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1st Session, 42nd Parliament
Volume 150, Issue 154

Wednesday, November 1, 2017
The Honourable George J. Furey, Speaker


THE SENATE

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

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

Prayers.

[Translation]

Victims of Tragedy

New York City—Silent Tribute

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I would like to take a moment to acknowledge a cowardly act of terrorism committed in New York yesterday.

[English]

Eight innocent people lost their lives, and at least one dozen were injured. This type of heinous attack is a stark reminder of the need for all of us to exercise vigilance.

I now invite everyone to rise for a moment of silence in memory of the victims and in solidarity with our friends in the United States of America.

(Honourable senators then stood in silent tribute.)


SENATORS’ STATEMENTS

Human Trafficking

Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, I rise today to speak about one of the world’s most pressing crises, the epidemic of human trafficking. This is a crisis that affects many children worldwide. In 2012 alone, over 2 million children were subjected to trafficking in the global commercial sex trade. This number is steadily rising.

Over the 30 years I have worked on this issue, I have had the opportunity to collaborate with International Justice Mission Canada, a non-profit that works with authorities to rescue and rehabilitate victims of trafficking. To show what kind of work that International Justice Mission does, I would like to share the story of Sani, a young girl they rescued.

When Sani was 14, she met a man who offered her a job in another part of the country. Instead, he drugged her and sold her to a brothel. At first Sani refused to meet customers, but she was beaten mercilessly and locked in a room for seven days. After she was raped for the first time, Sani was passed from one brothel to another. This became her life. On average, Sani serviced 25 men a day.

Sani’s experience is too common. On average, a trafficker in South Asia can make between $9,000 and $66,000 a year from one girl. In this environment, girls like Sani lose hope of going free.

Thankfully, a rescue operation led by the local police and supported by International Justice Mission Canada freed her from the brothel and immediately provided her with rehabilitation services. Within one year of her rescue, Sani enrolled in a nursing program and completed it, ranking third in her class. She currently manages the hospital’s dialysis unit.

Shortly after her rescue, Sani gained permission from a magistrate to take part in a rescue operation to help save other girls. She led police and International Justice Mission to a brothel and showed them every hiding place. Nine girls were rescued that day.

Girls must never suffer like Sani did. Canada needs to play a part in ending human trafficking. Currently, sadly, Canada is ranked third out of 60 countries for hosting websites selling child cybersex materials online. This is unacceptable.

Honourable senators, I have contacted every member of Parliament and senator about this issue and will send a second round of follow-up letters soon. I urge you to join me in displaying on your devices #NotOnMyScreen stickers and to help end child cybersex trafficking now. Senators, the girls and boys around the world and in our country need your support. I ask for your support.

[Translation]

Visitors in the Gallery

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I wish to draw your attention to the presence in the gallery of Hélène Bouchard, who is retiring after 35 years of service to the Senate. She is accompanied by her mother Rita Emond and her husband Normand Brunet.

On behalf of all honourable senators, I thank you for all your contributions to the Senate.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

[English]

Rolling Rampage on Parliament Hill

Hon. Sarabjit S. Marwah: Honourable senators, it is with pleasure that I rise today to acknowledge an event that was recently hosted on Parliament Hill, and that is the eleventh annual Rolling Rampage. I had the honour of co-chairing the event this year alongside my colleagues Senators Martin, Munson and Petitclerc.

The Rolling Rampage has become a signature event on Parliament Hill, bringing together parliamentarians, staff, international athletes and stakeholder groups to raise awareness of the remarkable abilities and achievements of those living with physical disabilities.

The morning consisted of a wheelchair relay race between parliamentarians, staff and sponsors, including many in this chamber who I think would all agree that it is a lot harder than it looks. This was followed by a 10-kilometre race of 20 world-renowned athletes fighting for victory at an average speed of over 30 kilometres an hour.

I would like to recognize and congratulate all the athletes who travelled to Ottawa to participate this year. The two who placed first were Ms. Amanda McGrory from the United States and Mr. Marcel Hug from Switzerland.

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After the event, all athletes and participants were invited to a reception given by the Speaker of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Commons, which Prime Minister Trudeau attended. I would also note that the Prime Minister participated in the race in 2011.

To our sponsors, thank you for your support.

Finally, a very special thank you to a former colleague and friend, the Honourable Vim Kochhar, who is Chair of the Canadian Foundation for Physically Disabled People. He is the driving force behind the Rolling Rampage, and we couldn’t have done this event without him.

Thank you again to all who participated this year.

[Translation]

National Francophone Immigration Week

Hon. René Cormier: Honourable senators, in every region in Canada we are celebrating National Francophone Immigration Week, an opportunity for us to create and strengthen ties between Francophone immigrants and host communities who care deeply about the French language.

This year, the fifth annual National Francophone Immigration Week is taking place under the theme “One language, a thousand accents, a diversity that unites us”. It identifies promoting francophone immigration as a government priority, and notes the strong link between francophone immigration and the vitality of Canada’s official languages.

Last week, Statistics Canada released the highlights of the 2016 census on immigration and ethno-cultural diversity, confirming the fact that, currently, 2.6 per cent of newcomers living outside Quebec have French as their primary spoken official language, which is well below the government’s target for 2018, which was to have at least 4 per cent of francophone newcomers among all economic immigrants living outside Quebec.

According to that same Statistics Canada publication, 21.9 per cent of the Canadian population declared being or having been an immigrant or a permanent resident of Canada, which is comparable to the highest recorded rate in our history at 22.3 per cent in 1921. More than one in five people, or 21.9 per cent of the Canadian population, were born abroad. If Statistics Canada’s projections prove to be accurate, by 2036 between 24 and 30 per cent of the Canadian population will declare having been born abroad.

It is quite clear that immigration will play a decisive role in Canada’s demographic future, and we are counting on measures from this government to ensure fair proportionality, which will enhance the vitality of francophone and Acadian communities outside Quebec by supporting their development in a concrete and active manner.

In that regard, we welcome the approach taken by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, which announced its plans to develop a separate strategy to promote francophone immigration from 2018 to 2023. We will also pay close attention to the multi-year immigration plan that the minister will be announcing today.

Honourable senators, during this National Francophone Immigration Week, let’s reflect on how we can support the development of our official language minority communities and recognize the value and richness of the contributions made by newcomers to the vitality of our communities. We are a nation of immigrants. Let’s break down barriers and make sure that our country is increasingly inclusive and united. Thank you.

Canadian University Research

Hon. Claudette Tardif: Honourable senators, the U15, an organization representing 15 of Canada’s leading universities, is celebrating the fifth anniversary of its founding this evening. I would like to take this opportunity to underscore the importance of university research in Canada.

