- SENATORS' STATEMENTS
- ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
- Malala Yousafzai
- Business of the Senate
- The Senate
- Canada-United States Inter-Parliamentary Group
- QUESTION PERIOD
- The Senate
- Committee of Selection
- The Senate
- Prime Minister's Office
- ORDERS OF THE DAY
- Business of the Senate
- Banking, Trade and Commerce
- Human Rights
- The Senate
- Canada Labour Code
- Citizenship Act
Wednesday, April 12, 2017
The Senate met at 2 p.m., the Speaker in the chair.
Hon. David Tkachuk: Honourable senators, on March 30, I asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate the following:
I'm wondering if you could tell me, Senator Harder, why the tour technician would charge $626 for meals and incidentals and another $1,604 for per diems on the same trip. I thought per diems covered meals and incidentals. Why would there be a separate itemization?
I was asking about someone from the Privy Council Office who travelled with the Prime Minister during his Christmas vacation on the private island of his billionaire friend the Aga Khan. I got an answer to this question, honourable senators, not from the Government Representative but from the CBC, which reported that the $1,604 of taxpayer money was given to the Aga Khan.
On April 6, still without answers from the leader to any of my questions on this issue, I then asked:
How did the tour technician get there —
— the private island —
— if not by air transportation, keeping in mind that the Prime Minister has said that the only way to get there was aboard a private helicopter? If he did get there by the helicopter, what portion of the $2,263 in air transport paid for the helicopter flight? If he didn't get there by the helicopter, how does this square with the Prime Minister's contention that there was no other way to get to the private island?
Again, senators, it was the CBC, not the leader, that provided me with the response to the question I raised. I'm going to read excerpts from the CBC report:
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's vacation to the Aga Khan's private island in the Bahamas cost taxpayers more than the government revealed to Parliament . . . .
In addition to the initial $127,187 disclosed in documents tabled in the House of Commons, the government spent $6,695 to transport a Privy Council Office technician from Nassau to Bell Island by seaplane along with 400 pounds of equipment.
That brings the total cost to taxpayers as a result of Trudeau's vacation to the exclusive island to $133,883.
The revelation also raises questions about Trudeau's explanation for why he travelled from Nassau to Bell Island aboard the Aga Khan's private helicopter. . . .
"The travel back and forth from Nassau to the island happens on the Aga Khan's private helicopter, which he offered us the use of," Trudeau told reporters in Kingston, Ont., on Jan. 12. . . .
The technician, however, made the same trip from Nassau to Bell Island aboard a commercially chartered Cessna 208 seaplane. The nine-seat aircraft, which has flown to Bell Island on other occasions, takes about 30 minutes to ferry passengers from Nassau to the island. . . .
. . . the technician was originally scheduled to travel to the island via Flamingo Air. . . .
. . . the government had to reimburse the technician $300 for the Flamingo Air flight that wasn't taken . . . .
This is the second time I have gotten answers from the CBC rather than in this place. The PMO seems to be leaking information to the CBC on this issue shortly following my questions. Let me be clear: That does not relieve the Leader of the Government in the Senate from the responsibility of tabling answers in this chamber to my many questions.
Hon. Jane Cordy: Honourable senators, as a former teacher and as a Nova Scotian, I am delighted to rise today to recognize Maggie MacDonnell, a truly remarkable and inspiring Canadian teacher and community mentor. Maggie MacDonnell of Afton, Nova Scotia, and a graduate of St. Francis Xavier University was the 2017 recipient of the Global Teacher Prize.
Honourable senators, this award means she is not just the best teacher from Nova Scotia and not just the best teacher in Canada — Maggie MacDonnell has been recognized as the best teacher in the world.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Senator Cordy: The Global Teacher Prize is a US$1-million award presented annually by the Varkey Foundation to an exceptional teacher who has made an outstanding contribution to their profession. The prize serves to underline the importance of educators around the world and the positive impact they can have on their communities. The award seeks to acknowledge the very best teachers as role models — both to their students and to the communities where they teach.
Maggie MacDonnell has accomplished many incredible things teaching in the remote and isolated village of Salluit, Quebec. Salluit is the second most northern Inuit community in Quebec and is only reachable by air.
As is the case of far too many of our northern communities, Salluit has faced many social challenges, and as a result, the community has a high turnover rate of teachers. However, Ms. MacDonnell has been inspired by the people of Salluit and has been teaching in the community for nearly seven years.
During her time in Salluit, Maggie created job mentorship programs and funds to assist with healthy meals. As a fitness instructor and teacher, she has combined her passions to help address issues in her community. She uses fitness as a way to steer youth away from some of the troubles that can plague a small, isolated village. She established a fitness centre for youth and adults in the community. She also made it possible for youth in the community to participate in the Blue Nose Marathon in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She negotiated cheaper airfare and arranged for discounts on new running shoes for those participating in the marathon.
Maggie MacDonnell was awarded the Global Teacher Prize in a ceremony in Dubai last month and was accompanied by three of her students. She was selected out of nearly 20,000 applicants from around the globe. Her plan for the $1 million in prize money is to start an NGO for her students and the community. It will focus on bringing back the culture of kayaking to the community through an environmental stewardship program for northern youth.
Honourable senators, I cannot think of a more deserving and inspiring choice for this prize than Maggie MacDonnell. I encourage my colleagues in this chamber to watch the inspiring video that I tweeted today and to see the incredible impact that Maggie has had on the residents of her community of Salluit.
I offer my congratulations to Maggie and her family. She is truly an inspiration to us all.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I wish to draw your attention to the presence in the gallery of representatives from the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation: Barney Williams, from the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation, who is a member of the Survivors Circle, and his wife Katrina; Eugene Arcand, from the Muskeg Lake First Nation in Saskatchewan, who is a member of the Governing Circle; and Ry Moran, the Director. They are guests of the Honourable Senator Sinclair.
On behalf of all honourable senators, I welcome you to the Senate of Canada.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Hon. Fabian Manning: Honourable senators, today I am pleased to present Chapter 15 of "Telling Our Story."
Surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, the island of Newfoundland has reaped the bounty of the sea for generations. But 103 years ago last week, the cold North Atlantic took from our shores much more than it gave.
This is the week that we remember a sad moment in our proud history. It was during the week of March 31 to April 2, 1914, that 77 crew members of the sealing ship the SS Newfoundland froze to death on the ice. Another crew member succumbed to his injuries later in St. John's.
During that same weekend, the SS Southern Cross was making her way home somewhere near St. Mary's Bay. With a heavy load of cargo of seal pelts, the ship lost her battle with the fierce winter storm that was engulfing the province. The ship and her crew of 176 men disappeared without a trace and were never heard from again.
The loss of 254 men in only two days affected many families and every community and citizen of Newfoundland. This extremely tragic event in Newfoundland's history is referred to as the "The Great Newfoundland Sealing Disaster of 1914."
Many articles and books have been written about the disaster, and they are worthy of taking the time to read. One of the most familiar and compelling books was written in 1972 by Cassie Brown, titled Death On The Ice.
Though this book reads like a novel, it is historically accurate. It tells us about two long freezing days and nights when 132 men were left stranded on an icefield floating in the North Atlantic in the depth of winter. They were thinly dressed, had little or no food and had no hope of shelter on the ice against the snow and constant bitter winds. To survive, they had to keep moving. Those who lay down to rest died.
The book tells the story of heroes such as one man who froze his lips badly from biting off the icicles that were blinding his comrades. Other men froze in their tracks or went mad with pain and walked off the edge of the icefield.
Then there's the story of Reuben Crewe and his 16-year-old son, Albert John, who died in each other's arms. A quotation from Cassie's book reads as follows:
But now, father and son were unable to encourage each other any further. Albert lay on the ice to die, and his father lay beside him, drawing his son's head up under his fishermen's guernsey in a last gesture of protection. They clasped in each other arms, they died together.
The National Film Board of Canada has produced a remarkable and most memorable short animation of this historical event called "54 Hours." I suggest you take time to view it.
Colleagues, the sea is an important part of who we are as Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. Our history is full of moments and tremendous accomplishment and great success on the ocean. But today remember one of the great disasters of our time that even now, 103 years later, brings tears to the eyes of strong-willed men who have trod the frozen ice pans and know full well the unforgiving nature of the cold North Atlantic.
I ask to you join with me today in wishing the 254 men lost during the 1914 Newfoundland sealing disaster eternal rest. May their souls and all the souls of the faithfully departed rest in peace.
Hon. Betty E. Unger: Honourable senators, on March 28 this year, at approximately 8:38 p.m. Rogers Place in Edmonton was rocked by a roar as the sold-out crowd of 18,347 wildly cheering Edmonton Oilers fans celebrated a long-awaited victory.
After 10 disappointing seasons, the Oilers had clinched a spot in the playoffs by defeating the LA Kings 2 to 1. Not since 2006 had Oiler fans been able to celebrate their team making the playoffs.
In 2006, there was no such thing as an iPhone, Twitter was only two months old, and the Oilers' kid-captain was nine years old.
If 2006 seems like a long time ago, it's because it was for many fans.
But Oiler fans are loyal. Over the last 10 seasons, even in the midst of disappointing game-after-game results, the coliseum continued to be sold out. In fact, a larger arena was opened in September 2016 and has been completely sold out for every game.
We don't know if winning the right to participate in the 2017 playoffs will lead the way to the Stanley Cup. But what we do know is that our team has come a long way.
This year was our first 100-point season since 1990. We finished the regular season this year with 103 points overall, and in the last 14 games the Oilers recorded 12 wins. Not bad for a young team that ended last year's season in twenty-ninth place.
Last Sunday night, our Oilers played another great game. It was the final game of the season at Rogers Place in Edmonton, and the Oilers were playing the Vancouver Canucks.
Team captain, Connor McDavid, who has recently turned 20, reached the 100-point mark and was later awarded the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL's scoring champion.
Tonight the playoffs begin, with the Oilers taking home ice advantage against the San Jose Sharks. Having defeated the Sharks 4 to 2 less than a week ago and riding high on winning eight of their last nine games, the Oilers are confident but will take nothing for granted.
And yes, Alberta does have a second team; our rivals to the south have also made the playoffs.
To the Edmonton Oilers, to coach Todd McLellan and staff, I offer my sincere congratulations on your significant achievements.
Go Oilers, go!
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Hon. Joan Fraser: Honourable senators, again this year I want to draw your attention to the journalist and media support workers who were killed around the world last year because of what they did, because of their profession, because they were journalists.
The sad list comes from the Committee to Protect Journalists. Forty-eight journalists and two media workers:
In Afghanistan: David Gilkey, Zabihullah Tamanna, Naimatullah Zaheer and Mohammad Nasir Mudasir.
In Brazil: João Miranda do Carmo.
In India: Karun Misra and Rajdev Ranjan
In Guinea: El-Hadj Mohamed Diallo
In Iraq: Hassan al-Anbaki, Saif Talal, Ali Mahmud, Mustafa Said, Ali Risan, Ahmet Haceroglu and Ali Ghani
In Libya: Khaled al-Zintani, Abdelqadir Fassouk and Jeroen Oerlemans.
In Mexico: Marcos Hernández Bautista and Elidio Ramos Zárate.
In Myanmar: Soe Moe Tun.
In Pakistan: Shehzad Ahmed and Mehmood Khan.
In Somalia: Abdiaziz Ali and Mahad Ali Mohamed.
In Syria: Majid Dirani, Osama Jumaa, Khaled Eissa, Ibrahim Omar, Abdullah Mohammad Ghannam, Mohammed Sayyed Hassan, Ahmad Hallak, Taha Shawkat Al-Halou, Sami Jawdat Rabah, Samer Mohammed Aboud, Mustafa Abdul Hassa, Shaam, Mohammed Eissa, Abdul Salam Kanaan, Mohsen Khazaei and Mahmoud Shabaan al-Haj Hadhir.
In Somalia: Sagal Salad Osman.
In Turkey: Rohat Aktas and Zaher al-Shurqat.
In Ukraine: Pavel Sheremet.
