Debates of the Senate (Hansard)
1st Session, 42nd Parliament
Volume 150, Issue 199
Tuesday, May 1, 2018
The Honourable George J. Furey, Speaker
- SENATORS’ STATEMENTS
- Iran Accountability Week
- H’art Centre
- Visitor in the Gallery
- Asian Heritage Month
- Visitors in the Gallery
- Hockey Commentating
- Visitors in the Gallery
- Visitors in the Gallery
- Pan-Canadian Assessment Program
- Visitors in the Gallery
- Journey to Freedom Day
- Visitors in the Gallery
- His Highness the Aga Khan
- Iran Accountability Week
- ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
- Parliamentary Budget Officer
- Cannabis Bill
- Senate Modernization
- Cannabis Bill
- Business of the Senate
- ORDERS OF THE DAY
- QUESTION PERIOD
- Business of the Senate
- Ministry of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs
- Consultation by the Government with First Nations
- Legalization of Cannabis
- Infrastructure Projects
- First Nations Governance—Audit Scrutiny
- Elimination of Sex-Based Inequities
- Disproportionality of Indigenous Women in Incarceration
- Arctic Sovereignty
- Nunavut Regulatory Boards—Review of Remuneration Rates
- Consultation by the Government with First Nations
- Crisis in Churchill, Manitoba
- Business of the Senate
- Business of the Senate
- ORDERS OF THE DAY
- Non-Nuclear Sanctions Against Iran Bill
- Canada Elections Act
- Borrowing Authority Act
- Gender Equality Week Bill
- Library of Parliament
- The Senate
- Increasing Overrepresentation of Indigenous Women in Canadian Prisons
- Cannabis Bill
- Criminal Code
- Captain Augustine Dalton
- Anti-Black Racism
- Silver Alert
Tuesday, May 1, 2018
The Senate met at 2 p.m., the Speaker in the chair.
The Hon. the Speaker informed the Senate that the following communication had been received:
May 1st, 2018
I have the honour to inform you that the Right Honourable Julie Payette, Governor General of Canada, signified royal assent by written declaration to the bill listed in the Schedule to this letter on the 1st day of May, 2018, at 10:55 a.m.
Assunta Di Lorenzo
Secretary to the Governor General
The Speaker of the Senate
Bill Assented to Tuesday, May 1, 2018:
An Act to amend the Canada Business Corporations Act, the Canada Cooperatives Act, the Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act and the Competition Act (Bill C-25, Chapter 8, 2018)
Iran Accountability Week
Hon. Linda Frum: Honourable senators, this week has been designated Iran Accountability Week by the Liberal government. I’m glad that when it comes to the Islamic Republic of Iran, the most malign regime in the world, the Liberals are asking for accountability.
I share this hunger for accountability from both the Iranian regime and from our own government, which continues to pursue a re-engagement plan with the world’s most abhorrent regime — a regime which only yesterday was exposed as lying extravagantly when it claimed it had never pursued a nuclear arms development program. In truth, the Iranian regime has kept hidden a massive atomic weapons archive even after the JCPOA came into effect.
Denouncing this violation of the JCPOA must be part of the Canadian Parliament’s and this government’s Iran Accountability Week. So too should other items which, so far, this government has failed to act on, including denouncing the judicial murder of Canadian citizen Kavous Seyed-Emami, expressing support for pro-democracy protesters who have been incarcerated and killed by the dozens since New Year’s Day 2018, denouncing the violent attacks on Iranian women who violate Iran’s compulsory hijab laws, and applying Canada’s Magnitsky sanctions act against the murderers of Canadian citizen Zahra Kazemi.
Here in the Senate there are actions we can take too. Most notably it is time to finally pass legislation which would prevent the Canadian government from lifting sanctions against Iran unless there is a significant improvement in human rights and which extends sanctions to all subsidiaries of EIKO and the IRGC.
Today I’m honoured to speak in the presence of Reza Bana, the leader of Justice 88, an organization which pursues justice for the 30,000 political dissidents murdered in Iran in 1988, and Avideh Motmaen-Far, the President of the Council of Iranian Canadians, which seeks to bridge Canadian values with Iranian heritage.
We need a government that listens to these voices of democratic opposition who advocate for the improvement to human rights as a condition of normalizing diplomatic relations with Iran.
In closing, I continue to pray for the release of Saeed Malekpour, Ayatollah Kazemeyni Boroujerdi and all Iranian prisoners of conscience. You are not forgotten. Thank you.
Hon. Patricia Bovey: Honourable senators, we have all experienced inspirational moments, known inspirational people and participated in inspirational organizations and events. The memories remain with us, guiding us in new directions, making us increasingly aware of waters we may not have fully understood or appreciated. Inspiration opens our eyes to the way people face their challenges.
As we honour Mental Health Month, I celebrate Kingston’s H’art Centre, whose members are in the gallery today. H’art does inspirational work, delivering high-quality arts and education programs for adults with developmental disabilities, both intellectual and physical, including those with hearing disabilities, Down syndrome and more.
Founded in 1988 by artist Katherine Porter, the H’art school program has positively affected individuals, families and communities for 20 years. H’art gives participants a chance to build literacy and social skills as they engage in music, theatre, visual art, dance, media arts and literary arts, all in their fully accessible building. Thousands of pieces of artwork have been created, and their annual on-stage performances of original musicals have been seen by many.
Ten days ago, I was fortunate to attend this year’s multidisciplinary performance of A Gift From Martadella. Working with professional artists, musicians and actors, the participants presented a truly touching and inspirational performance. Some acted on stage. Others participated digitally, having been filmed putting toppings on pizzas in the local pizza restaurant. Some danced; some sang. Some had significant lines, and others played in the orchestra alongside professional musicians.
In H’art’s two decades, they have written and illustrated children’s books, and a few students have taken part in Queen’s University’s inclusive higher-education programs.
H’art recently developed a program in which professional artists of various disciplines go into senior’s homes, encouraging engagement and participation in creative expression. As H’art says, “. . . to create a meaningful, inclusive environment for all participants where creativity is fostered in a supportive and positive space . . . . It is never too late . . . to engage in something new and master a skill . . . . [By] bringing arts to our seniors . . . [we hope] we will be able to enhance their quality of life, provide something fun to look forward to each week and help them to continue living their lives to the fullest.”
I commend everyone involved in H’art. Their work is uplifting, colourful and joyful. The performance was excellent, five stars, in my view, and truly inspirational.
Congratulations on two decades of hope, joy, community commitment and giving gifts of vitality and dedication. These creative innovators are leaders at home and across the country.
Visitor in the Gallery
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I wish to draw your attention to the presence in the gallery of Ms. Gail Hickey from Newfoundland and Labrador. She is the executive director of the Fish Harvesting Safety Association.
On behalf of all honourable senators, I welcome you to the Senate of Canada.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Asian Heritage Month
Hon. Victor Oh: Honourable senators, it is with great pride that I rise today to speak on Asian Heritage Month, a perfect occasion for Canadians to celebrate the valuable achievements of the Asian Canadian community.
I would like to take this opportunity to share with you stories of a few members of this community — an indispensable part of our nation — who help make Canada the diverse and prosperous nation we know today.
We have gone through dark chapters in our history. Despite state-sanctioned discrimination, hundreds of Chinese Canadians fought in the Second World War in the Canadian Army, even though they were barred on racial grounds from joining the Royal Canadian Air Force and the Royal Canadian Navy at the time. Many Chinese Canadians volunteered for active duty.
William Chong is the only Chinese Canadian to be awarded the British Empire Medal for his volunteer service to bring escapees from occupied territories during the war.
William Lore, player of the Vancouver’s Chinese Students Soccer Team, became the first Chinese to join the Royal Canadian Navy after the ban was lifted.
Mr. Lore’s team member, Kew Dock Yip, Canada’s first lawyer of Chinese descent, lobbied for the repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act.
Douglas Jung is the first Canadian of Chinese ancestry elected to federal office.
Norman Kwong, known as “The China Clipper,” won six Grey Cups.
You all know Inspector Baltej Dhillon, the first turbaned Sikh officer of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
Herb Dhaliwal is the first South Asian to hold a ministerial position in Western democracy.
Carol Huynh, of Vietnamese descent, is the first Canadian woman to win an Olympic gold medal in wrestling.
Kim Thúy is an award-winning author.
Juliette Kang is an internationally known violinist born to Korean parents.
Shaun Majumder is one of the hosts of the CBC’s “This Hour has 22 Minutes.”
Team Canada’s Patrick Chan is a three-time freestyle ice-skating world champion and an Olympic gold medallist in the team event at Pyeongchang 2018.
And as recently as last week, Constable Ken Lam, the “cop who didn’t shoot” in Toronto’s van attack, rejected the hero label because he is just one of the first responders who handle difficult situations every day. We witnessed the best of what this country has to offer in the face of such tragic events.
In this century of new threats and new challenges, it is more important than ever that we stand united and support the hard-earned equality of one another.
Many immigrants move from a state of unrest in pursuit of a peaceful life in Canada, where people from different backgrounds and beliefs are able to live in harmony.
The Hon. the Speaker: I’m sorry, Senator Oh, but your time has expired.
Visitors in the Gallery
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I wish to draw your attention to the presence in the gallery of Jordan Gold, nephew of Senator Gold, accompanied by Sean Robichaud and Chantal Lafitte. They are the guests of the Honourable Senator Gold.
On behalf of all honourable senators, I welcome you to the Senate of Canada.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Hon. David Richards: Honourable senators, since it is playoff time, I decided to speak about hockey. This statement is humbly called “Hockey Games U.S. play-by-play commentators have utterly ruined, which is never mentioned by those who have contracted our playoff games out to NBC or ESPN networks and which Canadian commentators have been silly enough to imitate,” or something of that sort.
Long ago and far away, when I was a boy, we wore hockey sweaters, not hockey jerseys — reference Roch Carrier’s The Hockey Sweater here — and we never sat in locker rooms. Some of us never saw a locker room before Grade 10. “Dressing rooms,” they were called. And we didn’t have a half wall. What would that be? We had boards, and we got penalties for boarding, not half-walling. We didn’t deny a shot; we actually saved it. We didn’t delay at the blue line; we stopped at the blue line. Nor did we take a wrister. What an insulting word. We took a wrist shot. Nor did we take a slapper. What an insulting word. We took a slapshot — and not the movie. And none of us from about the age of six months on ever needed a laser beam to follow a puck. And we didn’t talk about, “He moves up there now and is swinging to and fro,” or this: “He makes a luscious pass right there,” or, “He takes a real good knuckler.”