According to Universities Canada, 84 per cent of Canadians believe that countries that do not invest in research will fall behind economically. Moreover, 86 per cent believe that the federal government should spend more on university research.

Finally, nearly 90 per cent of Canadians agree that investing in fundamental research is the best way to ensure that Canada is a leader in innovation for the long term. Unfortunately, when it comes to research intensity, Canada has fallen behind compared to its foreign counterparts.

[English]

At the request of the Minister of Science, Kirsty Duncan, Canada’s Fundamental Science Review advisory panel, composed of nine eminent Canadians, tabled in April its report entitled Investing in Canada’s Future: Strengthening the Foundations of Canadian Research. Led by David Naylor, a former President of the University of Toronto, the review panel held round table discussions in five cities, accepted 1,275 written submissions and engaged 230 researchers in consultations, producing a report of just under 250 pages on the state of basic science and scholarly inquiry in Canada.

Canada’s universities are calling for the government to commit to a significant increase in support for discovery research, a dedicated support fund for international research collaboration, and stable and predictable funding for the Canada Foundation for Innovation. The panel also suggested an overhaul of the system to make it more user-friendly and to encourage younger researchers who are trying to establish their careers in a fast-moving and competitive landscape.

[Translation]

I hope that the federal government will implement the excellent recommendations set out in this report and that it will continue to improve and enhance the system for allocating research funding. Thank you.

Visitors in the Gallery

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I wish to draw your attention to the presence in the gallery of Ms. Céline Monette Loiseau, Mr. Yves Loiseau, Mr. Germain Monette and Ms. Lucille Leblanc Monette. They are the guests of the Honourable Senator Mégie.

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

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

United Nations

Hon. Rosa Galvez: Honourable senators, I rise today to mark the anniversary of the founding of the United Nations. On Tuesday, October 24, the UN celebrated its 72nd anniversary. In 1945, following a devastating world war, all of the nations met together in a spirit of cooperation to work toward a better world. Thus, the UN Charter was created to maintain international peace and security, develop friendly relations among nations, encourage respect for human rights, and harmonize the actions of nations in the attainment of these common ends.

Today, more than ever, we must recognize how essential the UN is to international cooperation. We must find global solutions to the major issues that affect us all. For example, every nation around the world must contribute to the efforts to combat climate change. Pollution and extreme weather events know no borders and no one is immune.

On this anniversary, I would especially like to recognize the work of the United Nations Framework on Climate Change. Thanks to this framework, 169 countries ratified the historic Paris agreement, which seeks to mitigate the effects of climate change. Although the United States has threatened to withdraw from the agreement, many states and 82 cities in the U.S. have announced that they will continue to abide by it.

The UN has also adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, a plan of action for people, planet and prosperity. Its 17 sustainable development goals and 169 targets help nations work towards objectives such as combatting climate change, ending poverty, ensuring quality education, protecting ecosystems, and building resilient infrastructure.

In addition to environmental cooperation, the UN is essential for managing the global issues of refugees and human rights abuses. The UN reports that in 2016, more than 65 million people were displaced from their region of origin, with 28,300 people a day driven from their homes due to conflict and persecution. The UN’s scope of work is enormous. We need to support its international efforts to improve every human being’s quality of life.

Colleagues, remember that the UN supplies vaccines to 45 per cent of the world’s children, keeps the peace in war-torn regions, promotes cultural outreach, and much, much more. The UN is an organization that works for the planet and everyone living on it. This tribute to the UN’s global contribution is offered in celebration of its anniversary today. We need to work together to help it succeed in the decades and centuries to come.

Thank you very much.

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[English]

Visitors in the Gallery

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I wish to draw your attention to the presence in the gallery of Savannah Gentile and Josephine Dufour. They are the guests of the Honourable Senator Pate.

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

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

Hélène Bouchard

Congratulations on Retirement

Hon. Leo Housakos: Honourable senators, “on time and under budget” are five of my favourite words and even more so when they come from one of my favourite people, Madame Hélène Bouchard. Hélène is leaving us next week, embarking on a much-deserved retirement, but just because it’s deserved doesn’t mean we have to like it.

[Translation]

As chair of the Internal Economy Committee over the past few years, I worked closely with Hélène in her capacity as Director of Information Services and, more recently, as Interim Chief Corporate Services Officer.

[English]

I have to admit that when I think back to some of those first meetings a couple of years ago, I don’t think poor Hélène quite knew what to make of me. But I will say this: I came to learn very quickly that Hélène is one of the toughest people I’ve ever met and had to negotiate with. I think it’s safe to say she quickly learned how to win me over because as tough as she is, she is equally as charming.

But there’s another quality of Hélène’s that I have come to admire and respect greatly and that is her work ethic and commitment to getting the job done — and not only done, but done always on time and always on budget.

[Translation]

Hélène has been working for the Senate since 1982 in various positions within the corporate and legislative sectors. She was among the early pioneers of computerization in the Senate. Even though she is leaving us, she will leave her mark as we move to our new temporary location next year. During her 12 years as Director of Information Services, Hélène was responsible for directing the development of all information technologies, telecommunications, broadcasting and multimedia services, and records management and archives for the Senate.

[English]

Until her appointment as interim CCSO, she represented the Senate on the Information Technology Steering Committee to manage the technology requirements of the Building Components and Connectivity Program of the Long-Term Vision and Plan framework for the Parliamentary Precinct. So while she’s leaving us for greener pastures, she has definitely left her mark on this institution for over 35 years, and she has done that in more ways than one.

I, for one, will miss you dearly, Hélène. This institution is better for having had you here and at our service. On behalf of Internal Economy and personally, I thank you.

Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!


[Translation]

ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

The Senate

Notice of Motion to Affect Question Period on November 7, 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, November 7, 2017, Question Period shall begin at 3:30 p.m., with any proceedings then before the Senate being interrupted until the end of Question Period, which shall last a maximum of 40 minutes;

That, if a standing vote would conflict with the holding of Question Period at 3:30 p.m. on that day, the vote be postponed until immediately after the conclusion of Question Period;

That, if the bells are ringing for a vote at 3:30 p.m. on that day, they be interrupted for Question Period at that time, and resume thereafter for the balance of any time remaining; and

That, if the Senate concludes its business before 3:30 p.m. on that day, the sitting be suspended until that time for the purpose of holding Question Period.

[English]

Adjournment

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, November 7, 2017, at 2 p.m.

[Translation]

Criminal Code

Bill to Amend—First Reading

The Hon. the Speaker: informed the Senate that a message had been received from the House of Commons with Bill C-46, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (offences relating to conveyances) and to make consequential amendments to other Acts.

(Bill read first time.)

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

(On motion of Senator Harder, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for second reading two days hence.)

International Mother Language Day Bill

First Reading

Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: introduced Bill S-241, An Act to establish International Mother Language Day.

