Debates of the Senate (Hansard)
1st Session, 42nd Parliament
Volume 150, Issue 142
Wednesday, September 27, 2017
The Honourable George J. Furey, Speaker
- SENATORS’ STATEMENTS
- Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption Cathedral
- Visitors to the Senate
- The Honourable Paul McIntyre
- Visitor in the Gallery
- South Asian History in Canada
- Invictus Games
- Visit of the Honourable the Speaker
- City of Montreal
- ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
- The Senate
- Canadian NATO Parliamentary Association
- Autism Families in Crisis
- QUESTION PERIOD
- Agriculture and Agri-Food
- Natural Resources
- National Defence
- Foreign Affairs
- Prime Minister’s Office
- National Defence
- Infrastructure and Communities
- Delayed Answers to Oral Questions
- International Trade
- Democratic Institutions
- Privy Council
- ORDERS OF THE DAY
- Food and Drugs Act
- Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration
- Business of the Senate
- The Senate
- Trans Canada Trail
- The Senate
Wednesday, September 27, 2017
The Senate met at 2 p.m., the Speaker in the chair.
Congratulations on Designation as National Historic Monument
Hon. Rose-May Poirier: Honourable senators, on August 15, the Our Lady of the Assumption Cathedral, a pillar of Acadian culture and history, was designated a national historic monument. Construction on the cathedral began on January 9, 1938, on the initiative of Bishop Louis-Joseph Arthur Melanson, the first titular of the new Archdiocese of Moncton. The site was inaugurated on November 21, 1940, in the presence of Cardinal Villeneuve, head of the Catholic Church in Canada. For us, as Acadians, this building represents an important link between the past and the future.
The cathedral’s cornerstone was donated by the executor of the estate of Bishop Marcel-François Richard, who is known as the father of modern Acadia. The inscription on the stone, which dates back to 1914, reads “Ave Maris Stella,” which is title of the Acadian national anthem. Another stone was also purchased by the Honourable Pascal Poirier, a former Acadian senator.
The cathedral’s pillars were sculpted to represent the occupations of our Acadian ancestors, who were loggers, plowmen, fishermen and so on. The cathedral’s windows depict the history of the Acadian people, and in 2006, a glass mosaic created by artist Claude Roussel was added. It depicts Saint Anne, the patron saint of the Mi’kmaq people, who had close ties with the Acadians.
It is no coincidence that the cathedral bears the name of Our Lady of the Assumption. Not only was Bishop Marcel-François Richard a fervent believer in the Virgin Mary, but Acadians also celebrate their big day on August 15, the Feast of the Assumption.
Finally, I would be remiss if I did not mention the excellent work done by the Fondation de la cathédrale Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption, which is committed to looking after, preserving and restoring the church. Thanks to the foundation’s hard work, the cathedral will stand for a very long time, since major restoration work is already under way. Now that it has been designated a national historic monument, the cathedral has become not only a symbol of Acadian culture, but also a symbol of Canadian heritage.
Honourable senators, join me in celebrating this national recognition for the Our Lady of the Assumption Cathedral and congratulating everyone working to safeguard and preserve it.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Visitors to the Senate
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I wish to draw your attention to the presence on the floor, behind the bar, of a delegation from Germany, led by Her Excellency Malu Dreyer, President of the Federal Council (Bundesrat) of the Federal Republic of Germany.
On behalf of all honourable senators, I welcome you to the Senate of Canada.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
The Honourable Paul McIntyre
Community Food Banks
Hon. Raymonde Saint-Germain: My fellow senators, we live in one of the wealthiest countries in the world, but too many Canadians still struggle with poverty and vulnerability.
Every day across Canada, food banks and food bank workers make a difference in the lives of many disadvantaged people. Their contribution is invaluable. Food banks, which are community-based organizations, help brighten the day-to-day lives of these people just a little bit by making them feel less alone and isolated, if only for a few hours.
Although food banks receive some government funding, they would not survive without generous donations of time and money from individuals.
I want to talk to you about the Dalhousie Food Bank and its facilities in Restigouche, New Brunswick. It is thanks to one of our own, Senator Paul E. McIntyre, whom I will honour even in his absence today, that the food bank is welcoming clients in a newly renovated building and will soon be able to serve at least one hot meal a day to hundreds of disadvantaged individuals for about $1,500 a month.
Senator McIntyre has contributed a significant portion of his salary to the Restigouche County Volunteer Action Association. He has also made a large donation to the Service de bienfaisance Saint-Albert in Campbellton.
At the official opening of the Restigouche facility a few days ago, Senator McIntyre said:
Being a senator is a great honour and privilege. When I accepted this position, I promised that I would donate part of my salary to charitable organizations in my area. And because helping the less fortunate is very important to me, I felt compelled to participate in this project.
By walking the talk and through his substantial and concrete commitment, Senator McIntyre is a role model for other potential benefactors.
The needs of the food banks in Dalhousie and Restigouche are growing, as are the needs of many other food banks and community-based sharing agencies across the country.
Senator McIntyre, my New Brunswick colleagues René Cormier, Nancy Hartling and Pierrette Ringuette, along with all members of the Independent Senators Group, join me in applauding your altruism and generosity. We thank you for making such a useful and meaningful contribution to improving the lives of the least fortunate members of your community. You are truly honourable.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Visitor in the Gallery
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I wish to draw your attention to the presence in the gallery of Mr. Rana Vig, founder of the 100 Year Journey. He is the guest of the Honourable Senator Jaffer.
On behalf of all honourable senators, I welcome you to the Senate of Canada.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
South Asian History in Canada
Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, I rise today to recognize the incredible accomplishments of Rana Vig, the co-founder of the 100 Year Journey project, which promotes intercultural understanding by highlighting and featuring the stories of South Asian pioneers who helped build Canada.
Through their research, Rana and Rupa, his wife, have managed to find details of an important part of Canadian history that popular textbooks may not cover.
The stories they share give unsung heroes the recognition that they deserve.
In November 2014, Rana and Rupa gathered 100 of these stories and compiled them into a book called the 100 Year Journey.
This book has been circulated to schools, libraries and community centres across Canada for free. I recommend that any lover of Canadian history take the time to read it.
Each story they tell is short and compelling and truly breathes life into South Asian Canadian history by showcasing all parts of the South Asian experiences at the time, including immigration, assimilation, settlement, sacrifice, discrimination, diversity, perseverance and progress.
There is something for every Canadian in the Vigs’ book. By telling the story of South Asian diaspora Canadians from many years ago, they provide new Canadians with role models and heros who are very much like themselves. By telling the stories of South Asian pioneers, they allow younger generations of South Asian Canadians to look back with pride upon the incredible accomplishments of their ancestors.
Finally, the Vigs’ work broadens everyone’s understanding of Canadian history by helping us understand the incredible accomplishments of South Asian Canadians that would have otherwise gone unrecognized.
Today, the Vigs continue to build on their success by reaching out to schools, museums and other institutions across Canada, seeking opportunities to gather and share these incredible histories. Through this work, they will help Canadians across the country take important steps forward in understanding South Asian history in Canada for many years to come.
Honourable senators, I rise today to ask that you join me in recognizing the important work that Rana and Rupa have done for this country. Through their work, they have reshaped our understanding of Canadian history. Their stories have helped us all understand that many South Asians were among the pioneers who came to Canada long ago and were instrumental in building our great country.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.
Hon. Carolyn Stewart Olsen: Honourable senators, I rise today to bring your attention to the Invictus Games being held in Toronto this week. The Invictus Games are an international competition in which injured military personnel and veterans take part.
In the original Latin, invictus means unconquerable or undefeated, and it is in this spirit we celebrate the achievements of our men and women in uniform.
Senators, our veterans go overseas, they fight, and then they come home to take up another sort of battle. Some struggle with rehabilitation after injuries sustained through their deployments. Others live with post-traumatic stress disorder and so-called invisible injuries.
“Invictus” is also an English poem. The last stanza of this poem was famously passed around by POWs in the Vietnam war. I quote:
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.
This poem is read at the start of the Invictus Games, showing that veterans can take their lives back. They can win their battles with their injuries and show it is possible to live beyond disability.
I am immensely proud that Canada is hosting these games on our one hundred and fiftieth anniversary. Veterans from 17 different countries are attending. It will be the largest, most extensive demonstration since the games were inaugurated in 2014.