No, my friends, we knew the motion of the ice and talked about “dipsy-doodling” and “swallowing the ice,” and the player never took a “slapper off the half wall,” but there might have been a “scintillating slapshot.” Sawchuk made “fantabulous” saves, not “fantabulous” denies. And no U.S. commentator can speak about “magical mittens,” because most of them never saw a mitten. But I have actually heard them say, “He loops it in like a real good dunk.”
These odious phrases are all momentary inventions by American play-by-play announcers who have never played or understood the game, and worse, almost sacrilegious, have no respect for millions of Canadians who do understand and love the game. Sayings now adopted by Canadians who have no sense of tradition. The first thing lost is the game’s essential genius.
Tragically, Canadians are often forced to listen to American play-by-play commentators if we want to watch U.S.-based teams in the first or second round.
I know, my fellow senators, that all of this seems petty, but nothing is petty about our game, nor the language we used to illuminate it. Our language enhanced and enriched every aspect of the play because our commentators actually knew what was happening on the ice.
Our language was pure and didn’t deny or lessen the greatness of the game because we wanted to sell it to an audience who didn’t understand its greatness, so had to be convinced about golden goals and shootouts, and informed about the language of basketball and rules of European soccer.
That, to them, makes it all legitimate, and Canadians will most often lose a shootout because they know the game should be won the way it is played and last as long as it takes.
We now allow this into our homes as if being Canadian and recognizing false emotion and verbal idiocy doesn’t matter; but, you see, with hockey, everything matters. We have not won a Stanley Cup in Canada since 1993, and 75 per cent of our best players reside in those U.S. locker rooms.
When Boston won the cup and Vancouver rioted a few years back, the Fox News commentator Shep Smith told his adoring U.S. audience that Canadians rioted in Vancouver because “our U.S. boys” beat them in hockey.
The Hon. the Speaker: Sorry, Senator Richards, your time has expired.
Visitors in the Gallery
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I wish to draw your attention to the presence in the gallery of Barry Firby, Renée Firby and Todd Rosholt. They are the guests of the Honourable Senator Plett.
On behalf of all honourable senators, I welcome you to the Senate of Canada.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Visitors in the Gallery
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I wish to draw your attention to the presence in the gallery of Jean Lanteigne and his wife, Roseline Doiron. They are the guests of the Honourable Senator Cormier.
On behalf of all honourable senators, I welcome you to the Senate of Canada.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Pan-Canadian Assessment Program
Hon. Michael Duffy: Colleagues, as you know, a number of senators, including Senator Griffin and Senator Cordy, have spoken on our inquiry to draw attention to Canada’s literacy issues. I rise today to report that there is encouraging news to be found in the latest results from the Pan-Canadian Assessment Program, which measures academic progress of Grade 8 students across the country.
These tests show a significant improvement in reading scores among Prince Edward Island students. In fact, P.E.I. has come out tops in the country in reading and improved significantly in mathematics and science. P.E.I. students had the highest overall score in reading assessment.
This is especially impressive because while, nationally, average scores have not changed that much, there have been significant improvements in the results from P.E.I.
For example, in 2007, the average score for Prince Edward Island was 471. It has improved in every round of testing since, and the latest results have gone from 471 to 513, which compares to the national score of 507.
The Island also has the smallest percentage of students reading at level 1, the lowest level measured on the test. Nine per cent of Island students were at level 1 versus 12 per cent nationally.
While reading scores for both boys and girls have improved, honourable senators, girls have improved even more.
The positive news doesn’t end there. In science, only Alberta had a higher average score than P.E.I. in science testing. The gap between boys and girls in science closed as female students overtook males. Girls were behind boys by seven points in 2013 but scored three points higher in 2016.
Mathematics was the only area where P.E.I. scored below the national average, 503 versus a national average of 511. I should note that there were exceptional test results in Quebec. The score of Grade 8 students in Quebec was 541. That pulled up the national average, and P.E.I. ranked fourth among the provinces. So congratulations to Quebec as well.
Colleagues, I hope you will join with me in congratulating both the students and educators for these continuing improvements, which are essential to ensure the bright future we want for all of our young people.
Visitors in the Gallery
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I wish to draw your attention to the presence in the gallery of Ms. Keisha Campbell and Mr. Stephen Hay. They are the guests of the Honourable Senator Bernard.
On behalf of all honourable senators, I welcome you to the Senate of Canada.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Journey to Freedom Day
Hon. Thanh Hai Ngo: Honourable senators, I rise today in commemoration of the Journey to Freedom Day, which was marked yesterday, April 30. This national day of commemoration recognizes the perilous journey countless Vietnamese refugees made to escape Communist oppression after the fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975. At that time, hundreds of thousands of boat people refugees fled to the sea, braved storms and faced pirate attacks and starvation in search of freedom.
According to the UNHCR, close to 250,000 perished at sea, while more than 300,000 who were not able to flee were sent to Communist re-education camps. But Canada led the world away from indifference to caring by accepting over 60,000 refugees with open arms, thanks to the private sponsorship program. These Vietnamese-Canadian citizens have made Canada their home thanks to that generosity.
Since arriving on Canada’s shores, we have adopted the yellow and red striped Vietnamese Heritage and Freedom Flag to embody the history and value of freedom and democracy. In recognition of Journey to Freedom Day, this powerful symbol was raised, over the last few days, at the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia, in Victoria; the Legislative Assembly of Alberta, in Edmonton; at the Legislative Assembly of Ontario; at the City Hall of Toronto; at the municipalities of Sherbrooke and Montreal; and finally, yesterday, here on Parliament Hill.
It was a true honour to join the Vietnamese-Canadian communities across the country to mark Journey to Freedom Day. This occasion is a testament to the success of the Vietnamese community in Canada since its modern beginnings and a tribute to Canadians’ humanitarian tradition.
As this national day of commemoration continues to grow, I wish to thank all Canadians and the municipal, provincial and federal governments for paying tribute to this important shared heritage across Canada.
Visitors in the Gallery
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I wish to draw your attention to the presence in the gallery of Reza Banai, Avideh Motmaen-Far, Shahla Ghafouri, Fatemeh Mansourifar, Shahram Namvarazad, Sophia Namvarazad and Sam Khosravifard. They are the guests of the Honourable Senator Frum.
On behalf of all honourable senators, I welcome you to the Senate of Canada.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
His Highness the Aga Khan
Hon. Salma Ataullahjan: Honourable senators, this week, Canada has the great privilege of welcoming His Highness the Aga Khan to our soil. We congratulate His Highness on the special occasion of his Diamond Jubilee, or 60 years of spiritual leadership of the Shia Ismaili Muslim community in Canada and around the world.
His Highness has been a long-time friend of Canada, and the relationship between the Imamat and Canada has spanned decades and is rooted in strongly shared values. The values of pluralism, of justice, of compassion for those less fortunate and of voluntary service to others are what bind us.
Indeed, His Highness was made an honorary citizen of Canada for his remarkable and lifelong dedication to the well-being of citizens around the world.
Today, we thank His Highness for walking alongside Canada in the search for a more just and compassionate world.
Parliamentary Budget Officer
The Government’s Expenditure Plan and Main Estimates for 2018-19—Report Tabled
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the report of the Office of the Parliamentary Budget Officer, entitled The Government’s Expenditure Plan and Main Estimates for 2018-19, pursuant to the Parliament of Canada Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. P-1, sbs. 79.2(2).
Bill to Amend—Sixteenth Report of National Security and Defence Committee on Subject Matter Tabled
Hon. Gwen Boniface: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the sixteenth report of the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence, which deals with 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 Canada’s borders.
Twelfth Report of Special Committee Tabled
Hon. Stephen Greene: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the twelfth report (interim) of the Special Senate Committee on Senate Modernization entitled Senate Modernization: Moving Forward - Part II.
Bill to Amend—Eleventh Report of Aboriginal Peoples Committee on Subject Matter Tabled
Hon. Lillian Eva Dyck: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the eleventh report of the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples, which deals with 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 Indigenous peoples of Canada.
(On motion of Senator Dyck, report placed on the Orders of the Day for consideration at the next sitting of the Senate.)
Business of the Senate
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, pursuant to the motion adopted in this chamber on Thursday, April 26, 2018, Question Period will take place at 3:30 p.m.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Non-smokers’ Health Act
Bill to Amend—Message from Commons—Amendments
The Hon. the Speaker informed the Senate that a message had been received from the House of Commons returning Bill S-5, An Act to amend the Tobacco Act and the Non-smokers’ Health Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, and acquainting the Senate that they had passed this bill with the following amendments, to which they desire the concurrence of the Senate:
1.Clause 18, pages 12 and 13: replace line 36 on page 12 to line 7 on page 13 with the following:
(a) that the product
(i) contains a drug that is set out in the prescription drug list, as amended from time to time, established under subsection 29.1(1) of the Food and Drugs Act, or a drug that is part of a class of drugs that is set out in that list, and
(ii) is the subject of an authorization issued under that Act authorizing its sale; or
(b) that the product contains a controlled substance, as defined in subsection 2(1) of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the sale or provision of which is authorized under that Act.”.
2.Clause 20, page 13: replace line 32 with the following:
“product unless the product and the package containing it display, in the”.
3.Clause 22, page 15: replace line 21 with the following:
“(a) respecting the information that must appear on tobacco products and to-”.
4.Clause 32, page 19: add the following after line 7:
“23.3 No person shall promote or sell a device that is a tobacco product or a part that may be used with such a device, whether or not the device or part contains tobacco, if the device or part has an appearance, shape or other sensory attribute or a function for which there are reasonable grounds to believe that it could make the device or part appealing to young persons.”.
5.Clause 36, page 21:
(a)delete lines 22 to 29; and
(b)renumber the remaining provision and amend all references to it accordingly.
6.Clause 44, pages 28 and 29:
(a)on page 28, delete lines 25 to 27;
(b)on pages 28 and 29, reletter paragraphs (f.01), (f.1), (f.2) and (f.3) as paragraphs (f), (e.1), (e.2) and (e.3), respectively;
(c)on page 29, replace line 10 with the following:
“following after paragraph (e):”; and
(d)on page 29, replace line 24 with the following:
“(6) Paragraph 33(e.2) of the Act is replaced by the”.
7.Clause 52, page 36: replace lines 9 to 19 with the following:
“52 Section 42.1 of the Act is repealed.”.