(Bill read first time.)

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

(On motion of Senator Jaffer, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for second reading two days hence.)

[English]

Competition Act

Bill to Amend—First Reading

Hon. Tobias C. Enverga, Jr. introduced Bill S-242, An Act to amend the Competition Act (misrepresentations to public).

(Bill read first time.)

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

(On motion of Senator Enverga, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for second reading two days hence.)

Canada-Africa Parliamentary Association

Bilateral Mission, August 25-30, 2017—Report Tabled

Hon. A. Raynell Andreychuk: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian Delegation of the Canada-Africa Parliamentary Association respecting its bilateral mission to Accra, Republic of Ghana and Banjul, Republic of Gambia, from August 25 to 30, 2017.


QUESTION PERIOD

Finance

Disability Tax Credit

Hon. Larry W. Smith (Leader of the Opposition): My question today is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate and concerns the Economic and Fiscal Outlook released yesterday by the Parliamentary Budget Officer. The PBO’s report shows that GDP growth will fall over the coming years, averaging 1.7 per cent between 2020 and 2022. However, despite this predicted slowdown in our economic growth, the government’s revenues are projected to rise steadily through 2023.

Your government has repeatedly taken decisions that target the wallets of middle-class Canadians. For example, this year’s budget hikes taxes on public transit users, ride-sharing services such as Uber and beer and spirits.

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As we have seen in recent days, the government is now raising taxes on diabetics and Canadians with mental health issues by denying them coverage under the Disability Tax Credit.

Senator Harder, could you help us: Why does your government continue to raise taxes on middle-class Canadians instead of focusing on growing the economy?

Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): Again I thank the honourable senator for his question. He references the PBO report, the analysis of which confirms what the government has been saying and what I have reported to this house with respect to the downward trajectory of the debt-to-GDP ratio, which is on track and, as honourable senators will know, is the fiscal anchor of this government.

I should also point out that the PBO references the reality that the Canadian economy is growing faster than it has in a decade, with average growth of over 3.7 per cent over the last four quarters. As honourable senators will know, this makes Canada’s growth rate the highest in the G7, which is a terrific accomplishment.

I should also report that the economy has created over 450,000 jobs in the last two years, and the unemployment rate has dropped to its lowest level since 2002.

The government is committed to sound fiscal management, and it continues to make investments to assure our long-term future growth and our strong middle class in Canada is able to contribute to our ongoing well-being.

I think it’s important to note that this government, from its first act, which was Bill S-2, a middle-class tax cut, to its most recent act, the second budget implementation bill, tabled in the other place last week, continues to have a measured response to investment to secure ongoing growth while being judicious in its spending.

Infrastructure and Communities

Project Funding

Hon. Larry W. Smith (Leader of the Opposition): Senator Harder, you said “fiscal anchor,” but sometimes anchors fall in the water and do not serve a good purpose.

The PBO clearly stated that this initial flurry by the government in terms of its growth projections is now stalling to a halt at 1.7 per cent for the rest of this year. So as great as the story is, there seems to be an issue, and that’s what we’re trying to get at with the questions.

Yesterday, the report from the PBO also showed the program expenses were lower “due in part to an estimated $1.8 billion in unspent infrastructure funding.” This corresponds with the data in the government’s own annual financial report in September, which also revealed lower-than-expected infrastructure payments. As well, Minister Sohi’s office recently confirmed to the media that the government will move about $2 billion in infrastructure spending to future years.

My question, sir, is this: If the infrastructure spending is so important to your government’s overall economic agenda, then why are you having so much difficulty getting the money out the door?

Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): Again, I thank the honourable senator for his supplementary question. Let me first welcome his comment with respect to the great news of the economic references on growth and economic performance, including on employment. That is indeed good news for Canada. He also references the PBO’s report of the prognosis going forward and some headwinds that Western industrialized economies are facing. That is why the government’s economic package includes ongoing investments in infrastructure and other programs that are vital to sustaining the economic growth that the government is committed to, which gives me the opportunity to respond to the question the honourable senator asked with respect to the infrastructure program.

As the Minister of Infrastructure stated when he was here answering questions, and indeed this very question, he indicated that he would not be surprised if there were a delay in the expenditures of certain infrastructure funds because the contributions of the Government of Canada are the last in the process to be released. He referenced, and the government is committed, to working with our infrastructure partners collaboratively in identifying the right projects.

To date, more than 4,000 projects have been identified and approved, and this represents an investment of more than $35 billion. It is the role of the minister to responsibly, in collaboration with our partners on infrastructure, release the funds as appropriate. The government is on track for its infrastructure investments.

Health

Autism Support and Funding

Hon. Leo Housakos: Honourable senators, my question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate concerns the ever-growing crisis in this country with autism.

I was particularly proud last month to co-sponsor the National Autism Awareness Month activities here in the Senate with Senator Bernard and Senator Munson. I want to thank all the senators who rose in the chamber and spoke so passionately in regard to this issue. We are trying to bring attention, given the fact it is the 10-year anniversary of the Pay Now or Pay Later report, in which, once again, a Senate committee showed it was cutting edge in identifying a serious problem in this country.

We had the opportunity to host a Facebook live panel and other stakeholders here in the Senate. We heard the heart-wrenching stories of families that are dealing with this crisis on a day-to-day basis.

As a follow-up to the important month we had, where the Senate showed a lot of compassion in listening to people dealing with this issue, my colleagues and I sent a letter to the Prime Minister and to the Minister of Health requesting a meeting so that we can share some of the findings of our discussions with the stakeholders, and also reset and reignite the interest in the historic study on autism that this chamber passed 10 years ago.

Today we are seeking your support in trying to convince the government of the importance of this issue. We would like to have your support in trying to arrange a meeting for us with the Prime Minister and the Minister of Health, and on an ongoing basis we would like to count on you in giving support to autism.

Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I thank the honourable senator for his question and welcome his question very much.

Let me begin by congratulating the honourable senator and other senators who have been speaking on this important issue — not just in the last month, although that has been the highlight — but in the last 10 years. We can all be proud of the work that has been done over the years by the Senate of Canada in bringing this issue to the public’s mind and to the agenda of governments.

I, of course, will welcome seeing the letter and bringing it to the attention of the addressees and seeking an opportunity to deliver the request.

I would also, though, take the opportunity to acknowledge that over the course of the last five years the Canadian Institutes of Health Research has spent $39 million in advanced research with respect to autism spectrum disorder. In addition, as the honourable senators will know, Employment and Social Development Canada is investing $15 million in the Ready, Willing and Able initiative, which is delivered through a partnership between the Canadian Association for Community Living and the Canadian Autism Spectrum Disorders Alliance.

