1st Session, 42nd Parliament
Volume 150, Issue 197
Wednesday, April 25, 2018
The Honourable George J. Furey, Speaker
Wednesday, April 25, 2018
The Senate met at 2 p.m., the Speaker in the chair.
Hon. Linda Frum: Honourable senators, yesterday B’nai Brith Canada released its thirty-sixth Annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents. The audit found that 2017 set records for anti-Semitism in Canada. Unfortunately, this was the second consecutive year in which record numbers were reached.
There is cause to be deeply concerned. Incidents of anti-Semitic vandalism increased by more than double, reaching levels not seen since 2013. Additionally, we are seeing an increase in politicians seeking political support from those with well-known anti-Jewish prejudices. While the majority of incidents occurred in Ontario and Quebec, there was a significant proportional increase to anti-Semitism in Alberta and British Columbia.
Honourable senators, these are alarming trends. We must work to counteract these forces of hatred, bigotry and prejudice. Although we are fortunate to live in a peaceful and tolerant country, we must not be complacent. As parliamentarians, we must use our voices to speak out whenever these forces of intolerance arise.
I would like to thank B’nai Brith Canada for their work on this important issue.
Parkinson’s Awareness Month
Hon. Marie-Françoise Mégie: Honourable senators, today, I would like to remind you that April is Parkinson’s Awareness month. I am sure you have heard that actor Michael J. Fox has been battling this illness for over 20 years.
Parkinson’s disease was first described by British doctor James Parkinson in 1817 as a degenerative neurological disease that affects the central nervous system. Generally speaking, this disease is characterized by the progressive destruction of neurons that secrete dopamine, a chemical substance involved in motor control. The main motor symptoms of Parkinson’s include slower and more rigid muscle movement and loss of balance. Tremors are a common symptom, but not everyone with Parkinson’s disease has them. In fact, one in three people with the disease do not experience tremors.
Non-motor symptoms include difficulty sleeping, speaking and swallowing, as well as bladder and digestive problems. The disease can also cause anxiety, depression and cognitive changes.
Although we do not yet know the exact cause of this disease, age is one of the many risk factors. It is estimated that 100,000 people in Canada have Parkinson’s disease, and that 30 per cent of them suffer from dementia. With the aging population, we will have to cope with a major increase in the prevalence of this disease.
Studies show that other risk factors include genetic susceptibility, head injuries, such as those sustained in combat sports, and exposure to pesticides.
Unfortunately, there is currently no cure for this progressive disease. Existing treatments help patients better manage their symptoms, but over time, all aspects of the patient’s daily life will be seriously affected, and the disease leads to a gradual loss of independence. This frustrating situation has significant social and financial consequences that place a heavy burden on those who take care of people with Parkinson’s.
Yesterday morning, during a Hill day breakfast organized by Parkinson Canada to raise awareness of brain health, caregivers shared their concerns. They must constantly attend to needs of the person with the disease even as they themselves learn to adapt to its progression.
In response to the many challenges we must face together, let’s give our community hope. We must join forces to help organizations that offer awareness programs and collaborate on Parkinson’s research provide even better services.
Honourable senators, let’s support the people affected by this terrible disease.
Nova Scotia Highland Village Society
Congratulations to Treasures of Youth Scholarship Recipients
Hon. Jane Cordy: Honourable senators, throughout Canadian history, there has been a strong relationship between Nova Scotia and its Gaelic heritage. In 1850, Scottish Gaelic was the third most spoken language in Canada after English and French. The longest-running all-Gaelic newspaper was published in Sydney, Nova Scotia, in the late 1800s. The publication ran for 12 years.
Although the popularity of Gaelic has decreased, its legacy can still be felt throughout Nova Scotia. Eleven schools in Nova Scotia offer Gaelic as part of their curriculum, and young Nova Scotians continue to be educated on the cultural importance of the Gaelic language.
Baile nan Gàidheal, the Nova Scotia Highland Village, in Iona, Cape Breton, is integral to preserving our Gaelic heritage. The Nova Scotia Highland Village Society was founded in 1959 to develop the village and to create a living history museum to interpret, preserve and promote the Scottish Gaelic language, culture and heritage as found in Nova Scotia. In 2000, the society entered into a new relationship with the Province of Nova Scotia, which resulted in the Highland Village becoming part of the Nova Scotia Museum family. The society continues to operate the site on behalf of the province.
The society’s vision is to grow as a Gaelic folklife centre that nurtures, communicates and celebrates the heritage and cultural identity of Nova Scotia’s Gaelic community.
In 2014, the Nova Scotia Highland Village Society created the scholarship Stòras na h-Òigridh – Treasures of Youth. This scholarship is awarded to young Canadians who possess an interest in Gaelic traditions, including dance, fiddle, piano, language and storytelling. There have been seven winners to date ranging between the ages of 5 and 21.
In 2017, two $1,000 scholarships were presented to Katherine MacDonald of Little Narrows and Abagail MacDonald of St. Andrews. Both young women are talented pianists and have been very involved in the Nova Scotia Gaelic community.
Applications for the 2018 year are now available online and are due on April 30, 2018. This year, the Nova Scotia Highland Village Society will be presenting three young Nova Scotians with awards, two valued at $1,000 and one for $500. With scholarships like the one from the Nova Scotia Highland Village Society, the importance of Nova Scotia’s Gaelic heritage will not be forgotten.
Honourable senators, if you find yourselves in Cape Breton this summer, I invite you to visit beautiful Iona and make sure to visit Baile nan Gàidheal, the Nova Scotia Highland Village. Mòran taing. Thank you.
Visitor in the Gallery
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I wish to draw your attention to the presence in the gallery of Adriana Anon. She is the guest of the Honourable Senator Manning.
On behalf of all honourable senators, I welcome you to the Senate of Canada.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Newfoundland and Labrador
Random Acts of Kindness
Hon. Fabian Manning: Honourable senators, today I am pleased to present Chapter 31 of “Telling Our Story.”
In this life it is not what you say about yourself that is most important, it is what others say about you. With that in mind, I want to tell you a story that was reported on CBC on January 18, 2018. It is the story of the Ambassador of Uruguay to Ottawa, Martin Vidal, and his wife Adriana Anon and their two teenage children, who visited Newfoundland and Labrador last summer to spend a short vacation hiking along various sections of the East Coast Trail.
They tried to rent a car, but at the time there were no vehicles available at the rental agency. They were left with no choice but to move around the St. John’s area by taxi. When they asked their talkative taxi driver what made him most proud to be a Newfoundlander, his reply was straight from the heart: “Our generosity and hospitality,” he replied in a strong local accent. “Your car breaks down in the middle of nowhere, you won’t be left alone. Someone will pick you up, and they’ll help you out, and probably drive you home if you need. People here are kind like that.”
Adriana knew about the Broadway musical “Come From Away,” which tells how 6,700 stranded airline passengers were generously housed in the Town of Gander and other communities in the region when their flights were grounded on 9/11. Adriana wondered to herself, “Could spontaneous kindness possibly be the common quality of an entire province?” She and her family were about to find out!
When they began their first hike on the North Head Trail near Signal Hill, they encountered a Newfoundland woman by the name of Alma Lake and her friend Renee. The Newfoundlanders overheard Adriana and Martin discussing different routes they would like to take along the trail, when Alma stepped forward to offer some suggestions and politely say, “You have a car, right?” When Adriana explained that all the car rental agencies were sold out and they were using taxi cabs to get around, Alma Lake quickly responded, “Oh no, you need a car. Take mine.”
Adriana and her husband could not believe what they had just been offered and said to Alma, “But you don’t even know us.” But Alma replied, “That doesn’t matter. Do you have a licence? Then take my car. I won’t need it. You need a car to get around to see all those places.”
Once the family visiting from Ottawa had received Alma’s contact information and her home address so they could bring back her car, they set out on their journey. Their teenage daughter remarked from the back seat of a stranger’s car, “There is something seriously wrong with what we are doing.”
In her article, Adriana goes on to say:
Thanks to Alma, whose name means soul in Spanish, we spent the remainder of our time in St. John’s discovering different areas of the majestic East Coast Trail and its bordering cliffs, where the scent of the sea air mingled with spruce. We watched pods of whales swim nearby. It didn’t take long to confirm that Newfoundland — remote, unique and unforgettable — was a place we’d chosen well to visit.
Adriana went on to say:
. . . Every so often — as my family explored the countryside in her car — we texted Alma letting her know that everything was okay, and she texted back, letting us know that she’d told her husband, Ed, about what she had done, and he was fine with it. For our final evening, Alma invited us over for dinner. She and Ed made us feel immediately at home.
After returning to Ottawa, Adriana finds that people have different reactions to her story. Some people say it’s incredible. Most agree they would never loan a car to a stranger — but she says those who have been to Newfoundland are not surprised.
Adriana concludes her story by stating, “Newfoundland was exceptional. It exceeded expectations, really.” And she adds, “I no longer doubt that at least in Newfoundland, random acts of kindness are an epidemic.”