8.Clause 53, page 36:
(a)replace line 21 with the following:
“before Part VI:”;
(b)replace line 25 with the following:
“that are regulated under the Food and Drugs Act or that contain a controlled substance, as defined in subsection 2(1) of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.”; and
(c)replace line 29 with the following:
“and Drugs Act, or on the basis of type of licence, permit, authorization or exemption issued or granted under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.”.
9.Clause 61, page 40: replace line 15 with the following:
“or (2), section 25, 27, 30.1 or 30.2, subsection 30.3(1)”.
10.Clause 63, page 40:
(a)replace line 32 with the following:
“(2), 23.1(1) or (2) or 23.2(1) or (2), section 23.3, subsection 24(1) or (2), section 25,”; and
(b)replace line 33 with the following:
“27, 30.1 or 30.2, subsection 30.21(1) or 30.3(1) or (2),”.
11.Clause 68, page 42:
(a)replace line 25 with the following:
“adding “Tobacco products, except those that are manufactured or sold for export”;”; and
(b)replace line 33 with the following:
“adding “Tobacco products, except those that are manufactured or sold for export”.
(4) The schedule to the Act is amended by replacing the portion of items 1 to 13 in column 2 with the following:
|1||Except those that are manufactured or sold for export, the following:(1) Cigarettes(2) Cigars that have a wrapper that is not fitted in spiral form, cigars that have tipping paper and little cigars(3) Blunt wraps|
|1.1||Cigars that have a wrapper fitted in spiral form and that weigh more than 1.4 g but not more than 6 g, excluding the weight of any mouthpiece or tip, other than those referred to in item 1 and those that are manufactured or sold for export|
|2||Except those that are manufactured or sold for export, the following:(1) Cigarettes(2) Little cigars(3) All other cigars, except those that weigh more than 6 g excluding the weight of any mouthpiece or tip, have a wrapper fitted in spiral form and do not have tipping paper (4) Blunt wraps|
|3||Except those that are manufactured or sold for export, the following: (1) Cigarettes(2) Little cigars(3) All other cigars, except those that weigh more than 6 g excluding the weight of any mouthpiece or tip, have a wrapper fitted in spiral form and do not have tipping paper(4) Blunt wraps|
|4||Cigarettes, except those that are manufactured or sold for export|
|4.1||Blunt wraps, except those that are manufactured or sold for export|
|4.2||Cigars, except the following:(1) Little cigars(2) Cigars that have tipping paper(3) Cigars that weigh more than 6 g excluding the weight of any mouthpiece or tip, have a wrapper fitted in spiral form and do not have tipping paper(4) Cigars that are manufactured or sold for export|
|4.3||Little cigars, except those that are manufactured or sold for export|
|4.4||Cigars that have tipping paper, except those that are manufactured or sold for export and little cigars|
|5||Except those that are manufactured or sold for export, the following: (1) Cigarettes(2) Little cigars(3) All other cigars, except those that weigh more than 6 g excluding the weight of any mouthpiece or tip, have a wrapper fitted in spiral form and do not have tipping paper(4) Blunt wraps|
|6||Except those that are manufactured or sold for export, the following: (1) Cigarettes (2) Little cigars(3) All other cigars, except those that weigh more than 6 g excluding the weight of any mouthpiece or tip, have a wrapper fitted in spiral form and do not have tipping paper(4) Blunt wraps|
|7||Except those that are manufactured or sold for export, the following: (1) Cigarettes(2) Little cigars(3) All other cigars, except those that weigh more than 6 g excluding the weight of any mouthpiece or tip, have a wrapper fitted in spiral form and do not have tipping paper(4) Blunt wraps|
|13||Except those that are manufactured or sold for export, the following:(1) Cigarettes(2) Little cigars(3) All other cigars, except those that weigh more than 6 g excluding the weight of any mouthpiece or tip, have a wrapper fitted in spiral form and do not have tipping paper(4) Blunt wraps|
12.Clause 75, page 44:
(a)replace line 14 with the following:
“75 (1) Subsection 4(2) of the Canada Consumer”; and
(b)add the following after line 23:
“(2) Section 4 of the Act is amended by adding the following after subsection (3):
(4) The Consumer Chemicals and Containers Regulations, 2001 do not apply in respect of vaping products, within the meaning of paragraphs (a) to (c) of the definition vaping product in section 2 of the Tobacco and Vaping Products Act, unless those regulations are amended to expressly provide that they apply in respect of those products.
(3) Subsection 4(4) of the Act is repealed.”.
13.New Clause 79.1, page 47: add the following after line 14:
“79.1 If Bill C-45, introduced in the 1st session of the 42nd Parliament and entitled An Act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other Acts, receives royal assent, then, on the first day on which both subsection 204(1) of that Act and section 3 of this Act are in force,
(a) the definition accessory in section 2 of the Tobacco and Vaping Products Act is replaced by the following:
accessory means a product that may be used in the consumption of a tobacco product, including a pipe, cigarette holder, cigar clip, lighter and matches, and also means a water pipe. It does not include cannabis accessories, as defined in subsection 2(1) of the Cannabis Act. (accessoire)
(b) the portion of the definition vaping product in section 2 of the Tobacco and Vaping Products Act after paragraph (d) is replaced by the following:
It does not include devices and substances or mixtures of substances that are excluded by the regulations, cannabis, as defined in subsection 2(1) of the Cannabis Act, cannabis accessories, as defined in that subsection, tobacco products or their accessories. (produit de vapotage)”.
14.Clause 80, pages 47 and 48:
(a)on page 47, replace lines 26 and 27 with the following:
“38 and 40, subsections 44(2) and (5), sections 56, 62 and 63, subsections 68(1) to (3) and sections 69 and 70 come into force on the 180th”; and
(b)on page 48, add after line 12 the following:
“(8) Subsection 75(3) comes into force on a day to be fixed by order of the Governor in Council.”.
15.Schedule, page 50:
(a)replace the portion of items 1 to 9 in column 2 of Schedule 2 with the following:
|1||Vaping substances, except prescription vaping substances and vaping substances that are manufactured or sold for export|
|2||Vaping substances, except prescription vaping substances and vaping substances that are manufactured or sold for export|
|3||Vaping substances, except prescription vaping substances and vaping substances that are manufactured or sold for export|
(b)replace the portion of items 1 to 5 in column 2 of Schedule 3 with the following:
|1||Vaping products, except prescription vaping products and vaping products that are manufactured or sold for export|
|2||Vaping products, except prescription vaping products and vaping products that are manufactured or sold for export|
|3||Vaping products, except vaping products that are manufactured or sold for export|
|4||Vaping products, except vaping products that are manufactured or sold for export|
|5||Vaping products, except vaping products that are manufactured or sold for export|
The Clerk of the House of Commons
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall the amendments be taken into consideration?
(On motion of Senator Harder, amendments placed on Orders of the Day for consideration at the next sitting of the Senate.)
Business of the Senate
Hon. Diane Bellemare (Legislative Deputy to the Government Representative in the Senate): Honourable senators, pursuant to rule 4-13(3), I would like to inform the Senate that as we proceed to Government Business, the Senate will address the items in the following order: second reading of Bill C-55, followed by all remaining items in the order that they appear on the Order Paper.
Canada Petroleum Resources Act
Bill to Amend—Second Reading—Debate Adjourned
Hon. Patricia Bovey moved second reading of Bill C-55, An Act to amend the Oceans Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act.
She said: Honourable senators, Bill C-55, An Act to amend the Oceans Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act has now come to the Senate from the other place. It is my privilege to be its sponsor in this chamber.
In presenting this bill, I want to follow the sage advice and six key questions put by author Rudyard Kipling when resolving any issue: what, where, why, when, who and how.
First, what. The principal goal of Bill C-55 is safeguarding one of Canada’s most valuable assets — our oceans — through establishing conservation protection of Canada’s marine areas, maintaining their ecological integrity and increasing the protected areas to 10 per cent of Canada’s oceans and shorelines.
Second, where. These are to include our three oceans: the Pacific, the Atlantic and the Arctic. In 2010 the former government committed Canada to meeting the international target under the Convention on Biological Diversity and that same goal was part of the current government’s election platform.
Where are we now? Currently 7.7 per cent of our coastal and marine environments are protected by the range of federal and provincial marine-protected areas and area-based conservation targets. Thus, we need to achieve a further 2.3 per cent to reach the 10 per cent target.
Bill C-55 is part of the plan to reach that 10 per cent. It is put forward as a plan based on science, Indigenous knowledge, consultations and collaborations.
Third, why? The key issue Bill C-55 seeks to address is the length of time it takes to designate ocean areas as protected. Currently it is 7 to 10 years, a time during which the particular area has either no or limited protection.
This bill establishes interim protection while allowing for ecological, economic, social and cultural analysis in addition to consultation and collaboration.
As background, I should underline that Canada’s coastline, surrounded by three oceans, is the longest in the world and has an ocean area equivalent to about 70 per cent of Canada’s land mass. The three oceans hold resources which support multiple aspects of our economy, from transportation to aquaculture and fisheries, and contribute 346,000 jobs and $36 billion to Canada’s GDP.
Our oceans are also part of global challenges, are keys to food security, climate change and medical care as well as supporting cultural and recreational activities. Our oceans are absolutely essential to sustain our economic, cultural and spiritual lives.
The “why” also underlines that our responsibility to manage our ocean resources sustainably for future generations is paramount, and this includes conserving marine ecosystems and safeguarding areas where fish and marine life are able to eat, reproduce and grow, especially given their shifts due to climate change. Protecting the life cycle of marine life and productive oceans is critical in retaining jobs in the related sectors.
The fourth question is when. We need to meet these targets by 2020.
That, of course, evokes the fifth question: Who? Bill C-55 amends the Oceans Act, updating and modernizing it for mid-term and long-term benefit. It clarifies the responsibility of the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to establish a national network of marine-protected areas. It empowers the minister to designate marine-protected areas by order and prohibits certain activities in those areas. It provides that within five years after the day on which the order of the minister designating a marine-protected area comes into force that the minister is to make a recommendation to the Governor-in-Council to make regulations to replace that order or he or she is to repeal it.
Bill C-55 provides that the Governor-in-Council and minister cannot use the lack of scientific certainty regarding the risks posed by any activity as a reason to postpone or refrain from exercising their powers or performing their duties and functions under subsection 35(3) or 35.1(2). It updates and strengthens the power of enforcement officers. It updates the act’s offence provisions, in particular to increase the amount of fines and to provide that ships may be subject to the offence provisions. And it creates new offences for a person or ship that engages in prohibited activities within a marine-protected area designated by an order or that contravenes certain orders.