New Brunswick has sent 10 exceptional athletes to compete in these games: veterans like retired Sergeant Marc Comeau from Oromocto, who served 22 years in the military, including three tours Bosnia; men like Michel LeBlanc, who was injured doing humanitarian work in Haiti and the Philippines; and women like Karyne Gelinas, who was medically released in 2016 for the second time.
It is the duty of each and every person in this chamber to honour veterans like these by acknowledging their struggles and preserving the memory of their sacrifices.
We must be mindful of this responsibility as we debate in this legislature and we move closer to Veterans Week, which coincidentally will mark the one hundredth anniversary of the brutal carnage we remember at the battle of Passchendaele.
Join with me in cheering on the participants of these games. They are all winners.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.
Visit of the Honourable the Speaker
Hon. Patricia Bovey: Honourable senators, the Senate of Canada recently received a very real honour.
Our Speaker was invited to address the Latvian Parliament on September 14 as part of his official trip to France and Latvia. As Senator Doyle said yesterday, he and I had the privilege of being part of that delegation.
First we visited three sites on the Caribou Trail in France. These truly moving and humbling memorials are impressive tributes to the many First World War losses of Newfoundlanders.
In Latvia, we visited Canada’s 450 troops at the recently established multinational base at Adazi, just outside Riga. We held meetings with the Speaker of the Latvian Parliament, several ministers and with parliamentary committee chairs. It was an informative and substantive visit.
A highlight was Speaker Furey’s address to the Saeima. He was the first international leader to be invited to address their parliament since 2012. His address was excellent and extremely well received as he recounted the long and deep friendship between Canada and Latvia through the trials, upheavals and high points of their history over past decades.
He noted that Canada early recognized Latvia’s 1991 independence and was one of the first to vote for their entry into NATO. He also noted with gratitude that Latvia was the first EU country to ratify CETA, and spoke of the pride we have in our troops leading the current military project in Latvia. It was abundantly obvious that the camaraderie among the NATO member troops working with Latvia from Canada, Spain, Albania, Italy, Poland and Slovenia was exceptional and the morale was high.
Speaker Furey discussed the ongoing deepening of our partnership and friendship and the shared pride between our countries, including the significant contributions of the Latvian diaspora in Canada to Canadian culture and the Canadian and Latvian joint university research projects and exchanges.
Every word was heard and appreciated. Uncharacteristic of the Latvian Parliament, Speaker Furey was given a standing ovation.
Thank you, Speaker, for flying our flag as you did in all our meetings and for your impressive and acclaimed address. You are rightly held in high esteem and in turn so, too, is our Senate and Canada.
We also extend our thanks and appreciation to our Latvian hosts. Honourable senators, their welcome was so warm that we were at a loss for words to say an adequate thank you.
As we celebrate the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of Canada’s togetherness as a nation, Latvia is on the eve of their one hundredth anniversary of independence next year, which will be celebrated with music festivals throughout the year, the highlight day being November 18, 2018.
We wish all Latvians the very best for each of their festivities.
City of Montreal
Three Hundred and Seventy-fifth Anniversary
Hon. Diane Bellemare (Legislative Deputy to the Government Representative in the Senate): Honourable senators, in the spring of 1642, explorers came ashore at a place that for many years throughout its history would be the largest city in Canada, the largest community of francophones in the America and, I firmly believe, one of the most magnificent cities in the world.
You will know by now that I’m talking about the three hundred and seventy fifth anniversary of the city that makes me so proud: Montreal, my hometown where I still live, the city where I’ve seen such tremendous change over the years.
Montreal has its own unique culture, a vibrant and lively culture, initially shaped by France and later enriched by some elements of our British heritage. These days, however, its culture is above all open and inclusive to all communities. Just think of Montreal’s Jewish community, its Italians, Latin-Americans, and those who immigrated from China, Vietnam and Eastern Europe. There is also the Haitian community and people from the Maghreb, along with everyone else from all four corners of the globe who have decided to settle on the Island of Montreal. Together they have shaped a city that is open to the world, dynamic and innovative. This diversity is showcased every day in school yards, arenas and soccer fields, just to name a few places where I have spent time with my boys.
Montreal is also synonymous with Mount Royal, the Port, Expo 67, the 1976 Summer Olympics and its famous stadium, the Canadian Grand Prix, the Montreal International Jazz Festival, Cirque du Soleil, the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, its major universities, St. Joseph’s Oratory, its museums, its restaurants and world-renowned chefs, and last but certainly not least, the Montreal Canadiens!
The city boasts a diversified and creative economy that is known for its vitality in such industries as aerospace, information technology, pharmaceuticals, film, arts and culture, to name a few.
This year, Montrealers have a lot to celebrate, and those who are fortunate enough to know this city and its people know that Montrealers like to party. The city’s 375th anniversary celebrations include more than 175 events large and small that have been held since January throughout the entire city. Events for every taste, age, and interest are, for the most part, free of charge.
Marking three hundred and seventy-five years of history deserves to be celebrated, especially since for many Quebecers like me, it is also an opportunity to celebrate the arrival of our first ancestors. In my case, we can trace the settlement of one Étienne Gélinas to Pointe-aux-Trembles, geographically located at the eastern tip of Montreal, in my senatorial district. Étienne Gélinas was born in Saintes, France, in 1624, and his descendants would bear the name Bellemare in the early 18th century.
I invite you to come celebrate with us in Montreal. The festivities will continue all fall until the end of December. Thank you.
Notice of Motion to Affect Question Period on October 3, 2017
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, October 3, 2017, Question Period shall begin at 3:30 p.m., with any proceedings then before the Senate being interrupted until the end of Question Period, which shall last a maximum of 40 minutes;
That, if a standing vote would conflict with the holding of Question Period at 3:30 p.m. on that day, the vote be postponed until immediately after the conclusion of Question Period;
That, if the bells are ringing for a vote at 3:30 p.m. on that day, they be interrupted for Question Period at that time, and resume thereafter for the balance of any time remaining; and
That, if the Senate concludes its business before 3:30 p.m. on that day, the sitting be suspended until that time for the purpose of holding Question Period.
Notice of Motion
Hon. Diane Bellemare (Legislative Deputy to the Government Representative in the Senate): Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:
That, when the Senate next adjourns after the adoption of this motion, it do stand adjourned until Tuesday, October 3, 2017, at 2 p.m.
Canadian NATO Parliamentary Association
Annual Session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, November 18-21, 2016—Report Tabled
Hon. Joseph A. Day (Leader of the Senate Liberals): Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian Delegation of the Canadian NATO Parliamentary Association respecting its participation at the 62nd Annual Session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, held in Istanbul, Turkey, from November 18 to 21, 2016.
Joint Meeting of the Defence and Security, Economics and Security, and Political Committees, February 18-20, 2017—Report Tabled
Hon. Joseph A. Day (Leader of the Senate Liberals): Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian Delegation of the Canadian NATO Parliamentary Association respecting its participation at the Joint Meeting of the Defence and Security, Economics and Security, and Political Committees, held in Brussels, Belgium, from February 18 to 20, 2017.
Autism Families in Crisis
Tenth Anniversary of Senate Report—Notice of Inquiry
Hon. Jim Munson: Honourable senators, I give notice that, two days hence:
I will call the attention of the Senate to the 10th anniversary of its groundbreaking report Pay Now or Pay Later: Autism Families in Crisis.
Small Business Tax
Hon. Larry W. Smith (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate.
Yesterday, the Fraser Institute released a report which showed that 81 per cent of middle-class Canadian families with children are paying more in taxes under the current government. In fact, it states that on average, middle-class families will pay $840 more in federal income taxes this year.
The report found that the government’s decision to cancel income splitting and cut tax credits used by families more than offset the savings from the income tax rate reduction of Bill C-2. With this in mind, it’s very difficult to have confidence in the assurances from the government that the proposed tax changes brought forward by the Minister of Finance will not hurt most middle-class business owners, their employees and their communities.
How can your government guarantee that middle-class farmers, electricians, plumbers, convenience store operators and other local businesses wouldn’t pay more under the proposed tax changes when we’ve already seen tax policies introduced which do just that?
Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I thank honourable senator for his question and his concern with respect to the tax burden. The view of the Government of Canada, as stated in its economic statements and its budgets over the last 18 months, has been that immediate tax relief for the middle class was the highest priority, which is why the tax decrease reflected itself in Bill C-2.
He’ll also know that the Canada child benefit is very much at the heart of relief to the middle class and that there are other initiatives in the budget for the sectors that he has referenced, the farming community, the small businesses. Small business taxes, by the way, remain competitively low compared with our competitors, and the objectives of the Government of Canada are to grow the economy, to relieve the tax burden of the middle class and to seek fairness in our tax system.
That is what the minister is out consulting on, and I’m delighted to say that is what the Senate of Canada agreed to participate in with yesterday’s vote.
Senator Smith: When I saw the Fraser Institute report, they stated it was clear that people will end up paying more than was given back to them in terms of relief. That’s where my confusion was.
The premiers of Manitoba, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador have all recently expressed their concerns with Minister Morneau’s proposals, along with the ministers of finance from British Columbia and Quebec. These are provinces led by governments of different political stripes — Conservative, Liberal and NDP — and they have all publicly recognized the harm that could come to their citizens, their businesses and their local communities from Minister Morneau’s proposal.
Senator Harder, could you please tell us if the Minister of Finance has truly listened to the concerns voiced by the provinces, and if so, will the minister provide an extension for the consultations past next Monday, October 2?
Senator Harder: Again, I thank the honourable senator for his question. The minister has made it very clear that this phase of consultations will end on October 2. I should repeat, and as senators will be aware, he will also be here for Question Period on October 3, and I’m sure he will answer the questions of the honourable senators much better than I.
But I want to assure the honourable senator in his question that the ongoing cooperation at the federal-provincial-territorial table on matters of tax policy remains very much part of the discussions. When they last met, the minister reviewed the proposals that had been put forward, and all levels of government remain concerned about tax fairness and ensuring that the tax regime is one that has integrity. As all senators will know, the tax regime is one from which the provinces themselves receive significant revenue.
Agriculture and Agri-Food
Support for Dairy and Cheese Producers
Hon. Ghislain Maltais: I want to start by congratulating the Government Representative in the Senate on becoming a grandfather, and congratulations to your family as well. I trust your beautiful little granddaughter will grow up to be part of the middle class.
Senator Harder, I know some middle-class Canadians who are very upset right now, especially farmers. Last year, the federal government announced a $250-million program to compensate dairy and cheese producers for certain losses they might incur because of CETA.
Now we learn, much to the farmers’ dismay, that this funding has already been spent and there is no money left. We have also found out that public officials are still telling farmers to keep applying. It is a bit like a bank telling a customer to keep writing cheques even though their account is empty.
What is the government’s position on this matter? Will it reassure producers and allocate more funding to them, or will it simply stop accepting applications for compensation?
Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I thank the honourable senator for his question and his best wishes. My granddaughter had the good fortune of being born on my birthday. If she is as successful as I know she will be, she will, I am sure, strive to be part of the middle class, like all of us do.
With reference to the question, I should remind honourable senators that this senator, when he asks a question, always knows the answer, so I will seek to meet the expectations of his knowledge.
He will know that CETA, having come into effect, the government’s program for support to the sectors that are affected is under way. The Minister of Agriculture has had significant conversations with his counterparts as well as with the sector leaders, and the Government of Canada stands ready to implement the support programs that are available.
Senator Maltais: Senator Harder, I understand very well that the government is openly welcoming applications. The problem is that there isn’t a penny left in the program. You need to either tell farmers to stop submitting applications instead of leaving them in limbo, or add more money to the program. Ask the minister to take action one way or the other.
Senator Harder: The honourable senator is absolutely right; the $350 million available is attached to a program, the applications for which the government is open.
In terms of the allocations the government hopes to make in the coming months, I will obviously bring to the minister’s attention the concerns of the honourable senator and report back now that CETA has an implementation date of last week and determine where the government is on this specific program and its application process.
Energy East Pipeline
Hon. Douglas Black: Senator Harder, my question relates again to Energy East, a matter of great concern to this chamber and certainly to my colleague Senator Mockler.
It is fair to say that Energy East is currently in a precarious position as a pipeline from Alberta to New Brunswick. The TransCanada pipeline has taken a 30-day hiatus, and we are uncertain as to where that’s going to go.
As I have recently said publicly, and to my own surprise, I am of the view that the NEB has fumbled this file, and by insisting on a review of upstream and downstream GHG emissions, the NEB has allowed unprecedented regulatory creep.
Our Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications, Senator Harder, has strongly supported pipelines to the Atlantic and the Pacific because it allows market access, and in terms of the Atlantic, it allows us to supplant product brought from other countries. Yet the media and industry commentary has suggested that the Government of Canada has lost its will to support Energy East as a national building block.
Senator Harder, would you please confirm to this chamber that the Government of Canada continues to support Energy East?
Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I thank the honourable senator for his question. He will know that other senators have keen interest in this and have asked questions as well. I’m delighted to have the question because it gives me the opportunity to reaffirm that the Government of Canada has been and continues to be committed to the competitive and sustainable development of our natural resource sector and that good projects must go ahead and have the full confidence of Canadians.
The government, as honourable senators will know, has approved pipelines. Those pipelines are important infrastructure projects that enable job growth and economic growth and ensure that we will be able to advance our natural resource to global markets, at the same time ensuring that the appropriate environmental concerns are taken into account.
It is in that context that of course the NEB operates. I won’t comment on the observations you have made with respect to the NEB, but with regard to the specific project that you reference, the private sector has made a private sector decision to seek a pause in the consideration. It would be my hope that after that pause, the private sector will advance the project and the regulatory process will proceed so that we can achieve projects that meet the economic needs of the country and the environmental obligations for our generation and successor generations. We are all on that side.
Hon. Pamela Wallin: Honourable senators, my question is for the Government Representative.
Following yesterday’s announcement that the U.S. Department of Commerce will impose a 219 per cent tariff on the sale of Bombardier C Series jets in response to a complaint filed by Boeing, is it the government’s intention now to cancel negotiations with Boeing for the purchase of 18 Super Hornets to fill a fighter capability gap? And if so, will the government now consider other fighter aircraft — specifically the F-35, of which 200 are now flying for our allies — to fill that capability gap identified by the Minister of Defence?
Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I thank the honourable senator for her question.
Let me begin by saying and repeating, as ministers and the Prime Minister himself have stated, it is the view of the Government of Canada that this decision by the Department of Commerce is inappropriate and not helpful to either of our economies. That position has been reinforced and supported by the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom for obvious reasons of economic impact in Northern Ireland, in particular.
The Government of Canada remains actively involved in ensuring that American decision makers are aware of the impact of this decision on their workforce, particularly in the State of Missouri, and the Government of Canada will actively seek — this is a preliminary judgment, as the honourable senator will know — every means available to meet the unfortunate decision that has been taken by the administration to the south.
Having said that, as the Prime Minister has indicated, the Government of Canada will look at its overall commercial relationships with those involved.
I have no announcements to make but I will take the concerns of the honourable senator to the government and, as they contemplate the further actions that they might undertake, the suggestions of the honourable senator.
Embassy in Armenia
Hon. Leo Housakos: Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. On two occasions in February of this year I asked you about your government’s election promise to establish a Canadian embassy in Armenia. At the time, I read off a Liberal Party of Canada document where the then candidate of the Liberal Party Mélanie Joly, who is a minister today, made a commitment to the Canadian Armenian community to open an embassy.
Senator Harder, at that time, you said you would inquire about that broken election promise.
When will your Liberal government fulfill that promise, or should we just add it to the long list of broken electoral promises?
Senator Neufeld: One more of a few dozen.
Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I thank the honourable senators for their questions and commentary.
Senator Plett: I am happy to give you more.
Senator Harder: The Government of Canada has made no decision in this regard. When it does, I will be happy to inform the honourable senator.
Prime Minister’s Office
Hon. Leo Housakos: I guess the government leader has a couple of years left in government. Hopefully within those two years, you will fulfill that promise.