In Yemen: Almigdad Mojalli, Hashim al-Hamran, Ahmed al-Shaibani, Mohammed Ghalib al-Majidi, Mubarak al-Abadi and Awab al-Zubiry.
All these people, colleagues, we know were killed because of their work as journalists.
The Committee to Protect Journalists lists another 29 who were killed last year, where it is quite possible but not yet proved that they, too, were killed because they were journalists. We can't bring them back, but we can bear witness to them and honour them.
Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): Honourable senators, with leave of the Senate and notwithstanding rule 5-5(j), I move:
That the Address by Malala Yousafzai, to Members of both Houses of Parliament, delivered Wednesday, April 12, 2017, together with all introductory and related remarks, be printed as an appendix to the Debates of the Senate of this day and form part of the permanent records of this House.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted, honourable senators?
Hon Senators: Agreed.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
(Motion agreed to.)
(For text of speeches, see Appendix.)
Hon. Diane Bellemare (Legislative Deputy to the Government Representative in the Senate): Honourable senators, pursuant to rule 4-13(3), I would like to inform the Senate that, as we proceed with Government Business, the Senate will address the items in the following order: Motion No. 85, followed by all remaining items in the order that they appear on the Order Paper.
Hon. Diane Bellemare (Legislative Deputy to the Government Representative in the Senate): Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:
That, in order to allow the Senate to receive a Minister of the Crown during Question Period as authorized by the Senate on December 10, 2015, and notwithstanding rule 4-7, when the Senate sits on Tuesday, May 2, 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. today, the vote be postponed until immediately after the conclusion of Question Period;
That, if the bells are ringing for a vote at 3:30 p.m. today, they be interrupted for Question Period at that time, and resume thereafter for the balance of any time remaining; and
That, if the Senate concludes its business before 3:30 p.m. today, the sitting be suspended until that time for the purpose of holding Question Period.
Hon. Diane Bellemare (Legislative Deputy to the Government Representative in the Senate): Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:
That, when the Senate next adjourns after the adoption of this motion, it do stand adjourned until Tuesday, May 2, 2017 at 2 p.m.
Hon. Michael L. MacDonald: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian parliamentary delegation of the Canada-United States Inter-Parliamentary Group respecting its participation at the Summer Meeting of the Western Governors' Association, held in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, United States of America, from June 12 to 14, 2016.
Hon. Michael L. MacDonald: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian parliamentary delegation of the Canada-United States Inter-Parliamentary Group respecting its participation at the Annual Summer Meeting of the National Governors Association, held in Des Moines, Iowa, United States of America, from July 14 to 17, 2016.
Hon. Michael L. MacDonald: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian parliamentary delegation of the Canada-United States Inter-Parliamentary Group respecting its participation at the Annual National Conference of the Council of State Governments, held in Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia, United States of America, from December 8 to 11, 2016.
Hon. Larry W. Smith (Leader of the Opposition): My question is for the leader of the government in the Senate. Last Thursday, a man from Quebec charged with the second degree murder of his wife saw his charges suspended because of the deadlines set by the Supreme Court in the Jordan decision. Quebec's justice minister has publicly urged Minister Wilson-Raybould to fill the vacant seats in the Quebec Superior Court, reiterating that the province has been waiting for a long time for these seats to be filled.
With this recent case of unspeakable domestic violence, this is at least the third stay of proceedings in a murder trial in Canada as a result of the Jordan decision.
Can the Leader of the Government find out if the Minister of Justice is aware of other cases in which murder charges were dropped because of the Jordan ruling? Is the minister keeping track of the total number of cases that have been stayed?
Can the Leader of the Government also tell us when the Minister of Justice will move to fill the dozens of vacancies in Canadian courts?
Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I thank the honourable senator for his question. It is one that all senators will know is very important and a priority for the Minister of Justice, both when she's appeared here and outside this chamber.
I want to reiterate that the Minister of Justice has put in place an appointment process to yield a broader diversity in the nominations that have been made, and that's reflected in the nominations that have been made. Everyone is acknowledging that there is more work to be done to fill the existing vacancies. To that end, earlier this week the minister announced that she was convening a federal-provincial-territorial meeting to deal with her counterparts to discuss how best to move forward to ensure that justice is done and being seen to be done by Canadians as we deal with serious cases before the courts to ensure that there is greater expeditious treatment of all judicial proceedings.
Senator Smith: As the Leader of the Government is aware, Bill C-44, the budget bill, tabled in the other place yesterday afternoon, provides for new federally appointed judges. The budget bill provides for new federally appointed judges — I thought we were looking at the Minister of Justice before — as announced in Budget 2017. However, the budget documents do not provide a timetable for when these 28 judicial positions will be filled.
Again, we worry about delay, we worry about red tape and we worry about the backlog. Do we know the exact backlog number, sir? Could the government leader tell us if the Liberal government commits to ensuring that these new positions are filled this year, or will they just be more empty vacancies waiting for months and months to be filled? This is a key issue and very important to our justice system that people who commit crimes are put in a position where they know exactly what's going to happen because it will happen.
Senator Harder: Again, I thank the honourable senator for his question in this regard. I want to assure him and all senators that the government takes this matter very seriously, which is why provision is made in the budget for an additional number of judges in the Federal Court. It would be presumptuous on the government's part to presume how Parliament will react to that request in the budget. I would expect that once this budget is passed the government will move expeditiously to fill these new vacancies to ensure that this measure adds to the initiatives under way to ensure an appropriate response.
Hon. Paul E. McIntyre: My question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate and is a follow-up to a question already asked by Senator Smith but with a different angle. It has to do with Judicial Advisory Committees and the appointment of Superior Court judges.
As we know, there are 17 Judicial Advisory Committees. My understanding is that last October the Minister of Justice revealed significant changes in the role and structure of those committees. In January, the minister announced seven reconstituted committees across six provinces. This was followed by a press release from her department stating that appointments to other Judicial Advisory Committees would be announced in the coming weeks. Since then, we have heard nothing as to when the 10 other Judicial Advisory Committees would be reformed.
Could the government leader inform us as to when all 17 Judicial Advisory Committees will be up and running, and will the 10 appointments be made this spring?
Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): Let me take that question to the minister with respect to the timing.
I do want to, again, refer to the fact that not only has the minister called a meeting of her provincial and territorial counterparts, but earlier — I believe it was last week — there was a meeting with chiefs and deputy chiefs of the courts across the country to discuss this very issue.
Again, I want to repeat that the government has made, I believe, 47 appointments of judges and 22 of deputy judges in recent weeks, and the minister has publicly committed to making further appointments in the near future.
I can't predict when that will be, except I want to emphasize the importance the minister attaches to making these appointments through a JAC process that is more broadly representative of the diversity that the appointments made thus far reflect.
Senator McIntyre: Leader, there are currently almost 60 superior court judicial vacancies across Canada, and it is urgent that the Minister of Justice fill them as expeditiously as possible. In light of fact that the minister continues to move slowly in reconstituting the 10 other Judicial Advisory Committees, how can she possibly expect to quickly fill those judicial vacancies?
Senator Harder: Again, I want to emphasize to all senators that the objective the minister and the government as a whole is to ensure the appointments made represent the broader diversity, which is why the JACs have been constituted in a more diverse membership and with a mandate to achieve that result.
Obviously, the urgency is well recognized. Steps have been taken by the minister and continue to be taken with respect to the meetings that have already taken place with the judges and meetings intended with the federal, provincial and territorial partners to ensure that all of the aspects of the judicial system that come into play in the situation we're facing are dealt with as appropriately as possible. The minister herself is committed to further appointments, with the priority intention of making those.
Hon. Joseph A. Day (Leader of the Senate Liberals): Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate.
Before I pose my question, let me comment on attaching the speech of Malala Yousafzai to the proceedings of the day. I think all of us who heard her speech agree wholeheartedly with that. I'm hoping that your request and our approval could be interpreted to include a speech by our Speaker, the Speaker of the House of Commons and the Prime Minister, because it was a very special day for Parliament from many points of view.
Hon. Joseph A. Day (Leader of the Senate Liberals): Honourable senators, I just received Bill C-44, referred to by the Leader of the Opposition, which is the 300-page budget implementation bill and which was intended to be much smaller and thinner. We are looking forward to analyzing this document against the promises that were made by the government.
We have made several very positive adjustments to reflect the change in the nature and the makeup of the Senate. We've made sure that the Independent Senators Group is properly represented on committees and that they receive funding for their group. But there is another area we have overlooked and that has to be rectified, and that is remuneration for the leadership in a manner similar to the remuneration that goes with the leadership positions for the other government representatives and the opposition.
My understanding, Mr. Leader, is that the remuneration provision must be changed in the Parliament of Canada Act. I have been told that we don't really want to open up the Parliament of Canada Act to make any changes, but I look in Bill C-44, the budget implementation bill, and there are 20 pages making amendments to the Parliament of Canada Act.
Was consideration given to rectifying this situation of recognizing groups and caucuses other than the government and the opposition? If so, why don't we see the amendments in these 20 or 30 pages of amendments to the Parliament of Canada Act?
Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): Let me respond to the honourable senator's question by saying that I will obviously inquire of that question.
I do note, and I have said in the past, that there are issues that are part of the Modernization Committee's work that also require Parliament of Canada Act adjustments, and it might be useful to coordinate the amendments that the Senate itself may wish to consider, in the context of modernization, into a broader effort.
Senator Day: That would be useful, maybe, but the question is one of fairness. How long do we have to wait to reach the point of usefulness when it could easily have been rectified in this particular bill that we'll be looking at?
Senator Harder: Again, I will take it up with the Minister of Finance. You will know that that issue was not covered in the budget, and I will have to consult on that issue.
Senator Day: Thank you.
Hon. Douglas Black: Mr. Leader, the energy industry is proud of the work that the National Energy Board has done for decades, playing a pivotal role in regulating the important Canadian energy industry. Albertans, of course, are proud of the fact that the NEB's home is Calgary.
But with any organization, including the Senate, modernization for improvement is important. The Government of Canada has set a panel, as we know, to review and report on how to improve the NEB.
I have heard unsettling reports that the panel may recommend, quite incredibly, relocating the NEB from Calgary to Ottawa.
Leader, would you please confirm that should the panel make such an ill-advised recommendation, the Government of Canada will dismiss this recommendation quickly and out of hand?
Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I inquired of the ministry, and I'm informed that the advisory report to which you refer is expected to arrive on May 15 to the minister's office. To my knowledge, the issue of location is not part of the mandate, but I will obviously inquire further.
With respect to how the government might respond to such a recommendation, if it were part of the mandate, I take your position, and the views of senators as expressed in response to your question, as one I will make representations on.
Hon. Patricia Bovey: I have a question for the Leader of the Government in the Senate, which I had hoped to ask of the Minister of Finance yesterday. It's about charitable giving.
The economic situation, as we all know, has been hard on Canadians and on not-for-profit, social and arts organizations. Organizations have had to raise an increasing portion of their operating capital and project budgets. I would suggest or hope that, in these circumstances, the government could be more generous in its taxation policy with regard to certain types of charitable donations in Canada.
In 2004, the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce recommended that the government remove capital gains tax on donations of listed securities for a five-year trial period, with a review of measures to determine if these changes should be made permanent. Those five years had a hugely positive impact on charities and arts and cultural organizations. In my experience, its success was so significant that I know its re-implementation will assist organizations today in meeting their needs and commitments for higher levels of private-sector support.
In the upcoming fiscal update, might Canadians look forward to the removal of capital gains tax on donations of listed securities, private company shares and real estate to charitable organizations?
Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I thank the honourable senator for her thoughtful question and suggestion. I will simply say that I will bring this to the minister's attention. Indeed, this is an issue that the Senate, in its work, might wish to advance in preparation for the fall economic update.
Hon Pierre Hugues Boisvenu: I would like to go back to the issue of the crisis in criminal court delays, which has worsened considerably, especially in Quebec. Yesterday, we learned that in the case of 67 applications, 34 criminals were released. There are currently more than 1,600 applications pending. It is estimated that, by December, there will be 2,000 applications for release, including some filed by murderers. We know that these people are being released without any conditions because they did not go to trial. Women and girls who have been sexually assaulted could see their attackers in the streets without a restraining order having been put in place. This is a very disturbing situation for victims.