These are important investments, but as honourable senators will know, there is always more to be done. The work being done in the Senate, the attention being drawn to this issue, can only help government and engage with ministers. I make a commitment to the honourable senator and others to pursue this.

Hon. Jim Munson: I am glad Senator Harder brought up Ready, Willing and Able because in that Pay Now or Pay Later report part of the emphasis was on jobs — jobs for those on the spectrum who need to be employed. In fact, one of the persons in that report did say if you pay now, look at the return on the investment. You have people who are in the workforce.

The previous government followed up on our report with Ready, Willing and Able. As you may know, Ready, Willing and Able is a government funding program that provides individualized assistance for becoming a more inclusive employer, identification of candidates, disability awareness, connections to community agencies that provide employment services and supports and on-the-job support to employees with an intellectual disability or ASD.

It has come to my attention — and the senator just talked about the program that is in place and that the current government is funding — that the program will cease as of January 31, 2018. So I am hopeful that the discussions under way with the federal government will move on beyond the proposed three-year extension. Without this program, 1,457 employment outcomes achieved to the end of September 2017 would never have materialized.

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Will the government renew the funding for this essential program that enables individuals with intellectual disabilities to thrive as members of our workforce? Will we pay now or pay later?

Senator Harder: Again, I thank the honourable senator for his question and for his and other senators’ work in this area. I would be happy to take his request for ongoing funding to the minister.

I would also, in that context, reference the request of the Honourable Senator Housakos so that there can be a direct conversation on this matter.

Hon. Wanda Thomas Bernard: Honourable senators, my question is for the Government Representative in the Senate. Senator Harder, as my colleagues Senator Housakos and Senator Munson have reminded us, during Autism Awareness Month in October, we heard from many senators that there is a need for a national autism strategy. I want to take this opportunity to thank all honourable senators who have spoken in support of this initiative.

Many of us who spoke advocated for the improvement of services on behalf of our communities. Senator Lankin, only yesterday, reminded us of the need to address gaps across the lifespan for individuals with ASD. Senator Christmas informed us of the needs of indigenous communities, and I spoke of the needs of African-Canadian families.

I believe that families and individuals living with ASD, who experience multiple, intersecting oppressions, should be made a priority in the national autism strategy.

My question, Senator Harder, is: What can you do to help us to get the government to move forward with more actions? Thank you for reminding us of the investments that have been made, but we know that there are still many gaps and much more that needs to be done.

Senator Harder: Again, I thank the honourable senator for her question and for her work with other senators, both those who have spoken on this matter and others.

Let me make the commitment to bring the work of the Senate, particularly the focus of the last month, to the attention of the appropriate ministers and, in response to Senator Housakos’s question, to seek an opportunity for senators to engage directly with the ministers concerned.

National Defence

Missions and Recruitment

Hon. Pamela Wallin: Honourable senators, my question is for the Government Representative. I want to follow up on my question yesterday to the minister.

We have been told that the Chief of the Defence Staff actually briefed cabinet yesterday. Nobody will know the details of that, but we are assuming that there would be some advice as to what missions will be committed to in the near future.

As I asked the minister, I will ask you: Can you give us an update, please, on the current missions and operations and the number of CAF members that are deployed?

Can you also give us an up-to-date number on the recruitment numbers in the three categories of service, Reserve and Special Ops?

Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I want to thank the honourable senator for her question. The minister, yesterday, committed to getting back to the honourable senator. Let me, with the question being asked today, commit to ensuring that that answer is shared with all senators.

International Trade

Chinese Investment in Canada

Hon. Thanh Hai Ngo: Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate.

China Communications Construction, the Chinese state-owned enterprise, announced a $1.45 billion deal to acquire the Aecon Group, Canada’s largest publicly traded construction company.

This month, the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade heard from Professor Paul Evans, from the Institute of Asian Research and Liu Institute of Global Issues, who says that there are serious concerns about the growing presence and influence of China in Canada. Dealing with China on security issues is not only about things taking place elsewhere but developments inside Canada itself. This anxiety is now increased when the Government of Canada is thinking of selling a Canadian construction company, whose critical work includes Toronto’s CN Tower, the Sky Train in Vancouver, shipyards in Halifax, the Darlington Nuclear Facility, Toronto’s subway system and several projects for the Canadian military.

What is most concerning about this foreign acquisition is this: China Communications Construction has helped China to assert its claim in the disputed South China Sea by building an illegal artificial island. If this deal goes through, honourable senators, not only would Canada be endorsing a Chinese state-owned enterprise responsible for escalating the territorial dispute in the South China Sea, it would give its seal of approval to the expansion of islands deemed illegal by the International Court in The Hague in July 2016.

My question for the leader: Can you tell us if the Government of Canada is aware of the impact that this deal would have on Canada’s international interests and foreign relations? Is the government going through with this acquisition?

Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): Again, I thank the honourable senator for his question. Let me be clear: In his preamble, the honourable senator said that the Government of Canada was selling this company. This is a private transaction, which the Government of Canada, through the Investment Canada Act, will have to review.

As honourable senators will know, significant investments by non-Canadians need to be reviewed on the basis of their benefit to Canada, to determine whether or not the sale would be injurious to national security.

The proposed acquisition of Aecon will be reviewed on the basis of its merits, by the appropriate review authorities, and, as with all foreign investments, the national security review process will apply. It is a multi-step process, led by Canada’s security agencies, as the honourable senator will know.

I should point out that, in this case, during the net-benefit review, the government will also be applying guidelines regarding state-owned enterprises. Canada welcomes state-owned enterprise investment that is commercially motivated, by investors that adhere to Canadian standards of corporate governance. The guidelines on state-owned enterprises provide added assurance that the Canadian business will continue to operate on a commercial basis.

That is the context in which this proposed sale will be reviewed by the appropriate authorities. It would be inappropriate for me, or anybody in government, to comment and preempt that review.

Foreign Affairs

Special Envoy to Myanmar

Hon. David Tkachuk: Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate.

Senator Harder, inside Global Affairs Canada, there is a specific department devoted to South East Asia. There are 16 people in that department, one of whom is specifically dedicated to Myanmar. The Prime Minister has his own foreign and defence policy advisor in the Privy Council Office. He is supported by an entire secretariat, known as the Foreign and Defence Policy Secretariat, which includes 14 analysts. Finally, we have an ambassador on the ground in Myanmar, Karen MacArthur.

Yet, with all of this diplomatic and departmental expertise available to him, the Prime Minister announced the appointment of his former Liberal colleague, Bob Rae, as Special Envoy to Myanmar.

Senator Harder, you were once a Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs. Can you tell me exactly what Mr. Rae can provide to the Prime Minister, in terms of how to respond to the needs to those affected by the violence in Myanmar, that our ambassador and her staff on the ground or the experts in the PCO and Global Affairs can’t provide?

Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I thank the honourable senator for his question because it gives me the opportunity to both thank and express the gratitude of the Senate to the officials that are, on an ongoing basis, dealing with Myanmar and Bangladesh and the region and also to point out that, indeed, when I was the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, we welcomed and had the expertise brought to bear of representatives of the Prime Minister on occasion, including in the case of Sudan, where the representatives of the Prime Minister, in that case, were able to hear from and give public profile to the situation so that all of the government and non-government apparatus of Canada could be coordinated and focused on these important global tragedies. That is what is unfolding in Myanmar and Bangladesh with respect to the Rohingya.

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I note and take pride in the fact that the Senate of Canada recommended the government take this action. The government has listened to the Senate and others who advocated this. Mr. Rae will do an outstanding job on this, as he has done in so many cases, by bringing the particular unique Canadian perspectives that can bring both succour and global attention to this terrible situation.

Senator Tkachuk: I am glad Mr. Rae will bring all this succour and attention that the Minister of Foreign Affairs cannot bring. Can you tell me what Mr. Rae will be paid per day for his services as Special Envoy to Myanmar? I am sure he is doing on his own.

Senator Harder: I will make an inquiry.

Finance

Canada Child Benefit

Hon. Percy Downe: Last week I asked a question about the Canada Child Benefit program and the positive impact it was having in Prince Edward Island. Senator Harder took it under advisement and promised he would follow up with information. Can he advise us of the good news?

Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I thank the honourable senator for his original question. I indeed am able to give him details with respect to the Canada Child Benefit and its effect in the province of Prince Edward Island.

The Canada Child Benefit in this fiscal year, 2016-17, is $96 million of investment which, of course, people will know is tax-free. In addition, I would point out that the Government of Canada reached a bilateral agreement with Prince Edward Island as announced in August which provides an additional $10.5 million for three years as part of the Early Learning and Childhood Bilateral Agreement. This will result in expanded spaces, particularly for infants. It will support children with unique needs as well as vulnerable Canadians and families in Prince Edward Island.

Our program here reflects the commitment of the government to giving Canadian children the best start in life to reach their full potential. I believe when we look back on this program historically, it will be added to the pantheon of outstanding Canadian programs that have made a real difference to a whole generation of young children.

[Translation]

Veterans Affairs

Monuments to Honour Service

Hon. Jean-Guy Dagenais: My question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. In March 2016, the then Minister of Veterans Affairs was asked if the Liberal government was planning to move forward with the construction of memorials commemorating Canada’s mission in Afghanistan and Canadian recipients of the Victoria Cross. The previous Conservative government had announced these memorials in 2014 and 2015 respectively. The minister at the time responded that he needed more time but added, “We will get it done.”

A year and a half later and there is still no word from the federal government on the construction of these two memorials. I believe the deadlines have come and gone. This government always drags its feet when it comes to honouring our soldiers. Today we are honouring veterans by wearing poppies, but the government is busy building a skating rink on Parliament Hill, even though we are a stone’s throw from the Rideau Canal, the world’s longest skating rink.

Could the government leader enlighten honourable senators as to what steps the federal government has taken towards the creation of the National Memorial to Canada’s Mission in Afghanistan and the National Victoria Cross Memorial? Could the government leader also tell us the expected completion dates for these projects?

Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I thank the senator for his question, and I will ask the appropriate department to respond immediately.

[English]

Human Rights

Quebec—Bill 62—Court Challenges Program

Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: My question is also to the Leader of the Government in the Senate.

The ban against face covering in Quebec’s Bill C-62 is an attack against the Charter rights of Muslim Canadians in Quebec. Section 2 of the Charter clearly states that all Canadians have the fundamental freedoms of expression and religion. The niqab allows women who wear it to express their faith, therefore Bill C-62 violates their section 2 rights.

Section 15 of the Charter also guarantees that no individual will be singled out by our laws because of their religion or gender. In fact, the Supreme Court has ruled that laws cannot have adverse impacts on particular groups, even if the law is drafted in a neutral way. Since the law both targets and adversely affects Muslim women, Bill C-62 also violates section 15 of our Charter.

I believe that the government understands the unconstitutional nature of the niqab ban.

The very first thing the Prime Minister did when he became Prime Minister was to withdraw the case of Zunera Ishaq, who challenged the ban on wearing face coverings during the oath of citizenship. That was true leadership on behalf of all Canadians and for the protection of the rights of all Canadians.

Leader, we find ourselves faced with a similar situation today. Muslim women in Quebec are being marginalized because of their choice to express their faith by wearing the niqab. It is our responsibility to defend the equality rights of all Canadians guaranteed in our Constitution.

The government has now set up a Court Challenges Program. Will the government support and finance challenges against Bill C-62 through the recently reinstated Court Challenges Program?

Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I thank the honourable senator for her question and for her comments which reflect the actions of this government and the positions that the Prime Minister has taken in this regard.

In respect of Bill C-62, the Prime Minister has reminded all Canadians that the government has not only an obligation to protect rights under the Charter, and the government will continue to do so, but that governments should not be telling people how to dress or what to wear.

The Prime Minister is acutely aware of the debate going on in the province of Quebec in this regard. The government is watching that debate unfold, and I will bring to the attention of the appropriate authorities the suggestion of the honourable senator.

Senator Jaffer: Leader, can you also find out, when women who wear the niqab go into federal offices in Quebec, will they have to remove their niqab?

Senator Harder: To be clear, the Government of Canada, in respect of offering its services, is not in the practice of telling people how to dress.

International Trade

Export of Pulse Crops to India

Hon. Tobias C. Enverga, Jr.: My question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate.

The recent exemption drafted by India from high fees related to pest control requirements for peas and lentils exported from Canada expired over a month ago, on September 30. Since that time, we have heard nothing from the Government of Canada regarding the status of our trade in pulses with India. Could the government leader please tell us why there has been silence from your government on this issue?

Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I thank the honourable senator for his question. He will know and remember that the Minister of Agriculture addressed this question when he was here. This was before, of course, the expiry to which the honourable senator refers. I would be happy to raise the question and see if I can find a pulse.

Senator Enverga: This is a supplementary question.

An Indian business newspaper, The Hindu Business Line, published an article on October 26 which stated there is a strong indication that India will not provide a further exemption from pest-control requirements on pea and lentil imports from Canada beyond December 31.

The article also states there is a chance “Canada may drag India to the WTO seeking a level playing field for all suppliers.” Could the government leader please verify whether this is true?

Senator Harder: I thank the honourable senator for his question. I can’t answer that question today, but I obviously will seek an answer.