The bill also amends the Canada Petroleum Resources Act to, among other things, expand the Governor-in-Council’s authority to prohibit an interest owner from commencing or continuing a work or activity in a marine protected area that is designated under the Oceans Act; empower the competent minister under the Canada Petroleum Resources Act to cancel an interest that is located in a designated marine protected area or in an area of the sea that may be so designated; and provide for compensation to the interest owner for the cancellation or surrender of such an interest.
These amendments give the minister the authority to prohibit authorized oil and gas exploration activities like seismic testing, drilling or production within a designated MPA.
This act is, in essence, to ocean areas what Parks Canada is to designated areas on land — areas that are supported, used and heralded by all Canadians. The goals of both Parks Canada and the marine protected areas are similar. The MPAs are to conserve and protect marine areas for the purposes of maintaining ecological integrity, including the assurance that the structure, composition and function of ecosystems be undisturbed by any human activity; that the natural ecological processes are intact and self-sustaining; that they evolve naturally; and that the ecosystems’ capacity for self-renewal and their biodiversity are maintained.
As one who has lived in provinces bordered by the Pacific and Arctic Oceans and visited all the provinces surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, I certainly support this goal.
To achieve this, one must ask the all-important question: How is this goal going to be achieved? Simply put, the interim protection MPA will offer protection to an area by freezing the footprint for five years, during which scientific research and community and sector consultation will be undertaken. This is critically important for those who make their living from harvesting shellfish, finfish or other marine organisms.
Under the provisions of Bill C-55, the minister is to lead and coordinate the development and implementation of a national network of marine protected areas and the establishment of clearly identified objectives set with regard to each marine protected area. The minister is also to ensure that this network will cover diverse habitat types, biogeographic regions and environmental conditions.
The minister may, by order, designate a marine protected area in any area of the sea that is not designated as a marine protected area under paragraph 35(3)(a), in a manner that is not inconsistent with a land claims agreement that has been given effect and has been ratified or approved by an Act of Parliament. The minister must list the classes of activities that are ongoing activities in the marine protected area, including those that were lawfully carried out the year immediately before the day on which the order comes into force and do not require an authorization and those authorized under any applicable federal or provincial laws. Prohibited activities are expected to be examined in committee. They are defined as those that disturb, damage, destroy or remove from that marine protected area any unique geological or archeological features or any living marine organism or any part of its habitat.
By strengthening the enforcement powers, and subsequent fines and penalties, Bill C-55 brings the Oceans Act in line with Canada’s other environmental laws. First, with regard to the application of the current act and regulations, the minister has the right, under the act, to designate persons or classes of persons as enforcement officers. Under the act, enforcement officers may enter and inspect any place if they have reasonable grounds to believe that there is anything to which the act or the regulations apply, including any book, record, electronic data or other document. Enforcement officers have the right to seize anything that, in their opinion, was used in contravention of the act or regulations. Enforcement officers can also direct a ship to move to any place in Canadian waters or detain a ship if they have reasonable grounds to believe that the ship or a person on board the ship has committed or is about to commit an offence under the act.
As for fines and penalties, the details of liability and recovery of reasonable costs and expenses by Her Majesty are spelled out, noting that:
The persons referred to in subsection (1) are jointly and severally, or solidarily, liable for the costs and expenses referred to in that subsection.
Offences and punishments are likewise laid out. On indictment, in the case of an individual, a first offence carries a fine of not less than $15,000 and not more than $1 million, and for a second or subsequent offence, the fine is not less than $30,000 and not more than $2 million. For a corporation, the first offence fine is not less than $500,000 and not more than $6 million, and for a second or subsequent offence, it’s not less than $1 million and not more than $12 million.
Fines for ships are dependent on the size of the ship — those less than or more than 7,500 tonnes.
Funds received as a result of fines, court orders and voluntary payments will be directed to projects that benefit the natural environment. Some may indeed be directed to support an educational institution, including scholarships for students enrolled in studies related to the environment.
The act therefore underlines Canada’s commitment as a responsible steward of our ocean resources for future generations. We are blessed to have an abundance of fresh water and marine coastal areas that are ecologically diverse and economically significant.
Thus, Bill C-55 proposes amendments to provide interim protection from new and emerging activities for biologically rich areas of Canada by ministerial order during the five years it will take for scientific analysis and consultations with partners. Only then will the MPA be fully established. While an interim protection MPA is in place, only existing activities will be allowed to continue. Therefore, the footprint will be frozen to reduce continued degradation by further activities.
No longer will the absence of scientific certainty be used to postpone decisions where there is a risk of serious or irreversible harm.
The consultative process adheres to the three foundational principles used to guide the ministry’s marine conservation work: science-based decision-making, transparency and advancing reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. Therefore, peer-reviewed science, the traditional knowledge of Indigenous peoples, and information shared by the fishing industry and local communities are all cornerstones.
As the ministry has committed:
By balancing the collection of information and consultations with our partners with the precautionary approach, interim protection marine protected areas will offer the needed protections to our important ocean seascape and resources, while still being shaped by science and consultation.
The calls for stronger conservation standards were heard during the hearings at the other place, and these provisions have been included to ensure meaningful protections.
Further, the minister has announced that a national advisory panel will be established to provide advice for the future, while ensuring consideration of Indigenous world views and approaches with respect to marine conservation. The evolving concept of Indigenous protected and conserved areas is coupled with international best practices, advice from experts and balancing the recognition of regional difference.
During the committee work in the other place, they held nine meetings, received 13 briefs and heard 36 witnesses, and amendments were made to the bill in response to some of the issues raised. The issue of economic fairness was brought up by a few Indigenous groups and fishers. Concerns were expressed that these new powers might deprive rights holders and others of their dependence on marine resources for sustenance and livelihood. The minister emphasized that these amendments are not intended to close those important doors to economic activity but rather to ensure long-term viability and a sustainable economy.
Open conversations for co-management with Indigenous partners, including Inuit communities, have already been agreed to.
Colleagues, I look forward to the discussions at second reading, at committee and at third reading of this bill. Our Senate committee studying this bill should assess whether the appropriate and effective balance has been struck between the protection of designated areas and the economic activity.
I support the government’s commitment to protecting our oceans and their important economic resources and to advancing reconciliation and moving towards a nation-to-nation dialogue. These ecosystems are fragile. Our oceans are large, equal to 70 per cent of Canada’s land mass. Undertaking our stewardship responsibility is paramount, both for the present and for the future, and for all Canadians, especially Canada’s coastal communities, whose economic livelihood is dependent on maintaining healthy, sustainable ecosystems.
I hope positive support will be given to Bill C-55.
Hon. David M. Wells: Would the Honourable Senator Bovey take a question?
Senator Bovey: Yes.
Senator Wells: Senator Bovey, thank you for your speech and for your support of Bill C-55. In the Newfoundland offshore, in the petroleum sector, the jurisdiction is controlled by the offshore acts, which are the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board and the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board. They have jurisdiction in the areas that are in that geography.
Would Bill C-55 in any way have an effect on other federal legislation that exists, such as the two accord acts? Would Bill C-55 have any effect on what is already existing under federal legislation?
Senator Bovey: This act, as I said, does modify the federal law, the Canada Petroleum Resources Act. It does allow existing work and programs to carry on, and things that have been approved by licence.
To answer the specifics of the detail with what’s going on with the Newfoundland shore at this point, I look forward to an answer from the minister on this question.
Senator Wells: I have another question, Senator Bovey, if you would like to address this.
I know that the authority in this legislation would be designated to the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard to designate an MPA, and for that minister to decide if he wishes to cancel any existing licences or permissions in those areas and unilaterally decide compensation.
When you say existing licences would remain, Bill C-55 specifically gives the minister the right to cancel any licences. Could you address that, please? To finish the question, as you know, that would seriously impact the offshore oil and gas development in Newfoundland and Labrador, especially for existing licence holders and any potential licence holders that might come in.
Senator Bovey: I will answer by saying it is certainly my understanding that work that has been under way in the previous year and that has been done under licence can continue during this five-year period. It’s to freeze the footprint to stop further work in other areas. It’s to allow for the scientific research and community and sector consultation. It’s to stop work from happening that hasn’t started in other areas that they’re looking at.
I’m quite happy to correct myself if I’m wrong, but in my understanding, for the licensed areas, if work has been done in the last year, it can carry on.
Senator Wells: Thanks, Senator Bovey. You may not know it offhand, but could you find out for a future session that we have? But to freeze future work for five years? That’s really important. I know there are many companies that have offshore licences that are not drilling, but they have rights and have paid hundreds of millions of dollars for the rights to do seismic, to drill exploration wells and to hopefully produce if there are petrochemical discoveries there. To suggest a freeze on those would be very serious for Newfoundland and Labrador.
Senator Bovey: Those that have the licences, as I understand it, can carry on.
Hon. Dennis Glen Patterson: I’d like to ask Senator Bovey a question.
Senator Bovey: Yes.
Senator Patterson: Senator, thank you for your speech. The current government unilaterally announced a moratorium on Arctic oil and gas exploration and development in the Arctic Ocean without any consultation with Indigenous rights holders or the territorial governments.
I wonder if in Bill C-55 the minister’s power to order the establishment of marine conservation areas requires him or her to consult Indigenous rights holders and adjacent governments before such action is taken.
Senator Bovey: As I understand it, there will be consultation with rights holders and with the regions during the five years of the interim protection, rather than the current seven to 10 years. Within five years after the date of the designation of the MPA, the minister has to either declare it a protected area or revoke it being an interim MPA. They are looking for scientific evidence and consultation with Indigenous peoples and rights holders, and that will carry on during the five years of the interim protection MPA.
Senator Patterson: Do I understand from your answer, Senator Bovey, that notwithstanding the government’s stated desire to respect rights holders and reach out for reconciliation with Aboriginal peoples, interim protection can be imposed without consultation?
Senator Bovey: The minister has indicated that he will establish a special advisory committee that will take a look at where these areas should be, and I understand there is consultation on those that are coming down the pipe. Again, I’d be happy to seek further clarification and get back to you.
Hon. Thomas J. McInnis: Senator Bovey, I want to apologize. I was at another session and missed your speech. I’m sure it was a good one.
My concern over this — and you’ll clarify it, if you will — is that the minister will be able to designate or freeze a particular marine protected area. Now, the policy has been that it would be an area of interest, and then it would be a five- to seven- to nine-year period of time. That has been deemed by the minister to be a little too long, and activity could take place.
