important questions about the exercising of our constitutional duties. As I have not completed my study of this matter and as I wish to provide a succinct explanation, I would like to adjourn the debate for the remainder of my time.
(On motion of Senator Bellemare, debate adjourned.)
The Senate proceeded to consideration of the fourth report of the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples (Supplementary budget—study on best practices and on-going challenges relating to housing in the North), presented in the Senate earlier this day.
Hon. Sandra Lovelace Nicholas moved adoption of the report.
She said: Honourable senators, the budget outlined in this report is for $16,700 for translation of our report on Northern housing into Inuktitut. Our target audience is the Inuit. For many of them, their first language is Inuktitut, and many are not fluent in English or French. Our committee felt that we should translate our report to make it more accessible to Inuktitut speakers.
The Hon. the Acting Speaker: Are honourable senators ready for the question?
Hon. Senators: Question.
The Hon. the Acting Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
(Motion agreed to and report adopted.)
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Joyal, P.C., seconded by the Honourable Senator Eggleton, P.C.:
That with Canada celebrating 150 years as a nation and acknowledging the lasting contribution of the First Nations, early settlers, and the continuing immigration of peoples from around the world who have made and continue to make Canada the great nation that it is, the Senate urge the Government to commit to establishing a National Portrait Gallery using the former US Embassy across from Parliament Hill as a lasting legacy to mark this important milestone in Canada's history and in recognition of the people who contributed to its success.
Hon. Patricia Bovey: Honourable senators, I rise to support a national portrait gallery in Ottawa as a lasting legacy marking this important one hundred and fiftieth anniversary in Canada's history, recognizing Canadians' contributions to our country.
I recently spoke about the impact of the arts throughout society. What would a national portrait gallery add? Portraits do, and a national portrait gallery will, enhance knowledge of our history and contemporary society, honouring accomplishments of well-known individuals and lives of lesser known, ordinary Canadians. A national portrait gallery becomes the portrait of a nation, its collective multi-dimensions, passages and diversities. Portrait galleries build national pride.
Why now and why Ottawa? The Portrait Gallery of Canada has been decades in the planning. During that time, different ideas for locations were discussed, but only one of them was seriously considered: the former American embassy, a Beaux Arts style heritage building, which was built in 1932 and is located right across the street from the Parliament Buildings. All Canadians want to visit our nation's capital.
Portrait gallery exhibitions were once held in Ottawa's market. Much discussion led to the 2001 formal announcement for a national portrait gallery to open in 2005 in the U.S. Embassy. Feasibility study in hand and under the auspices of the National Archives, mandated to exhibit their works, plans were developed renovating the Wellington Street site. A modern addition was also designed for future expansion by Teeple Architecture of Toronto and Dixon Jones of London, U.K. I saw those plans years ago as President of the Canadian Art Museums Directors Organization.
Excavation was about to begin for the addition and demolition of the current building was complete when, in 2006, the government halted it, opening bids from other Canadian cities. A total of $11 million had been spent. Site selection terminated in November 2008, when the minister said "none of the proposals received is acceptable to the government . . . the process failed to meet the best interests of both the portrait gallery and the taxpayers."
Support remained high and the processes continued. Charlotte Gray wrote in December 2008, in the Literary Review of Canada: ". . . audiences from coast to coast have underlined its importance, with support for its being in the National Capital." Public consultations held this past summer delighted many and Friends of the National Portrait Gallery remain energetically engaged.
People love people, relate to people; our history is about people.
Canadians want to admire representations of heroes, leaders, celebrities and little-known figures, friends and colleagues.
So, what is a national portrait gallery? Like every public gallery, it has four key mandates: to collect, preserve, exhibit and interpret, with responsibility and accountability to the public, artists and all stakeholders. Its vision and projected social, and economic benefits need to be confirmed, as do the educational programming, exhibition sources and tours ensuring national scope, potential program and financial partners, and means of sharing collections, research, publications and digital resources.
One hopes the gallery's scope will be work by Canadian artists, of Canadians, and for Canadians and visitors to Canada. National Archives' works should be its base, but the gallery should be much more — vibrant, living, not just of the past but of the present. It must reflect women as well as men; indigenous peoples and those of all cultures; well-known and ordinary Canadians. It needs to present Canadian activities, such as that of our military abroad and at home with works like Steve Gouthro's Shilo Series. Women and indigenous artists must be included.