Thank you, Adriana. Even if I tried, I would not be able to say it better myself.
Sisters of St. Martha
Hon. Mary Coyle: Honourable senators, “Beautiful! Stunning!” were the gasps of appreciation as the bagpipes went silent and the curtain was drawn back on April 3 to unveil a magnificent five-panel gift of art from the Antigonish community to the Sisters of St. Martha on the occasion of their move into their new home.
The Town and County of Antigonish had joined efforts with St. Francis Xavier University and St. Martha’s Regional Hospital Foundation to commission local artist Anna Syperek to create this work entitled “Journey.” “Journey” is an allegorical landscape, created in oils, which reflects the Martha’s journey from their origins at St. F-X University across Canada, into the U.S. and off into the future.
The Sisters were being thanked and lauded by their home community and I had the honour of emceeing the event with hundreds in attendance.
So what were they being lauded for? I would describe the Martha’s as pioneering women CEOs and leading social activists.
As for their CEO role, in the early 1900s, these enterprising women initiated a door-to-door campaign, raising $500 for the creation of Antigonish’s first six-bed hospital. Today we enjoy a full service regional hospital in our town, thanks to these women.
By the 1950s, the Sisters of St. Martha owned and/or operated 11 hospitals across North America — in Cape Breton, Banff, Lethbridge and Lowell, Massachusetts.
They started St. Martha’s School of Nursing and engaged in education and social work programs.
On the social activism side, you’ve already heard me speak of the Antigonish Movement and its women’s division. The Sisters of St. Martha were key collaborators with Dr. Coady, working to equip people to improve the conditions in their own communities. The Martha’s worked with the Coady International Institute and are active today at the UN.
Sister Dorothy Moore, of Membertou, has successfully championed Mi’kmaq language and the inclusion of Mi’kmaq history in the Nova Scotia curriculum. Sister Jovita MacPherson works with people living on the streets of Halifax through innovative programs providing food, clothing, haircuts, art classes and legal services.
As we gathered on April 3, the fields out back were being plowed for the Martha’s New Growers program, providing access to land and instruction in farming.
The pathway that winds its way through Anna Syperek’s painting of the Martha journey branches off into an unknown future. When asked about the declining number of Sisters, Sister Jovita responded jovially — kind of dismissively, actually: “Mary — we are more focused on what we will get caught doing on our way out!”
Moses Coady declared that if he had 50 Marthas together, they could change the world.
This humble, yet able group of women, have been doing exactly that — changing the world for the better — for 118 years.
Honourable senators, please join me in applauding these exemplary Canadian leaders, the Sisters of St. Martha!
R. v. Comeau
Hon. David Tkachuk: Honourable senators, the Supreme Court decision last week in the case of R. v. Comeau signified, at the very least, the end of Canada as we know it.
When I was Chair of the Senate Banking Committee, not so long ago, we conducted hearings into interprovincial trade barriers. At the time, the provinces were engaged in discussion, along with the federal government, to improve the Agreement on Internal Trade known as AIT. We had the minister come before us who assured us that he was as motivated about removing barriers to internal trade as we were.
We became concerned, as our hearings were coming to an end, that there had been no announcement on the conclusion of the AIT negotiations. So concerned were we that we went so far as to recommend in our report the following:
That, if a renewed Agreement on Internal Trade is not concluded by July 1st, 2017 or if the renewed agreement is inadequate, the federal government pursue — through the Governor-in-Council — a reference of section 121 of the Constitution Act, 1867 to the Supreme Court of Canada.
B.C. and Alberta have led the country in negotiating and eliminating trade barriers, joined by Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Now all of that is threatened by the disagreement over the Trans Mountain expansion.
The federal government did not have to pursue the reference we recommended, as I referred to above. An updated AIT was announced shortly after our report was released. However, the Supreme Court has now told us all we need to know about how such a reference would have turned out for free trade in this country, and it is not good.
Section 121 of the Constitution Act states that:
All Articles of the Growth, Produce, or Manufacture of any one of the Provinces shall, from and after the Union, be admitted free into each of the other Provinces.
The Supreme Court, in its ruling against Mr. Comeau, stated that “free” only referred to tariff or tariff-like measures, and that even in those cases, if the provincial measure is intended to fulfil some social or other policy objective, then it is allowed, tariff-like or not. How they could construe section 121 into that is beyond me.
Basically, what the justices in their infinite wisdom decided is that section 92, which provides provinces with the authority to impose regulations within their own jurisdiction, supersedes section 121.
In another study we conducted on building a national corridor, we concluded that, today, nothing could be built on the scale of Sir John A.’s Canadian Pacific Railway — not against the objections of the modern-day provinces or the various special interest groups.
The Supreme Court of Canada just made it harder. At some point, if we can’t move our resources across the country; if we can’t get to markets abroad; if it is easier to trade with our neighbours to the south than it is with each other, people in some parts of the country will wake up one day and ask, “Why are we a part of this Confederation?
Library of Parliament
First Report of Joint Committee Presented
Hon. Lucie Moncion, Joint Chair of the Standing Joint Committee on the Library of Parliament, presented the following report:
Wednesday, April 25, 2018
The Standing Joint Committee on the Library of Parliament has the honour to present its
Your Committee recommends to the Senate that it be authorized to assist the Speaker of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Commons in directing and controlling the Library of Parliament, and that it be authorized to make recommendations to the Speaker of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Commons regarding the governance of the Library and the proper expenditure of moneys voted by Parliament for the purchase of documents or other articles to be deposited therein.
Your Committee recommends:
(a)that its quorum be fixed at six members, provided that each House is represented, and a member from a non-government party or recognized parliamentary group and a member from the government are present, whenever a vote, resolution or other decision is taken; and
(b)that the joint chairs be authorized to hold meetings to receive evidence and to have that evidence published when a quorum is not present, provided that at least three members are present, including a member from a non-government party or recognized parliamentary group and a member from the government, provided that each House is represented.
Your committee further recommends to the Senate that it be empowered to sit during sittings and adjournments of the Senate.
A copy of the relevant Minutes of Proceedings (Meeting No. 1) is tabled in the House of Commons.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this report be taken into consideration?
(On motion of Senator Moncion, report placed on the Orders of the Day for consideration at the next sitting of the Senate.)
Notice of Motion to Affect Question Period on May 1, 2018
Hon. Diane Bellemare (Legislative Deputy to the Government Representative in the Senate): Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:
That, in order to allow the Senate to receive a Minister of the Crown during Question Period as authorized by the Senate on December 10, 2015, and notwithstanding rule 4-7, when the Senate sits on Tuesday, May 1, 2018, 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, May 1, 2018, at 2 p.m.
Notice of Motion to Authorize Foreign Affairs and International Trade Committee to Extend Date of Report on Study of Subject Matter
Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:
That, notwithstanding the order of the Senate adopted on February 15, 2018, the date for the submission of the report of the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade relating to its study of the subject matter of Bill C-45, An Act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other Acts, insofar as it relates to the Canada’s international obligations, be extended from May 1, 2018 to May 9, 2018.
Fisheries and Oceans
Notice of Motion to Authorize Committee to Meet During Sitting of the Senate
Hon. Fabian Manning: Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:
That the Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans have the power to meet on Tuesday, May 1, 2018, at 5 p.m., even though the Senate may then be sitting, and that rule 12-18(1) be suspended in relation thereto.
Foreign Affairs and International Trade
Notice of Motion to Authorize Committee to Meet During Sitting of the Senate
Hon. A. Raynell Andreychuk: Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:
That the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade be authorized to meet on Tuesday, May 1st, 2018, even though the Senate may then be sitting, and that the application of rule 12-18(1) be suspended in relation thereto.
Notice of Inquiry
Hon. Pamela Wallin: Honourable senators, I give notice that, two days hence:
I will call the attention of the Senate to the Silver Alert concept, which mirrors the successful AMBER Alert system, and which is focused on helping the more than 700,000 Canadians living with dementia or Alzheimer’s and their families and caregivers and is aimed at helping to locate missing cognitively impaired adults.
Hon. Larry W. Smith (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, the subject is the PBO’s report, the deficit and the carbon tax. The question is for the government leader in the Senate.
In the Economic and Fiscal Outlook released on Monday, the Parliamentary Budget Officer reports that the federal government’s deficit for this fiscal year and next will be almost $8 billion more than what was forecast in Budget 2018. The PBO says this year’s deficit will be $22 billion, $4 billion more than the Minister of Finance projected in February.
As well, the PBO reported that by 2022, the cost of paying on our national debt will grow to almost $40 billion, which is again an increase over what we’ve previously been told. As we know, the Liberal election platform promised to return to a balanced budget in 2019, which is not possible, as the PBO report shows.
How does the government expect to provide sound management of our country’s finances if its numbers are wrong just two months after presenting the budget?
Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I thank the honourable senator for his question. The Government of Canada remains confident that the forecast of the budget and deficit and other fiscal numbers that are relevant in the budget context remain relevant. I would also point out that the Parliamentary Budget Officer’s report also indicates that the government is on track to fulfil its objective with respect to debt-to-GDP ratios. In fact, the Parliamentary Budget Officer reaffirms that Canada remains in a strong position to achieve its objective of below 30 per cent of debt-to-GDP ratio. I would also remind senators that Canada continues to enjoy the best balance sheet of the G7. That’s with respect to the fiscal framework to which the government is attaching its fiscal plan, that is to say, a debt-to-GDP ratio that is declining.
With respect to the carbon tax, I think all senators will know that 67 countries — representing over half of the global economy — are committed to using a tax on carbon as a tool to meet GHG and climate change objectives. That is what a number of provinces have done. Indeed, the majority of Canadians now live under a regime of some form of carbon pricing, which is why the Government of Canada is moving forward with its carbon pricing plan, which, I’m happy to see, will be pre-studied in this chamber and addressed more fully when the budget itself comes.
Senator Smith: I guess we agree to disagree. With respect to the method that the government is using to move forward, the bottom line is that the debt that young people accumulate over time has to be paid some time. It’s taking from one hand, putting it in another hand and managing it, and deficit financing, unless you’re really lucky and have the greatest product in the world, often doesn’t work.
By the way, if we had the pipeline completed through Trans Mountain, it would help offset the carbon charges that will come in, because you’re going to get a significant increase of revenue, in the billions of dollars. One of the ways the government is attempting to pay for its spending is through the imposition of the carbon tax. The PBO also reported on Monday that, by 2022, the carbon tax will take $10 billion out of our economy. Again, if the tax is implemented, you have to have something that is going to counterbalance it. That’s why we need business and investment.
Could the government leader please tell us how much the carbon tax will cost Canadian families? It has been reported that the government has this information but will not permit it to be released. Could the government leader also tell us why the government is hiding the information from Canadians — a government, I might add, that told Canadians during the election campaign that there would be more transparency, not less.
Senator Harder: Let me first deal with the preface of the question. The honourable senator will know that we’ve had, preceding this government, years of deficit financing, when the enthusiasm for deficits that the senator now speaks of was more muted, shall I say. Let me simply repeat that the Government of Canada believes that the investments that its budgets since 2016 have provided were absolutely necessary to ensure that the economy rebounds. Frankly, the economy has responded to those investments with the degree of growth to which I’ve referred with respect to raw economic growth, to participation rates and to, at the same time, achieving a level of infrastructure and other investments, including those that were tax measures right off the bat with Bill C-2 that led to increased consumption for the middle class.
So that’s with respect to the fiscal framework. With respect to carbon pricing, the government has been transparent, and the PBO has issued its report. We do know that climate change is an issue that the government is seeking to address through agreements with the provinces on carbon taxing. Those revenues would stay in the province to ensure that they are used in ways that help to transform the economy to a less carbon-intense economy.
With respect to the cost for families, as the honourable senator is asking, the government will be making those announcements as the carbon tax rolls out, but there is no doubt that there are costs associated with carbon pricing. But there are benefits, significant benefits, which is why this government is committed to dealing with climate change in a comprehensive, mature and fiscally responsible way.
Indigenous and Northern Affairs
Truth and Reconciliation Commission—Contract for Legal Services
Hon. David Tkachuk: Senator Harder, a couple of weeks ago, Brian Lilley reported that the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls had issued a sole-source contract, worth more than $5 million, to the Bay Street law firm of McCarthy Tétrault. That amounts to almost 10 per cent of the inquiry’s entire budget. It is worth noting, too, that the contract is for only for eight months. That works out, according to Lilley, to about $21,198 a day, and yet there are few details about what the contract is for.
At first, we heard it was for other business services. Then we heard it was for consulting services, and, finally, we heard it was for the electronic processing and analysis of documents.
Long-time Liberal and Chrétien loyalist Warren Kinsella wrote this week in The Hill Times that the inquiry itself is a farce. He was actually echoing the comments of the Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould’s own father, who not only called it a fraud but elaborated that it should make everyone sick. It seems to be hemorrhaging not only people but now money.
Senator Harder, can you tell us why this contract was sole source, what in detail McCarthy Tétrault will be doing over eight months to earn over $5 million and why the work couldn’t be done by lawyers at the Justice Department?
Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I thank the honourable senator for his question. I will enquire and be happy to report back.
Senator Tkachuk: Can you find out, as well, if the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls has sole-sourced any other contracts, to whom and in what amount?
Senator Harder: I will add that to my inquiry.
Artwork in National Collection—Export Permits
Hon. Serge Joyal: My question is for the Government Representative, and it is in relation to the sale, by the National Gallery of Canada, of a Chagall painting, valued at $8 million to $10 million, at Christie’s in New York next month. The Minister of Heritage has declared that she has no business intervening in the management of the affairs of the National Gallery of Canada. Well, the media has revealed that, in fact, the export permit that authorizes the export of the painting to New York was gotten irregularly from the Canadian Cultural Property Export Review Board.
Section 11(2) of the act states that expert examiners shall forthwith advise the Review Board and the minister. So, when the civil servant gave the permit, he had to inform the review board and the minister. Section 15 says, “The Minister may amend, suspend, cancel or reinstate any export permit. . . .” So the minister has a real power to stop the sale of the painting in New York next month, because the Quebec government has decided that it is going to keep the other painting in Quebec.
Will the Government Representative ask the minister to order the National Gallery to bring back the painting to Canada so that it remains in the national collection?
Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): Again, I thank the honourable senator for his question. He will know much about this, both due to his avocation of art and as a former minister responsible for the acts that are cited and involved. He will know that governments have provided a degree of independence to the art gallery that is entirely appropriate so that there is no political involvement in the decisions about acquisitions.
With respect to the export permit, my information is that the expert permit was done independently through the Canadian Cultural Property Export Review Board. I will certainly bring to the attention of minister the senator’s view on the ability of the minister to exercise discretion in this matter and his desire that such discretion be exercised, but, at this point, the minister has not done so.
Senator Joyal: An access-to-information request in November 2017 revealed that the National Gallery wants to deaccession of a lot of other objects and works of arts, and that will increase the sales and donations for the gallery. I plead with the Government Representative to draw the attention of the minister to section 15 of the act. As a parenthesis, I was the sponsor of that act in the other place in 1977, so I know the substance of this act.
Section 15, as a matter of fact, was added under my own suggestion that the minister keep the last word on the export of cultural property abroad, especially when it reaches such a significant amount of money as $8 million to $10 million. We are not talking here about nuts and bolts. We are talking about very important works of art. The price value testifies to it.
So will the Government Representative ask the minister to have a report made to her on the list of objects that the National Gallery is considering selling, either in Canada or abroad, so that Canadians are made aware of what happens with their cultural heritage?
Senator Harder: As I indicated earlier, I fully intend to bring this to the attention of the minister. I am well aware of the honourable senator’s role in the progeny of this important act.
I want to reinforce how it is important it is under the Museums Act for there to be cultural independence in the selection of art so that the art gallery can manage its inventory in the best interests of cultural preservation and acquisition.
Employment, Workforce Development and Labour
Summer Jobs Attestation
Hon. Pamela Wallin: My question is for the Government Representative in the Senate and it, again, is with regard to the Canada Summer Jobs attestation.
I brought forward this issue on several occasions as the attestation has prevented some organizations in my community, and in some 1,500 other communities, from accessing much-needed funds to hire summer students.
A media report yesterday detailed the process of how the decision was made regarding the attestation form. An unnamed government official was quoted as saying:
The new requirements appeared to come out of nowhere . . . .
It seems that consultation with faith-based groups did not happen either, and for a government so concerned about consultation, this is striking.
Senator Harder, while we await the minister’s appearance here, which I’m looking forward to, could you please ask again for a Charter statement regarding this activity or table any legal opinions that were offered, prepared or rendered before the attestation was imposed?
And can we have an assurance that this process will be more transparent and that organizations will be consulted before any final decisions are taken for next summer so that we can make sure these forms are Charter compliant?
As you well know, freedom of religion is an individual right and not something that can be superimposed on an organization or on a project such as a summer camp sponsored by an organization.
Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I thank the honourable senator for raising the issue again. As I’m sure others have, as a senator I have met with faith groups from my hometown who expressed directly to me some of the concerns that the honourable senator has shared.
With respect to the minister coming here, senators will know the minister is expected here in a couple of weeks. In advance of that, I will bring to the minister’s attention the request of the honourable senator with respect to Charter statements and legal opinions and bring the issue to the attention of the minister again.
For the benefit of the Senate, as I indicated when I last responded to Senator Wallin, the processing of the applications is under way and I can confirm that, and that the overall level of applications was in keeping with last year.
Foreign Affairs and International Trade
Report of Special Envoy to Myanmar
Hon. Salma Ataullahjan: My question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate.