However, as I understand the legislation — and I’ve just quickly looked at it — there’s a two-year period that it can be designated, it can be set as an area of interest, or it can be deemed to be an MPA, but no one can take any activity, and it will not prevent any existing activities from taking place. But is it correct that it would be after a two-year investigation?
Because there’s one currently now off Nova Scotia in and around the so-called Bay of Islands, which is a beautiful archipelago set of islands. Now, they want 2,000 square kilometres of water, from the mainland out, surrounding all of these islands and there are an awful lot of fishermen who are terribly concerned.
So is it a two-year period before it is actually frozen?
Senator Bovey: On designation, the activity is frozen, but activity that has been going on during the prior year or that has a licence in hand can carry on. Swimming and all the recreational activities can carry on in that period. It’s a five-year period before the minister has to declare it formally continuing or has to cease its being an interim protected area.
From what I gather from the conversations and discussions at committee in the other place, fishermen have been very responsive and positive to this in the case of trying to make sure that the areas are sustainable for the feeding, breeding and growth of the fish. The goal is to make sure these fishing areas can be sustained and economically viable for coastal communities, to protect the wildlife and to balance the economic activity with the wildlife.
I should have said, too, that in a number of areas, obviously, 7.7 per cent of our 10 per cent has already been designated. Going back, a spot off Haida Gwaii, for instance, which was a volcano area, was designated, I believe, in either 2006 or 2008. An area up in the Beaufort Sea which has a rich biodiversity and sustains all sorts of rare underwater plant life was designated some time ago.
I think the minister is really trying to look at the scientific evidence and at the rarity and the uniqueness of these places. How do we balance the preservation of those areas so that we have the sustained economic value coming from it?
As I understand the discussions in the other place, with all due respect, the fishermen and the fishing community have been very responsive to this, and it’s really trying to balance both worlds, the natural world as well as the economic world.
(On motion of Senator Plett, debate adjourned.)
Non-Nuclear Sanctions Against Iran Bill
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Tkachuk, seconded by the Honourable Senator Carignan, P.C., for the third reading of Bill S-219, An Act to deter Iran-sponsored terrorism, incitement to hatred, and human rights violations.
Hon. Dennis Glen Patterson: Honourable senators, I rise today, during Iran Accountability Week, to speak in support of Bill S-219, An Act to deter Iran-sponsored terrorism, incitement to hatred, and human rights violations.
Honourable senators, this bill was introduced to put in place parameters to guide Canada’s re-engagement with the Government of Iran and to make it clear to Iran what is required of them to further their engagement with Canada.
Some of you may be asking why this is necessary. It is necessary because of the Iranian regime’s consistent sponsorship of terrorism, its incitement to hatred — particularly against the State of Israel, the only liberal democracy in the Middle East — and the systematic violation of fundamental human rights within Iran.
Opponents of this bill believe that, over time, the Iranian regime can be reasoned with. They believe that by engaging with Iran we will empower democratic forces in that country. On that basis, they also argue that the Government of Canada should have an unfettered ability to re-engage with the Government of Iran, suggesting that Canada should re-establish normal diplomatic and economic ties and thereby encourage the Iranian regime to change its policies.
However, I think this approach fundamentally misjudges the nature and character of the Iranian regime, which is, in fact, a theocratic dictatorship; it has been one for well over three decades.
Honourable senators, the ideology of the regime and its ruling clerics has not fundamentally changed in more than 30 years. We can all hope that a revolution from below may overthrow the present regime. However, I believe it is a fallacy to think that the current regime can be reformed by closer engagement.
Even if it can, one of the witnesses at committee, Mr. George Lopez, suggested in his testimony that it would be a 35-year project. So what would that look like? We got a hint of what it would look like last December when the regime decided to crack down on protesters, in spite of Canada’s efforts at re-engagement.
As Senator Wells pointed out in his speech on this bill on December 5, 2017, Canadian officials under the Trudeau government had been engaging with Iran for some time before the December crackdown. They travelled to Iran to engage in talks with Iranian officials last May. In September 2017, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland met at the UN with the Iranian foreign minister. Canadian officials again met with the Iranians in November of last year. In this very place, Senator Harder himself admitted that Canada is engaging with Iran.
What have we gained from this government’s policy of re-engagement so far?
Well, we have gained a harsh and merciless crackdown on Iranian protesters in December, including the jailing of women protesting against wearing the hijab; the highly suspicious death of Iranian-Canadian Kavous Seyed-Emami in a notorious Iranian jail and the detention of his wife; and more than 20 people murdered during the crackdown, with 3,000 reportedly arrested.
What has been the Canadian response to this? Minister Freeland issued a statement: “A Canadian has died,” it said. Subsequently, she issued a tweet expressing her outrage that his widow was barred from leaving the country and demanding that she be allowed to leave. The Prime Minister issued a similar tweet.
Fine words, honourable senators, but what actions resulted? Did they explicitly mention and condemn Iran and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard outright for the imprisonment and killing of a Canadian citizen? No. In order not to offend those in whose hands he died, they simply said, “A Canadian has died,” and then left it in the hands of the Iranian regime to determine for us how that could possibly have happened.
Did the Canadian government cancel any and all further meetings with Iranian officials until the travel ban on Maryam Mombeini, the widow of Kavous Seyed-Emami, is lifted so she can see her children in Canada? No. Instead they are continuing to proceed with the organization of a meeting in Canada this summer. Did the Prime Minister meet in his office with the sons of Ms. Mombeini as he did with Joshua Boyle, or did he conduct a joint press availability with them to demonstrate his solidarity with their plight? Not that I know of.
The Center for Human Rights in Iran has called Canada’s response highly disappointing. Even more disappointing have been the remarks and actions of Liberal MP Majid Jowhari, who tweeted about the “brave nation of Iran” and referred to the elected government of Iran, to which I would say that it’s elected in the same sense the government of Vladimir Putin in Russia is.
Mr. Jowhari is known among his constituents as a sympathizer with the current regime of Iran, who has met several times with Iranian delegations, including those closely connected to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
Honourable senators, I could run through once again the many crimes of Iran, such as its oft-stated and never-repudiated intention to wipe Israel, the only democracy in the region, from the map of the Middle East; and its active collaboration with the Assad regime and Russia in the brutal civil war in that country, including the use of chemical weapons. I could once again mention its many human rights abuses against its own people, especially women, children and the Bahá’í, or its long-standing reputation as the leading sponsor of terrorism and backer of rogue regimes — sponsorships, which according to open sources, is put at $16 billion annually.
But we all agree on the sins of Iran. What I want to make clear is that the approach of engagement with Iran without preconditions has failed us in the past. We know it is failing now because of the brutal December crackdown on protesters, and it is almost certain to fail in the future. As George A. Lopez has said, 35 years is how long it might take to bring Iran back into the fold.
I understand that every journey begins with the first step, but how many necks will have been stepped on along this 35-year journey by this criminal Iranian regime as Canada holds its hand? Is that the role we want to play in the process?
What is left to us? I am going to read you from the testimony of George A. Lopez, a witness who appeared before the Foreign Affairs Committee on March 1, 2017, and one whom the critics are fond of quoting. In his testimony, he said:
When people critique sanctions as being effective, they often suggest that it’s because they were designed in a flawed way, they didn’t go after the correct human rights actors, or that there are likely to be implemented with only a half-hearted approach as a government turns its back on certain business entities that want to continue contact in that country under sanctions. I don’t detect any of those weaknesses in the bill you shared with me, Bill S-219. I think you’re right on in terms of thinking about how you document, monitor and continue to point to the specific violators within the Iranian government on sanctions and terrorism issues.
Now let me read from the testimony of Richard Nephew, another witness that Senator Woo and others have quoted — selectively, in my view — in making their arguments against this bill. On February 15, 2017, in response to a senator questioning the ineffectiveness of Canada going it alone with sanctions, Nephew said:
I think it is certainly true that sanctions are more effective as multinational instruments that have a lot of partners and coalitions behind them. . . .
That said, I don’t want to minimize the effect that leadership can also have here too. It’s certainly true that it’s better to go together, but if there are important international leaders who are prepared to make certain stances clear about human rights, for instance, and their unwillingness to do business for human rights purposes or out of concern for human rights, that can allow for a leadership role that’s outsized to the practical economic implication.
Elsewhere, Nephew said:
My view is there is a role Canada can play in terms of shining a spotlight on bad acts, and that’s why parts of the bill could be reformed and adjusted to help drive that leadership home without compromising Canada’s ability to interact with the Iranians.
No attention was paid by the critics of the bill to the aspects of the Lopez and Nephew testimony I just cited, yet to me they are everything.
I submit to you that Bill S-219 provides the basis for a more credible and appropriate Canadian policy going forward than the one the Trudeau government is currently pursuing. Canada can lead. It can serve as an example to the broader international community, as we did with apartheid in South Africa all those years ago.
Remember that Canada acted alone then, too. It began with Prime Minister John Diefenbaker, who, as was described in the recent book Master of Persuasion, led the efforts that saw apartheid South Africa withdraw from the Commonwealth. Having been a lawyer for the disenfranchised in Canada prior to becoming Prime Minister, Diefenbaker’s championing of Black South Africans came from his gut, the book states, and that is why he had no hesitation in splitting with and even angering the prime ministers of traditional Canadian allies: Britain, New Zealand and Australia.
Mr. Diefenbaker’s action, asserts the book’s author, Fen Osler Hampson, marked the beginning of international pressure on the apartheid regime. The end of this oppressive regime came with Brian Mulroney, who made the eradication of apartheid in South Africa his top foreign policy priority.
More important, Hampson points out, he stood against the bureaucrats at what was then known as External Affairs. He stood against the Canadian business community and against the previous Trudeau government, all of whom agreed that apartheid was detestable but which never wavered in their support of full economic and diplomatic relations with South Africa. Does that sound familiar to you?
Familiar to you, too, I’m sure, is the day in 1990 when the hero of the anti-apartheid movement, Nelson Mandela, when finally freed, spoke to the Canadian Parliament. In addressing Mr. Mulroney, he said:
One recalls the momentous time of our transition and remembers the people involved both within and outside South Africa. As prime minister of Canada and within the Commonwealth, you provided strong and principled leadership in the battle against apartheid.
Honourable senators, now is the time for strong and principled leadership regarding the oppressive regime in Iran. Now is the time to choose. Do we want to provide a light in the window for all those who suffer under that regime, or do we want to line our pockets with business deals as they continue to crack down on their citizens?
We can debate with each other here in the Senate all we like, but there’s no debating with history. Bill S-219 is a beacon. It is the light in the window. It is the right approach for Canada and for history.