Supporting pillars are already in place, including the biennial $20,000 Kingston Prize, started in 2005 and run by an independent organization. In 2015, this national competition received 414 entries from artists in all 10 provinces and 1 territory. That, honourable senators, represents interest. Promoting excellence in contemporary portraiture and raising public understanding and appreciation of the work of Canadian artists, each of its touring exhibitions becomes "a fascinating snapshot of a cross-section of Canadian life."
Julian Brown, competition founder and organizer, stressed that a portrait gallery "is not elitist, but open to all, and an active ongoing participant in the life of a nation through its programs and activities, projecting today for tomorrow."
I can attest that the quality of Canadian artists' work is high — four Kingston Prize finalists have also been finalists in the U.K.'s international BP Portrait Award.
The portrait is a popular art form. Who does not have family photo albums or digital photos? Portraits depict a time, place, person and state of mind. They capture actions or expressions frozen in time. The portrait is a powerful form of representation. It captures much more than what a subject looks like. It also captures a mood, a personality. The subject may be happy or troubled, at work or somewhere else.
The portrait is a physical expression of the artist's study and vision of the individual. It establishes a direct connection with the person's identity, and that relationship between the artist and the model determines the final product. This gift is then presented to the public of today and to future generations. Portrait galleries collect, examine, preserve, and display these treasures.
Andrew Valko, author of many official portraits in Canada, has a vision of a dynamic national portrait gallery, engaging visitors with rich and meaningful programming building on the past, of today, and for tomorrow.
Painted, drawn, printed, photographed, videoed and sculpted, portraiture includes commissions, personal depictions, self-portraits and portrayals of everyday life. All provide insights into self, place and time. All are part of the fabric of Canada past and present. Stewarding society's fabric through portraits, a national portrait gallery is an important place for research and knowledge-sharing, of biographical, cultural and human history, the development of art forms, media, iconography and modes of expression.
Portraits are both subjective and objective, allowing artists to explore new ways of creating. Celebrated artist Carole Sabiston used her invented unique textile assemblage language to memorialize Canadian author Carol Shields. Layers of reflective, transparent and opaque textiles, including Shields' jean skirt and vest and antique French silk threads, evoked the effervescent spark of that Canadian literary genius.
Ivan Eyre, Canada's first artist to have a solo exhibition in Germany, has done many influential self-portraits, which are pioneering contributions to Canadian art.
Sculptors convey the sitter's three-dimensionality. Internationally acclaimed Eva Stubbs, working in clay, builds, scrapes, cuts and constantly assesses sitters' reactions, movements and expressions.
Portraits of Senate and House of Commons' leaders are throughout this building, including that of Senate Speaker, the Honourable Gildas Molgat, by Winnipeg artist Mary Valentine. This posthumous portrait, done from photographs and taped interviews, is a three-quarter-length portrait, showing both his personal warmth and the importance of his position. Valentine depicted Molgat smiling, his hand outstretched in an inviting pose, with his native expansive prairie sky and patterned Manitoba fields behind him.
A national portrait gallery will show works like these, and will correct a frequent omission in many presentations of commissioned portraits — that of giving credit to the artist. Canada's Copyright Act enshrines artists' moral rights of presentation and their intellectual property. Status of the artist legislation likewise recognizes their rights. Omitting that credit is a disservice to the artist, the audience and the sitter. As one artist told me: "By elevating the artist, we are elevating the work."
The tremendously popular portrait galleries in Washington, Canberra and London are collegial and significant international comparators. In London and Washington, for instance, young people make up the majority of attendees: in London, 41.5 per cent are under the age of 35; in Washington, 34.6 per cent. In both, almost 70 per cent are under the age of 55.
I met with Dr. Nicholas Cullinan, Director of the U.K.'s National Portrait Gallery and his senior staff last month. Established in 1856, that gallery has long been a mecca for Britons and global tourists. Its collections and exhibitions provide a 360-degree history of Britain — social, political, literary, arts, sports and who's who. Located behind the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square, last year it welcomed 2,145,486 visitors, surpassing the two million mark consistently since 2012. Their 2014-15 annual report noted 36 per cent were first-time visitors, 16 per cent were students and lower socio-economic groups and 38 were overseas visitors. That year's retail services were the highest sales ever, at £2.48 million; facility rentals and catering revenues were also large. Grants represented 24 per cent of the total income and self-generated revenues represented 76 per cent.