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I would take the occasion, though, to make two comments. First, that is why bilateral and multilateral trade agreements are so important for Canada’s well-being. That is why the set of trade relationships that Canada enjoys are such a high priority of the Government of Canada and expanding them to other markets is also a high priority. I hope that all senators are supportive of that agenda, because it is the lifeblood of our economy. That is with regard to India or with regard to any other country in Asia, let alone the CETA, which is now under way, or the primordial relationship that we have here in North America.

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, the time for Question Period has expired.

[Translation]

Question of Privilege

Speaker’s Ruling

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I am prepared to rule on the question of privilege raised by Senator Plett on October 24, 2017. Senator Plett argued that an open letter dealing with Bill C-210, sent by Senator Lankin to Mr. Scheer, the Leader of the Opposition in the other place, encouraged the Leader to interfere with the proceedings of the Senate. He stated that this has the effect of undermining our chamber’s independence and impeding the ability of senators to carry out their functions independently.

[English]

In his remarks, Senator Plett noted that Senator Lankin’s letter calls upon the Leader of the Opposition to instruct the Senate Conservative caucus to move forward on a vote. This, he claims, constitutes a grave and serious breach of privilege, violating the “freedom from obstruction and interference in the performance of our parliamentary functions.”

Senator Lankin argued that her open letter did not constitute a serious breach of privilege, since it does not keep senators from dealing with the bill as they wish. She cited a number of previous rulings, which established thresholds for what may constitute grave obstruction or interference.

Some senators, including Senators Housakos and Wells, noted the importance of the independence of the houses and their members in our parliamentary system. They argued that the letter was unacceptable as it appealed to the Leader of the Opposition in the other place to use his influence to cajole the senators in his caucus to vote a certain way. Others, including Senators Mitchell and Cools, viewed the letter differently, noting its polite and respectful tone, and seeing it simply as an appeal to a leader in the other place to talk to senators. They saw no obstruction, intimidation or threat in the letter. I thank all senators who participated in the debate on the question of privilege.

The Speaker’s role at this stage is not to decide whether a breach of privilege has in fact occurred. That decision belongs to the Senate. My role at this initial stage is limited to determining whether a prima facie question of privilege has been established, taking into account all four criteria listed in rule 13-2(1).

[Translation]

The first criterion is that the question “be raised at the earliest opportunity.” Senator Plett indicated that he was only made aware of Senator Lankin’s letter after the sitting of the Senate on Thursday, October 19. He raised the matter at the very next sitting of the Senate. I am therefore satisfied that the first criterion has been met.

[English]

The second and third criteria can be, and often have been, considered together in rulings. They are that the matter “directly concerns the privileges of the Senate, any of its committees or any Senator” and that it “be raised to correct a grave and serious breach.”

Parliamentary privilege relates to the privileges, immunities and powers enjoyed by the Senate and each of its members without which they could not discharge their legislative and deliberative functions. In addition, as noted at page 228 of Senate Procedure in Practice:

If senators are to carry out their parliamentary duties properly, it is only logical that … they be protected from interference in the performance of their duties. For example, any attempt to prevent senators from entering Parliament or to intimidate them in carrying out their duties would constitute a breach of privilege.

I have reviewed past rulings on the language used in certain communications to help inform my decision. In a ruling on May 8, 2003, dealing with the content of a formal message from the other place, Speaker Hays noted that, while the language used may seem harsh or stern, it does not necessarily constitute a breach of privilege. Similarly, I refer to a decision given by Speaker Molgat on November 7, 1995, on a question of privilege regarding complaints that a newspaper article cast adverse reflections upon this chamber. He quoted citation 69 in the sixth edition of Beauchesne to state that:

something can be inflammatory, can be disagreeable, can even be offensive, but it may not be a question of privilege unless the comment actually impinges upon the ability of Members of Parliament to do their job properly.

Finally, I refer to a decision from February 12, 2008, dealing with a message from the House of Commons. The message accused the Senate majority of not giving appropriate priority to consideration of Bill C-2, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, and called on the Senate to pass the bill by March 1, 2008.  When an objection to the language of the message was raised, Speaker Kinsella ruled that the message was in order.

From this, I take it that, absent some form of threat, a message from one house to another cannot be treated as a point of order or breach of privilege.

[Translation]

How can it be any different if an open letter asks the Leader of the Opposition in the other place to encourage a vote to take place in the Senate?

[English]

While I understand that some senators might be troubled by Senator Lankin’s letter, there is nothing that would impede senators from continuing their work on Bill C-210. The bill is still on the Orders of the Day and is called each sitting day for debate according to our usual practices. Senators remain free to deal with the bill as they see fit — the independence of the Senate and senators is not affected by this letter.

[Translation]

The question raised by Senator Plett is not a grave and serious breach of privilege, either of the Senate or of its members. Therefore, the second and third criteria have not been met.

[English]

Rule 13-2(1) is clear that a question of privilege must meet all the criteria it sets out to be given priority. As a result, my ruling is that there is no prima facie case of privilege.


[Translation]

ORDERS OF THE DAY

Miscellaneous Statute Law Amendment Bill, 2017

Second Reading—Debate Adjourned

Hon. Diane Bellemare (Legislative Deputy to the Government Representative in the Senate): moved second reading of Bill C-60, An Act to correct certain anomalies, inconsistencies and errors and to deal with other matters of a non-controversial and uncomplicated nature in the Statutes of Canada and to repeal certain Acts and provisions that have expired, lapsed or otherwise ceased to have effect.

She said: Honourable senators, I rise today at second reading of Bill C-60. This bill is entitled “An Act to correct certain anomalies, inconsistencies and errors and to deal with other matters of a non-controversial and uncomplicated nature in the Statutes of Canada and to repeal certain Acts and provisions that have expired, lapsed or otherwise ceased to have effect”. It goes without saying that it is a very technical bill.

Before I proceed, I would like to provide some background to this bill. This bill stems from a document entitled “Proposals to correct certain anomalies, inconsistencies and errors and to deal with other matters of a non-controversial and uncomplicated nature in the Statutes of Canada and to repeal certain Acts and provisions that have expired, lapsed or otherwise ceased to have effect,” which was tabled in the Senate on May 9, 2017, and referred to the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs when we adopted Motion No. 95.

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As I explained last May, in 1975, the Department of Justice, with the approval of cabinet, created the Miscellaneous Statute Law Amendment Program, which was designed to correct anomalies, inconsistencies, outdated terminology and errors in federal statutes. The program also allows minor, non-controversial amendments to be made to a number of federal statutes at once, in one bill, instead of introducing separate amending legislation to address each statute.

How does the program work? It should be noted that, even though they originally originated from federal departments and agencies, requests for amendments also originate from other sources. They are sent to the Department of Justice, specifically its legislation section.