Senator Harder, in November of last year, I asked you a question that you also took notice of at the time, and you said would get back to me. At that time, I asked about a cash-for-access fundraiser the Prime Minister attended in Toronto. A Mr. Zhang was also a guest at that cash-for-access fundraiser. He is a political advisor to the Chinese government in Beijing and a high-ranking official in the network of Chinese state promotional activities around the world. As a foreign citizen, Mr. Zhang cannot make political donations in Canada, as you know. However, just a few weeks after that event, Mr. Zhang and a partner made a $1 million donation to the University of Montreal, in particular, to the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation, including $200,000 directly to the Trudeau Foundation and a $50,000 payment for a statue in honour of the Prime Minister’s father.
Is Prime Minister Trudeau leveraging the Government of Canada for the monetary benefit of the Trudeau Foundation?
Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): Not at all.
Hon. David Tkachuk: My question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate.
Senator Harder, I want to thank you for finally providing me with delayed answers to some of my questions. I say “some” because in some cases the answer you provided was not to the question I asked.
Case in point: On December 13 last year, I asked: “Senator Harder, can you tell me if, as a family member of the Trudeau Foundation, Mr. Trudeau received remuneration during those years, and if so, how much,” those years being up until 2014, when he cut his ties with the foundation. Actually, he implied he cut his ties earlier than that but that wasn’t so.
Senator Harder, the answer you tabled last week, eight months after I asked you the question was: “The Prime Minister has not received remuneration from the Trudeau Foundation.” But that is not the answer to the question that I asked. I didn’t ask you if the Prime Minister has been remunerated, so I’m going to ask you to let me clarify.
While he was an MP and prior to becoming Prime Minister, was Justin Trudeau remunerated as a family member of the Trudeau Foundation and, if so, how much?
Senator Harder: As the representative of the government in the Senate, I, of course, can speak only for the period in which the Prime Minister has been Prime Minister. I will take the question forward and seek to get back.
Senator Plett: We will have an answer in eight months.
Hon. Jean-Guy Dagenais: My question is a follow-up to Senator Wallin’s question about the acquisition of an interim fleet of 10 Boeing Super Hornets.
In a report published earlier this year, the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence recommended that the government cancel its plan to replace its fighters on an interim basis and immediately launch a bidding process to select a new aircraft by June 30, 2018.
It is not too late. The Liberal government can immediately issue an open tender to replace the CF-18 fighters, which it promised to do in its election platform, rather than go ahead with a sole-source contract for an interim fleet.
When will the government keep its promise to Canadians and launch a competition to purchase new fighter jets for the Canadian Armed Forces instead of keeping planes that are at the end of their life cycle and will cost a fortune to maintain?
Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): Again, I thank the honourable senator for his question and the interest of senators on the issue of CF-18 replacement.
The government has been clear from the beginning that the replacement of this aircraft is a priority for the mandate, and it is putting into place the competitive processes necessary to launch such a procurement exercise.
Senator Plett: Sole source, noncompetitive.
Senator Harder: The government has also, as the senators will be aware, announced over $60 billion of investments in defence over the next 20 years to ensure that our Armed Forces are appropriately funded, equipped and supported by the public of Canada through their contributions to the defence procurement.
Small Business Tax
Hon. Art Eggleton: Senator Harder, I want to come back to the tax fairness issue. In particular, one of the main parts of what the government has been considering is relative to sprinkling.
There was an interesting column last week in the Toronto Star by the business columnist, Jennifer Wells. In her research, she uncovered a family of four. The man was a consultant in business who worked out of his home. His wife and adult children, 18 and 21 years of age, had no involvement in the business, but he didn’t report all of his income as his income. He gave dividends to the other members of his family.
Next door, or down the street, wherever it is, is another person who happens to be an executive in a small company. As it turns out, they were making much the same money, about $220,000 in the year for research; I think it was 2016. However, the ones involved in the sprinkling paid $44,000 in income tax and the other person with much the same income was paying $79,000 in income tax.
Is that the kind of unfairness and inequity that the government is trying to deal with?
Senator Neufeld: Did you have dinner with the minister last night?
Senator Batters: You might not have to wait for a delayed answer on that one.
Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I thank the honourable senator for his question. That is exactly the kind of tax fairness issue that undermines support for the integrity of the tax system. That is exactly the kind of misuse — not illegal at this point, obviously — of incorporation that renders cynicism in our public, and to support the notion that there should be no adjustment to deal with tax fairness is, frankly, to undermine the credibility of the tax system.
So I welcome the Senate review, I welcome the legislation when it comes and let’s have that debate.
Infrastructure and Communities
Hon. Claude Carignan: Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I was hoping to put this question to the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities yesterday, but there was not enough time.
On June 15, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that the federal government would invest $1.2 billion in Montreal’s Réseau électrique métropolitain. Here is what the Prime Minister said in his announcement:
. . . once the Canada Infrastructure Bank is established, it will be possible for the Province of Quebec and the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec to identify the project as an opportunity for independent analysis and consideration by the Bank. If the Bank decides to move forward with an investment in the REM project, it will be possible for an investment to come from the Bank rather than Quebec’s transit allocation.
Can the government leader tell us whether the Quebec government and the Caisse de dépôt have in fact submitted an application to the Infrastructure Bank? If so, what is the timeline for making a decision? Also, does the Canada Infrastructure Bank have an email address?
Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I thank the honourable senator for his question. I will inquire of the minister where the project stands in the work plan of the bank.
I was delighted to hear yesterday from the minister that the government is moving ahead actively and aggressively with the establishment of the bank so that the kinds of projects you referenced can benefit from the Canada Infrastructure Bank.
Small Business Tax
Hon. Yonah Martin (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): My question is also for the Government Representative in the Senate. Senator Harder, the Prime Minister continues to portray himself both at home and abroad as a feminist, but actions speak louder than words. The Canadian Medical Association and doctors in B.C., my home province, have publicly opposed the tax changes due to the effect they will have on women entrepreneurs. To quote the presidents of both the CMA and Doctors of BC:
As female doctors, the current tax measures are instrumental in supporting family obligations, such as using passive earning to accommodate maternity leave or to support a prolonged leave from work resulting from pregnancy complications.
I would sincerely hope that the Prime Minister, as a self-proclaimed feminist, will abandon those tax increases that will negatively affect women across this country.
Having said that, Minister Morneau has talked about the importance of the consultation process and the authenticity and genuine efforts of this process, so will you assure Canadians and our chamber that the government will be listening to the concerns and protests expressed by such groups as the CMA and the Doctors of BC?
Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I thank the honourable senator for her question. Of course, the minister has repeatedly stated that this period of consultation is to hear from Canadians with respect to their concerns or their understanding of the proposals being brought forward. It is in that spirit of consultation that the minister has held a number of round tables from coast to coast to coast and met with various stakeholders.
The honourable senator references the points of view of a particular organization, but I could also point to the president of the Canadian Nurses Association, who reminds us that the government has a duty to ensure all taxpayers, including those in the highest incomes, pay their fair share.
I could also point to an open letter to the minister from 280 physicians and medical students who said, regarding these advantages:
This seems unfair to single-parent physicians, those with young children and those who cannot incorporate at all. It also seems unfair that these benefits are not available to Canadians with similar incomes who cannot incorporate.
This is part of a broader consultation process that I hope we can all calmly examine and determine what “tax fairness” means in the use of private corporations.
Senator Martin: I am aware there are some groups that have, on record, supported the proposals and are talking about tax fairness, but looking at the news and other reports, it is clear there is a growing list of groups that do not support what the government’s proposing. For example, the Coalition for Small Business Tax Fairness, a group dedicated to opposing these unfair tax hikes, current includes 65 business associations. So we could add the numbers across these sectors and industries, but to list a few: the Canadian Association of Optometrists, the Canadian Bar Association, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, the Grain Growers of Canada, the Canadian Medical Association, Restaurants Canada and the Retail Council of Canada. The list continues.
With such adamant opposition from sectors and institutions across the country, I know the minister and the officials are listening and they are collecting information. On October 3, what will happen with all of the data collected, especially the growing list of opposition and concerns? How will that be incorporated into what the government does next?
Senator Harder: Again, I thank the honourable senator for her question.
I can absolutely commit that the Minister of Finance is here on October 3 to answer questions and concerns from senators. The Minister of Finance has indicated in a letter to Senator Black his willingness and the willingness of his officials to participate in whatever the Senate decides to do in terms of its study of this issue. The minister’s intentions and expectations are obvious, continuous and clear.