The minister has told us that she has studied the issue of delays and is considering solutions. She is to meet with justice ministers at the end of the month. Could the Leader of the Government ask the minister to table in this chamber studies carried out in the past year on court delays so we can determine whether she is still considering her options or if she is ready to make a decision?
Second, how many victims have been abandoned by the legal system in the past six months because of stays of proceedings?
Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): Let me repeat that the minister is seized with this issue and is taking steps to deal with it, in coordination with her provincial and territorial colleagues. This is an important issue. It is a serious issue. The confidence of Canadians in the judicial system must be enhanced and maintained, and it's one that the minister is taking steps to respond to.
Senator Boisvenu: This question, I would like you to answer as leader, and as a father. In your opinion, why did the minister wait one year to make decisions that could have prevented us from now being in a situation where the safety of Canadians is jeopardized?
Senator Harder: Again, as a father and as a husband, I want to assure all senators, who, like me, share this concern, that this is a matter of concern to the minister. She is taking appropriate steps, dealing with all elements of the judicial process, to respond to the situation we face within the context of the work that she has undertaken with respect to making appointments that are broadly reflective of the diversity of the country.
Hon. Terry M. Mercer: I do want to address this question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, but it may be more properly addressed to the Chair of the Senate Committee of Selection.
I have been a member of the Library of Parliament Committee for a number of years. It's a very frustrating committee if you want to get anything done because the committee seldom meets. It last met prior to the election. We met to elect a chair from the House of Commons. We sat down. A nomination was made. There were no further nominations, and the person was elected. Somebody moved the adjournment of the meeting while I had my hand up trying to get the attention of the two co-chairs to get an item on the agenda, and the meeting was adjourned. By that time, all of the government members, the Conservative members at the time, had left the room.
That group of government MPs didn't want to hear what I had to say. I'm getting a funny feeling that this group of government MPs does not want to hear what I have to say either.
Will the Leader of the Government in the Senate tell me when the process will happen? When will the members of the House of Commons elect their chair? When will the Senate Selection Committee appoint our chair? It usually waits for the House of Commons to make sure it is not a person from the same political party occupying both chairs.
The importance of this is that the Parliamentary Budget Officer reports to Parliament through the Library of Parliament Committee. I want the Parliamentary Budget Officer to come in and tell us what is going on, and I want him to come in and tell us what is going on in an open hearing, where the media can cover it, where parliamentarians of all parties can ask him questions on this very important issue.
Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I will respond without actually knowing whether it's my job or the Selection Committee's, but I will assure the honourable senator that I will make inquires and have conversations as appropriate to ensure that this committee is established as soon as possible because, as you say, it has important work to do relative to the budget provisions, let alone the oversight that it plays for the Library of Parliament. If you can give me some time in which to have those conversations, I will be happy to report back.
Hon. Denise Batters: Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate.
Senator Harder, three years ago Liberal Party Leader Justin Trudeau made a political choice to — how would the CEO of United Airlines put this — "re-accommodate" Liberal senators with years of parliamentary knowledge and experience from his caucus. That was a mistake. Then, in your former role as the head of the Trudeau government transition team, you advised Prime Minister Trudeau on changes to the Senate. With your guidance, this Trudeau government made a political choice to stop appointing senators as part of the government caucus but instead to appoint ostensibly independent senators. The problem is that this government, advised by you, failed to think through the ramifications of that political choice.
Now you are finding it difficult to pass the Trudeau government's paltry legislative agenda through this chamber. Your grand experiment is a failure, and rather than admit that and work on fixing it, now you want to change all of the rules and destroy Canada's parliamentary system in the process.
The current parliamentary system of a government and an opposition has served this country well for 150 years, and now you want to destroy that entire history to serve the whims of one person, Justin Trudeau — well, two people if you count Gerry Butts.
Senator Harder, what will it take for you to admit that this whole ill-conceived scheme has been a colossal mistake?
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I thank the honourable senator for her question. Let me say that well before any appointments were made by Prime Minister Trudeau, the first of which were sworn in a year ago today — happy anniversary — this Senate, in its wisdom, and it was wise, began a modernization process. That modernization process is underway, and it is one in which all honourable senators will have voice, both through the committee's work and, ultimately, when the reports come to the Senate.
The future and the modernization of the Senate are in the hands of all senators equally. What the Prime Minister has done is given the Senate the opportunity to do just that and to build on the approach he took to have an advisory committee make recommendations to appoint independent senators. The objective has been to achieve a more independent, less partisan, transparent, accountable and complementary chamber to that of the other place. That is something that we are all going to work on, at a pace and with the architecture that we all conclude is the way forward. It is not in the hands of the Prime Minister, by any means. It is in our collective hands.
I look forward to working with all senators, both those who have served a long time and those who have come here as recently as last December, and with the committees that have been established on our behalf collectively, so that we can, as the months and years go forward, bring the Senate to become the institution our founders designed it to be and the one our people of Canada expect it to be.
Senator Batters: Senator Harder, as the Trudeau transition team head, you would have advised the Prime Minister on progressing government legislation through the Senate. Once you were appointed to the Senate and then appointed as the Trudeau government leader in the Senate, you could have set those plans in motion. But because your plan may not have been fully thought out, now you are having difficulties getting legislation through, and you want to change all the rules because, frankly, your plan was a bit of a stinker to begin with.
Now you are proposing the establishment of a Senate business committee, a kind of politburo to set the government's agenda in this place, but that is supposed to the job of the government leader, the government deputy leader and the government whip.
Senator Harder, your office has a $1.5 million budget for a caucus of three. We now know that your legion of staff has been spending its time writing a 20-page document that advocates the destruction of our Canadian parliamentary system to accommodate your government's failed experiment. You are not attending cabinet committees, you are not answering questions on behalf of the government in this chamber, and you helped to create an unworkable system that is not passing what few pieces of legislation this Trudeau government has bothered to propose.
You served in the public service for many years, Senator Harder. What kind of a performance review would you give an employee like that?
Senator Harder: A former Conservative senator sent me a note the other day, and I would use it as a response, with all due respect to the original syntax of Barry Goldwater: "Excessive language in defence of old-style partisanship is no virtue. Moderation in defence of less partisanship is no vice."
Hon. Dennis Dawson: My question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I wouldn't want to give you the impression that you can get away with fake news. Those transition committees started before.
I am happy to salute your first year. I'm a little uncomfortable agreeing with the opposition; sometimes it happens. As you would know — and I wouldn't want to give a bad impression — the transition started before you arrived. I wouldn't want to give the impression to Canadians that it started because one year ago today you, Senator Pratte and Senator Sinclair arrived. The transition committees were formed before.
Senator Harder: I thank the honourable senator for his comment, because it gives me the opportunity to underscore how much I agree with what he just said, which is why I referenced the work of the Modernization Committee that was launched well before. I would simply quote a policy options piece from April 5:
For decades, the Senate went about its work in reviewing and improving government legislation. It initiated landmark studies on health care, aging, marijuana, poverty, social cohesion and mental health. The Senate was not idle. At times, the work of senators yielded exceptional and influential contributions to public policy. . . .
. . . the spotlight on the Senate these past few years has opened the door to opportunity. In the wake of the controversies, wise senators appointed by previous prime ministers launched some laudable initiatives to modernize the Senate. A shining example is the establishment of the Special Senate Modernization Committee, a forum for meaningful debate on how to modernize Canada's Upper House.
I totally endorse that, and I encourage all honourable senators to work on that basis. Let's move forward, not just with talk but with actions.
Hon. Tobias C. Enverga, Jr.: My question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate.
On March 14, Le Journal de Montréal reported that, over the course of its 16 months in office, the Privy Council Office under this Liberal government has spent over $2.5 million to test public opinion through polling and focus groups. In contrast, the Privy Council Office under the previous Conservative government spent $2.49 million on public opinion research over eight years.
The Hon. the Speaker: Excuse me, Senator Enverga. The time for Question Period has expired, but if you want to ask a question right away, you may.
Senator Enverga: Could the Leader of the Government in the Senate please explain why polling costs have skyrocketed under this Prime Minister?
Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): Let me simply assure the honourable senator that I will seek an answer to his question.
Hon. Diane Bellemare (Legislative Deputy to the Government Representative in the Senate): Honourable senators, earlier during notices of motion, I moved to reorganize the items on the Orders of the Day. I will not reread it. We will begin with Motion No. 85 and proceed with government business as it appears on the Orders of the Day.
Leave having been given to proceed to Other Business, Reports of Committees— Other, Order No. 26:
The Senate proceeded to consideration of the thirteenth report of the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce (Budget—study on the current and emerging issues of the banking sector and monetary policy of the United States—power to travel), presented in the Senate on April 11, 2017.
Hon. David Tkachuk moved adoption of the report.
He said: Honourable senators, I would like to thank the house leaders of the parties and the groups in the Senate for allowing me to do this. I know that some senators have asked why I was asking for this. I presented this report yesterday, not knowing that —as soon as we finish government business today, that will be the end of it and we are out of here at 4 o'clock.
This committee budget is for a trip to Washington and New York in May. We have to get permission before they can go ahead and make commitments. Today is the last day before the break. I could have waited until tomorrow, but I never trust the last day.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
(Motion agreed to and report adopted.)
Leave having been given to revert to Other Business, Reports of Committees—Other, Order No. 24:
The Senate proceeded to consideration of the sixth report of the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights (Budget—study on the issues relating to the human rights of prisoners in the correctional system—power to hire staff and to travel), presented in the Senate on April 11, 2017.
Hon. Jim Munson moved adoption of the report.
He said: Honourable senators, I face the same predicament as Senator Tkachuk. Yes, Thursday can be a lonely place here sometimes.
This report has to do with the Human Rights Committee and proposed travel to Kingston, Brockville and Montreal. It has to do with the human rights of prisoners in the correctional services. There is no air travel involved; it is all by bus. The budget is $71,250. I'm asking for leave of the Senate to approve these visits.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
(Motion agreed to and report adopted.)
Hon. Diane Bellemare (Legislative Deputy to the Government Representative in the Senate), pursuant to notice of April 11, 2017, moved:
That, notwithstanding the order adopted by the Senate on February 4, 2016, the Senate continue sitting on Wednesday, April 12, 2017, pursuant to the provisions of the Rules, until the conclusion of Government Business;
That the provisions of rule 3-3(1) be suspended on that day;
That, once government business is complete on that day, the Senate stand adjourned if it is after 4 p.m.; and
That the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade and the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology be authorized to sit after 4 p.m. even though the Senate may then be sitting, and that rule 12-18(1) be suspended in relation thereto.
She said: Honourable senators, this is Motion No. 85, which we have to adopt before continuing with today's meeting. This is the motion that allows the Senate to sit after 4 p.m. and that allows that Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology, the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, and the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs to sit at the same time as the Senate.
Hon. A. Raynell Andreychuk: The Foreign Affairs and International Trade Committee sits at 4:15. I understood it would be included in this motion.
Senator Bellemare: Yes, that's exactly what I just said, Senator Andreychuk.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
(Motion agreed to.)
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, the decision taken yesterday to withdraw Senator Dagenais' amendment had the effect of rendering a ruling on Senator McCoy's point of order unnecessary. As such, proceedings on third reading of Bill C-4, as amended, can continue.
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Bellemare, seconded by the Honourable Senator Harder, P.C., for the third reading of Bill C-4, An Act to amend the Canada Labour Code, the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act, the Public Service Labour Relations Act and the Income Tax Act, as amended.
Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): Very briefly, Your Honour, I want to make three points. First, I want to thank all senators for the work being done this week to advance Bill C-4 and Bill C-6 in the framework of which there has been some discussion, through the usual channels, to achieve. I want to thank everyone for that.