Under the program, only amendments that meet the following four criteria can be included in the document containing proposed corrections. The amendments or corrections must not be controversial. They must not involve the spending of public funds. They must not prejudicially affect the rights of persons, and they must not create new offences or subject a new class of persons to existing offences.

After the Department of Justice’s legislation section reviews the proposed amendments to ensure they meet the four criteria, the department puts all of them together in a single document. That is the document that was tabled in May and referred to the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs so that its members could ensure that all four criteria were met and especially that the proposed amendments were non-controversial. Having also been referred to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, the document was tabled in both chambers.

It is important to explain how this particular legislative process works. Once the Senate and the House of Commons receive the documents, if a member of the committee responsible for examining the document opposes any of the proposed amendments for any reason whatsoever, that proposal is removed from the document. In fact, during the study conducted by the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights one month before ours, the committee excluded two corrections.

Basically, after consulting both chambers, the legislative section prepares a bill that includes only the corrections requested by both chambers. That bill then follows the same legislative process as any other bill.

Bill C-60 is the result of that process. It contains amendments that meet the four criteria and on which both chambers agree; in other words, those that weren’t excluded. The bill was introduced by the Minister of Justice on October 3, 2017. It is 12th in a series of bills introduced as part of the law amendment program. As I said earlier, this program was created in 1975.

This bill amends 41 acts. It corrects spelling and grammar mistakes, terminology, typography, and reference errors; it updates some outdated terminology and corrects some discrepancies between the French and English versions; it also updates the names of certain organizations. For instance, the name of the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants is replaced by the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada. Lastly, the text of the bill contains provisions to repeal eight acts that are no longer enforceable. One such act is the Maintenance of Ports Operations Act, 1986.

This bill draws upon the 13th report of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, tabled on May 31, 2017, and the 21st report of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, tabled in the Senate on June 21, 2017. The Senate committee took an unusual approach to its report by proposing amendments. To help you better understand, I would like to read part of the 21st report of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs.

[English]

The Miscellaneous Statute Law Amendment (MSLA) Program is a periodic legislative exercise to correct anomalies, inconsistencies, outdated terminology or errors that have crept into the statutes. It provides a process for facilitating the passing of minor non-controversial amendments. Four key criteria must be met in order —

[Translation]

—I will skip this paragraph.

[English]

As a result of this program, a proposal is referred to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights and the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs. If either committee considers a proposed amendment to be controversial or to not meet the other criteria, it is to be withdrawn. Each committee may also add new proposals for the other to consider, providing that they meet the above-noted criteria.

Once the committees have reported on their review of the proposals, a Miscellaneous Statute Law Amendment bill is tabled. The bill is subject to ordinary enactment procedures; however, since the amendments have already been approved by both committees, it usually receives three readings without debate.

Your committee held one meeting and heard from five departmental officials in reviewing this proposal.

Your committee received a letter from the Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations (the Joint Committee) — dated May 17,2017 — which explained that the MSLA proposal did not include various statutory amendments that the Joint Committee had previously discussed with the relevant government departments and had understood would be addressed by the Department of Justice. As these were not included in this MSLA proposal, the Joint Committee requested that we recommend that the following items be included in the MSLA proposal:

1. That section 84(1) of the Criminal Code, R.S.C., 1985, c. C-46, be amended to address an error in the name of an organisation referenced in the definition of “prohibited device” and “prohibited firearm”. The name “International Shooting Union” should be replaced with “International Shooting Sport Federation” in the English version and the name “l’Union internationale de tir” should be replace with “la Fédération internationale de tir sportif” in the French version.

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2. That section 53 of the Canada Lands Surveyors Act, S.C. 1998, c. 14, be amended to replace a discrepancy between the French and the English version by replacing the words “sous le régime de” with “dans”. The French version should therefore be amended to read:

Le registraire peut délivrer le permis au demandeur qui satisfait aux exigences prévues dans la présente loi.

Your committee recommends that the Department of Justice add these two items proposed by the Joint Committee to the 2017 MSLA proposals.

Your committee is concerned that the Department . . . .

[Translation]

This report was forwarded to the Department of Justice, and the justice minister responded. I will summarize her response, and I will also read it to you.

Adding the amendments we requested at this stage of the process would delay important amendments, because the bill would have to return to the cabinet approval stage, then go through the House of Commons again before coming back to this chamber. The minister says she will consider the requested amendments during the next session, exercise, or amendment proposal. She says the current amendment proposal will be processed faster than in the past.

The minister’s letter reads, and I quote:

Thank you for your letter of June 5, 2017, in which you ask whether amendments to section 84(1) of the Criminal Code and section 53 of the Canada Lands Surveyors Act could be added to the bill entitled “Miscellaneous Statute Law Amendment Act, 2017”, which has not yet been tabled in Parliament.

As part of the Miscellaneous Statute Law Amendment Program, the legislative sector of the Department of Justice prepares a proposals document that is then submitted to Parliament for consideration. This document contains the amendments that have been submitted by the federal public administration and that have been analyzed and approved by the legislative section.

Before being tabled, the proposals document must be reviewed by cabinet to prepare it for approval. The Department of Justice must therefore set a deadline after which it accepts no further proposals for the current miscellaneous statute law amendment exercise. The purpose of the Miscellaneous Statute Law Amendment Program is to provide Canadians with consistent federal legislation that will ensure greater access to justice by promoting equal treatment of both of Canada’s official languages and both of its legal traditions. It is designed to correct minor, non-controversial errors.

As stated in my letters of October 27, 2016, and February 21, 2017, the Department of Justice is making every effort to ensure that the MSLA process is undertaken on a more regular basis than it was prior to the 2014 exercise. The proposal document prepared for the current MSLA process was tabled in both houses of Parliament and reviewed by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights in May 2017 and by the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs in June 2017.

The MSLA to be prepared from the reports from each committee can only include proposed amendments that they adopted unanimously. Although the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs raised the two amendments in question with Department of Justice officials when they appeared before the committee in June 2017, they were not included in the proposal document and, accordingly, did not receive unanimous support from both chambers. In my opinion, it is not advisable to postpone tabling the next MSLA bill just to include these two amendments. However, I can assure the committee that during the next MSLA process the necessary follow-up action will be taken with the Department of Justice with regard to the proposed amendment to the Criminal Code or with the Department of Natural Resources with regard to the proposed amendment to the Canada Lands Surveyors Act.

In short, the MSLA process requires unanimous consent. The amendment proposal prepared by cabinet only includes the changes that were adopted by both chambers.

Honourable senators, we are at the stage in the process where we must send this bill to committee to ensure that it contains the amendments made by the House of Commons, those that appear in the initial proposal. The process can take some time, although the other place sped it up by combining second and third reading stages.