Senator Harder, on April 3, the Honourable Bob Rae, Canada’s Special Envoy to Myanmar, released his final report into the crisis faced by the Rohingya in that country. At the time of the report’s release, both the Prime Minister and the Minister of Foreign Affairs said:
. . . in the coming weeks, we will assess the recommendations in this report and outline the further measures we intend to take.
As well, Minister Freeland stated last week, in a joint release with the U.K. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, that the government will take a number of immediate actions in response to Mr. Rae’s report.
Could the government leader please make inquiries and let us know when we might expect the government’s response to this report, as well as more information on the actions that the Government of Canada intends to take?
Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): Again, I thank the honourable senator for her question on this issue, an issue of concern that’s broadly shared by a number of senators.
The senator has already referred to the priority the Government of Canada is giving to this as a government initiative. Like-minded ministers and the Prime Minister have raised this in the fora they have been at in the last while.
I also note that this item is not only on the G7 foreign ministers’ agenda but on the G7 leaders’ agenda, and I would anticipate that the government will be making announcements in the foreseeable future, along with the commitments they have made to do so. I will certainly bring this to their attention.
Hon. Leo Housakos: My question is to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Last week, I asked about the New Champlain Bridge and the discussion between your government and the consortium building the bridge. You replied to this chamber that:
. . . it is the view of the Government of Canada that the bridge ought to be completed by the date of December 1.
You went on to say:
With respect to contractual obligations, the Government of Canada is of the view that these will be fulfilled with the December 1 deadline. Should that not occur, the government will take action.
Clearly, government leader, you were reading an outdated cue card because you failed to mention that on April 13, six days prior to that response, an agreement had been reached between the government and the consortium, an agreement that extends the delivery date past December 1 to December 21.
Despite telling this chamber last week that your government would impose contractual penalties if the bridge was not delivered by December 1, your government already knew it would not be completed on time and won’t be imposing penalties. As a matter of fact, your government has agreed to give the consortium millions more of taxpayers’ dollars.
Senator Harder, what will your government do if the new bridge is not delivered by the new delivery date, now December 21? Clearly, the consortium is having a hard time being on time and on budget. Does the new deal with the consortium provide for the same penalties as were in place with the original contract, dated for December 1 delivery, or will the government cave in once again and let the consortium off the hook while giving it tens of millions of dollars more of taxpayers’ money?
Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I thank the honourable senator for his question. I clearly need a refreshed cue card and will seek to do so.
Senator Housakos: Honourable colleagues, this is precisely the problem with this charade of this government in this chamber. When they have a government leader who either is not sitting at the cabinet table or has been given information that is not consistent with being accountable to this chamber, that is not acceptable.
I have a supplementary question nonetheless.
Senator Harder, the biggest change to the contract with the consortium was the fact that the new bridge would not have tolls. How is the consortium compensated? Did this change affect the consortium’s schedule, and is that, as a result, why they couldn’t meet the December 1 deadline?
Finally, is the new deal — the additional money given to the consortium — part of the compensation for what is clearly a political decision of the Trudeau Liberals to cancel the tolls on the bridge?
Senator Harder: I would be happy to add that to my inquiry.
Prime Minister’s Office
Government Apology to Victims of Psychological Experiments
Hon. Claude Carignan: My question is for the Government Representative in the Senate. In 1951, the CIA and a group of psychiatrists launched Project Bluebird at the McGill University Health Centre. The purpose of the project was to develop techniques for brainwashing, mental conditioning, persuasion, propaganda and mind control over the masses and members of organizations. Dr. Cameron, a former colonel in the U.S. army, led the program, and his objective was to deprogram the patient’s brain, only to reconstruct it afterwards.
Before a personality can be reconstructed, however, it must first be destroyed. To do that, the psychiatrist injected his patients with LSD and barbiturates to destabilize them, and he then subjected them to shock treatments three times a day over several months. Patients would then be subjected to several months of sensory deprivation in isolation chambers, followed by a series of hot and ice-cold showers and sleep therapy, which could last for several days.
At this point in the protocol, patients would have reached a state of extreme confusion and complete disorientation, and they would have lost their appetites and all control of their bladders and bowels, as Dr. Cameron himself described in an article published by the American Psychopathological Association. Reconditioning could therefore begin. At this point, a tape recorder was used to replay the same messages over and over again, possibly up to 500,000 times, to help reconstruct the patients’ identities.
The CIA ended Dr. Cameron’s research program in 1960, so the doctor turned to the Canadian government, who funded his work until 1963—
The Hon. the Speaker: Senator Carignan, please ask your question.
Senator Carignan: Yes, as you heard, these events began in the 1950s. That is why I felt it necessary to provide a lengthier introduction.
Senator Harder, will the Trudeau government give Dr. Cameron’s victims the apology they haven’t yet received?
Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I thank the honourable senator for his question and, in particular, for his putting it in a broader context because as honourable senators will know, this is an issue that has been before the Senate and the House of Commons from time to time for some years. I recall member of Parliament Orlikow, whose wife was part of this experiment, if I could put it that way.
I will certainly bring to the attention of the government the suggestion of the honourable senator with respect to actions that the Government of Canada could yet take on this matter. But this is a chapter of Canadian history that ought to be known and condemned.
Senator Carignan: CBC journalists uncovered, buried in the 2017 public accounts, payments connected to a settlement reached with the Steel family for the procedures inflicted by Dr. Cameron. The government secretly reached a settlement with this family, whereas it seems that all the other families affected will have to overcome serious obstacles.
Will the government commit to compensating all of Dr. Cameron’s other victims?
Senator Harder: Again, senator, I will add that to my inquiry and report back.
Hon. Ghislain Maltais: My question is for the Government Representative in the Senate and follows up on Senator Smith’s question. In 2018 — and this will make things easier for you, Senator Harder — the Senate clearly instructed the Standing Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry to study the impact of carbon pricing on Canadian agriculture. We know that agriculture is a very large part of Canada’s economy, a mari usque ad mare.
I do not believe that this study can be completed before the end of May or June because we obviously must study other bills. Senator Harder, would it be possible for the government to wait for the committee to table its report in the Senate before implementing carbon pricing?
It is already apparent that a flat tax will not be well received and we think that the government should instead consider a variable tax.
Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I thank the honourable senator for his question. Let me state that the government is very confident in the budget it has presented to the other place and the budget implementation act being pre-studied here concerning the measures, including the carbon tax measures.
It is the responsibility of the government to set the economic course and to bring forward legislation to the Parliament of Canada. The government believes that proceeding now in the faction it is presenting its measures is the prudent and appropriate measure for Canada as it deals with its obligations and strategies to fulfill its commitments on climate change.
I can assure the honourable senator that this budget will not be the last word on moving to a less carbon-intense economy, and it won’t be the last word on how we deal with climate change. It is a measure for a generation. We will have many opportunities to debate various aspects of implications of this change, but the government is quite properly seized and wishing to move.
Senator Maltais: Thank you, Government Representative, for your response. However, I still have a question. Some provinces have already implemented carbon pricing systems and others are giving it careful consideration. Isn’t it possible that a benchmark rate, as the government is proposing, could clash with the approach in certain provinces? If so, what does the government plan to do to buy peace with the provinces, while maintaining some uniformity?
Senator Harder: As the honourable senator will know, the Government of Canada has for more than two years undertaken intense discussions with the provinces with respect to an approach that can be Canada-wide on carbon pricing and other measures with respect to climate change. The approach the government is taking is one that builds upon what provinces have put in place and ensures that the revenues raised are kept in the province so that they can be appropriately used within the jurisdiction in which the funds are generated.
This is all part of, not just a Canadian effort, but a global effort, of which Canada is proud to be a leader.
Agriculture and Forestry
Business of Committee
Hon. Yuen Pau Woo: Honourable senators, my question is for the Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry.
Senator Griffin, I wonder if you can confirm if the Standing Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry has discussed the risk of our study on the impact of climate change on agriculture not being completed on time or whether it should be extended and the carbon tax delayed because of any possible delay in the completion of the study?
Hon. Diane F. Griffin: Our report is not yet finished, but we have heard from all of the witnesses. The report will be written over the summer and will come to the Senate in the autumn after we approve it.
But no, we had not discussed the risk of the timing on the tax being delayed or asked that the tax be delayed because of our study. There is also a low carbon economy study being done by Senator Galvez’s committee, so I suspect they are in the same situation in that they have done interim reports but not the final report.
There will be a lot of information coming to the Senate on that, but in the meantime the government is progressing, as we see from the budget and other sources, with their own actions. We will further enlighten them when our reports come, of course.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Business of the Senate
Hon. Donald Neil Plett: Colleagues, yesterday I spoke to Senator Pate’s motion regarding the removal of Senator Beyak’s website. Senator Sinclair rose and stated:
I have been accused by Senator Plett of having supported this motion and spoken in favour of it, when in fact I haven’t.