Of course, the objective is to have decisions. Not all amendments or decisions are necessarily ones that I would agree with. Obviously, I voted against the amendment that the Senate adopted yesterday, but I want to acknowledge that that is the will of the Senate. As we move forward on the final vote on this bill, I want to indicate I will be voting for this bill to advance it through the legislative process.
It is important to have the Senate's voice continue in the legislative process to the other place, as we have determined it collectively through our amendments and discussions. I will be voting for this amendment. I encourage all senators to do so.
I would simply reference my cousin's comments of yesterday saying that if the Senate were to adopt the amendment of Senator Tannas, he too would be voting for this bill; so we can have some familial kinship in this vote.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
The Hon. the Speaker: Are honourable senators ready for the question?
Hon. Senators: Question.
The Hon. the Speaker: It was moved by the Honourable Senator Bellemare, seconded by the Honourable Senator Harder, that the bill, as amended, be read a third time.
Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Some Hon. Senators: On division.
(Motion agreed to and bill read third time and passed, on division.)
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Omidvar, seconded by the Honourable Senator Gagné, for the third reading of Bill C-6, An Act to amend the Citizenship Act and to make consequential amendments to another Act, as amended.
Hon. Linda Frum: Honourable senators, I rise to propose an amendment to Bill C-6 on behalf of my dear colleague and friend, Senator Eaton. Of course, I do not need to elaborate on the sad reason why I am putting this amendment forward rather than the proposer herself. Despite the last four months being an exceptionally challenging time for Senator Eaton, as critic of Bill C-6 she has followed the debate on the bill with dedication and a deep concern. I know I speak on behalf of all senators in expressing our deepest sympathy to Senator Eaton on the sudden passing of her husband, Thor.
What I read to you are her words, which I wholeheartedly agree with, and which I am honoured to deliver on her behalf, given that I know she and her family are in everyone's hearts and prayers today.
On behalf of Senator Eaton, I would like to take the opportunity to thank Senator Omidvar for her work as the sponsor of Bill C-6. Although we do not agree on components of the bill, I acknowledge her interest and work on this bill.
As I reflect on the provisions in this legislation, I am mindful of the fact that we, as Parliamentarians, must ensure that the challenges regarding immigration and citizenship are dealt with in a responsible manner that will provide positive outcomes for immigrants and new citizens to Canada. We want them to succeed. In choosing citizenship, individuals must appreciate and understand the obligations that accompany becoming a citizen of Canada. To support a clear understanding of the obligations and privileges of Canadian citizenship, processes and mechanisms must be in place that encourage a desire to learn about and develop a sense of connection and community to their new environment.
Unfortunately, I believe that watering down these provisions, as Bill C-6 does, will weaken and work against successful outcomes. Among the many things Bill C-6 seeks to reverse, it reduces the number of days that a person must be physically present in Canada before applying for citizenship.
Bill C-6 proposes to change the current law, which requires that a permanent resident be physically present in Canada four out of six years before the date of application. Bill C-6 proposes that this be reduced to only three out of five years. And the government further proposes to weaken residency rules by completely eliminating the current requirement of being physically present for 183 days in Canada during each of the four to six years.
I was struck by the language used on the Government of Canada website in a backgrounder document on the proposed changes to the Citizenship Act which says:
The changes in the proposed legislation would provide greater flexibility for applicants trying to meet the requirements for citizenship, and help immigrants obtain citizenship faster.
Why doesn't the Government of Canada instead reinforce and foster the message that we are a welcoming country and that we are worth the wait? In addition to these weakened residency requirements, I have concerns about changes regarding the ages in demonstrating adequate knowledge of one of our official languages.
The changes proposed in the original legislation set the bar very low, requiring only basic ability in one of our official languages, between the ages of 18 to 54, as opposed to the current ages of 16 to 64. I applaud Senator Griffin's successful effort to amend the upper age limit to 60 years of age last week; however, this amendment does not go far enough.
The government's rationale is to unload the burden to provincial governments and school boards across the country, to manage young immigrants who do not have the ability to communicate in one of our official languages.
If the government believes that this can be successfully managed in our school system, where is the evidence? What consulting was done with these important stakeholders? And where is the evidence to support that it is better to remove basic language competency requirements for those between the ages of 55 to 64?
A majority of the population between ages 55 to 64 remain in the workforce. According to Statistics Canada, more than one third of the Canadian workforce is between the ages of 55 to 64.
Language skills are foundational to the ability of a person to succeed, to find employment, enjoy economic stability, to support their families and build a sense of belonging.
When the former Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship was asked in a House of Commons committee last April what research was done on the impact of newcomers to Canada and what the impact on the economy is by exempting this group from requiring knowledge of language, the minister was vague. And when he was asked what consultation was done to show this was a better policy, the minister admitted there were no consultations on the economic impact. During Senate committee testimony by the current minister on March 1, he also failed to provide evidence to support this policy change.
The current law's basic language requirement for those aged 14 to 64 wasn't designed to make it more difficult or to keep people out. In fact, it was part of a package of measures to provide the best conditions for success.
These watered-down requirements in Bill C-6 do nothing to build knowledge, understanding or strengthen ties to our Canadian communities in advance of becoming a citizen.
Honourable senators, the amendment I am proposing focuses on residency requirements. Unfortunately, the proposals in Bill C-6 regarding residency requirements reduce the value placed on Canadian citizenship and serve to undermine the goals of learning, appreciating and building closer ties.
If Bill C-6 passes, Canada will have one of the shortest residency wait times in the world. And this is further compounded by eliminating the 183-days-per-year requirement under the current system for being physically present.
Among the Five Eyes countries, Canada will have the quickest road to citizenship. In Australia, the residency requirement is four years and requires an ability to speak and understand basic English. In the United States, their law requires residency for five years and some knowledge of the English language. In the United Kingdom, the residency requirement is also five years, with sufficient knowledge of one of the languages. In New Zealand, the residency requirement is five years, which also includes a language requirement.
As my colleagues know, there are many lists produced that show the top countries in the world in which to live. These are countries judged on indicators such as economic growth, quality of life, health, education, citizenship and personal well-being. Canada always ranks well on these numerous lists.
However, among the other countries that often rank highest on these lists as a desirable place to live, these countries maintain more stringent residency requirements.
For example, in order to apply for citizenship in The Netherlands, one must be a resident for five years and demonstrate proficiency in the Dutch language. Sweden, also five years. In Finland, one must be a resident for five years uninterrupted or seven years since the age of 15, with the last two years uninterrupted. The time can be shortened by one year if certain language requirements are met.
In Ireland, one must be a resident for five years out of the last nine years, including the year preceding the application. Iceland, seven years. Norway, seven years out of ten.
In Germany, one must be a permanent resident for eight years and have an ability to support oneself without social security or unemployment benefits and be proficient in the German language. Denmark requires residency for nine years. Austria requires residency for ten years, five years as a permanent resident and proficiency in the language.
Why is the Government of Canada proposing to have a fire sale on our immigration system, particularly when we've been given no clear reason for these changes?
Honourable senators, I know all us care deeply about this country. We want Canada to be safe and secure. We want new Canadians to succeed and enjoy the privileges and the opportunities this country has to offer. The government has a responsibility to enact rigorous laws that protect our citizens from threat and to ensure that all Canadians benefit from our open and pluralistic society.
The current law is not punitive regarding these requirements. These rules are designed to allow sufficient time to build a greater understanding that will support and encourage a stronger desire to stay, contribute and flourish here in Canada. The federal government has a responsibility to ensure that it manages these issues appropriately.
Sadly, I believe that Bill C-6 was created in a rush to reverse the previous government's legislative reforms, and in this rush it has lost sight of these broader considerations and impacts.
This motion today seeks to maintain the current residency requirements that a permanent resident must be physically present in Canada for at least 183 days during each of the four years of six years before applying for citizenship.
Hon. Linda Frum: Therefore, honourable senators, I move:
That Bill C-6, as amended, be not now read a third time, but that it be further amended:
(a) in clause 1, on page 1, by deleting lines 17 and 18;
(b) by deleting clause 8, on page 4;
(c) in clause 14, on page 6, by replacing lines 6 to 8 with the following:
"14 Paragraph 5(1)c) of the Citizenship Act, as it read immediately before the day on which subsection 1(1) comes into force, applies"; and
(d) in clause 27, on page 9, by replacing line 1 with the following:
"27 (1) Subsections 1(1) and (7)".
The Hon. the Speaker: In amendment, it was moved by Honourable Senator Frum, seconded by Senator Stewart Olsen, that Bill C-6 be not now read a third time but that it be amended — may I dispense?
Hon. Senators: Dispense.
The Hon. the Speaker: On debate.
Hon. Yuen Pau Woo: Colleagues, I would like to respond to Senator Eaton's amendment to Bill C-6, so ably delivered on her behalf from Senator Frum. I would like to thank Senator Eaton from the collegial way in which she shared with us the text of her amendment a few days earlier.
Senator Frum, I hope you will convey to our colleague our deepest sympathies in her time of loss and our admiration for her dedication to the work of the Senate, including on this amendment to Bill C-6.
I have listened carefully to the speech delivered on behalf of Senator Eaton by Senator Frum and I admire the conviction of her argument. However, I disagree strongly with her point of view and I would like to tell you why.
To recap, she has proposed that a permanent resident be physically present in Canada for at least 183 days during each of the four calendar years that are fully or partially within the six years immediately before the date of his or her application.
If this residency requirement sounds familiar to you, it is because it takes us back to the formulation of the previous Bill C-24 that was passed in 2014, and which Bill C-6 proposes to change.
Senator Eaton's amendments are clearly an attempt to thwart the stated intent of the government as articulated in its election platform on the question of residency requirements for citizenship. This point alone should be sufficient grounds for senators to defeat the amendment. However, given that Senator Eaton has made substantive arguments in favour of her amendment, I want to offer a substantive rebuttal to those arguments.
Let me start with the principles that guide my thinking on Bill C-6. I believe that immigration is an engine of growth as well as a source of intellectual and cultural enrichment for Canada. Our criteria for selection of immigrants should be based on the long-term needs of the country, focusing on experience, skills and talent, on the one hand, and family reunification on the other.
After selecting well-qualified immigrants and admitting them as permanent residents, our goal should be to move them towards full citizenship as quickly as possible.
I believe also that the demonstration of citizenship is not determined by simple litmus tests such as statements of values or physical presence in the geography of Canada. Citizens who live outside of Canada can be every bit as Canadian as their compatriots who live in the country. In a highly interconnected world, we should embrace and celebrate Canadians who venture outside of our borders rather than disparage them as lesser citizens.
Bill C-6 is a remedy to many problems that were created by changes to the Citizenship Act through the former Bill C-24. With respect to residency requirements, three defects stand out.
First is the provision of "intent to reside." Under the previous bill, that is to say Bill C-24, which is the current law, adult applicants must declare on their citizenship applications that they intend to continue to reside in Canada if granted citizenship. This provision has created concern among some new Canadians who fear their citizenship could be revoked if they move outside of Canada in the future. Bill C-6 would eliminate the requirement to declare a would-be citizen's intent to reside.
Second, the previous bill required applicants to be physically present in Canada for four years — that is, 1,460 days — within the six years immediately prior to applying for citizenship. Bill C-6, which we are debating, reduces the time required to be in Canada to three years within the five before applying for citizenship. Senator Eaton's amendment, on the other hand, preserves the status quo by requiring physical residency in four years out of six before an application is filed.
Third, the former Bill C-24 had a supplemental residency provision which required that applicants be physically present for 183 days in Canada during each of the four calendar years that are within the six immediately prior to applying for citizenship. Bill C-6 eliminates this provision, but Senator Eaton is trying to literally turn the clock back by requiring a supplemental provision for physical residency that is identical to that of Bill C-24, i.e., 183 days in each of the four years before applying.
Senator Eaton's amendment has the further defect of cancelling a key Bill C-6 provision, which is the restoration of half credits to temporary residents. The amendment negates the time spent in Canada by protected persons, international students and temporary foreign workers from being counted as half days toward their residency requirement.