I can also suggest that when and if legislation is advanced, it would be useful for all of the senators to inquire about a gender-based analysis and hear what the facts are, not what the construction of the facts might be.
Delayed Answers to Oral Questions
Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): Honourable senators, I have the honour to table the answers to the following oral questions: the response to the oral question of April 6, 2017 by the Honourable Senator Dagenais, concerning the reduction of the stigma of depression; the response to the oral questions of June 5, 2017 by the Honourable Senator Downe, concerning the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement; the response to the oral question of December 8, 2016 by the Honourable Senator Frum, concerning the electoral reform survey; and the response to the oral question of November 17, 2016 by the Honourable Senator McIntyre, concerning the security and storage of classified documents.
Reducing the Stigma of Depression
(Response to question raised by the Honourable Jean-Guy Dagenais on April 6, 2017)
Through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), our Government invested more than $270 million in research related to mental health.
Of note is the Healthy and Productive Work Initiative (HPWI), a joint initiative of the CIHR and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). The goal of this initiative is to develop, implement, evaluate and foster the labour force participation of men and women with health issues (e.g., injuries, illnesses, chronic diseases, mental health challenges, and other conditions) and disabilities, as well as older workers and workers with caregiving responsibilities outside of their paid work. Since the beginning of the initiative, partnership engagement outreach has included workers, policy-makers, industry, employers, regulators, workplace safety and insurance boards, unions, and professional associations.
CIHR’s approach to mental health is in line with the Mental Health Strategy for the Federal Public Service, which recognizes that the health and wellness of the federal public service and its employees are vital to each organization’s success. As such, CIHR’s Workplace Mental Health Strategy focuses on:
•Increased awareness and a culture change where mental health is openly and honestly discussed without shame or fear;
•Training for managers and employees so they can better recognize, support and manage those affected by mental health issues;
•Providing employees with resources to support mental health.
Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada have committed to implement the National Standard for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace to build and sustain a healthy, respectful, inclusive, safe and productive workplace. A good psychological health and safety strategy benefits employees at all levels, with an enormous impact upon their health, morale, work-life quality and ability to perform at their highest capacity.
Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement
(Response to question raised by the Honourable Percy E. Downe on June 5, 2017)
During the Prime Minister’s visit to Europe, no such concerns were raised.
(Response to question raised by the Honourable Percy E. Downe on June 5, 2017)
On July 8, 2017, Prime Minister Trudeau and the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, made a commitment to provisionally apply CETA on September 21, 2017. This commitment allowed Canada to proceed with the completion of domestic implementation procedures. As a first step, the necessary regulatory changes were published in the Canada Gazette Part I on July 15, 2017 for a 15-day notification and comment period. On August 31, 2017, Treasury Board approved the final regulatory changes and the regulations were published in a special edition of the Canada Gazette Part II on September 7, 2017. Prior to provisional application, Canada will exchange diplomatic notes with the EU to confirm the completion of Canada’s implementation process. The diligent work of the Senate Foreign Affairs and International Trade Committee (AEFA) supported the Government of Canada’s commitment to provisionally apply CETA as soon as possible and to deliver the very real and substantial benefits this progressive trade agreement will have for Canadians.
Electoral Reform Survey
(Response to question raised by the Honourable Linda Frum on December 8, 2016)
The Government launched MyDemocracy.ca to engage Canadians and we are proud that over 360,000 people participated either online or by phone. Vox Pop’s final report can be found here: https://www.canada.ca/en/democratic-institutions/services/reports.html.
MyDemocracy.ca was developed by Vox Pop Labs in collaboration with the Government of Canada and Vox Pop Lab’s academic advisory panel.
The panel was comprised of experts in both electoral politics and research methodology. The following individuals were the panel members involved in the review process: André Blais, University of Montreal; Elisabeth Gidengil, McGill University; Richard Johnston, University of British Columbia; Peter Loewen, University of Toronto; Scott Matthews, Memorial University; Jonathan Rose, Queen’s University; Laura Stephenson, Western University; and Melanee Thomas, University of Calgary.
Security and Storage of Classified Documents
(Response to question raised by the Honourable Paul E. McIntyre on November 17, 2016)
The Government takes seriously the issue handling, transporting and storing of sensitive information.
Upon receiving the security clearance necessary for employment, all exempt staff receive a briefing on how to handle, transport and store sensitive documents.
The Government expects all of its employees to abide by these important practices.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Food and Drugs Act
Bill to Amend—Third Reading—Debate Adjourned
Hon. Nancy Greene Raine moved third reading of Bill S-228, An Act to amend the Food and Drugs Act (prohibiting food and beverage marketing directed at children), as amended.
She said: Honourable senators, today I open debate at third reading on Bill S-228 in its new, amended form. The bill now will prohibit the marketing of unhealthy food and beverages to children under the age of 17.
Bill S-228, the child health protection act, realizes that our children need protection from unfettered and pervasive marketing that is damaging to their health and that this is in the public interest.
We know the rates of the overweight and obese have been rising and that the number of obese children has tripled since 1980. Today in Canada almost one third of children and, more concerning, 62.5 per cent of young indigenous children are overweight or obese. Health experts warn that when you become obese at an early age, your risk of long-term chronic illnesses rises significantly.
Because we have a national health care system, it makes good sense to take preventative action. The rising costs of health care are simply not sustainable if we do not do everything possible to encourage Canadians to make healthy lifestyle choices, including eating a healthy diet.
Prohibiting advertising to children is not a new concept. In fact, the first law to prohibit broadcast advertising directed at children in Canada was introduced in 1974, but it died on the Order Paper. In 2010, a consensus statement was issued following a federal-provincial meeting of health ministers. It endorsed taking action on the protection of children from the marketing of foods and beverages high in fat, sugar and/or sodium.
Honourable senators, that was seven years ago. It is now time to act.
As I mentioned last week, my decision to put forward a private Senate bill using the Food and Drugs Act was triggered by the study on obesity that was published by the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology as well as after listening to advocates and stakeholders come together in late 2014 to recommend this action. I will say, however, that much of my motivation comes from my personal observations and my own life experiences.
I grew up in a big family, in a small town in the mountains of British Columbia. We ate porridge for breakfast, along with a spoonful of cod liver oil. We ran home from school for lunch — a bowl of soup and bread, or a sandwich, and maybe half an apple. Then we ran back to school. It seems like we were always running. Recess, lunch hour and physical education were a regular part of the school day, and everyone played actively. After school, we would have a quick snack and a chat with mom, then outside to play. If you stayed inside, mom always had chores for you. We came home for dinner when the whistle blew. Our stomachs had already alerted us that it was time to head home.
We ate what was served, and if you didn’t like it, you could speak up, but there were no substitutions, and sometimes no dessert if you didn’t finish your plate. I’m pretty sure our family’s routine was no different than others, so it is no wonder that there were very few overweight school kids back then.
Also, in those days there were no computers, iPads or smartphones. Many homes did not even have a TV, so we didn’t see any ads. Food was simpler and mostly cooked at home, often from our own gardens, and preserved by canning at home. That’s just the way it was then; there was no choice.
Today, processed foods, especially snack foods that are high in salt, sugar and fat, have been formulated to target the bliss point, that is, to be addictive. These foods are mass produced, and so they are relatively inexpensive, and they are certainly convenient.
Today, the influences on children come from all directions. Now, as children watch TV, they are not just bombarded with advertisements, they also see product placements where companies pay to have their products and logos appear as part of the program itself. In 2002, one soft drink company paid millions to have a glass of their product placed in front of each judge on the “American Idol” TV show.
The pervasive marketing is not just on television. Unhealthy food is packaged to appeal to children. Lunchables, for instance, makes the homemade lunch less appealing to kids. Fast food and junk food mascots show up at kids’ festivals and sports events.
And we all know that children are spending more time with screens where they constantly come into contact with marketing techniques that include games that blur the boundaries between entertainment and advertising content.
Parents are doing their best. If it’s affordable, they put their kids into organized sports and arts programs, and they arrange play dates or daycare. However, 56 per cent of Canadian kids are not getting the minimum amount of exercise required for health. It is ironic: School boards took out physical education and cooking classes to put in computers.
I know we can’t go back to the good old days, and that no one really wants to. However, we do need to do a reality check and see what can be done to reverse the trend towards unhealthy lifestyle habits. We need to figure out how to use technology for the good. It will not be easy; screen time is very addictive.