I did not state that Senator Sinclair had spoken in favour of this motion, as he suggested. However, I did indicate his support of the motion when I stated the following:
For Senator Sinclair, an eminently qualified judge, to support this motion, a motion that accepts a sanction before there has been a ruling, is surprising and troubling. I do not believe that Senator Sinclair would accept that in his courtroom, and he should not accept it here.
While Senator Sinclair is correct that he has not spoken to the specific motion I was debating yesterday, he has made comment on the subject matter in this chamber, which in my opinion would lead a reasonable person to believe that the senator does support this motion.
This includes the following quote from Senator Sinclair when he spoke to Senator Beyak’s question of privilege:
But the contents of what’s on the Senate website that Senator Beyak has been provided by the Senate is content that she has approved and she has placed there, but not because it has come through here or even because it’s something she agrees with. These are comments made by members of the public, and no matter how you cut it, no matter what you say about it, most of those comments are racist in nature. Some of them, in fact, are borderline hate speech. Some of them are so offensive that it will instigate people to do and believe things against Indigenous people that we all have to be concerned about and Senate resources are being used in order for that to happen.
The motion that Senator Pate has brought is, I think, an appropriate motion because it’s limited in its scope and it’s limited to the question of whether the Senate should allow its resources to be used to provide members of the public that kind of access on a Senate website.
So if my interpretation that these remarks imply support for the motion is incorrect, I apologize to Senator Sinclair, and with that, if Senator Sinclair would like me to withdraw those remarks, I am pleased to do so.
Canada Elections Act
Bill to Amend—Second Reading—Debate Continued
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Mercer, seconded by the Honourable Senator Day, for the second reading of Bill C-50,An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act (political financing).
Hon. Linda Frum: Honourable senators, I rise today to speak as critic of Bill C-50, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act (political financing).
After two and a half years in government, Bill C-50 is the Liberal government’s one and only piece of legislation passed by the other place and sent to the Senate to address the supremely important issue of election reform in our digital age. Whether it be deliberate misinformation campaigns sponsored by hostile foreign governments, an uneven playing field between registered political parties and registered third parties, the abuse of election advertising laws, or the distorting effect of powerful social media conglomerates on politics, there is a crying need for legislation designed to protect Canada’s elections from fraud, interference, hacking, data mining and foreign influence.
Does Bill C-50 address or even attempt to address any of these real and serious challenges to Canada’s political and electoral sovereignty? The answer is no. Instead, all our government has managed to come up with is a pale rewrite of an existing law regarding the transparency of political fundraisers. There’s almost nothing in Bill C-50 that doesn’t already exist in law. The only change it makes is that those who attend political fundraisers where the Prime Minister, cabinet ministers or a party leader is present and who contribute over $200 must have their named published within 30 days of the event.
The prompt for Bill C-50 was a political pay-for-play scandal that involved the Prime Minister and the Minister of Justice, for which Bill C-50 was the communications department’s solution. The more obvious solution, it seems to me, would be for the PM and his cabinet to simply follow the rules as they are already written. These rules can be found on the Prime Minister’s own website:
Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries must avoid conflict of interest, the appearance of conflict of interest and situations that have the potential to involve conflicts of interest. . . .
Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries must ensure that political fundraising activities or considerations do not affect, or appear to affect, the exercise of their official duties or the access of individuals or organizations to government.
There should be no preferential access to government, or appearance of preferential access, accorded to individuals or organizations because they have made financial contributions to politicians and political parties.
There should be no singling out, or appearance of singling out, of individuals or organizations as targets of political fundraising because they have official dealings with Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries, or their staff or departments.
But no matter that these rules already exist, we are now asked to deal with Bill C-50.
Honourable colleagues, I suggest we just get on with it. Let’s pass this do-nothing public relations attempt immediately so that we can get on with the real business of urgent electoral reform on issues that actually threaten our democracy, such as considering my bill, Bill S-239.
Bill S-239 was introduced on June 2, 2017, nearly a year ago, and has been stalled by the Independent Senators Group ever since. It seeks to close a loophole that was identified by the Chief Electoral Officer and the Commissioner of Elections Canada, which is that foreign entities are allowed to contribute to Canadian third parties for election-related activities.
It’s worth noting that when the well-respected and non-partisan Public Policy Forum conducted its study on the pressing need for effective electoral reform, they did not mention Bill C-50. They did, however, underscore many if not all the same points I’ve been trying to impress upon colleagues here for the past 11 months, some of which are addressed in Bill S-239. For your edification, here is a summary of the eight recommendations put forward by the PPF report:
1. Allow only eligible voters (i.e. Canadians) to make political contributions.
2. Level the playing field for donations to registered third parties to correspond with those for political parties.
3. Extend campaign-spending limits to kick in six months prior to the fixed election date.
4. Increase transparency around third parties.
5. Maintain the current balance between public and private contributions.
6. Lower the threshold for public reimbursement.
7. Regulate in-kind contributions enforced through administrative penalties.
8. Increase transparency around social media and micro-targeting.
Honourable senators, these are the issues that public-policy leaders interested in meaningful reform would like to see. As for Bill C-50, let’s pass it or let’s ignore it, but let’s not let anyone be under the illusion it accomplishes anything of value whatsoever to democratic reform.
(On motion of Senator Gold, debate adjourned.)
Kindness Week Bill
Second Reading—Debate Adjourned
Hon. Jim Munson moved second reading of Bill S-244,An Act respecting Kindness Week.
He said: Honourable senators, we talk about a lot of weighty matters here and some serious issues, but I think it’s time to be kind. We heard a lot of acts of kindness today from Senator Manning when he talked about giving the car away, and Senator Coyle talked about the Sisters of St. Martha at St. Francis Xavier University and the kind acts that they have done, so I think it has set the tone for what I am about to talk about.
Before I do that, I understand it’s Hug A Plumber Day today, too.
Senator Plett: Hear, hear.
Senator Munson: And there he is, the esteemed Don Plett, April 25, and I may have more to say about that in a moment.
It’s my honour to speak at second reading of Bill S-244, An Act respecting Kindness Week. The purpose of this bill is straightforward, to have Canada recognize the third week in February as Kindness Week each year. Kindness is described as a quality of being friendly, generous and considerate. It sounds so simple, but as I learned recently, there’s research out there about how kindness affects us and the motivations behind it. We know kindness is good for our health, both our physical and our mental well-being, and that it also has positive social impacts. I believe that recognizing a kindness week each year will help to build a culture of kindness, which will benefit Canadians across the country.
Recognizing and celebrating kindness are not new ideas. The Kindness Week traditions have been taking place in Ottawa for the past 11 years because of the encouragement of Rabbi Bulka and the United Way. Kindness Week has also been declared at the provincial legislature of Ontario for the past nine years, thanks in part to the work and support of my friend Ottawa Centre MPP Yasir Naqvi.
Many communities and schools across Canada celebrate kindness weeks or days already. British Columbia has marked random acts of kindness, which we heard about today with Senator Manning, in February for several years, and World Kindness Day is celebrated in November by several countries.
Senators, I’m sure many of you have already heard of kindness campaigns taking place in your own communities, either in the local news or from individuals trying to make a difference. There are pockets of conscientious, kind acts taking place across the country every day. Senators, I need only remind you of the tragic incident in Toronto where we read in the last two days these aren’t random acts of kindness, these are acts of kindness to each other on the streets of Toronto, helping and holding each other in a time like this.
I’m thinking of people today like Brent Kerr, Luke Elwood and Mark Decker in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, who completed 150 acts of kindness for Canada’s one hundred fiftieth anniversary. And the community of Springdale, Newfoundland, which declared a kindness week for the second year this past February.
Now, where does my motivation come from? I was born and brought up in New Brunswick. This is the story of a young New Brunswick woman, and her name was Rebecca Schofield. You might remember her story. Rebecca created a legacy of kindness with her #BeccaToldMeTo campaign. She started what would be her legacy in December of 2016, only two years ago, after she found out her battle with brain cancer would leave her with only months to live. Sadly, Becca passed away in February of this year, but the impact she made will go on for a very long time.
Young Becca created a giant wave of kindness that spread from New Brunswick throughout Canada and as far away as Australia by asking people to simply participate in acts of kindness as part of her bucket-list request. Her message has had a profound effect on me. She said:
I’ve always known that people have this kindness within them. Kindness and positivity, they’re a choice and it’s not a choice you make once.
To know that these people are making that choice daily over and over and they’re doing it because I have inspired them to do that, it’s fantastic.
Well, Becca and her movement of kindness have certainly inspired me and I hope others in this chamber. I’m proposing “Kindness Week” so we can remember to be kind, compassionate and generous with one another like she wanted us to do.