Bill C-6 recognizes the value of time spent by these international students, temporary foreign workers and protected persons by granting a maximum credit of one year for every half day spent in Canada prior to an application.
If we were to restore the supplementary residency provision of 183 days for each of the four years in the six years, applicants seeking to count half days would not be able to do so because they would fall short by half a day.
Honourable senators, the choice of 183 days in Bill C-24 as a supplementary residency provision strikes me to have been calculated to thwart the aspirations of would-be citizenship applicants and seems to me to be a tad mean-spirited.
You get the underlying premise in these three defects of the old bill, and the amendments proposed by Senator Eaton: it is that being physically present in Canada makes a citizen more authentically Canadian than not being in the country. Now, this sentiment is sometimes expressed in more derisory terms: that Canadians, especially foreign-born Canadians who choose to live outside of Canada for professional, family or other reasons, are somehow disloyal to the country.
The physical presence provisions of the former Bill C-24 feed and nurture these views, as do Senator Eaton's amendments, and they come on top of other policies that already discriminate against Canadians abroad, who, by the way, number as many as 2.8 million, which is a population that is greater than a number of our provinces.
Colleagues, even if you don't care two hoots about how foreign-born Canadians are viewed, think about the message that is being sent to native-born Canadians, especially young people: it is that spending time overseas for education purposes, to advance one's career or to pursue a professional goal makes one a lesser Canadian.
It is little wonder that so little emphasis is placed on international experience as part of the Canadian education process. In fact, only 3 per cent of Canadians in post-secondary institutions spend time overseas as part of their formal education, compared to 10 per cent in the United States and more than 33 per cent in Germany.
Likewise, so many of our Canadian companies discount the value of international experience in their hiring decisions, which is part of the reason why highly qualified immigrants have such difficulty seeking employment in their chosen professions.
Now, much has been made of recent immigrants to Canada who choose to return to their native countries, or to third countries, for business and other reasons. Indeed, I suspect that the former Bill C-24 was designed specifically to deter or minimize this practice. But if we are attracting the best and the brightest immigrants from around the world, we should expect that these folks are successful precisely because they are globally connected and therefore spend significant amounts of time abroad. And if we are attracting immigrants from regions of the world where growth rates are high and economic prospects especially bright — for example, countries in Asia — why would we want to circumscribe the overseas business and other professional opportunities available to new Canadians when we selected these individuals precisely because of their entrepreneurial and other talents to start with?
The same illogic applies in the case of barriers to citizenship acquisition that the previous bill — the status quo — put in place. The onerous physical residency requirements of C-24, along with escalating passport application fees, have become a deterrent to applying for citizenship. As Senator Eggleton has informed us, the number of landed immigrants acceding to citizenship has fallen, from 200,000 in 2014 to a forecasted 100,000 last year — a decline of 50 per cent. If the intent of the previous bill was to punish new immigrants who spent time outside of the country during the first six years of their status in Canada, that bill has been extremely successful.
But I would submit that it doesn't make sense, on the one hand, to attract highly qualified immigrants to our country and then place unreasonable barriers in the way of their accession to full citizenship. It certainly doesn't make sense from the perspective of the public purse, since a new Canadian — a landed immigrant — can access government services, including social welfare programs, in his or her capacity as a landed immigrant no less than if he or she were a citizen.
We are all familiar with the challenges that immigrants face in finding work in Canada consistent with their training and experience. Given the choice, would you rather a new Canadian stay in the country as an unemployed or underemployed person, or pursue a career overseas that rewards his or her skills and/or experience?
If anything, discouraging landed immigrants from becoming citizens is counterproductive because it diminishes their attachment to Canada without reducing their ability to access benefits in Canada. In my opinion, the correct approach should be to have a high bar for accepting landed immigrants and a low bar for citizenship. If we have selected immigrants who we believe will contribute to Canada, why would we want to make it difficult for them to accede to citizenship?
Now, I accept that some physical presence should be a condition of citizenship accession, but four years out of six is too much. The premise, colleagues, behind tougher residency requirements is a belief that being physically present in the geography of Canada is a superior expression of citizenship than being a Canadian abroad. There's a word for this view; it is parochialism and Canada, for all of our diversity and history of immigration, I believe, with due respect, suffers from parochialism. We need to encourage our young people to be more internationally minded, to be open to education, work and life opportunities outside of the country. And we need to celebrate Canadians abroad and develop policies and programs that foster their attachment to Canada, which will in turn result in cultural, diplomatic, and business benefits for the country.
Over the weekend, I was at an Iranian-Canadian community event in Vancouver celebrating the launch of the first-ever Farsi-language handbook of Canadian citizenship. I flipped to the page on the rights of citizens were the words and there, printed in bold English letters, were the words "mobility rights." I was asked how it could be that the current law, Bill C-24, requires would-be citizens to declare their intent to reside in Canada, only for these same individuals to have full mobility rights the minute they became citizens. I could not provide an answer.
In the coming months, I hope to have the opportunity to work with my honourable colleagues to make the public aware of the importance of Canadians abroad and to develop strategies to get Canadian citizens living overseas more involved in advancing the interests of all Canadians.
For the present, though, we have an opportunity to improve the Citizenship Act by passing C-6. To get there, we should reject this amendment and all other amendments that seek to dilute and divert the provisions of the bill. And we should move quickly, so that thousands of new Canadians can be added to our ranks in time for our one hundred and fiftieth anniversary, so that we can, by the way, sing together, "true patriot love. . . in all of us command." Thank You.
Hon. Yonah Martin (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Will Senator Woo accept a question about his speech?
The Hon. the Speaker: Senator Woo, your time has expired. Are you asking for more time to answer a question?
Senator Woo: Yes.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted, honourable senators?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Martin: Thank you. Senator, first of all, I listened carefully to what you said and, as an immigrant myself and as the daughter of immigrants, I appreciate some of the things that you were mentioning and the importance of immigrants to Canada as a nation, the contribution that immigrants have made and the fact that we are living in a global society and that we do want to attract the best of the world to look at Canada as a place that they can call home.
Having said that, I don't agree with what you were saying about the intent of the previous bill being to punish new immigrants.
I remember that bill, and I remember being at committee where we studied the bill. It was strengthening the Immigration and Citizenship Act. It was looking at making sure that the value of Canadian citizenship was the focus and really strengthening the system so that, if there were certain cracks or potential loopholes, the abuse would not be there.
We know that the hardworking immigrants, like yourself and my parents and so on, are here really to contribute to making Canada a better country, but there are always the exceptions where there could be potential abuse.
I draw your attention to what former citizenship court Judge Robert Watt said in committee, expressing his concern that the proposed changes in Bill C-6 would only help Canadians that have no intention of remaining in Canada after receiving citizenship to perhaps do exactly that. In his experience, as a citizenship court judge, he referenced an example where a family showed up to their citizenship ceremony with suitcases and immediately left for the airport after receiving their Canadian passports.
Knowing that such abuses can take place, how would you justify that it's unreasonable for applicants to express their intention to reside in Canada, to make Canada their home? If anything, to me, it underscores the value of Canadian citizenship and the responsibilities that come with it.
How would you justify removing that provision that will ensure that our system is strong and intact?
Senator Woo: Thank you, Senator Martin, for your question.
There are two key points that you made. First, the assertion that there was no intent to punish; and second, about demonstrating the value of Canadian citizenship. And the third point that you made at the end was the question of intent to reside.
First, on the question of punishment, the proof is in the pudding, in that we have seen a very sharp decline in citizenship applications in the last year, and perhaps not all but, I suspect, a large part of the fall in citizenship accession can be attributed to the more onerous citizenship requirements. To me, this is a perverse public policy move because we have already accepted these individuals into our family as permanent residents. They have full rights, apart from voting, and yet we deny them the extra step of becoming a citizen. We continue to have obligations toward these individuals, but we have, in effect, made it more difficult for them to be attached to this country by applying for citizenship. So, even if punishment was not the intent, that appears to me to have been the outcome.
I have been thinking about this issue of intent to reside, and what strikes me is that we do not ask the same of our young people who are not yet at the age of majority perhaps. They are Canadians because they were born here, but we do not ask them to promise that, after they finish university, they will not leave the country. In fact, I would hope that many of us here would encourage our children to go out into the world, if their passion is there, if they have the skills and the knowledge and the desire to gain new experience outside of our borders. We encourage that kind of action. It would seem to me contradictory that we would not allow new immigrants to do the same, particularly if they came from a place and were selected precisely because they have entrepreneurial or professional or business or other skills that make their skills wanted and valued around the world. By definition, if we are selecting the best and the brightest around the world, the best and the brightest are globally sought after. We should not begrudge them the ability to travel around the world.
My final point is to say this, and I've already articulated it in my speech: The problem in this debate, I think, and the difference in our views stems from, with due respect, a different understanding about what it means to be a Canadian. Many supporters of Bill C-24, including Mr. Watt, who is a good friend of mine by the way, and many Canadians, see citizenship as defined by physical presence in this country, your loyalty, your Canadianess.
The Hon. the Speaker: Excuse me, Senator Woo, but your time was expired again. Are you asking for more time?
Senator Woo: One minute.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted, honourable senators?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Woo: Proof of citizenship, proof of loyalty, proof of authenticity should not be defined solely by physical presence in this country. It should be defined by your attachment to the country, and I believe that attachment can be fostered and generated and displayed whether you are in the country or outside of the country.
Hon. Frances Lankin: I rise on a Point of Order with respect to Senator Eaton's amendment, as presented by Senator Frum. If I may, I begin by adding my words and all of ours to Senator Woo's expression of solidarity and condolences to Senator Eaton.
Your Honour, I want to suggest that this amendment that is before us is out of order because it is inadmissible. There has been much written about the admissibility of amendments, and, in considering this Point of Order, I look to Senate Procedure in Practice. I look to authorities, such as Beauchesne and O'Brien and Bosc. The discussion of admissibility of amendments in Senate Procedure in Practice can be found at pages 140 and 141, and they set out there the rules of admissibility relating to amendments in committee. It is my understanding that the practice in the Senate is that these considerations with respect to admissibility of rules in committee are both relevant to and are a guide to considering the admissibility of amendments that are made at third reading debate.
There are a number of factors to be taken into consideration when determining admissibility of amendments, and, Your Honour, I need only speak to one of them to assert with confidence that this amendment should be ruled inadmissible.
First of all, on page 141 of our Senate Procedure in Practice, the guidelines, I want to refer to item 3. It reads as follows:
It is a fundamental principle that "[a] committee is bound by the decision of the House, given on second reading, in favour of the principle of the bill, and should not, therefore, amend the bill in a manner destructive of this principle."
If I may, I would like to read from a ruling that is dated Wednesday, December 9, 2009, in the Journals of the Senate, and it was a ruling of the Honourable Noël Kinsella, the Speaker at that time.
Speaker Kinsella said:
It may generally be helpful to view the principle as the intention underlying a bill. The scope of the bill would then be related to the parameters the bill sets in reaching any goals or objectives that it contains, or the general mechanisms it envisions to fulfil its intentions. Finally, relevancy takes into account how an amendment relates to the scope or principle of the bill under examination.
He sets out, in his ruling, the broad principle, which is reflected in the practices. By the way, I will, in a moment, cite the other authorities from Beauchesne and O'Brien and Bosc that also underline that.
There is a second Speaker's ruling that I would like to refer to, and this is from the Journals of Thursday June 3, 1999, the Honourable Speaker Molgat. In this ruling, he gives consideration, as well, to the importance of not being destructive to the objectives or the goals of the actual bill.
The most pertinent part comes near the end of his ruling, where he sets out his responsibility and says it is to:
. . . assess whether these proposed amendments are beyond the scope of the bill, whether they are clearly destructive of the bill's principle or whether they unmistakably reverse that principle.
In this case, he ruled against the Point of Order, and he found that the actual provisions that were being examined did not appear to do that.
We have at least two rulings that set out the support for the basic principle.