Now, colleagues, you need to decide what side of history you want to be on. I urge all of you to support this initiative and vote for Bill S-219 today.
Business of the Senate
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, it being 3:30 p.m., the minister is here, we will interrupt proceedings for Question Period.
Senator Plett: And the debate?
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, for clarity, we have interrupted the previous proceedings. Senator Woo would like to ask Senator Patterson if he would take a question. After Question Period, we will return to that point in our proceedings.
Business of the Senate
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, there is a long list of senators who wish to ask questions of the minister. I would ask honourable senators to please keep your preambles terse and proceed to the point of your question so that more senators will have an opportunity to ask a question. Thank you.
Pursuant to the order adopted by the Senate on December 10, 2015, to receive a Minister of the Crown, the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs, appeared before honourable senators during Question Period.
Ministry of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs
Consultation by the Government with First Nations
Hon. Larry W. Smith (Leader of the Opposition): Welcome, minister, to Question Period. I’ll try to be as expeditious as possible.
Your mandate letter from the Prime Minister makes repeated mention of the consultations you’re expected to conduct with Northern communities and Indigenous peoples.
Recent witnesses before the Senate Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples have brought forward concerns with respect to the consultation process led by Health Canada surrounding the government’s decision to legalize marijuana. The committee heard evidence from witnesses who said they had not been consulted at all, but others said that what took place was insufficient.
My question is as follows: As Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs, are you at all worried that the concerns surrounding the government’s consultation process with Indigenous groups on this important policy change could serve as a barrier to reconciliation?
Hon. Carolyn Bennett, P.C., M.P., Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs: Thank you very much. It is good to be back in this place, and I look forward to the conversation and what I always learn from all of the people who are so involved in the files, particularly mine.
Honourable senators, it’s clear in the mandate letter of all members of the cabinet that the relationship with Indigenous peoples is the most important relationship to our government, and it needs to be based on the recognition of rights, respect, cooperation and partnership.
It means that, even though I am the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs, every minister is invested in building the capacity within their own department to do the appropriate kind of consultation to be able to move forward on all of the files in their area.
I think the example would be that, in Question Period every day in the other place, I do not take every question with respect to Indigenous peoples. So it is about a whole-of-government approach. I think that ministers responsible are working diligently and building good relationships themselves, and I believe that Senator Harder circulated a summary of the extensive engagements, as well as the task force, and that the Minister of Health did meet with the Indigenous leaders and also included them in the meeting of all of the health ministers.
As the Prime Minister says, better is always possible, but I think that it’s really important that we have set a very good standard in terms of the importance of engagement and then taking advice from Indigenous communities as to what the design and depth of those engagements needs to be.
Legalization of Cannabis
Hon. Larry W. Smith (Leader of the Opposition): Thank you for the answer.
In your specific mandate letter, it tasks you to lead the government’s work in the North. With that in mind, minister, could you tell us what concerns you’ve heard expressed from Northern communities regarding legalization of marijuana? For example, have you heard anything from Northern communities regarding the lack of mental health supports or regarding their level of overall preparedness for the upcoming legalization of marijuana?
Hon. Carolyn Bennett, P.C., M.P., Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs: The senator raises a very important point. What we’ve heard coast to coast to coast, but particularly in the North, is that some of the issues of residential schools, some of the issues of child abuse, of child and family services, have led to a society that they know has far too many people numbing themselves out with substances. Whether that’s alcohol, opoids or cannabis, the question is about healing and being able to deal with the root causes.
In a trauma-informed way, we have to say not, “What’s the matter with that person in terms of them using a substance?” But rather, “What happened to that person that they have needed this substance?” That is what I’m hearing from northerners as we go coast to coast to coast. Recently, in Iqaluit, we held a roundtable with women that run the shelter through the YWCA. They all had their own stories, very painful stories of trauma. It is an ongoing reality, but it is about healing. It is about finding pride and dignity, as they go forward, in terms of this terrible history that so many of them have had.
There is a debate. Again, it is about getting the education and the knowledge to young people so that it is about their language and culture and being competent on the land, the water and the ice. Those are the things that almost immunize children from needing to numb themselves out or trying these substances. That education piece is very important. But I think that even the police forces are very interested in getting these substances out of the hands of organized crime, out of the hands of illegal sources and for us to move together in a way that actually is about a healthy North, a healthy population. That’s really what the Arctic Policy Framework is about. It’s about building healthy communities and strong people in the North.
Hon. Elizabeth Marshall: Welcome, minister, to the Senate. Minister, when you appeared at Senate Question Period last February, a little over a year ago, I asked you whether you would commit to posting information about individual infrastructure projects to your department’s website. Your response was, “Absolutely.”
You then gave me your word it would be done by March 31 of last year. It’s now 15 months later, and, although the department’s website lists the amounts allocated through Budgets 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 for First Nations infrastructure, the website still does not break these numbers down or provide an easily accessible way to find information on individual approved projects.
The Parliamentary Budget Officer recently reported that there are 1,600 Indigenous Affairs projects in phase 1 of the government’s new infrastructure plan, yet departmental officials have requested that these projects — all of them — remain confidential and are not to be shared. In contrast, Infrastructure Canada disclosed all 3,500 of their projects.
Minister, given that you are the one who made this promise, why haven’t you been able to live up to your promise and provide accountability and transparency on the details of the infrastructure projects?
Hon. Carolyn Bennett, P.C., M.P., Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs: Thank you very much. I thank the senator for the question.
As we’ve said, better is always possible. I think we’re very excited. Now, with the dissolution of INAC and the building of the two new departments, Dr. Philpott is working very hard on the Indigenous services elements that include the infrastructure piece and particularly on infrastructure with respect to clean drinking water for all communities.
That website is up, and it is really, I think, transparent and the kind of information that all Canadians want to know about. I think the Minister of Finance is very clear that clean drinking water for all communities gets the biggest applause in any of the speeches he gives.
On the difference between approving a project and getting it built, whether it’s schools or housing or healing centres, I think we can do better in terms of that transparency. It is a negotiation between a First Nation and the department. One of the problems, to be honest, that we’ve had, even dealing with my colleagues as members of Parliament, in knowing what’s going on in their own communities, is that we have a very decentralized department, in which regional directors general can approve up to $15 million projects themselves, without it going to the minister’s office. So we are trying to do better on this, but I think you’re raising an important point. I or Dr. Philpott now gets to go to the openings of the schools and the openings of the healing centres, and I think it’s something that all Canadians would want to be part of.
First Nations Governance—Audit Scrutiny
Hon. Lillian Eva Dyck: Madam minister, as you know, the Assembly of First Nations is holding their Special Chiefs Assembly on Federal Legislation today and tomorrow in Gatineau. On the agenda is the First Nations Financial Transparency Act. This act was passed in 2013.
When we studied this bill at committee, we heard overwhelming testimony that First Nations governments already provide regular audits to the department and are required to do so under then existing contribution agreements.
There’s a member of the Senate that has consistently suggested that First Nation governments do not adequately account for the federal funding allocated to them.
Senator Beyak has stated:
It seems like our priority is skewed so I have asked for a national audit of all dollars coming in and out of all reserves.
Madam Minister, in an effort to set the record straight, can you briefly explain the requirements for First Nation governments to provide regular audits and accounting for all federal funding they receive?
Hon. Carolyn Bennett, P.C., M.P., Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs: I thank the senator for giving me this opportunity to set the record straight.
As you know, mutual transparency and accountability are an ongoing priority for everybody. We in government need to do a better job, as we’ve just heard from the senator opposite. We have to be accountable for the money that we are spending. I think that during the Kelowna Accord, the suggestion of a First Nations’ auditor general was there, and I know that is part and parcel of some of the negotiations going on now on a new fiscal relationship with the communities for whom the Assembly of First Nations is working.
To be clear, right now First Nations are required to report to the Government of Canada for every program dollar they receive, be it through audited financial statements or progress reports and output reports for the more specific programs. It is about us moving forward in a transparent way, but I really do think it is important for people to understand that we as a department do have the audited financial statements and are able, therefore, to determine future dollars in that community based on those statements.
Elimination of Sex-Based Inequities
Hon. Marilou McPhedran: Thank you, minister, for being here with us today. I would like to talk briefly about Bill S-3, which received Royal Assent nearly five months ago on December 12, 2017.
Thank you, minister, for your integrity and determination to recognize and implement Indigenous rights.
Minister, as Bill S-3 requires you to report to Parliament by Saturday, May 12, I would like to ask the following question in several parts. Is there anything beyond what the Parliamentary Budget Officer has already provided that you feel Parliament needs to know before bringing the sections to eradicate sex-based inequities in the Indian Act into force?
For the second part, today at the AFN special assembly, your department presented a long list of topics for Bill S-3 consultation to begin next month. Will discrimination against Indigenous women be prioritized in the consultation process? If so, what timeline for the coming into force of the promised provisions is anticipated?
For the third part, are you aware that the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences just last week, after 13 days here in Canada, called for the urgent repeal of remaining discrimination in the Indian Act and noted in particular the discrimination between what’s in the Indian Act and the epidemic of violence against Indian women and girls in Canada?
Last, have you or your department —
The Hon. the Speaker: I’m sorry, Senator McPhedran, but the rule while we have a minister is that senators are permitted to ask one question. Obviously, we have some tolerance with a preamble to that question, but you are now on your fourth question, and it’s not very fair to other senators who wish to ask one.
We can ask the minister to address what you’ve already raised. Thank you.
Hon. Carolyn Bennett, P.C., M.P., Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs: I thank the senator for her question. We also thank the Senate and the committee for all the hard work that you did to get us to this point. The willingness to work with the government and across all party lines has been hugely important. As you know, because of the diligence and the work of the committee, the consultations that we are embarking upon are not on whether to remove the 1951 cut-off but on its implementation.
As you know, we are about to report to Parliament next week on what we have heard in these pre-consultations into the co-design of what that process should look like. I believe that we have agreed upon a date of May 30 for me to come to the committee and discuss the report and what we’ve heard. We hope that at that time we’ll be able to have your feedback.
The consultations that will be launched in the second week of June will, of course, prioritize the gender-based issues and the issues that were raised in Phase 1, and that report has to be tabled in Parliament 12 months after the date of the launch of those consultations.
I think everyone in this chamber knows that the effects of colonization and the Indian Act are directly responsible for this ongoing tragedy of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.