We are currently at second reading stage, and so I would move that this bill be referred to committee for review, if we can do that today.

(On motion of Senator Martin, debate adjourned.)

[English]

Holidays Act

Bill to Amend—Second Reading—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Day, seconded by the Honourable Senator Mercer, for the second reading of Bill C-311, An Act to amend the Holidays Act (Remembrance Day).

Hon. Yonah Martin (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, Senator Plett is the critic of this bill, so I will adjourn this in his name.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(On motion of Senator Martin, for Senator Plett, debate adjourned.)

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Study on the Effects of Transitioning to a Low Carbon Economy

Tenth Report of Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources Committee—Debate Adjourned

The Senate proceeded to consideration of the tenth report (interim) of the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources, entitled Decarbonizing Transportation in Canada, tabled in the Senate on June 22, 2017.

Hon. Yonah Martin (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, this item is at day fourteen, so I wish to adjourn the matter in my name at this time.

(On motion of Senator Martin, debate adjourned.)

Study on the Financial Implications and Regional Considerations of the Aging Population

Nineteenth Report of National Finance Committee—Debate Adjourned

The Senate proceeded to consideration of the nineteenth report (interim) of the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance, entitled Getting Ready: For a new generation of active seniors, deposited with the Clerk of the Senate on June 27, 2017.

Hon. Yonah Martin (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, I move the adjournment of the debate in Senator Mockler’s name.

(On motion of Senator Martin, for Senator Mockler, debate adjourned.)

Study on the Design and Delivery of the Federal Government’s Multi-Billion Dollar Infrastructure Funding Program

Twentieth Report of National Finance Committee—Debate Adjourned

The Senate proceeded to consideration of the twentieth report (interim) of the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance, entitled Smarter Planning, Smarter Spending: Ensuring Transparency, Accountability and Predictability in Federal Infrastructure Programs, deposited with the Clerk of the Senate on July 6, 2017.

Hon. Yonah Martin (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, I move the adjournment of this debate in Senator Mockler’s name for the balance of his time.

(On motion of Senator Martin, for Senator Mockler, debate adjourned.)

Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources

Budget—Study on the Effects of Transitioning to a Low Carbon Economy—Eleventh Report of Committee Adopted

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Massicotte, for the Honourable Senator Neufeld, seconded by the Honourable Senator Dean, for the adoption of the eleventh report of the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources (Budget—study on the effects of transitioning to a low carbon economy—power to travel), presented in the Senate on October 26, 2017.

Hon. Yonah Martin (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, on this particular item, Senator Plett had taken the adjournment, but it is a report to which I think the committee and Senator Massicotte spoke yesterday. We are ready for the question, if the chamber is ready, so I would like to call the question on this item.

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

Some Hon. Senators: Question.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Motion agreed to and report adopted.)

Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament

Ninth Report of Committee Adopted

The Senate proceeded to consideration of the ninth report (interim) of the Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament, entitled Amendments to the Rules - Service Fee Proposals, presented in the Senate on October 26, 2017.

Hon. Vernon White moved the adoption of the report.

He said: Honourable senators, the report before you would bring in changes to our Rules as a result of the Service Fees Act that came into force on June 22 of this year as part of Bill C-44, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 22, 2017 and other measures.

As you will recall, the bill repealed the User Fees Act. The new Service Fees Act created a similar legislative regime that requires “federal entities” to engage in a consultation process before fixing a fee and to submit a detailed fee proposal in both the Senate and the other place. Unlike the User Fees Act, however, the Service Fees Act requires that, along with any proposal, the relevant authority must also table materials summarizing the consultations on the fee proposal and, if a complaint was raised during the consultation process, necessitates the creation of a review panel, the findings of that panel and a summary of any actions taken by any relevant authority as a result.

To be clear, the Service Fees Act is now the law, and the User Fees Act has been repealed. There are three references to user fees in our Rules beyond non-substantive references such as in the table of contents that must be changed as a result of the new legislation.

First, rule 12-8(2) deals with the referral of a user fee proposal committee; second, rule 12-22(5) gives that designated committee a fixed amount of time to table a report on the proposal; and third, “user fee proposal” is defined in Appendix I.

Quite simply, our committee’s ninth report replaces any reference to “user fee proposal” with “service fee proposal.” The substance of the existing process remains the same. The report also removes the definition of “user fee proposal” and creates a new definition for “service fee proposal.”

Honourable senators, this concludes my remarks. As a result, I recommend that you adopt the ninth report.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Motion agreed to and report adopted.)

Transport and Communications

Budget and Authorization to Engage Services and Travel—Study on the Regulatory and Technical Issues Related to the Deployment of Connected and Automated Vehicles—Eighth Report of Committee—Debate Adjourned

The Senate proceeded to consideration of the eighth report of the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications (Budget—study on the regulatory and technical issues related to the deployment of connected and automated vehicles—power to hire staff and to travel), presented in the Senate on October 31, 2017.

Hon. Dennis Dawson moved the adoption of the report.

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

Hon. Yonah Martin (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, if I may, I’ll adjourn this item for today. I move the adjournment of the debate in my name.

Senator Dawson: I don’t take it personally. It wasn’t my report. It was the report of the chair.

(On motion of Senator Martin, debate adjourned.)

Human Rights

Budget—Study on Issues Relating to the Human Rights of Prisoners in the Correctional System—Eighth Report of Committee Adopted

The Senate proceeded to consideration of the eighth 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 travel), presented in the Senate on October 31, 2017.

Hon. Jim Munson moved the adoption of the report.

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

Hon. Yonah Martin (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): May I ask one question? In all fairness to the previous senator, I am on this committee, Senator Munson. Is this a timely item? Can it wait until tomorrow perhaps?

Senator Munson: There is a song that goes “tomorrow, tomorrow, we’ll always have tomorrow.” It’s a beautiful song.

I suppose. But there is a budget. The Human Rights Committee is preparing to travel to the Maritimes and to Kitchener to continue its study. It is timely if we can move on with it and someone else can carry the ball. Thank you.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Motion agreed to and report adopted.)

The Senate

Motion to Encourage the Government to Take Account of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals as it Drafts Legislation and Develops Policy relating to Sustainable Development—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Dawson, seconded by the Honourable Senator Munson:

That the Senate take note of Agenda 2030 and the related sustainable development goals adopted by the United Nations on September 25, 2015, and encourage the Government of Canada to take account of them as it drafts legislation and develops policy relating to sustainable development.

Hon. Yonah Martin (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, if I may, I would like to move the adjournment of the debate in Senator Ataullahjan’s name for the balance of her time.

(On motion of Senator Martin, for Senator Ataullahjan, debate adjourned.)

(At 3:39 p.m., the Senate was continued until tomorrow at 1:30 p.m.)