If I may, I'll continue from the Senate Procedures in Practice manual. It's clear and set out that:
Amendments must, therefore, be in some way related to the bill before the committee, and cannot introduce elements or factors alien to the proposed legislation or —
— and this is the relevant point —
— destructive to its original goals. In addition, amendments must respect the objectives of the bill.
In trying to determine that, the guidance given to us is that we have to perform the delicate task — and this will be your job, Your Honour — of trying to identify the fundamental policy and goals behind the bill. It reads:
In doing so, factors such as the long title of the bill, its content and debate at second reading may be taken into account.
As is the practice in Canada, the long titles of our bills really don't speak much to the intent. They are usually expressed in such a way to provide amendments to such-and-such a piece of legislation. However, there is a relevant piece of information regarding second reading debate. In this case, I want to point to second reading debate in this chamber as well as to quote the author of the bill, then Minister McCallum, in second reading debate in the other place.
Part of what I want to do before I move on to the second reading debate is to give you two quick references from parliamentary rules authorities. Beauchesne, sixth edition, page 205, paragraph 689(1):
A committee is bound by the decision of the House, given on second reading, in favour of the principle of the bill, and should not, therefore, amend the bill in a manner destructive of this principle.
I'd also like to quote from O'Brien and Bosc, second edition, 2009. In the middle of page 766, there is a paragraph entitled "Principle and Scope." It sets out that:
An amendment to the bill that was referred to a committee after second reading is out of order if it is beyond the scope and principle of the bill. . . . Similarly, an amendment which is equivalent to a simple negation of the bill or which reverses the principle of the bill as agreed to at second reading is out of order.
To make the case that that's what this amendment does, Your Honour, I want to point to some of the debate at second reading. First, the author of the amendment was the critic at second reading and talks about the content of Bill C-6. That senator mentioned a number of points and, most particularly relevant to this, expresses that Bill C-6, the bill before us right now and the one which this motion is attempting to amend, reduces the number of days during which a person must be physically present in Canada before applying for citizenship and provide for getting credit for time spent in Canadian as a permanent resident. It is actually a temporary resident that it refers to, but this is the item she is speaking to.
She says about this and the other aspects of the bill when referring Bill C-6 to Bill C-24 that:
One might say that these two perspectives, that which was under Bill C-24 and that which yet may be under Bill C-6, reflect a fundamental and pendulous dichotomy.
The speaker herself was acknowledging the fact that one bill, as we know, seeks to repeal and is the exact opposite of the previous bill. I will come back to that at the end of my presentation.
I'd like to turn to comments that were made at second reading by the sponsor of the bill, Senator Omidvar. At the beginning of her presentation she spoke to two principles that are sought to be forefront in this bill. The first is with respect to equality among citizens, which is not relevant to the argument I'm making today. She says, "Second is the principle of facilitating citizenship."
As I go through this, Your Honour, your task — I hope a straightforward one, but it may be difficult — is to assess whether the effect of this amendment actually runs counter to or is destructive of the second principle of facilitating citizenship. I acknowledge that in the Senate we attempt to be wide in our interpretation and to give latitude in favour of speaking and senators voting, but sometimes there is black and white. In my view, looking at this today, there is black and white.
Senator Omidvar went on to say in her second reading address, referring to this particular provision in Bill C-24 that required 183 days of residency in each year of four years, that Bill C-6 also removes the requirement for a minimum number of days spent in Canada for each calendar year.
She also speaks to a fourth change in Bill C-6 that would reinstate residency credit for temporary residents. This is the provision that Senator Woo spoke to, referring to gained credit for temporary residence, where they gain half a day credit for every day they're in the country. He pointed out how an unintended consequence of the amendment before us would be to make that impossible for the very people it is intended to support.
I would suggest to you that that is relevant. If you look to the summary of the bill and to the clauses, very clearly one of the stated clauses is that this is to provide and to reinstate that gained credit provision. And if you read the statements that the minister, the author of the bill, has made, it is to encourage students who come here, are able to learn here, to stay in this country and contribute. They are the most highly educated individuals we could attract and are valuable to growing our economy. So it was a specific goal of the bill itself.
I will now turn to the statements at second reading — in speeches but primarily at second reading — that Mr. McCallum, author of the bill and minister responsible at that time, suggested. He very explicitly says that the policy goal is to reduce barriers erected by the former government. He called this "unreasonable to the welcoming of new people to become citizens of our country."
You will remember that I said the second principle of the bill is to facilitate accessibility to the country. The minister himself said that Bill C-24 — and in later quotes specifically references the 183 days — is a barrier erected by the former government. Bill C-6, if passed, attempts to reduce that barrier by removing the 183 days. I point out again that the amendment before us would simply revert back to Bill C-24's provision and reinstate the 183 days.
The minister spoke again at second reading and said:
As far as the principle is concerned, we want to welcome new citizens to Canada.
That, again, being the principle that's referred to.
The Conservative legislation put up a number of roadblocks that we believe made it unreasonably harder for permanent residents to become Canadian.
He also spoke to the issue with respect to the gained credit. In there, he talks about that he feels this was a particularly bad provision in Bill C-24. He looks to international students and sees they are one of the most fertile grounds for new Canadians. That particular provision is, as I referred to, included in the summary at the beginning of Bill C-6.
I would like to once again talk about the effect of the amendment. I think Senator Frum's presentation on behalf of Senator Eaton spoke to this directly. Bill C-24 had a provision that the individual applying, in order to be eligible, among other things, must have "been physically present in Canada for at least 183 days during each of four calendar years that are fully or partially within —" and it goes on to the state the number of years over which that can be counted.
Bill C-6 repeals that. Within Bill C-6, if you read subclause 1(3), it refers to subparagraph 5(1)(c)(ii) of the act — that act being Bill C-24 — and states that it is repealed. The amendment before us deletes lines 17 and 18, and has consequential amendments that insert, once again, the 183 days. So I would contend it is completely destructive of the instrument of realizing the policy intent and the principle of the bill. Just for a moment to reiterate the point that Senator Woo made with respect to the perhaps unintended consequence of this amendment, the provision for granted credit for temporary residents can contribute to their application and eligibility for citizenship once they are permanent residents. This provision would, in an unintentional way I would accept, limit the ability of these temporary residents from accessing the benefit of that. That is because in Bill C-6 they would gain credit at the rate of one half a day each day, and over the course of any given year, except for a leap year, 360 days divided in half is 182.5 and the provision of 183 days as the eligibility requirement, would deem that provision not to be in effect. That is in the summary of the bill and in the mandate letter to the minister.
Lastly, I want to make the case that I believe that the critic of the bill at the time of second reading made the point herself when she said that these bills couldn't be further apart and used the language that it is a "fundamental and pendulous dichotomy." Clearly, we all understand that a repeal bill is simply that. It is correcting a situation from the view of one government now in the executive branch's view and a government in power of their view of a previous government's legislation.
To my reading, it is absolutely clear to me, but it may not be to you — I'm hoping it will be — that the amendment moved by Senator Frum on behalf of Senator Eaton is, to use the words from the admissibility discussions, destructive to the original goal of the bill and does not respect the objectives of the bill.
I submit, with respect, Your Honour, that based on these facts it is obvious to me that this amendment should be ruled inadmissible. Thank you very much.
Hon. Claude Carignan: I am surprised to hear senators applauding this point of order whereby Senator Lankin is saying things that would remove nearly all of the Senate's constitutional power and reduce the Senate's legislative review work to little more than "rubber stamping" without giving it the opportunity to propose amendments that in any way challenge the vision of the government of the day. The Senate has a duty to provide the government with an opinion on the bills it examines and to make them better thanks to the senators' expertise. Therefore, if we limit ourselves to applying examples like the ones given by Senator Lankin, honourable senators, we might as well just stay at home and let the Government of Canada pass whatever legislation it likes.
Clearly, the proposed amendments are admissible because they are part of the Senate's duty to give an opinion. They do not fly in the face of the objective of the bill. They are consistent with the parameters that have been quoted in previous speakers' rulings and in Beauchesne.
If I may, I would like to read from the summary of Bill C-6, as it was presented:
This enactment amends the Citizenship Act to, among other things,
(a) remove the grounds for the revocation of Canadian citizenship that relate to national security;
The amendments are not contrary to paragraph (a), and if I were to agree with Senator Lankin's interpretation of what our role really is, that would mean that the removal of certain grounds for revocation would go against the legislator's objective. I could not do that. Clearly, that is not the case.
(b) remove the requirement that an applicant intend, if granted citizenship, to continue to reside in Canada;
(c) reduce the number of days during which a person must have been physically present in Canada before applying for citizenship and provide that, in the calculation of the length of physical presence, the number of days . . .;
The exact number days can easily be determined.
(d) limit the requirement to demonstrate knowledge of Canada and of one of its official languages to applicants between the ages of 18 and 54;
The amendment that we adopted this week, which changed the age of applicants, would be inadmissible because it goes against the government's intent to target people aged 18 to 54.
(e) authorize the Minister to seize any document that he or she has reasonable grounds to believe . . . .
Obviously, the amendment does not go against that objective. I think that the constitutional role of the Senate must be interpreted in a broad and liberal manner. We need to give ourselves the necessary tools and advise the government on the best legislation possible, and that includes proposing amendments, even if it means reverting back to the original wording. We examine the legislation as a whole and we decide whether some aspects should be allowed to stand. We send a message to the House of Commons. If the members of the House do not agree, they will let us know, and they will explain why they are proposing to change the status quo.
Honourable senators, Senator Lankin's approach is extremely risky when it comes to the future role of the Senate. If this is how the government envisions our new role, then it is basically abolishing the Senate, whose role in presenting amendments and changing laws would be reduced by over 80 per cent.
For these reasons, I believe that the amendment is admissible and that this point of order should be rejected. We need to be very careful when we raise points of order on partisan issues to try to block an amendment to a bill. We need to take into account the medium- and long-term consequences of this type of argument.
Hon. Joan Fraser: With respect, I think my friend, Senator Carignan, has overshot the mark a bit.
In this chamber we have seen occasions when a group of senators were engaged in blind obedience to the Prime Minister of the day, but that is not what we are talking about here. We are not talking about a rubber-stamp Senate.
I believe that Senator Lankin was well within her rights to raise this point of order. I will leave to Your Honour the task of deciding on the actual merits of the point that she raises. I want to stand in defence of her right to raise it, and disabuse anyone of the notion that there is anything improper about what we are engaged in.
The question Senator Lankin raises is not whether the amendment is in conformity with the wishes of the government; it's whether the amendment is in conformity with the principle of the bills adopted, not by the government, but by the House of Commons and then the Senate. That is an entirely legitimate question. If we don't accept that, then I really don't know what we're doing here.
It seems to me a simple issue, and I expect Your Honour's ruling will be instructive and helpful, indeed, for all of us because as I was rapidly trying to find some precedents and Speakers' rulings I didn't have my book of Speakers' rulings with me, but what I did have didn't give me as much material as I would have liked to see.
I hope you'll add to the body of our knowledge on this, Your Honour. I want to come to the defence of any senator to raise a question of a point of order on a matter of this nature. It goes to the heart of what we're here about.
Hon. Renée Dupuis: Mr. Speaker, I invite you to examine the very particular situation we find ourselves in on a matter of procedure. You have before you a new Senate, in that it is a Senate with several new senators who are not necessarily aware of all the subtleties of procedure. This is why we place so much trust in your judgement.
We are also asking that you make it possible for a senator to raise a point of order in this chamber and be able to do so freely, without it being considered unusual in a place where the debate, from the little we were told, seeks to ensure that every senator has the opportunity to rise on a point of procedure. I ask you to help us gain a better understanding of procedure and to consider the point of order being raised here today.
Hon. Yonah Martin (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): I want to say quickly, in response to what I heard Senator Dupuis say, that we're not questioning whether Senator Lankin has the right to raise a point of order. Absolutely she has the right. The question before us is whether the amendment is out of order and therefore is the point of order appropriate.
I listened very carefully. I want to associate myself absolutely with what Senator Carignan has said, not because he was our former leader but because on the role of the opposition in the Senate. There are Canadians who have concerns about the provisions in the proposed bill, that Bill C-24 was strengthening our Citizenship Act. Therefore, if we look at the opposing view, it would be weakening or diluting the Citizenship Act and what it means to be a Canadian citizen.