The Indian Act, in removing women from their communities and putting them into the community of their spouses, had a direct responsibility for the fact that no longer were women protected by their brothers, uncles and fathers. This has really reduced the power of women, reduced the leadership that women had in their own communities. We see now that as we embark on the recognition of rights and the implementation of a legal framework, the empowerment of women in the new governance structures that nations will be able to put in place as they reconstitute their nations will be very important in the work that we are doing.
I learned today that from the 67 engagement sessions we’ve done on the recognition of rights, we have heard from over 1,000 participants, and more than 500 of them have been women. To me, that is a very good sign that we’re moving forward in terms of the voices of women have to direct these new changes.
Disproportionality of Indigenous Women in Incarceration
Hon. Mary Jane McCallum: Minister, thank you for being here today.
There is a critical and ongoing issue that surrounds a disturbing reality within our federal prison system. In 2016, the Correctional Investigator of Canada indicated that for the first time Indigenous peoples made up over 25 per cent of the prisoner population in Canadian prisons. The number rises to a prohibitive 39 per cent when looking at the percentage of incarcerated women that are Indigenous. This epidemic has been on the rise for over three decades, with no signs of slowing down.
As your mandate letter states, part of your responsibility is to:
. . . work with the Minister of Justice to ensure that both in our dispute resolution mechanisms and litigation we advance positions that are consistent with the resolution of past wrongs towards Indigenous Peoples, promote co-operation over adversarial processes, and move towards a recognition of rights approach . . . .
The transfer process that exists under section 81 of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act has proven to be inefficient and ineffective in curbing the overpopulation of Indigenous peoples in prison.
Minister, would you please inform us of work that is being done within your department and in concert with others, including but not limited to the ministers of justice, health and education, to ensure this epidemic is finally addressed in a way that will effect transformative and lasting change?
Hon. Carolyn Bennett, P.C., M.P., Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs: I thank the senator for the question. Again, things like missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, things like the overrepresentation of Indigenous women and Indigenous men in our corrections system are a very failing report card on how we’re doing. We have to do better.
We have heard, even in the pre-inquiry hearings on missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, about the issue of trauma, the issue of intergenerational effects of residential schools, the issue of numbing that ends up in problems with substance abuse and others, but also about the vulnerability of Indigenous women to be preyed upon by others, leading to their incarceration.
As we work on wellness and healing, and as we deal with what Dr. Philpott has called the “humanitarian crisis” of the child and family services approach, when children are removed from their communities, abused or even just the business of being removed from their culture, language and identity, people do tear apart. We have heard that whether it’s abuse, the child welfare system, or sexism and racism in policing, too many factors are leading to this unconscionable number.
In some of the changes that we are doing, together with Dr. Philpott, on social determinants of health, that will begin to help in terms of proper housing, shelters and healing centres.
Also, the work that we are trying to do on rights recognition is hugely important, as is the work we’re doing with Minister Wilson-Raybould on peremptory challenges in the jury system and in some of the other difficulties with what is perceived as a legal system and not a justice system for Indigenous peoples. How do we change that point of view?
Senator, I was heading the prison for women a number of years ago just outside of Winnipeg, and when I asked what people were largely there for, the warden said to me, “Well, I don’t think any of them were really sentenced to prison.” They were there on breaches of their parole or conditional sentences. It meant they had been told they couldn’t drink; they couldn’t see this person or this person or go to their home community. One funeral and they breached all their conditions and ended up not before the judge again but directly in prison.
It just breaks my heart that most of those women in prison have their children in foster care now. We have got to break this cycle. Senator Pate and some other people are really working and moving on this file, but we are not going to fix this unless we actually end up getting these moms back with their kids and finding a different way of going forward where those children are raised as proud Indigenous young people.
Hon. Thanh Hai Ngo: Minister, my question for you today concerns Canada’s Arctic sovereignty. In January the Chinese government issued a white paper which outlined its new Arctic policy. In this document, China refers to itself as a “Near-Arctic State” and supports the construction of a policy for a trade route throughout the Arctic.
Also in January, a liquefied natural gas tanker became the first merchant ship to cross through the Arctic in the winter without an icebreaker via northern Russia. The company which owned this tanker has launched a joint effort with China’s operation to acquire LNG to build more ice-class vessels.
Minister, given these recent events and your cabinet responsibility to lead the government’s work in the North, why were there no additional measures in Budget 2018 to protect Canada’s Arctic sovereignty especially on China’s ambition in this key region?
Hon. Carolyn Bennett, P.C., M.P., Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs: I thank the honourable senator for the question and also the work that he and Senator Patterson and others are doing and the work of the new Arctic Committee of the Senate.
These are really important questions as we now are developing the northern and Arctic policy framework. It is indeed not only about domestic issues but international issues as well.
As we’ve been developing this framework, we know we have got to do more work on the international side. Senator Patterson has heard me tell this story before of the concern we had in the fall at the Arctic Circle meeting in Reykjavik where it seemed that a lot of southern nations are seeing the Arctic as a common good.
As you described with China and its Near-Arctic policy, but Japan, Korea, the opening ceremony and reception was hosted by Japan with Japanese drummers and food. For northerners it was quite worrying that southerners would think that they could write the policies for the North.
As we develop the policy framework, we are very cognizant that it has to be northerners that will be putting their priorities forth in the way that we have committed to.
In Mary Simon’s report to me on the shared partnership in the Arctic, she laid out a number of real concerns — infrastructure and other pieces — but said that as long as poverty and the issues of northerners are front and centre that it’s very hard to move forward on these other issues.
We’re committed to doing both things, working in direct partnership with northerners. I think that the Rangers program and some of the other issues are very well received, but we know that we can do better.
Senators, I was in Gjoa Haven and Cambridge Bay the first summer that the northern passage opened up. We ended up with a sailing ship from Ireland at a dock, and I think the Lands End yacht showed up. There was no infrastructure. People were totally surprised. This is an area that we really know we need to work on.
It’s also an opportunity in the North around tourism and the importance of the Northern Lights, the importance of us really taking advantage of these opportunities but also dealing very seriously with the issue of climate change that has brought us to this place.
It is hugely important that northerners be at the centre of all of the decisions we take as we go forward.
Nunavut Regulatory Boards—Review of Remuneration Rates
Hon. Dennis Glen Patterson: Welcome, minister. As you know, Nunavut’s regulatory boards were established as independent institutions of public government under the Nunavut Agreement. I think you would agree that they provide sterling examples of Inuit engagement in the regulatory process through co-management.
You know what I’m going to ask: The remuneration rates provided to the members of the board for carrying out their important work, set by the federal government, your department, has remained unchanged for more than 17 years.
I know the boards collectively initiated a serious discussion of this issue in November 2016, and there’s an extensive record of correspondence with your office — the latest dated April 2018 — all asking you, as minister, to take action to advance a review of these remuneration rates.
Can you advise when the review will be completed and will the results be shared publicly?
Hon. Carolyn Bennett, P.C., M.P., Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs: I thank Senator Patterson for the question, but also for the really important work that we were able to do at the UN last month and be able to have a side event based on the exemplary approach of co-management of lands and resources.
Senators here should know that these boards are hugely important as an example not only to Canada and southern Canada but to the world. On every board there is a federal representative, a territorial representative, as well as a representative of the rights-holders of the Inuit or in the case of Nunavut, but that the federal government would never appoint a member to that board that the Inuit did not approve of. So it is, I think, quite a hefty approach of understanding the need for Indigenous rights and Indigenous priorities.
In the remuneration for these, at the moment the government has undertaken a full, whole-of-government review of all the boards and institutions of public government across Canada, including those in Nunavut. There is an ongoing consultation engagement with institutions that will lead to a recommended rate structure that will be consistent, fair and sort of reflective of the environment under which these institutions operate.
I think it will be very important, senator, for you to help us put a northern lens on this. We are hoping that this review will be done within the fiscal year. But I think that given the unique situations in the North that were pointed out to us by some of the board members — it may take them three days to get to a meeting — the usual travel expenses just don’t work if it’s also three days out of your life on both sides.
I think that lens will be really important to have in a whole-of-government review of these sorts of compensations and remuneration.
Consultation by the Government with First Nations
Hon. Sandra M. Lovelace Nicholas: My question is for the minister.
As you know, there is a Supreme Court order to consult with all First Nations on all issues that concern their interests. Some First Nations have said they have not been properly consulted on the Kinder Morgan expansion in B.C. These lands are unceded, and the First Nations living on these lands only want to protect the land, which is their birthright, and want to save their food source.
Why is the government not consulting all First Nations caught in the middle of this controversy? And, minister, where are the documents First Nations are asking for to prove that consultation took place?
Hon. Carolyn Bennett, P.C., M.P., Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs: Thank you very much for the question. I think it’s really important in this transition period we’re in. We’ve inherited certain projects from a previous government, but we also want to move forward in a new way that Minister Carr and Minister McKenna have described where Indigenous people would be involved at the earliest possible moment of the idea of a project in much the same way as it is done in the North. It is really important that traditional knowledge, practices and understanding are part of the beginning of any project.
Minister Carr has taken the issue of consultation and engagement with Indigenous people very seriously. Certainly, in what we have seen with the 43 impact and benefit agreements that have been signed by First Nations with Kinder Morgan, 33 of those being in British Columbia, those communities have obviously been very involved in the process to date.
I am concerned that just an impact and benefit agreement approach is not going to be the way we can go forward. Those are always secret agreements, and I think that as we move forward on resource revenue sharing and equity sharing with Indigenous communities, it’s going to be important that transparency and accountability are part of that conversation on resource revenue sharing.
To my mind, it is now imperative that we are also getting organized on the issue of nation rebuilding because, as we move forward on engagement, if nations can take a decision together as opposed to individual Indian Act bands taking different decisions, that will actually make it much easier.
As we’ve learned in the North with Senator Patterson, good projects can be approved early and bad projects can be rejected early so that you can move forward.
We’ve also seen that because this is the twinning of a pipeline and it isn’t going through a pristine, new environment, a lot of communities that, shall we say, would rather it hadn’t happened or that it wasn’t going to happen have also agreed to be part of developing the monitoring and the follow-up of the environmental concerns as we go forward. Even if they’ve not been involved from the beginning, they will be involved and have committed to being involved in the monitoring of this project.
I think this is a lesson, but we hope that as we move forward the kinds of decision-making processes that are in the North or in other places would be better.
The Nisga’a are very annoyed about the tanker ban because they have very special volcanic sand and had hoped for a pipeline through their nation. But with the tanker ban, they won’t be able to do what they had hoped for their community in terms of jobs.