I would like to see initiatives like Rebecca’s and others come together at the same time each year to support each other and be recognized and talked about across the country, to give these initiatives of kindness the attention they deserve. I hope that having a kindness week in Canada will encourage more people to participate and give time in their communities or even a smile to others. A week of kindness would snowball across the country from coast to coast to coast through awareness campaigns, school participation, volunteering, fundraising, helping neighbours and so much more. Having a kindness week would give communities, organizations and schools a time when they can all send out positive messaging offering program and outreach. The outcome, I hope, would be a kinder, nicer, healthier Canada for all.
I remind all honourable senators that a number of years ago I had a private member’s bill creating April 2 legally as World Autism Awareness Day. It moved beyond kindness; it moved to action, and it moved to the autism community speaking with one voice and galvanizing an autism community that has the ear and action of governments these days.
My mother always used to say, “What’s the world coming to?” I don’t know if your mother said that. “What is the world coming to?”, whether it was the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s or 1980s.
With everything that is happening in our world and reported in the news lately — from bullying and harassment to isolation and exclusion — it is more important than ever that we are reminded to treat others with love and kindness. We spend so much time talking about how not to treat each other, how not to hurt someone or disrespect another person, and while these are important, isn’t it time we started to talk about the importance of being kind, compassionate and simply nice to each other? We need an opportunity to show how purposeful acts of kindness can make a positive difference in the world around us. There is just so much hate in this world.
I am reminded by the passage of compassion by Martin Luther King:
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
In this time when there are so many disturbing issues around us every day, I think it’s time we started to share stories of kindness, respect and goodness. A kindness week will serve as an opportunity to do just that. That’s what “Kindness Week” can be.
We all know how great it feels when another person is kind to us. We feel it every day when someone may open a door for us from time to time. Feelings of happiness, appreciation and gratitude all come to the surface when someone has done something nice for us. Those benefits of kindness are essentially a given. I don’t need to go into detail about them. When we are kind and nice, we increase the happiness and well-being of those we help.
Because of your own experiences, we know that we should be kind because it makes other people happy, but have you ever noticed how enjoyable it feels to do something nice for someone else? Small acts like holding a door, letting someone cut in line, a quick compliment or buying a cup of coffee are simple yet satisfying. We feel good about having helped someone, and this is because being kind has positive effects for both parties involved.
Several studies have come to the conclusion that the benefits of being kind, giving time or money to a person or a cause, can all lead to an increase in happiness for the giver, not just the receiver. This is because acts of altruism increase serotonin, the feel-good chemical in our bodies that helps to make us happier. They can also boost our oxytocin and endorphin levels.
Additionally, philanthropic activities are proven to lighten up our brain’s pleasure and reward centres, increasing feelings of optimism and self-worth. This by-product of kindness is referred to as “the helper’s high.” So encouraging kindness wouldn’t just increase happiness to those on the receiving end of thoughtfulness, but also improving the mental health and feelings of happiness for those being kind.
The benefits to helping don’t stop there. While improved mental health is a strong argument for kindness, it also benefits physical health. Several studies show that volunteering and showing kindness can improve heart health, lower stress levels and blood pressure, as well as increase energy levels and longevity. By being kind, you’re not only helping the well-being of others, but you’re also improving your well-being. This is a win-win.
Colleagues, it gets even better than just a win-win. Science tells us that these positive effects of kindness are actually shared by anyone who witnesses it, called morale elevation.
Along with the shared positive effects on the brain and the nervous system, this reaction also makes the bystanders to kindness want to act altruistically themselves; so kindness is literally contagious. When you see someone being kind, you want to be kind as a result. One act can cause a ripple effect. This impact is why I’m proposing a week of kindness. One act of kindness can multiply to thousands across Canada during that week.
Honourable senators, although “Kindness Week” is not law yet — it will take a little time, as I’ve known here in the Senate; it took three years for the autism bill to get passed, but it was worth every darn minute of it. I would like to challenge each of you to participate in acts and words of kindness over the next few days and see how this makes you feel. Notice that with your one act of kindness you have benefited someone else, you have improved your health, and you have likely inspired another act of generosity and possibly started a chain reaction of kindness. Please share your acts of kindness with me on Twitter with #BeKind.
Senators, in closing, Canadians are known to be polite and nice. It seems appropriate that Canadians declare a week in February, in the middle of winter, around Valentine’s Day, to be intentionally kind to others, a time to spread kindness and compassion to every corner of our country and maybe even further.
Senators, wouldn’t it be wonderfully fitting for Canada, already known for politeness, to be the first country in the world to have a national kindness week?
I will just quote four people who have talked about kindness in their own ways.
Mark Twain: “Kindness is the language the deaf can hear and the blind can see.”
Mother Theresa: “Kind words can be short to speak but their echoes are truly endless.”
Buddha: “When words are both true and kind, they can change the world.”
Senator Don Plett: “Hug a plumber.”
This is important because it just shows that in each and every one of us there’s an opportunity — and I’m looking at Senator Plett right now —
Senator Dawson: He looks like Buddha.
Senator Munson: This is a unique opportunity. We have so many issues going on but, in mindfulness, we have to take a deep breath once in a while and think about each other. Thank you, honourable senators.
Hon. Nicole Eaton: Did I understand you correctly, Senator Munson, when you asked us to share our acts of kindness on Twitter?
Senator Munson: Yes, it’s #Bekind.
Senator Eaton: I was raised — and perhaps you were or weren’t — as a Catholic. I was taught the last thing you do when you do something kind is to boast about it.
Hon. Yonah Martin (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): I have a few questions for Senator Munson as well.
Senator, thank you so much for bringing this to our attention. I had two questions. I met a woman from Alberta — I believe it was in the Edmonton region — whose town had been witness to a very violent act and they were trying to get over this tragedy. The opposite of a random act of violence was a random act of kindness. There was a huge global movement. I know there’s a Random Act of Kindness Day in November, but in the February week that you’re talking about, in British Columbia, there is a teacher at the school where I used to teach — she wasn’t there when I was there — who also started a movement around that same week called Real Acts of Kindness, RAK. It’s student-led and they do great things to take the initiative. Have you heard of this second group, Real Acts of Kindness, which is the same week you’re talking about? Is this something we can incorporate into this bill? They would be thrilled to know there is this national initiative.
Senator Munson: Well, in the act of being kind, I would absolutely love to hear more about that. I know there is work going on in British Columbia, as I mentioned. If we wanted to change the bill to “Real Acts of Kindness,” I have no problem with that.
Just sharing a moment of compassion and kindness, I don’t know if you saw the cartoon by de Adder yesterday showing the arms of Toronto around the arm of a hockey player from Humboldt, Saskatchewan.
Thinking about these things and how they hit you — what you have to do sometimes — what was kind recently and almost had me drive off the road this morning to stop for a second to listen to it was the interview with the young Humboldt hockey player who’s paralyzed. He has a lot of work to do going forward. But who were the first people in his room? Members of Canada’s hockey sledge team, who have had to go through a horrible time but have now come out playing national hockey on a sledge. To him, that was a real act of kindness.
We see them every day. Sometimes, I think we just let them go by and we don’t breathe and absorb them and take them all in and exercise and move those things out. If we can hold hands across the country and from coast to coast to coast, then why not?
Hon. Donald Neil Plett: Let me, first of all, say that I will be right outside the chamber if anybody wants to take follow through on Senator Munson’s suggestion. I’m always happy to get some hugs, and I’ll even hug Senator Munson and my cousin Senator Harder.
It is sometimes shameful that we have to list a critic on some legislation, but we do. I will make the kindest of gestures and say that I do want to speak to this, either next week or the week after, but until then I will take the adjournment of the debate.
(On motion of Senator Plett, debate adjourned.)
Study on the Effects of Transitioning to a Low Carbon Economy
Tenth Report of Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources Committee—Debate Continued
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the 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. Richard Neufeld: I hope everyone is kind here. Honourable senators, I move that further debate be adjourned to the next sitting of the Senate for the balance of my time.
(On motion of Senator Neufeld, debate adjourned.)
Study on the Financial Implications and Regional Considerations of the Aging Population
Nineteenth Report of National Finance Committee and Request for Government Response Adopted
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Mockler, seconded by the Honourable Senator Martin:
That the nineteenth report 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, be adopted and that, pursuant to rule 12-24(1), the Senate request a complete and detailed response from the government, with the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development being identified as minister responsible for responding to the report, in consultation with the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development, and Labour, and the Minister of Health.
Hon. Diane Bellemare (Legislative Deputy to the Government Representative in the Senate): Esteemed colleagues, I rise today to tell you that I am ready to adopt the 19th report of the Senate Standing Committee on National Finance. I am speaking on my own behalf, not in my capacity as Legislative Deputy. I requested adjournment of the debate in my name because I am quite familiar with the subject of this study. I also wanted to take the time to read it closely before supporting it.
Let me start by thanking the committee for this concise report which is nevertheless full of significant information. In my view, the committee has been able to identify several financial issues related to the aging of the population and has put forward useful recommendations that deserve to be taken into account by the government.
The committee intends to continue its study of the financial and regional implications of the aging of the population.