Therefore, Senator Eaton, who was the critic of the bill, is doing her due diligence and exercising not only her right but her important responsibility as critic and as a senator to raise such a concern, to say that the provision that we had in the previous bill was necessary. In fact, after hearing from eminent witnesses like a former citizenship court judge who would have direct experience and direct anecdotal evidence and has raised various concerns to the committee, she has moved her amendment appropriately.
Therefore, Your Honour, I would simply say that when I heard Senator Lankin raise this point of order, she was citing various sources and examples, but then later, as she talked about bad provisions of the previous bill and destruction of the intent of the bill, we could potentially say that about this bill, that there are bad provisions and that it's destroying the intent of the previous bill, which was strengthening the act.
We can look at this bill from various angles. Therefore, it is important for our critic or any senator in this chamber who has concerns, who is listening to Canadians, who has read the transcripts from committee from very credible witnesses, that this is an amendment that is perfectly in order and something that I wish for us to consider carefully and vote upon. We could vote against it or adopt it.
Your Honour, the amendment is absolutely in order.
Hon. George Baker: Senators, we all know that if this matter had been an amendment to a particular clause in the bill, and this particular amendment were moved to restore something that that particular clause in the bill was meant to change substantially — in other words, if the question before the committee from the chair had been: Would an amendment that negates a clause be admissible? The answer is, it wouldn't be inadmissible. Everybody knows that.
You cannot negate a motion that is before the committee if it was in a clause in the bill. We all know that; we all belong to committees, and we know we cannot move a motion in amendment to a particular clause that negates that clause. Everybody knows that.
The interesting question, and I've just been listening to the existing argument, and I'm not sure what the question is that's before the chamber, but if it is whether or not or to what extent it negates the motion before the Senate, which not only includes that particular clause but the other clauses in the bill, now that's a different question altogether. I would leave that to Your Honour's judgment.
Hon. Ratna Omidvar: As the somewhat beleaguered sponsor of this bill, I want to take this opportunity to express my appreciation for the point of order raised. It is an important point of order for us, not just in this bill but in other bills.
I'm hoping that the ruling of Your Honour will come very soon because we have an agreement to meet on May 3, and I'm committed to that agreement. Our end is committed to that agreement. I'm hoping this ruling will clarify work going forward on amendments at third reading in this manner.
I also want to take the point, Senator Martin, yes, there are many kinds of Canadians. You have heard from one kind of Canadian who is concerned about extension or the opposite of what the bill is putting. I have heard, and I continue to hear — I am getting emails right now about passing this bill as soon as possible. I have permanent residents who want to claim some part of their temporary time spent as foreign students or as temporary foreign workers. I have families who are waiting because they meet the requirement and they are saying to me now, "How long is this going to take?"
I would say to all of us, this is an important point of order. Let's rule on it quickly and let's meet the timeline that we have agreed to collectively.
Hon. Elaine McCoy: Very quickly, Your Honour, just to bring some more definition to this notion that we cannot negate the clause, that it would be inadmissible.
Senator Eaton and Senator Frum were very good to provide an explanation of the effect of their order, and there are three. They point out in Bill C-24 there were no credits for temporary residents. The effect of the motion would be no credit for temporary residents. In Bill C-24, there is a requirement of 183 days in each of the four years before applying. In this motion, it would be that a requirement of 183 days in each of the four years is fine. Both of those are identical. They are, in fact, negating what Bill C-6 is attempting to change.
The one thing that is different is this matter of how long the residency period is. In Bill C-24, the period is four of six years. The motion would make it three years plus 183 days and a fourth year, while Bill C-6 is three of five years. Those three things are different.
It's possible that most of it is out of order.
Senator Lankin: Thank you very much, Your Honour. May I express deep thanks to all the honourable senators who have participated in this. It was an opportunity for many of us to seek your advice with respect to this general policy area.
I have a couple of comments. Senator Martin almost made the case for me when she talked about the fact that this bill — Bill C-6 — could be seen as destructive of Bill C-24. That, in fact, is the case with this amendment, which reverts back to Bill C-24.
The fact that I use language like "destructive of" is not, in any way, to be pejorative about the action or the intent. It is to pick the language from the admissibility of amendments rules and practices that are before us. Whether you go to Beauchesne, to other authorities or whether you look to our own Senate procedures in practice, you will see that's the language that is used. So that is the point that I was underlining.
I would like to say to Senator Carignan that much of what he said, with respect to the role of the Senate, sober second thought and the need to review and amend to improve legislation, I agree with 100 per cent. I disagree with the conclusion with respect to this: that, if this kind of point of order were ruled on in favour of the point of order, that would eliminate 90 per cent of our job. As Senator Fraser said, you overshoot the mark with those kinds of comments.
Senator Carignan related a number of thoughts with respect to the intent or the policy behind the amendment. I would simply point out that if he read the rulings of Speakers and the authorities that we have, it makes it very clear that it's not simply that one dislikes a policy intent of a bill that is the test of this; it's whether or not the amendment is actually destructive of the policy.
The last thing I want to make reference to from Senator Carignan's speech is that as he was reading the summary and going through it and read clause (c), I note that he read only half of it and stopped and asserted that it was all contained within that, and we were okay on it.
I want to point out that the words Senator Carignan left out were:
. . . that, in the calculation of the length of physical presence the number of days during which the person was physically present in Canada before becoming a permanent resident may be taken into account;
In leaving those words out, Senator Carignan missed one of the points I raised directly, which is that the unintended consequence of this repeal of the intent of Bill C-6, with respect to 183 days, would render this provision of restoring the credit gained opportunity to temporary residents moot and unattainable for them.
The Hon. the Speaker: I thank all honourable senators for their input on this very important question, and I will take the matter under advisement.
Honourable senators, pursuant to the motion adopted earlier today, it being after 4 p.m. and government business being concluded, I declare the Senate adjourned until Thursday, April 13, 2017 at 1:30 p.m., the Senate so decreeing.
(The Senate adjourned until Thursday, April 13, 2017, at 1:30 p.m.)
Ms. Malala Yousafzai
Recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize
to both Houses of Parliament
House of Commons Chamber
on Wednesday, April 12, 2017
Ms. Malala Yousafzai was welcomed by the Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada; the Honourable George Furey, Speaker of the Senate; and the Honourable Geoff Regan, Speaker of the House of Commons.
The Speaker: I invite the Right Hon. Prime Minister to speak.
Right Hon. Justin Trudeau (Prime Minister, Lib.): Honoured guests, parliamentarians, colleagues, and friends, it is a pleasure to be here today to host one of the newest and possibly bravest citizens of Canada, Malala Yousafzai.
Malala, it is a privilege to welcome you to our House, and now that you are an honorary Canadian, I hope you will consider this your House too. Welcome.
Malala's story is one we know well. It is both exceptional and familiar, out of this world, and sadly, commonplace. Years ago, we heard all about this bold, brave girl from Swat Valley who stood up to the Taliban, a whip-smart, politically engaged 12-year-old who was inspiring other kids to raise their voices and lead by example, a girl whose greatest want in life was to go to school, a girl who refused to be silenced. With hope, we stood in awe of her, and with horror, we watched as cowards tried to take her life. Still, as the world prayed while she recovered, we were reminded that a bullet is no match for an idea, that in the face of evil, what is right and what is good will always prevail.
Malala, when you said that you harbour no ill will against your would-be assassin, you manifested a profound goodness that Canadians can identify with.
Just a few months ago, a Quebec City mosque was the target of a terrorist attack. That senseless act of violence left six innocent people dead. They were husbands, fathers, sons. Even in the wake of that crime, Canadians stood united. We did not turn against one another. Neighbours did not turn their backs on each other. We did not succumb to hatred or fear.
By taking positive action, as we always try to do in Canada, we told the rest of the world that we would not answer violence with violence, that we would instead answer fear and hatred with love and compassion.
Malala, you are a paragon of goodness in your words and your actions, which have struck a chord with Canadians and with people around the world.
Yours is a story of an ordinary girl doing extraordinary things, an everyday hero, a trailblazer and a teenager, a renegade and a reader, a fearless advocate and a girl who wants nothing more than to see more kids in classrooms. On top of that, you are impossibly humble. We Canadians are all about that.
When you accepted the Nobel Peace Prize, you said, “I tell my story, not because it is unique, but because it is not.” When you spoke at the UN, you said, “I raise up my voice—not so that I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard.”
Ladies and gentlemen, this is the true embodiment of leadership and service. We should all wish to serve so honourably in our own lifetimes.
Malala, you have given light to boys and girls mired in darkness, and you have challenged women and men of all backgrounds to be better so that we may do better. One area where we must all do better is in educating our young people. We know that only through education can we achieve true peace. I say that not only as a husband, father, and community member. I, first and foremost, say that as a teacher.
I was lucky enough to teach some really great kids in B.C. for five years, and they taught me that going to school is about more than just learning how to read and write. It is about challenging your world view, it is about innovation, and it is about solving problems by working together. Education has the power to change the world. It can end poverty, fight climate change, and prevent wars, but in order to achieve progress, we all have to make sure that all children, girls as well as boys, get to go to school.
I could not imagine a world where my sons, Xavier and Hadrien, could enjoy the gift of learning but my daughter, Ella-Grace, could not. She, like so many other little girls, loves to learn, and she would be devastated if she had that right taken from her.
It is no secret that women and girls have always had to fight, and they still have to fight, to obtain many things that men take for granted: the right to vote, the right to serve their country, the right to pay equity, and the right to decide when to start a family. Sadly, it would take me all day to give an exhaustive list.
However, the success of any society depends on the full participation of women and girls, and that always begins with education. Here in Canada, we make sure that our children have the skills they need to live a full life in a rapidly changing world. As Minister of Youth and a father to young children, obviously, education is a personal priority of mine.
Last month we announced funding for a new program to teach kids the basics of coding and digital skills development. We are helping more teens from low-income communities complete high school. We are investing in programs that encourage young people, girls and boys alike, to take an interest in science, technology, engineering, and math.
We are building and repairing schools to ensure that every indigenous student living on-reserve receives a good education. For too long, these children have been neglected. That is unacceptable, and we must do more.
For the sake of boys and girls around the world, for the sake of our future, the time to act is now.
My friends, we know that progress starts as an idea rooted in conviction, brought to life by the right words, and driven into action with courage.
We call on our brothers and sisters around the world to speak boldly and without fear, knowing in their hearts that the right words at the right time can make change happen.
Malala, you chose hope. You chose dignity. You chose determination, and children around the world thank you for it. Today, in this country and in this chamber, we honour you.
Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends, it is my great privilege to introduce to you a champion for education and a fearless new Canadian, Malala Yousafzai.
Ms. Malala Yousafzai (Co-Founder of Malala Fund): Bismillah hir rahman ir rahim. In the name of God, the most merciful, the most beneficent. Good afternoon. Bonjour. Assalaam-u-alikum.
Mr. Prime Minister, Madam Trudeau, Sophie, Mr. Speaker, members of the House, members of the Senate, distinguished guests, my parents, Ziauddin and Toor Pekai, and finally, the people of Canada, thank you so much for the warm welcome to your country.
This is my first trip to Canada but not my first attempt. On October 22, 2014, my father and I landed at the Toronto airport, excited for a first visit to your wonderful country. Soon we learned that a man had attacked Parliament Hill, killing a Canadian soldier, wounding others, and threatening leaders and civil servants in the building where I stand today.
Canadian security officials and professionals advised us to reschedule. With sorrow in our hearts, we headed back to England, promising to return to Canada one day.
The man who attacked Parliament Hill called himself a Muslim, but he did not share my faith. He did not share the faith of one and a half billion Muslims living in peace around the world. He did not share our Islam, a religion of learning, compassion, and mercy.
I am a Muslim and I believe that if you pick up a gun in the name of Islam and kill an innocent person, you are not Muslim anymore. You and the person who attacked Parliament Hill and all these terrorists do not share my faith.