Our Senate study showed that there are many causes for obesity, and that many solutions will need to be found.
In spite of what some industry and media people might want you to believe, there is an international consensus among health stakeholders that the pervasive marketing of foods high in salt, sugar and fat has a negative impact on health, and that when it is directed at children, that impact can be devastating. Hundreds of millions of dollars are spent on this kind of marketing. To understand why, it is obvious: It works. They wouldn’t spend this money if it didn’t work.
As this bill worked its way through the Senate, I had many opportunities to discuss it with Canadians from all walks of life. Some people argue that it is the parents’ job to determine what their children eat, and that we should not become a nanny state. I agree with them. However, since we already have publicly funded health care, it behooves us to do everything possible to promote active, healthy living.
Society will pay in the long run if parents are unable to resist their children’s pestering for unhealthy foods, but it is our vulnerable children and youth who will suffer the impacts of ill health. We owe it to them and to the sustainability of our health care system to protect them from being targets of ads for unhealthy food that is designed to be addictive.
Honourable senators, I realize that private corporations operate on a business plan that rewards them when they invest in successful marketing campaigns that increase their market share and drive value to their bottom line. Nowhere does it say that what they produce has to be healthy. Of course, it cannot be poisonous, but tasty snack food and sugar-sweetened beverages do not kill you, at least in the short term.
Honourable senators, when I talk about the legislation to young parents, they unanimously say how great it would be to have less commercialization around their kids. Parents are under a lot of pressure these days, and the last thing they need is to be pestered by their kids to buy products that the parents know aren’t good for them. Parents should be the last line of defence, not the only line of defence, against the pressures of omnipresent marketing that follows their kids everywhere.
I know this legislation is supported by a large majority of Canadians. Bill S-228 will not prohibit the sale of unhealthy food and beverages, but it will prevent them being marketed to kids. Leave the decision making up to the parents, but give them a chance.
Teenagers with their own buying power are also vulnerable, in some ways more vulnerable than young children, who at least have the filter of their parents.
Honourable senators, I look forward to moving Bill S-228 towards a vote in the Senate, and then to seeing it pass in the House of Commons and become law. As I’ve always said, it is only one part of the solution to the rising rates of obesity, but it is a very important first step.
Hon. Pamela Wallin: I would like a clarification. Senator Raine, you talked about marketing directed at children under 13, and then I thought I heard you say 17. Which is it?
Senator Raine: Thank you very much, Senator Wallin. During the committee hearings last June, we heard testimony that pointed out the latest research that’s been done on marketing towards adolescents, and there is strong evidence that there’s a period in the teen years when they are very susceptible to marketing. We probably all remember, as teenagers, wanting to do what your parents didn’t want you to do. There’s a vulnerability that comes along in the teen years, and this is a period when I believe we need to protect our youth.
I can think, for instance, of highly caffeinated beverages targeted at teenagers, and of course sports drinks are also targeting teenagers. There was a piece in the news just yesterday about that.
That is why the bill was amended in committee and is now being proposed to be amended to include marketing to children under the age of 17.
Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): Honourable senators, I rise today to speak on behalf of the government in support of Bill S-228, and urge its passage so that it can go to the other place and hopefully be adopted as soon as possible.
This bill is an important initiative to help ensure our children grow up healthy.
I want to thank the Honourable Senator Nancy Greene Raine for introducing this bill in the Senate just over a year ago, on September 27, 2016.
As a role model and a senator, her passion to help children be active and eat healthy food is inspiring. Her recollection just now of her regime as a young child growing up displays more enthusiasm for porridge than I experienced.
I also want to thank the Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology for their significant efforts in improving this important bill, and also its groundbreaking report on obesity in Canada, which informed the debate on this bill as well.
In studying Bill S-228 this past spring, the committee heard from many different stakeholders, including Canada’s food and beverage industries, advertising industries, health experts and advocates, and officials from Health Canada. Each brought their own perspective and views, and confirmed the importance of the senator’s bill.
Modern marketing techniques are very sophisticated and have a strong influence on our children’s food choices.
We all know that eating a healthy, balanced diet is vital for good health.
Through Health Canada, the Government of Canada promotes greater awareness among Canadians about nutrition and good eating habits. But these public efforts are increasingly challenged by messaging that emphasizes convenience over nutrition.
We are being inundated by persuasive marketing campaigns that promote highly processed and low nutrition foods as a fast, fun and easy choice.
Fast-paced lifestyles also leave many Canadians with little time to evaluate and compare packaging labels, serving sizes or calculate their daily consumption of key nutrients. As a result, processed foods high in salt, saturated fat and sugar have become a standard, rather than occasional, part of the Canadian diet.
And this convenience comes at an alarming cost to the individuals and to the public.
We are seeing some disturbing trends with respect to the health of Canadians and their poor food choices.
Over the past 30 years, we have seen a rise in all types of chronic diseases, like diabetes, cancer, stroke and heart disease, all related to nutrition. These diseases threaten the lives of millions of Canadians, particularly the targeted young Canadians.
Research clearly shows that obesity and poor diet are two of the major contributors to these health conditions. It is estimated that one in four Canadian adults is obese, and they learn that as youth.
Even more disturbing, these trends also exist among children.
Since 1980, obesity rates among children and youth in Canada have tripled. Today more than 1 in 3 Canadian children aged 6 to 17 are overweight or obese. That’s 1 in 3. As a result, children are now at an increased risk for developing high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, premature heart disease and stroke later in life.
Last year, the Minister of Health — the former minister — announced a new healthy eating strategy that supports healthier choices by simplifying package labelling, targeting the salt, fat and sugar content in foods, and it modernizes the food guide.
The Minister of Health has also committed to introducing new restrictions on the commercial marketing of unhealthy food and beverages to children.
As brought to light in the Senate’s report on Obesity in Canada, unhealthy eating patterns are common among Canadian children today and powerful marketing tactics have shaped their food preferences.
These marketing tactics are not limited to what we conventionally think of as advertising, such as television and print ads. Today our kids are targeted in multiple ways, in multiple settings, on multiple platforms. Here are some examples: fast food companies that use popular characters from TV and movies on their disposable cups, which usually contain sugary drinks; commercial content embedded in popular websites for children; or, pop-up ads that are targeted at individual children based on their personal information posted or collected online.
Experts who appeared before the committee confirmed that this type of marketing normalizes poor food choices in everyday life.
This type of marketing also undermines the efforts of parents and health advocates to promote healthier options.
Our Senate committee amended Bill S-228 and made it stronger by broadening the definition of children to include youth under 17 years of age. This means the law, should it be enacted, will also protect older youth and teens, a population, as the senator has indicated, that has become a frequent target of new advertising techniques.
As well, amendments limit the bill’s scope to “unhealthy” food — those foods high in salt, saturated fat and sugar — while still allowing the child-directed promotion of healthy foods.
The amended bill also gives the Governor-in-Council the authority to make regulations to carry out the new provisions in the Food and Drugs Act.
I am happy to report to you that through its work on the healthy eating strategy, Health Canada has already begun laying the groundwork for this regulatory scheme.
Health Canada is building a strong evidence-based approach to structure the coming into force of this bill should it be passed. Further, Health Canada launched an online consultation last June to ask Canadians, industry and health stakeholders what they think about some of these key issues. Honest, thoughtful and thorough feedback from Canadians will continue to be a helpful and important part of determining the precise regulatory approach that will be adopted.
This is a complex problem that affects a group of people who need our protection.
It’s important that we get it right so that our children have every chance to grow up healthy. The road ahead won’t necessarily be easy or without a difference of views. That being said, the new act and its regulations will be phased in to give industry an appropriate amount of time to adjust to the requirements of this act.
Undoubtedly, there are complex and challenging questions that still need to be answered as the regulations are developed. But Senator Greene Raine’s bill lays the groundwork for real change so that we have a healthier and more outward-oriented and active population of children, and greater protection for adults and particularly children as they become adults because of the conditions we know that unhealthy eating leads to.
I urge the bill’s passage as quickly as possible, again, so the other house can act on this matter.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
(On motion of Senator Patterson, debate adjourned.)
Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration
Eighteenth Report of Committee Adopted
The Senate proceeded to consideration of the eighteenth report of the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration, entitled Appointment of Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel of the Senate, presented in the Senate on September 26, 2017.