I am sure you all know that the aging of the population is linked to two separate demographic phenomena.
The first is the baby boom that Canada and some of the provinces experienced after the Second World War. The baby boomer cohort, which includes a number of us, was something of an issue for governments in Canada when its members entered the labour force in the late 1960s. The boomers are now taking their leave and retiring en masse, which is creating labour shortages in several sectors of the economy.
The second issue relates to the aging of the workforce in general. With life expectancy increasing and the size of families shrinking since the 1950s, an aging workforce is inevitable. Every province and every developed country is experiencing this. As the finance committee report notes, and I quote:
. . . the median age in Canada will continue to increase: it went from 24.1 years in 1923 to 40.2 years in 2013, and is expected to be between 41.7 and 46.5 years in 2063.
It should also be noted that according to the calculations by the Institut de la statistique du Québec, based on Statistics Canada data, the average rate of natural increase of the working age population — those aged between 15 and 65 — has been negative for Atlantic Canada since 2012. Simply put, the working age population in the Atlantic provinces is on the decline, in terms of absolute value. This is not the case in the other provinces, but the trend indicates that it could soon happen in Quebec.
These two phenomena combined have an impact on government spending, especially when it comes to health care and pension benefits. They can also have an impact on government revenues. If there is a decline in the working age population and workforce because of the aging population and productivity does not increase accordingly, national revenue and government revenue sources could diminish, unless of course we create robots to take the place of workers.
We therefore need to take this phenomenon seriously. As the committee’s report points out, and I quote:
It is not the first time that the Senate has studied population aging. However, the Honourable Sharon Carstairs, who chaired the Special Committee on Aging from 2006 to 2009, explained that “little has changed” and that “we are woefully unprepared to deal with our aging society.”
Honourable colleagues, I would like to draw your attention now to the report’s recommendations. Even though Senator Mockler has thoroughly explained the substance of the committee’s recommendations, I would like to raise them once again with you:
RECOMMENDATION 1: That the Government of Canada develop, in collaboration with its provincial, territorial and Indigenous partners, a national seniors strategy in order to control spending growth while ensuring appropriate and accessible care.
RECOMMENDATION 2: That the Government of Canada continue to work with its provincial, territorial and Indigenous partners to put measures in place to enable seniors to remain at home while having access to support services, including those provided by caregivers.
RECOMMENDATION 3: That the Government of Canada, in collaboration with its provincial, territorial and Indigenous partners, put measures in place to increase labour force participation of underrepresented groups and to better match labour demand with labour supply in order to mitigate the negative impact of population aging on the economy and on the labour market.
RECOMMENDATION 4: That the Government of Canada consider the possibility of including demographic considerations when calculating federal transfers to ensure that all regions of the country have the resources to fulfill their responsibilities with respect to their aging populations.
Colleagues, have you noticed that three of these recommendations have something in common? Three of the four recommendations require the participation and collaboration of “provincial, territorial and Indigenous partners.” This is not insignificant. This may be why Sharon Carstairs said to the committee that nothing has changed since the Senate has done a committee report in the past.
Three of the four recommendations require the participation and collaboration of provincial, territorial and Indigenous partners. This is not insignificant.
The constitutional division of powers and responsibilities is a Canadian reality that we must deal with when it comes to sharing solutions to common, Canada-wide problems. Whether we are talking about labour programs, pension plans, the age of retirement or health-related issues, problem solving is a complex political exercise in Canada.
In other words, the issue of federal and provincial relations is a constant challenge in Canada that we can neither ignore nor underestimate. This is a question that it integral to the solution for many challenges Canadians are facing.
The issue of federal and provincial relations is a constant challenge in Canada that we can neither ignore nor underestimate. This is a question that is integral to the solution for many challenges that Canadians are facing.
I’m sure none of this is new to you. Furthermore, I feel certain that the Senate has a contribution to make in this area, because of its composition and constitutional mandate. An analysis of how other federations operate could be very useful for Canada. For example, Australia seems to be successfully carrying out workforce training and infrastructure initiatives involving all levels of government. Even the members of the European Union are collaborating on issues like labour and many others that concern multiple countries with very different realities.
I therefore invite you to consider the issue of federal-provincial relations, which could become the focus of a committee study or special study. In the meantime, I move that we adopt the report of the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance. Thank you.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
(Motion agreed to and report adopted.)
Government’s Legal Obligation to Protect and Maintain a Voluntary Blood System
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Wallin, calling the attention of the Senate to the federal government’s legal obligation to protect and maintain Canada’s voluntary blood system and to examine the issues surrounding commercial, cash- for- blood operations.
Hon. Lucie Moncion: I move that further debate be adjourned until the next sitting of the Senate for the balance of Senator Omidvar’s time.
(On motion of Senator Moncion, for Senator Omidvar, debate adjourned.)
The Honourable Joan Fraser
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Day, calling the attention of the Senate to the career of the Honourable Senator Fraser.
Hon. Anne C. Cools: Honourable senators, I rise to speak to Senator Day’s inquiry respecting the exceptional career of our recently retired colleague, Senator Joan Fraser. I do believe that Senator Fraser was an exceptional and unique person. She served faithfully in this place. Mahatma Gandhi writes about the nature and character of service, serving and those who serve. In the book The Mind of Mahatma Gandhi, Gandhi said, at page 229:
He who devotes himself to service with a clear conscience will day by day grasp the necessity for it in great measure, and will continually grow richer in faith. The path of service can hardly be trodden by one who is not prepared to renounce self-interest, and to recognize the conditions of his birth. Consciously or unconsciously, every one of us does render some service or other. If we cultivate the habit of doing this service deliberately, our desire for service will steadily grow stronger, and will make not only for our own happiness, but that of the world at large.
Our esteemed colleague, the Honourable Joan Fraser, of Montreal, Quebec, was successful in her journalism career, and, notably, served as the editor of the Montreal Gazette. Senator Fraser was even more successful in her Senate work here for 20 years. She gave much to the public good of Canada and Canadians. In addition, she served faithfully in the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the IPU, wherein she was a member of its executive committee.
Honourable senators, perhaps growing up abroad caused Senator Fraser to develop a loving view of her native country, Canada. In an online IPU interview, on March 26, 2012, Senator Fraser said:
I was already fortunate enough to have lived outside Canada because my father was working for a multinational firm and so I grew up outside Canada; from the age of two to about the age of 20 my parents lived in South America. Thus I had a strong sense of the developing world and of Canada in that perspective. I think that this probably helped me in the IPU; but I learned a lot from the IPU. One of the things I learned is how fortunate we are in Canada.
Colleagues, Senator Fraser’s youthful experiences abroad, her earned degree at McGill University and her labours in print journalism and in broadcasting, all taken together, prepared her for a magnificent and uplifting Senate career. She loved her work in the Senate and once said that the most interesting aspect of her work “. . . was to have an impact on real people’s lives.”
Senator Fraser’s command of the English language, her speaking style and everything else in the way she conducted herself made her stand out here in the Senate, and in life. Her outstanding qualities were key to her leadership positions here in this place, leadership positions that included twice being chosen the Senate Deputy Leader of the Opposition from April 2006 to January 2007 and again from August 2013 to June 2016.
Colleagues, Senator Fraser’s energy, abundant talents, passion, wisdom and oratory were well loved by the many in this place, like me, who knew her well.
My wish for Senator Fraser and her dear husband, Michel Faure, is that they will enjoy their well-earned retirement. I trust that Senator Fraser’s retirement will be as successful as her Senate work and career was. That is my prayer and wish for them. I shall close with and John Donne’s famous poem For Whom the Bell Tolls:
No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.
Colleagues, Senator Fraser is one of Canada’s great women. She was very much involved in mankind. She well understood that, as human beings, we are all members, one of another.
Hon. Yonah Martin (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Senator Cools, thank you for speaking to this inquiry because it’s one that I had wanted to speak to originally, but, with time, it has been sitting on the Order Paper. I will take adjournment for the balance of my time as I had a chance to work with Senator Fraser very closely during her time as Deputy Leader of the Opposition.
(On motion of Senator Martin, debate adjourned.)
Motion Concerning Infrastructure of Newfoundland and Labrador—Debate
Hon. Norman E. Doyle, pursuant to notice of March 1, 2018, moved:
That the Senate encourage the Government of Canada to work with the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, the only province whose major population centres are not physically linked to the mainland of Canada, to evaluate the possibility of building a tunnel connecting the Island of Newfoundland to Labrador and the Quebec North Shore, in an effort to facilitate greater economic development in Canada’s Northeast, and to further strengthen national unity, including the possibility of using funding from the infrastructure program for this work; and
That a message be sent to the House of Commons to acquaint that house with the above.
He said: Honourable senators, back about 10 years ago, I introduced a private member’s motion in the House of Commons similar to the one I have here today. It was a motion supporting a better transportation system for Newfoundland and Labrador, including a tunnel, and it received the unanimous support of all parties and members in the House of Commons. Now, I think it’s appropriate to bring a motion here to the Senate and again ask that the Government of Canada study the idea of a tunnel connecting the island of Newfoundland to the mainland of Canada, in the Labrador Straits area.