Instead, he shared the hatred of the men who attacked the Quebec City mosque in January, killing six people while they were at prayer—the same hatred as the man who killed civilians and a police officer in London three weeks ago, the same hatred as the men to killed 132 school children in Pakistan's Army Public School in Peshawar, the same hatred as the man who shot me and my two school friends.
These men have tried to divide us and destroy our democracies, our freedom of religion, our right to go to school, but we and you refuse to be divided. Canadians, wherever you were born and however you worship, stand together, and nothing proves this more than your commitment to refugees.
Around the world, we have heard about Canada's heroes.
We heard about the members of the First United Church here in Ottawa who sponsored newlyweds Amina and Ebrahim. A few months later, the family had their first child, a little girl named Marya. The church decided to raise more money to bring Ebrahim's brother and family to Canada so Marya could grow up with her cousins.
We heard about Jorge Salazar in Vancouver, who came to Canada as a child refugee, fleeing violence in Colombia. As a young adult, he is working with today's child immigrants and refugees, helping them adapt to the new culture and country.
I am very proud to announce that Farah Mohamed, a refugee who fled Uganda and came to Canada as a child, is Malala Fund's new CEO. A Canadian will now lead the fight for girls' education around the world.
Many people from my own country of Pakistan have found a promised land in Canada, from Maria Toorpakai Wazir, a famous squash player, to my relatives here today.
Like the refugees in Canada and all around the world, I have seen fear and experienced times when I did not know if I was safe or not. I remember how my mom used to put a ladder at the back of our house so that if anything happened, we could escape.
I still remember that I would read a Quranic verse, Ayat al-Kursi, every night to protect our family and as many people as I could.
I felt fear when I went to school, thinking that someone would stop me and harm me. I would hide my books under my scarf.
The sound of bombs would wake me up at night. Every morning I would hear the news that more innocent people had been killed. I saw men with big guns in the streets.
There is more peace now in my home of Swat Valley, Pakistan, but families like mine, from Palestine to Venezuela, Somalia to Myanmar, Iraq to Congo, are forced to flee their homes because of violence.
Your motto and your stand of “welcome to Canada” is more than a headline or a hashtag. It is the spirit of humanity that every single one of us would yearn for if our family was in crisis. I pray that you continue to open your homes and your hearts to the world's most defenceless children and families, and I hope your neighbours will follow your example.
I am humbled to accept honorary citizenship of your country. While I will always be a proud Pashtun and a proud citizen of Pakistan, I am grateful to be an honorary member of your nation of heroes, though I still require a visa, but that is another discussion.
I was also very happy to meet Prime Minister Trudeau this morning. I am amazed by his embrace of refugees, his commitment to appointing Canada's first gender-balanced cabinet, and his dedication to keeping women and girls at the centre of your development strategy.
We have heard so much about Prime Minister Trudeau, but one thing has surprised me. People are always talking about how young he is. They say that he is the second-youngest prime minister in Canadian history. He does yoga. He has tattoos, and a large mole.
While I was coming here, everyone was telling me to shake the Prime Minister's hand and let them know how he looks in reality. People are just so excited about my meeting Prime Minister Trudeau that I do not think anyone cared about the honorary Canadian citizenship.
While it may be true that Prime Minister Trudeau is young and he is a young head of government, I would like to tell something to the children of Canada: you do not have to be as old as the very young Prime Minister Trudeau to be a leader.
Some Voices: Hear, hear!
Ms. Malala Yousafzai: I am still on page 7. There is a lot left. If you do a standing ovation again, you are going to get tired. That is just to let you know there is a lot left.
I want to share my story. I want to tell the children of Canada that when I was little, I used to wait to be an adult to lead, but I have learned that even a child's voice can be heard across the world.
To the young women of Canada, I want to say this: step forward, raise your voices, and the next time I visit, I hope to see more of you filling these seats.
To the men of Canada, be proud feminists and help women get opportunities equal to those of men.
To the leaders of Canada today in this room, though you may have different politics and policies and priorities, I know each one of you is trying to respond to some of our world's most pressing problems. I have travelled the world and met many people in many countries. I have first-hand experience and I have seen many problems that we are facing today—war, economic instability, climate change, and health crises—and I can tell you that the answer is girls.
Secondary education for girls can transform communities, countries, and our world.
Here is what the statistics say. I am saying it for those who still do not accept education as important—there are some—but I hope they will hear this.
If all girls went to school for 12 years, low- and middle-income countries would add $92 billion per year to their economies.
Educated girls are less likely to marry young and contract HIV, and more likely to have healthy and educated children. The Brookings Institution called secondary education for girls as the best and most cost-effective investment against climate change.
When a country gives all its children secondary education, it cuts its risk of war in half. Education is vital for the security of the world, because extremism grows alongside inequality in places where people feel they have no opportunity, no voice, no hope.
When women are educated, there are more jobs for everyone. When mothers can keep their children alive and send them to school, there is hope, but around the world, 130 million girls are out of school today. They may not have read the studies and they may not know the statistics, but they understand that education is the only path to a brighter future, and they are fighting to go to school.
Last summer on a trip to Kenya, I was introduced to Rahma, the bravest girl I have ever met. When Rahma was 13, her family fled Somalia and came to Dadaab, the world's largest refugee camp. She had never been inside a classroom, but she worked hard to catch up, and in a few years she graduated from primary school.
At 18, Rahma was in secondary school when her parents decided to move back to Somalia. They promised she could continue her education, but when her family returned to Somalia, there were no schools for her to attend. Her father said her education was finished and that she would soon marry a man in his 50s, a man she did not know.
Rahma remembered a friend from the refugee camp who had won a scholarship at a university in Canada. She borrowed a neighbour's Internet connection and contacted him through Facebook. Over the Internet, the university student in Canada sent her $70. At night, Rahma snuck out of her house, bought a bus ticket, and set out on an eight-day-long trip back to the refugee camp, the only place she knew she could go to school.
Through the sustainable development goals, our nations promised every girl she would go to school for 12 years We promised that donor countries and developing countries would work together to make this dream a reality for the poorest girls in the world. I know that politicians cannot keep every promise they make, but this is the one you must honour. World leaders can no longer expect girls like Rahma to fight this battle alone. We can gain peace, grow economies, and improve our public health and the air we breathe, or we can lose another generation of girls.
I stand with girls as someone who knows what it is like to flee your home and wonder if you will ever be able to go back to school. I stand with girls as someone who knows how it feels to have the right of education taken away and your dreams threatened. I know where I stand. If you stand with me, I ask you to seize every opportunity for girls' education over the next year.
Dear Canada, I am asking you to lead once again.
First, make girls' education a central theme of your G7 presidency next year.
Second, use your influence to fill the global education funding gap. You raised billions of dollars and saved lives when you hosted the global fund replenishment in Montreal last year. Show the same leadership for education. Host the upcoming replenishment of Global Partnership for Education, bring world leaders together, and raise new funding for girls to go to school. If Canada leads, I know the world will follow.
Finally, prioritize 12 years of education and schooling for refugees. Today, only a quarter of refugee children can get secondary education. We should not ask children who flee their homes to also give up their dreams. We must recognize that young refugees are future leaders on whom we all depend for peace.
The world needs leadership based on serving humanity, not based on how many weapons you have. Canada can take that lead.
Our world has many problems, but we do not need to look far for the solution. We already have one. She is living in a refugee camp in Jordan. She is walking five kilometres to school in Guatemala. She is sewing footballs to pay enrolment fees in India. She is every one of the girls out of school around the world today. We know what to do, but we must look inside ourselves for the will to keep our promises.
Dear sisters and brothers, we have a responsibility to improve the world. When future generations read about us in their books, or on their iPads or whatever the next innovation will be, I do not want them to be shocked that 130 million girls could not go to school and we did nothing. I do not want them to be shocked that we did not stand up for child refugees as millions of families fled their homes. I do not want us to be known for failing them.
Let the future generations say we were the ones who stood up. Let them say we were the first to live in a world where all girls could learn and lead without fear. Let us be the ones who bring the change we want to see.
Thank you so much for listening.
[The national anthem was sung]
Hon. George Furey (Speaker of the Senate): Malala, Mr. Prime Minister, Madame Grégoire Trudeau, Madam Chief Justice, Excellencies, honourable senators, members of the House of Commons, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.
Malala, it is a great honour to welcome you here today. On behalf of all my parliamentary colleagues, I want to thank you for your inspiring speech.
Thank you for your inspiring words. The message which you bring resonates around the world. It is a message that empowers people to distinguish truth from lies and right from wrong.
The last time we gathered in this place was in June, when President Obama addressed us, standing where you stood today. We thanked him for his accomplishments during his eight year term, reflecting on a presidency that was soon to come to an end.
Today, we are here for a different purpose. Today is not so much about the past as it is about the future.
In these troubling times, it can be difficult to be optimistic. There is a great deal of fear in the world. Fear, as we all know, is a very powerful emotion. It feeds intolerance. It breeds division. As you, Malala, know too well, intolerance leads to unspeakable acts of brutality and oppression.
However, the clear antidote to fear is knowledge.
The pursuit of knowledge through education is an undeniable good. Education reveals that our differences are a source of strength, that ideas are exciting and enriching. Where it is allowed to flourish, education improves the lives of people everywhere. It allows women and girls to be equal to men and boys, to enable everyone to make equal contributions to make this a better world that we all live in.
The recognition of education's benefits must be taught, and taught courageously, especially in a world where falsehoods are so often held out as facts.
The French writer and philosopher Antoine de Saint-Exupéry once said that if you want to build a ship, do not send people to collect wood, do not assign them jobs, do not assign them tasks. Teach them, rather, to long for the immensity of the sea.
Your extraordinary example, Malala, teaches all of us to appreciate the value of education and long for the immensity of knowledge.
Collectively, we should all strive to further education in the world, to awaken reason where it sleeps, and to help improve the suffering of the poor and the oppressed.
We thank you once again, Malala, for your courage and determination in fighting for everyone, especially for the rights of girls and women to be educated in your country and around the world. While we do indeed face great challenges, your leadership shines a very bright light in an otherwise dark place.
We are so proud to have you as an honorary Canadian. No matter what our age, whether we are young or old, you are an example for us all. We all aspire to be Malala.
Thank you very much.
Hon. Geoff Regan (Speaker of the House of Commons): Malala, Prime Minister, Madame Grégoire Trudeau, Madam Chief Justice, Mr. Speaker of the Senate, my friend and classmate, Excellencies, honourable senators, members of the House of Commons, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.
Malala, it is my pleasure and privilege to thank you on behalf of your fellow Canadians for the very inspiring words you shared today.
You have been defending the right to education, especially for girls, since age 11. It is clear that your passion for this cause has only deepened over the years.
I know that you yourself have given credit for this determination to your father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, and your mother, Toor Pekai Yousafzai, both of whom nurtured your love of learning and encouraged you to pursue your dreams. As a father, I know it cannot have been easy for them to set aside a parent’s natural desire to protect their child from the dangers that are all around, and to let her follow her heart. Therefore, I would like to thank your parents, Malala, for their courage and their generosity in sharing their only daughter with the world. [Translation]
For many years now, you have been on a mission to promote education and peace, and you manage to strike a balance between your advocacy work and your studies.
In recognition of your remarkable work in promoting and defending educational rights, you have received a number of national and international honours, including, I must say, an honorary degree from the University of King's College in my city of Halifax, Nova Scotia.
You are at the dawn of a new chapter in your life, set to begin your university career. I am sure that it will be as remarkable and unique as you are.
Even as you fought for the right to learn, you have fought for the same right for others. As you have spoken up for children, you have taught them to speak up for themselves and to demand what is theirs. In other words, you may still be a student, Malala, but you have also become a teacher. If you look up at the galleries of this chamber, you will see hundreds of your students.
Mahatma Gandhi said that real education consists in drawing the best out of ourselves. This you have already accomplished. As you pursue your academic dreams, whatever they may be, I have no doubt that you will continue to make the world a better place.