Hon. Leo Housakos moved the adoption of the report.
He said: Honourable senators, we presented the report in regard to the recommendation from the Internal Economy Committee to the Senate to make Jacqueline Kuehl the permanent Law Clerk of the Senate. I’m looking for approval from the Senate.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
(Motion agreed to and report adopted.)
Business of the Senate
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I wish to point out that Madam Kuehl is in the gallery.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Motion to Strike a Special Committee on the Arctic Adopted
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Watt, seconded by the Honourable Senator Cordy:
That a Special Committee on the Arctic be appointed to consider the significant and rapid changes to the Arctic, and impacts on original inhabitants;
That the committee be composed of ten members, to be nominated by the Committee of Selection, and that five members constitute a quorum;
That the committee have the power to send for persons, papers and records; to examine witnesses; and to publish such papers and evidence from day to day as may be ordered by the committee;
That the committee be authorized to hire outside experts;
That, notwithstanding rule 12-18(2)(b)(i), the committee have the power to sit from Monday to Friday, even though the Senate may then be adjourned for a period exceeding one week; and
That the committee be empowered to report from time to time and to submit its final report no later than December 10, 2018, and retain all powers necessary to publicize its findings until 60 days after the tabling of the final report.
Hon. Donald Neil Plett: Thank you, speaker. Colleagues, I want to commend certainly Senator Watt for bringing this forward. I think it’s a very good motion. Certainly, the previous government and the previous Prime Minister were very interested in advancing the Arctic region. So I commend Senator Watt and certainly Senator Patterson for working on this.
The reason I adjourned this item is I wanted a little more information. As the whip, of course, we’re always concerned about having more committees and trying to assign senators for those committees. As whips, we constantly find ourselves trying to find replacements for committees. Immediately there’s a concern when that happens. Another concern is that so often when a committee is struck there is no end date to the committee. So that was a concern that I had.
The size of the committee gave me pause. After discussing many of these things, including the length of the committee, I was assured by the table that a committee actually terminates on prorogation of Parliament. That issue was addressed.
In talking to Senator Patterson, he was agreeable to altering or amending the motion just a little bit. We discussed this further. Although I am very supportive of the motion itself, I would like to amend the motion slightly, again because of the size of the committees. In the past we have had committees that are smaller than they are now, and again we’re going to be discussing this after the sessional order ends but there’s a lot of feedback we’re getting that maybe some of our committees are too large. So I thought we would pre-empt that discussion and reduce the size of this committee a little.
Again I was told by the table that many committees, even though their membership is nine, the quorum is acceptable at four. I wasn’t aware of that. I thought we needed a majority.
In any event, I was told that that wasn’t the case. So I would move that amendment and then certainly be very supportive of this motion.
Motion in Amendment
Hon. Donald Neil Plett: Therefore, honourable senators, in amendment, I move:
That the motion be not now adopted, but that it be amended in the second paragraph:
1. by replacing the word “ten” by the word “nine”; and
2. by replacing the word “five” by the word “four”.
The Hon. the Speaker: Are honourable senators ready for the question?
Hon. Senators: Question.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion in amendment?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
(Motion in amendment of the Honourable Senator Plett agreed to.)
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, the motion to form the committee hasn’t been passed yet, it has just been amended.
Are honourable senators ready for the question on the motion as amended?
Hon. Senators: Question.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
(Motion agreed to, as amended.)
Trans Canada Trail
History, Benefits and Challenges—Inquiry—Debate Continued
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Tardif, calling the attention of the Senate to the Trans Canada Trail — its history, benefits and the challenges it is faced with as it approaches its 25th anniversary.
Hon. Joseph A. Day (Leader of the Senate Liberals): Honourable senators, before I begin my remarks, I’d like to congratulate Senator Watt on leading the charge on what I believe to be a very important special committee. I look forward to having an opportunity to participate.
You will note in my remarks in relation to the Trans Canada Trail, I do make reference to some work that the honourable senator has done in the Arctic that is important from the point of view of trails in Canada.
Honourable senators, I am pleased to join the debate in relation to Senator Tardif’s inquiry on the history, the benefits and the challenges that the Trans Canada Trail faces as it approaches its twenty-fifth anniversary. I would like to thank Senator Tardif for launching this inquiry and Senator Petitclerc for her important contribution to the debate.
As we heard from Senator Tardif and Senator Petitclerc, the Trans Canada Trail is also sometimes referred to as the Great Trail. I am not sure why they are changing the name. I like the Trans Canada Trail. I do note that in a lot of the media attention these days the term “the Great Trail,” is used maybe to mimic the Great Wall in China.
The Great Trail was the vision of two Canadians, Pierre Camu from Quebec and Bill Pratt from Alberta.
They envisaged the creation of a cross-country trail that would link together, not only our Canadian communities, but Canadians themselves. In 1992, when Canada was celebrating its one hundred and twenty-fifth anniversary, the Trans Canada Trail was officially born.
I had originally hoped to deliver these comments before the summer. At that time, I would have mentioned that 432 individual trails are now part of the network. At that time, before the summer of this year, that was 91 per cent of the proposed routes for the trail.
The goal was to finish the last 9 per cent this year as we celebrate both our country’s sesquicentennial as well as the trail’s twenty-fifth anniversary.
Honourable senators, I am pleased to be able to report that this goal has been met and that the great trail is now 100 per cent connected.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Senator Day: On August 26, this milestone was celebrated in every province and territory with almost 200 events taking place across the country. The national event was held right here in Ottawa featuring some words from our Governor General, the Right Honourable David Johnston. Though not complete, the trail is fully connected and spans 24,000 kilometres from the Atlantic to the Pacific to the Arctic Oceans, travelling truly from sea to sea to sea. It crosses through every province and territory and connects Canadians in over 15,000 communities. Truly, this is a great national project, and the hope is that the thousands, if not millions, of Canadians and visitors will continue to ensure the preservation and exploration of these trails in the years and generations to come.
Senator Tardif spoke about the dreams for the trail, as well as some of the challenges it faces. As she described, one of the unique features of the trail is also the source of one of its greatest challenges — its Achilles heel, as she described it.
That is that each section of the trail in each province or territory is different. They are used differently, they are funded differently, and they are maintained differently. Senator Tardif told us of the problems that have resulted, including, most tragically, terrible accidents on parts of the trail where it was diverted onto a highway. She spoke of the growing voices calling for national standards for building safety and access along the trail. Senator Petitclerc expressed her support for improving safety on the trail, and I add my voice as well.
I’m encouraged that the organizers acknowledge that the trail will never be truly finished but, rather, is ever evolving and, most importantly, constantly being improved.
This is something that is acknowledged on their website: that it is not car-free and that there are roadway routes that must be shared with motorized vehicles. The website for the Trans Canada Trail indicates that:
The majority of roadway routes are on secondary or rural roads that have significantly less traffic than major highways. In some areas, roadways are the preferred route of The Great Trail; in others they are interim links until greenway or waterway can be developed.
I am hopeful that we will see not only more improvements to the existing trail but also opportunities for all of us to participate in shaping what the trail should be for the future.
I would be very pleased to see the trail adopt a policy of having trails that are for non-motorized use only. That would be a safety-oriented policy and one that I would certainly support. I am encouraged by the federal government’s commitment in its Budget 2017 to invest $30 million over the next five years to help “complete, enhance and maintain the Trans Canada Trail, in partnership with the provinces and individual Canadians” who share the vision for the Trans Canada Trail.
The importance of collaboration is a key feature of the trail as we highlight and honour the different ways these trails are connected and the people who helped create them, because, of course, our country was forged by trails. One of the most striking aspects of the Trans Canada Trail, and why it is so aptly linked to the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of our country, is that these new trails will not only connect us to each other, but will also reconnect us to our past.
Trails trace our history. They are the cartography of our nation, from the first trails created by the First Nations, the Metis and the Inuit, to those built and followed by the early settlers as they crossed and recrossed the land and waterways we now call Canada.
Last October, our colleague Senator Watt organized a presentation here in the Senate by Dr. Claudio Aporta of Dalhousie University. He had worked with Inuit hunters and elders to map traditional and present routes of the Inuit, and last October, he and Senator Watt shared those maps with the Senate and with the public generally. The mapping of these routes is vital work that helps us to understand the important history of our North. These trails show us how the Inuit accessed sources of food and fuel and where connections were forged between communities, and they contribute to our understanding of the Inuit’s extensive knowledge of our adjoining oceans and sea ice.