It will be important for us to establish a diversified funding model and come up with various sources of revenues. These objectives can only be reached if the exhibitions and the museum's location are exceptional and if the grants celebrate excellence.
The London collection includes over 200,000 works in all media. Some are bequeathed, others commissioned and many are purchased through the National Art Collections Fund. Since 1969, the collection includes portraits by and of living people. They have one work by one Canadian artist: Myfanwy Pavelic's official portrait of celebrated violinist and conductor Sir Yehudi Menuhin. Pavelic also painted the official portrait hanging on Parliament Hill of former Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau.
That gallery pioneered school education, setting global benchmarks with their first school visit, in 1921. Thus began a long tradition of excellent international gallery and museum educational programs, augmenting curriculum at all levels in multiple subject areas.
Our national portrait gallery will do the same for Canadian students of all ages. Youngsters particularly will be inspired by the truth presented through these original works of art, core to the understanding of our nation.
Dr. Cullinan invited me to attend the 2018 meeting of international portrait galleries, an invitation to be extended to our director of Canada's national portrait gallery, if the position is filled. In working towards Canada's portrait gallery, we have been welcomed onto the international stage and our colleagues were in very close contact through all the years of development. In my recent conversations with many Canadian artists, it has also become clear that many were promised work in this new gallery. That is a promise I hope can be kept.
In closing, Canada's national treasures deserve to be admired by as many people as possible. Our history is important, and portraits are crucial to telling our story. A national portrait gallery in Ottawa would help stimulate the economy and tourism, things I talked about back in December. I am confident that supporting this museum would be a smart investment for Canada in many ways.
Honourable senators, I know that with the founding of a national portrait gallery, major art donations will come. Andrew Valko had already offered when I spoke to him just about a month ago.
I urge you, too, to vote in favour of the motion for a national portrait gallery in the former U.S. Embassy as a Canada 150 legacy, supporting Canadian artists, enhancing public knowledge and enshrining all aspects of portraiture. These works must not be lost to Canadians in vaults or closets in artists' studios. They deserve to be accessible to audiences of today and the future, generating pride, knowledge and debate. People go to a portrait gallery because it's really exciting. Let us create that national excitement, honouring artists and citizens alike.
(On motion of Senator Martin, debate adjourned.)
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Hubley, calling the attention of the Senate to the current state of literacy and literacy programs on Prince Edward Island, including the need for federal support of the PEI Literacy Alliance.
Hon. Diane Griffin: Honourable senators, today I rise to speak to the inquiry about literacy that was initiated by the Honourable Elizabeth Hubley, my colleague from Prince Edward Island.
I was born into a family who loved to read and valued education, as my paternal grandmother had been very proud of her career as a schoolteacher. I just took for granted that everyone who had gone to school could read. I have had a few revelations since that have changed my assumptions about that.
For instance, I lived in Edmonton at the time that the banks instituted instant teller machines. One Saturday, a man wanted to access his bank account, so he asked me, another customer, how to do it. He couldn't read; therefore, he didn't know that he had been sent a PIN by his financial institution and that it was required to get into his account. Since it was a weekend and no employee was available to help, he couldn't get any money from the bank. It struck me that this was probably one of many inconveniences that he must face on a frequent basis.
Literacy not only enables people to get better and higher paying jobs, it leads to greater workplace safety, better health outcomes and to greater civic engagement in communities. Individuals are more likely to vote, run for school boards and town councils and volunteer in their communities because being literate enables them to participate more fully at work, at home and in their communities.
I live in the town of Stratford on Prince Edward Island, which has the highest educational levels and per capita income in the province. As a result, the town also has a large number of citizens involved in its community affairs, and they volunteer to make their community a better place in which to live.
In Canada, where education is one of the highest expenditures allotted in our provincial budgets, how did we get into such a low literacy state? This is really shocking in a wealthy country where all children have the right — in fact, an obligation — to attend school. Why are so many people being left behind?