I am of the opinion that a tunnel is needed more than ever for reasons I will outline, if such a project is viable in either an economic or a political sense. The short answer is that I really don’t know if it is, but I do feel that it’s time we found out. We should do an evaluation.
I’m not alone in thinking that way, and, as a result, I must salute our premier, Premier Ball, because, only a few days ago, the Newfoundland government updated a 2004 study on a Labrador-island fixed link. That new pre-feasibility study talks about an 18-kilometre board rail tunnel that will cost $1.6 billion and take 15 years to build.
Such a tunnel could shuttle up to 400 vehicles an hour between the island and Labrador, eliminating the ferry run across the Strait of Belle Isle and also taking 60 per cent of the traffic currently using the Marine Atlantic Gulf ferry. The premier says that the next step in the process is a $23 million formal feasibility study, and I would encourage the federal government to assist generously in funding that study. I believe the province is serious about it, and it deserves national support.
I’ve also heard that the federal Liberal party, only last weekend, passed a resolution at their annual convention in support of that kind of concept. So this resolution today is appropriate indeed, and I’m extremely happy to know that many of us now have “tunnel vision.”
The island of Newfoundland is the sixteenth-largest island in the world. At its narrowest point, it’s only 15 kilometres from the Canadian mainland and the continent of North America. In just about any other modern country, I can’t imagine a tunnel not having been constructed, especially when one considers the fact that tunnels exist today that are much longer in length. A tunnel that is 54 kilometres long was constructed in Japan. This is not a new concept. It’s fairly common today in China and Norway and many other places.
The main reasons I support the concept of a tunnel are outlined in the motion — to facilitate greater economic development in Canada’s Northeast and to further strengthen national unity. In an effort to do that, I must point out that taking that 150-kilometre trip from Nova Scotia to Newfoundland across the Gulf of St. Lawrence is not an easy trek, and it’s not conducive to people visiting the island. It’s not a cheap venture either for a tourist, and let me give you an example. A 28-foot mini bus, with two adults and two children, will set you back $604.68 return. If you choose to get a cabin to sleep in, it will cost an additional $252 return. A few meals with that and two or three fill ups of gas, and you have $1,000 gone before you begin a vacation. There is the problem. How do we get the number of visitors up? After all, we live on an island where our road connection to Canada is a 150-kilometre ferry trip one-way, weather permitting, of course.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that most of Newfoundland’s fresh food supply depends on the ferry service, which is often disrupted for days on end due to weather and ice conditions. As for the braver tourists using that ferry system during that time of year, the possibility of being bumped by a truckload of fresh lettuce can’t be a promising prospect. We need only look to the province of P.E.I. for some direction. The construction of the Confederation Bridge has transformed the economy of P.E.I. and it is my hope that a tunnel would do the same for the economy of Newfoundland.
The benefits of a tunnel extend far beyond Newfoundland and Labrador. The various municipal leaders along the Quebec North Shore, the Labrador Straits and Newfoundland’s Northern Peninsula have been lobbying the federal and provincial governments in favour of a tunnel for years.
The Government of Quebec is still working on Route 138, which will link Quebec City with the Quebec North Shore and all of Labrador. Indeed, Quebec residents in Fermont will then be able to drive to Quebec City via the Trans-Labrador Highway and Route 138.
The completion of Route 138 will facilitate the further economic development of forest and mineral resources of the whole Labrador Peninsula. Building a tunnel under the Strait of Belle Isle would allow for an expansion of the tourism industry all over the entire region. For the first time ever, tourists from all over North America would be able to drive to and through Labrador and onto the island of Newfoundland. Such a transportation loop would be a tremendous economic boost to most of the people and communities in Canada’s northeast.
Earlier, I mentioned that the tunnel would further strengthen national unity. Allow me to elaborate.
The Province of Quebec and the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador are well known for their rivalry in the development of the hydroelectric potential of the Labrador Peninsula, but cultural uniqueness is one thing both provinces have in common.
Given its French language, the Province of Quebec has long been considered the most “distinct society” within Canada, and it is. However, given our unique history and our particular brand of the English language, I would submit that our province is the second-most distinct society in Canada.
The governments of our two provinces recently signed a cooperation agreement, agreeing to cooperate on issues where it is mutually beneficial to do so. Joining our two distinct provinces by a tunnel can only lead to increased dialogue and a better understanding and respect for each other. Building a tunnel would put our two provinces in the loop, so to speak, and this could only strengthen national unity.
Obviously, there will be some difficulties to overcome. For example, there are some communities in Atlantic Canada which would like to maintain the primacy of serving the island of Newfoundland by marine transport, and no doubt they lobby their MPs accordingly. However, if a tunnel project is viable, can the progress of the many be held up by the interests of the few?
There’s that word again: viable. For many years, Newfoundlanders and Labradorians have been wondering whether a tunnel is politically or economically viable. It is certainly technically feasible, and I firmly believe the concept is worth the cost of a formal feasibility study. It would be good to have some answers and some accurate information to justify or discount the on-again, off-again talk that we hear so frequently.
As we debate this, much of rural Newfoundland is dying, and a tunnel could be one of our best hopes. We can’t undo the inevitable march of time, but neither do we have to go quietly into the night. If a tunnel could stem that inevitable march even just a bit, then a lot of Newfoundland and Labrador could look forward to some better times, especially for rural areas.
Through this motion, I am calling on the federal government especially to assist the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in this regard to fund a study. The province already has the wheels in motion. Also, given the long time frames involved, this is a visionary project, so I would encourage the federal government to develop some tunnel vision in this regard.
Hon. Terry M. Mercer (Deputy Leader of the Senate Liberals): Senator Doyle, would you accept a question?
Senator Doyle: Yes.
Senator Mercer: This is a very interesting proposal, Senator Doyle, and one that I think is worth pursuing. You have talked about a tunnel that would be for automobile traffic. Others have talked about making it a rail transportation link, which would cause obvious confusion at the other end in that we would have to create a whole rail network on Newfoundland because it was taken apart many years ago when the Newfie Bullet was stopped.
According to remarks earlier today by your colleague down the aisle from you, Senator Manning, all we really need to do is get the people to Newfoundland by whatever means; all they have to do is borrow a car from a Newfoundlander and everything is fine. So your estimated cost will be shot to hell because, as Senator Manning said, when you get there you don’t need a car; you just need to borrow one from a Newfoundlander. And if you played your cards right you would probably be invited to stay overnight and they would feed you. The costs are going down already, so I think that needs to be calculated in.
Seriously, I think this is worth pursuing, and I think the thing you need to continue to talk about is that it’s a nation-building discussion of solving a unity problem — the ongoing, long-standing conflict between Newfoundland and Quebec over the development of hydro power in Labrador.
Do you think that this link would solve that problem, or would it just precipitate more problems with respect to competition between Newfoundland and Quebec?
Senator Doyle: Thank you, Senator Mercer, for your question. I think this would be good both for Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador. As a result, I think I have the support of my colleagues from Quebec on this particular motion.
The people along the North Shore of Quebec have long been lobbying for this tunnel as well. Route 138, which runs up the North Shore of Quebec, has about 250 kilometres yet to be upgraded, built and paved. This particular tunnel, if it was approved, would take about 15 years to build. I would venture a bet that there would be plenty of projects in Quebec and Newfoundland that could be shared and which would be facilitated a whole lot better if you did have that link between the Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland over to the straits in Labrador.
So yes, I believe there could be a lot of good power and forestry projects undertaken in a cooperative way between Quebec and Newfoundland if we did have that kind of link there.
Senator Mercer: In your initial presentation, I heard there might be some communities who would be opposed to this because of their own economic dependence on transportation to and from Newfoundland and Labrador. Of course, the principal one would be North Sydney, Nova Scotia, where the ferry comes and goes from.
It would seem to me that if this were to proceed, there would need to be a commitment by the Government of Canada, over the 15 years it would take to develop this tunnel, to North Sydney and to Cape Breton in general to solve some economic problems that they have with respect to the Port of Sydney and the railroad that runs from Sydney down through to the mainland of Nova Scotia to Truro and then connecting inland and to the rest of Canada.
Do you think that should be mentioned as you proceed with this and that not only should you talk about the development of a tunnel from Labrador to Newfoundland, but that we could make sure that we compensate, or at least address, the economic fallout of closing down the ferry in North Sydney?
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, it is four o’clock. Two things are coinciding here: Senator Doyle’s time has expired, so when we return to this matter at the next session, Senator Doyle may ask for five more minutes to answer questions because I know there is at least one more senator who wishes to ask questions.
(At 4 p.m., pursuant to the order adopted by the Senate on February 4, 2016, the Senate adjourned until 1:30 p.m., tomorrow.)