A portion of the Trans Canada Trail indeed overlaps with some of these traditional Inuit routes: The Itijjagiaq Trail, whose name means “over the land” in Inuktitut, covers both land and water in Nunavut. From Iqaluit to Kimmirut, this 177-kilometre stretch is typically a hiking trail in the summer and a dog sled or snowmobile trail in the winter. The Itijjagiaq Trail was officially included as part of the Trans Canada Trail last November, making the Nunavut section fully connected.
Nunavut was the sixth province or territory to reach 100 per cent connection status, after Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, the Yukon, Saskatchewan and my own province of New Brunswick, which recently celebrated 100 per cent connection as well, stretching over 900 kilometres and connecting New Brunswick to Quebec, P.E.I. and Nova Scotia. That is the trail in New Brunswick.
In New Brunswick, we already had plenty of reason to be proud of the magnificent linear park known as the Fundy Trail. This spectacular 2,559-hectare park is not only now a section of the Trans Canada Trail, but it is part of two UNESCO-designated World Heritage Sites: Stonehammer Global Geopark and the Fundy Biosphere Reserve. It features scenic outlooks and footpaths as well as beaches and a suspension footbridge. There is something for everyone, whether you want to hike, bike, kayak or drive an automobile.
The Bay of Fundy is one of New Brunswick’s finest natural attractions, and the Fundy Trail offers us the opportunity to observe its unique beauty while ensuring the connection of the escarpment’s delicate ecosystem.
I would encourage all honourable senators to visit this beautiful place, the Fundy Trail in southern New Brunswick, whenever you have the opportunity.
As I was preparing my remarks for this inquiry, I found myself reflecting on the similarities between the Trans Canada Trail and the issues that were raised in the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce’s work during our work on the national trade corridor. We heard some interesting testimony about the challenges of creating such a corridor. I suspect that the challenges of the Trans Canada Trail were not unlike the larger trade corridor challenges. In spite of this, each endeavour will greatly assist in bringing our communities and our country closer together.
The collaborative achievement of the Trans Canada Trail is encouraging for the future prospects of the creation of a national trade corridor.
The need to manage something in a national scope, while also considering provincial, territorial and indigenous concerns, is not something new for us. Projects of such complexity require vision, determination and compromise.
The undertaking of the Trans Canada Trail was first announced 25 years ago and, just this year, was finally, entirely and fully connected, but there is still more work to be done. The ongoing dedication to carry out such undertakings highlights the strength of our leadership and each success is worth celebrating in its own right.
The trail is an important symbol for Canada, one that connects our past to our present and provides that path to the future. It reminds us that, though our country is vast, there are connections that tie us together.
I encourage all honourable senators to find a portion of the Trans Canada Trail at or near your community and take some time to explore it.
Congratulations to the Trans Canada Trail!
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Hon. Claudette Tardif: Would the senator accept a question?
Senator Day: Yes.
Senator Tardif: I thank my colleague for contributing so eloquently to this inquiry and for enhancing our knowledge and understanding of the Trans Canada Trail that is in every province in the country. I am also very encouraged by the progress and financial investment that has been made to add more links to connect the different sections of the trail.
When I started researching the Trans Canada Trail, I noticed that there was great collaboration between the provinces, but I also noticed that there were many challenges. You alluded to those. I’m thinking of the trails of inconsistent quality and some of the trails that go along major highways, which could jeopardize the safety of the users. I’m also thinking of the fact that motorized recreational vehicles can be driven on these routes that people usually use for walking, running, biking, and so on.
Do you believe that the federal government has a role to play in doing more to ensure the safety of those using the trail?
Senator Day: First, allow me to thank the senator for initiating this inquiry. It was a pleasure to study the Trans Canada Trail.
I believe that the federal government has a role to play, especially a financial one since, as I said in my speech, it is allocating roughly $30 million over five years to help the provinces and territories.
However, although the federal government attended meetings with the provinces to establish common standards, developing the rules requires the provinces and territories to agree. As you said in your speech, this is where problems can arise. I hope that the situation will continue to improve, but let’s not forget that it is much better now than it was five years ago.
(On motion of Senator Martin, for Senator McIntyre, debate adjourned.)
Motion to Urge the Government to Call Upon the Government of Myanmar to End Violence and Gross Violations of Human Rights Against Rohingya Muslims—Motion in Modification Adopted—Debate Adjourned
Hon. Salma Ataullahjan: Honourable senators, I wish to move the following motion in modification:
pursuant to rule 5-10(1) I ask leave of the Senate to modify the motion by replacing the words “that the Senate call upon the Government of Myanmar” with the words “that the Senate urge the Government of Canada to call upon the Government of Myanmar.”
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senators, is leave granted?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Leave is granted. Senator Ataullahjan, please move your motion as modified.
Senator Ataullahjan, pursuant to notice of September 21, 2017, moved:
That the Senate urge the Government of Canada to call upon the Government of Myanmar:
1.to bring an immediate end to the violence and gross violations of human rights against Rohingya Muslims;
2.to fulfill its pledge to uphold the spirit and letter of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; and
3.to respond to the urgent calls of the international community and allow independent monitors entry into the country forthwith, in particular Rakhine State; and
That a message be sent to the House of Commons requesting that house to unite with the Senate for the above purpose.
She said: Honourable senators, since August 25, 2017, the human rights situation for the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar has become more perilous and horrific as each day has passed.
Reports of brutal violence and violations of human rights perpetrated by the Myanmar government forces against the Rohingya, including: sexual violence; rape; massive gang rape; torture; killing of civilians, including infants and children; disappearances; families burned alive in their homes; torching of entire villages; and indiscriminate attacks against those fleeing, including the shooting of women and children, continue to come to the fore.
One year ago, Myanmar government forces perpetrated a similar series of attacks against Rohingya Muslims that, at the time, the United Nations said were probably crimes against humanity, with one UN official describing the attacks as tantamount to ethnic cleansing.
When speaking to the current ongoing attacks, international experts have warned that the situation in Myanmar has all the hallmarks of past tragedies in Rwanda, Darfur, Bosnia and Kosovo.
The UN’s human rights chief has said that the recent violent security crackdown by the Myanmar military seems like a textbook example of ethnic cleansing, and, last week, the Canadian foreign minister said that the violence against the Rohingya looks a lot like ethnic cleansing.
In this regard, the international community has vehemently and persistently called on the Government of Myanmar to allow entry of independent observers into the country. However, the government has refused to do so.
Haunting images of Rohingya trying to escape the attacks, terrified, with little food or drink, some suffering from gunshot wounds or burns themselves, carrying the elderly, infirm and babies in baskets, on their backs and in their arms, are being reported on a daily basis.
Of the approximately 1.1 million Rohingya living in Rakhine state, more than 420,000, 60 per cent of whom are children, have fled to Bangladesh looking for safe shelter, most without any possessions and many with physical and emotional injuries, as well as dangerous levels of malnutrition.
One Bangladeshi border guard stationed at Kutupalong said that what he has witnessed is unlike anything he has ever seen and that it breaks all records of inhumanity.
Honourable senators, it is imperative that the ongoing crisis facing Rohingya Muslims be addressed on an urgent basis. Therefore, I ask that you support this motion.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: I have a question.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Senator Ataullahjan, will you accept a question?
Senator Ataullahjan: Yes.
Senator Jaffer: Senator, I listened to you carefully and no one in this place needs to know what is happening with the crisis. You live in Toronto, and there have been many protests there that our government should do more. There is this call. In other countries, our government has been very proactive when such a terrible thing has happened. Our government has spoken to the Prime Minister and has sent form letters, but it hasn’t done anything further. What do you think our government should be doing?
Senator Ataullahjan: Just being at protests and listening to what the Rohingya and other people are saying, they feel it is a time for action, not words.
While I was happy that the Minister of Foreign Affairs said that it looks like an ethnic cleansing issue, what we are hearing from experts is that it is ethnic cleansing.
(On motion of Senator Jaffer, debate adjourned.)
(At 3:52 p.m., the Senate was continued until tomorrow at 1:30 p.m.)