Furthermore, why do so many adults lose literacy skills they formerly possessed? In P.E.I., 45 per cent of adults between the ages of 16 and 65 have literacy skills below level three, the level required to effectively participate in society.
Everyone learns differently, so the one-size-fits-all type of education is part of the problem. This form of education will always have people falling through the cracks. Other organizations have stepped in with tutoring and other programs to try and fill the void, but they are struggling and they need assistance.
Federal government cutbacks to the literacy groups in 2014 resulted in a struggle for these organizations to survive and to continue to form partnerships to conduct literacy programs. The current situation is not sustainable.
As part of the Government of Canada Pre-Budget Consultations, the literacy coalitions of P.E.I., Nova Scotia and New Brunswick made a joint submission addressing the importance of investing in human capital. According to Statistics Canada, contributions of this kind result in more economic growth over the long term than investment in physical capital.
The four Atlantic groups are collaborating to form the Atlantic Partnership for Literacy and Essential Skills, and they have asked for $600,000 per year for four years. This will provide the stability to develop collaboration with stakeholders to ensure, first, programming to enable Atlantic Canadians to have opportunities to more fully participate at work, home and in their community; second, to sustain and grow the ability to identify needs and develop a strategy to respond to the needs in communities; and third, to share knowledge of literacy training and support in such areas as workforce development, youth and early years and family and adult literacy.
Prior to 2014, there was federal core funding available for national and provincial literacy associations. Due to the loss of this funding, instead of 15 associations, there are 8 left in Canada. As mentioned previously, these organizations are struggling. And project-based programs are not sustainable. They don't fill the gap, and they are primarily targeting adults in the workplace. The rest are left out.
While education is seen primarily as a provincial responsibility, the issue, especially of adult literacy, is of national importance. Recommendations regarding it have come from the House of Commons Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and Status of Persons with Disabilities as well as from the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology.
What can be done at the national level to improve the conditions for a more literate population? There are five that I am going to suggest, and these are: Support those organizations financially that help deliver literacy programs; encourage employers to invest in the literacy and essential skills development of their employees; assist through the labour market agreements or existing literacy and essential skills funding programs; create alternative learning opportunities for unemployed people with low literacy skills; and develop and implement a national literacy strategy.
As has been previously noted by Senator Hubley, we lost some organizations and volunteers as a result of the funding cuts in 2014, but we need to move forward now, and the federal government has to play an integral role.
In conclusion, I agree fully with Senator Hubley that if we were to improve literacy levels across the country, we would see real benefits to individuals, to their communities and to Canada as a whole.
As a part of this process, I encourage other senators to participate in this inquiry, to share their thoughts and possible solutions. Thank you.
(On motion of Senator Marshall, debate adjourned.)
Hon. Serge Joyal, pursuant to notice of February 7, 2017, moved:
That, for the duration of the current session, the Standing Committee on Ethics and Conflict of Interest for Senators be authorized to sit even though the Senate may then be sitting and that rule 12-18(1) be suspended in relation thereto.
He said: Honourable senators, this motion is pretty standard, as you know. After the composition of any new Conflict of Interest Committee, it is the procedure to ensure that this committee can sit at any time during Senate sittings so that business can be dealt with as expeditiously as possible.
That's the standard motion that we have adopted in the last 10 years in relation to the work of the Standing Committee on Ethics and Conflict of Interest for Senators.
The Hon. the Acting Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
(Motion agreed to.)
Hon. Serge Joyal, pursuant to notice of February 7, 2017, moved:
That the papers and documents received and/or produced by the Standing Committee on Ethics and Conflict of Interest for Senators during the Second Session of the Forty-first Parliament, and by the Intersessional Authority be referred to the Standing Committee on Ethics and Conflict of Interest for Senators.
He said: Honourable senators, this motion deals with the recommendation that all the previous reports and work of the intersessional authority are transferred to the new committee so that, in fact, what has happened in the interim period between the former committee and the new committee is brought to the knowledge of the new committee.
There is nothing really I should say that is extraordinary about this motion. It is pretty standard and is to make sure that the new committee can do its work efficiently.
The Hon. the Acting Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
(Motion agreed to.)
(The Senate adjourned to Tuesday, February 14, 2017, at 2 p.m.)