There are a variety of opinions, and consensus is never unanimity, but we really do hope to work together with the nations going forward, and this new approach of Minister McKenna and Minister Carr will really insist that Indigenous people are involved at the earliest moment of a project.
Crisis in Churchill, Manitoba
Hon. Patricia Bovey: Thank you, minister, for being with us. I’ll make my time short and my question brief.
It’s now been more than 11 months since the Port of Churchill, the gateway to the North and the Arctic, and all the Indigenous communities between Gillam and Churchill in Manitoba have been cut off as a result of the flooded rail line.
Minister, can you tell us when you think these people will again be connected? When will they have access to food? When will they get their jobs back, and when will Churchill be able to fulfill its role and connect to the Indigenous people in other communities in Nunavut, the Northwest Territories and points both east and west in the Arctic Ocean?
Hon. Carolyn Bennett, P.C., M.P., Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs: I thank the senator for the question as well. The future and the promise of Churchill are exciting to all of us and for anybody who has been there to see the opportunities, as you’ve described, for resupply but also to be able to go up to Arviat and the communities there in Nunavut. We hope this terrible tragedy of the railway will focus everyone’s attention on how we actually plan for the future in a sustainable way for that beautiful part of Canada.
As you know, in our department we’re immediately able to include Churchill in the Nutrition North approach, and that subsidy of perishable foods is ongoing until there’s a permanent solution. It is, as you know, a gateway to the North, and the deepwater port is unique.
Wayne Wouters, the former Clerk of the Privy Council in Ottawa, is leading those discussions about the rail line, and we understand those conversations are going very well. It is an essential part of our Arctic strategy.
But when you think about the four absolutely solid tourism seasons of the bird watching, then the belugas, the polar bears and the aurora, I think this is an opportunity for that part of Canada to be very well known by all Canadians, and I hope we will all be working together to make that happen.
Business of the Senate
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, the time for Question Period has expired. I’m sure all senators will want to join me in thanking Minister Bennett for being with us today. Thank you, minister.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Non-Nuclear Sanctions Against Iran Bill
Third Reading—Debate Continued
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Tkachuk, seconded by the Honourable Senator Carignan, P.C., for the third reading of Bill S-219, An Act to deter Iran-sponsored terrorism, incitement to hatred, and human rights violations.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, before Question Period, Senator Patterson had spoken on Bill S-219, and he had actually used all of his time. I noticed that Senator Woo stood to ask a question.
Senator Patterson, are you asking for more time to answer a question?
Hon. Dennis Glen Patterson: Yes.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted, honourable senators?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Hon. the Speaker: Five more minutes.
Hon. Yuen Pau Woo: Senator Patterson, thank you for your speech.
It’s extraordinary, though, that during Iran week and barely 30 or 45 minutes after your colleague referred to what must be the most pressing issue concerning Iran today, the JCPOA and its possible termination because of actions by President Trump, you did not refer to the JCPOA, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which has blocked Iran’s path to acquiring nuclear weapons by not allowing them to access uranium and plutonium.
There is no question in my mind that this bill, if passed, will be seen as an endorsement of President Trump’s desire to withdraw from the JCPOA. I would point out, notwithstanding recent so-called revelations by Prime Minister Netanyahu, that President Macron, Chancellor Merkel and Prime Minister May have all strongly supported the JCPOA and the work of the IAEA in verifying that Iran has indeed followed the technical requirements of that agreement, which has stopped their pathway to nuclear weapons.
Senator Patterson, do you believe the JCPOA should be terminated? Do you endorse the idea that this bill could well lead to that outcome?
Senator Patterson: The short answer is no. This bill is about state-sponsored terrorism and human rights violations. It has nothing to do with the JCPOA. With all respect, Senator Woo, I won’t be drawn into a debate on an issue that’s important but completely unrelated to this bill, in my view.
Senator Woo: To follow up, we can agree to disagree on that, but let me press you, then, on the bill specifically and your citation of two witnesses, George Lopez and Richard Nephew, which you quoted favourably and accused some of us of quoting selectively. That’s a very good point to make, because if we do have a vote in short order, I invite all senators to read the full testimonies of Richard Nephew and George Lopez. They are on the Senate website, and you can make up your own minds as to whether Senator Patterson’s citations are more accurate than the one I’m about to give you, which is from Mr. Lopez.
What do you think of Mr. Lopez’s comment in light of your own assertion? He says:
I think the likelihood [of this bill succeeding] is very low because you don’t have the volume and diversity of economic interactions, and, unless you are engaged at a secondary level with subsidiaries and others of your country that, from Europe or North Africa, are engaged with Iran, things that are not readily apparent, I think your leverage is at a relatively low level.
Senator Patterson: I respect the fact the honourable senator is a member of the committee and I’m not, so it’s difficult for me to enter into a debate on the nuances of a witness’s testimony. But I think Mr. Lopez said that he didn’t detect any weaknesses in the bill. He endorsed that the government should monitor and continue to point to the specific violators within the Iranian government on sanction and terrorism issues.
The Hon. the Speaker: Senator Eggleton, you have one minute.
Hon. Art Eggleton: I wanted to go back to Richard Nephew of Columbia University and former adviser to President Obama on his National Security Council. One quote you didn’t give was:
The impact is that if you are not on the ground in Iran, you lose two things. You lose the ability to have diplomatic presence and the ability to interact with the Iranian government, and you lose the ability, on the second hand, for intelligence collection and the ability to provide informed assessments.
Also, the President of the Iranian-Canadian Congress was even more blunt and said:
Make no mistake, if enacted into law this bill will kill any possibility of re-engagement with Iran.
And that would be a shame.
Senator, engagement is really about holding the country to account for its misdeeds and advancing Canadian consular interests. Because of the number of people arrested in Iran, they definitely need that kind of representation. It also provides us with the opportunity to promote human rights.
Wouldn’t you agree with Mr. Nephew that we should continue to be engaged so our interests are looked after?
The Hon. the Speaker: Time is up, but perhaps Senator Patterson can respond briefly.
Is leave granted, honourable senators?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Patterson: Yes, I agree we should engage, and the bill does nothing to prevent engagement.
Senator Tkachuk: That’s exactly right.
The Hon. the Speaker: Are senators ready for the question?
Senator Mitchell: I’d like to adjourn the debate in my name.
The Hon. the Speaker: It is moved by the Honourable Senator Mitchell, seconded by the Honourable Senator Bellemare, that further debate be adjourned until the next sitting of the Senate.
Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Some Hon. Senators: No.
The Hon. the Speaker: All those in favour of the motion will please say “yea.”
Some Hon. Senators: Yea.
The Hon. the Speaker: All those opposed will please say “nay.”
Some Hon. Senators: Nay.
The Hon. the Speaker: In my opinion, the “yeas” have it.
And two honourable senators having risen:
The Hon. the Speaker: Do honourable senators have agreement on a bell?
Senator Mitchell: One hour.
The Hon. the Speaker: The vote will take place at 5:30 p.m..
Call in the senators.
Motion agreed to on the following division:
The Honourable Senators
The Honourable Senators
The Honourable Senators
The Hon. the Speaker: Accordingly, the motion is adopted, and the matter stands adjourned in the name of Senator Mitchell.
Canada Elections Act
Bill to Amend—Second Reading—Debate Continued
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Frum, seconded by the Honourable Senator Housakos, for the second reading of Bill S-239, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act (eliminating foreign funding).
Hon. Renée Dupuis: Honourable senators, I ask for leave to reset the clock. As you may know, the minister tabled a new bill yesterday on comprehensive electoral reform. Consequently, I would like some more time to prepare.
(On motion of Senator Dupuis, debate adjourned.)
Borrowing Authority Act
Bill to Amend—Second Reading—Debate Adjourned
Hon. Joseph A. Day (Leader of the Senate Liberals) moved second reading of Bill S-246, An Act to amend the Borrowing Authority Act.
He said: Honourable senators, this is a matter that has been before us on a number of occasions. It will take a bit of time to explain the intricacies of what has happened in relation to this particular issue along the way. I hope you’ll bear with me because I believe it does deal with a very fundamental point, and that is parliamentarians’ control over the public purse. That is the issue in a nutshell.
Colleagues, often one begins a speech by saying that it’s a pleasure to rise and speak on a bill, particularly when one is introducing a new bill. That is not the case today. This is not a bill that I am pleased to be sponsoring. It is a bill that I had hoped would not be necessary, especially with this government.
The purpose of this bill can be stated very simply. It is to restore Parliament’s authority over borrowing by the government. Colleagues, this issue is a matter of such importance to Parliament as an institution that you will excuse me if I begin with a little bit of history.
Parliament’s authority over the public purse is, quite simply, fundamental to our democracy. It goes back to the very origins of Parliament itself. In 1215, King John signed the Magna Carta. With his signature, he agreed that he and his government would not raise revenues through taxes without the consent of Parliament. That constraint eventually came to cover all sources of government funds. As Alpheus Todd explained in his 1887 seminal work On Parliamentary Government in England:
When the annual revenue raised by taxes is found insufficient, as is the case of war, to meet the annual expenditure, Parliament grants authority to raise money by loan to cover the deficiency.
I would like to stress the words “annual revenue” in that quotation from 1887 because that would be done every year, if needed.
Whenever the government believed it needed to borrow money for the upcoming year, it would come to Parliament and ask for authority to borrow the necessary funds. For a long time, this was done as part of the estimates and supply process. That made sense, as the purpose of the borrowing was debated at the same time as the reasons for the spending, which were also being debated in the estimates. The borrowing request — how much — was also dealt with at the same time as the supply bill, otherwise known as the appropriation bill, was being approved.
However, over time parliamentarians felt they needed more time to debate the borrowing itself, so in 1975 the borrowing authority was broken out of the supply process and set out in its own dedicated statute. In fact, in 1975 the Speaker in the other place ordered a borrowing clause struck from a supply bill related to supplementary estimates. He said that under the rules its inclusion in a supply bill virtually precluded discussion of the borrowing provisions. He recognized that this was unacceptable — indeed, improper. That was how important the Speaker in the other place viewed the requirement of annual debate on the government’s borrowing plans.
Following that ruling, whenever it wished to borrow money, the government would come to Parliament with a borrowing authority bill seeking authority to borrow a stated amount of money for that particular year.
In 2001, the process was enshrined in the Financial Administration Act, in section 43, which reads as follows:
43(1) Notwithstanding any statement in any other Act of Parliament to the effect that this Act or any portion or provision of it does not apply, no money shall be borrowed by or on behalf of Her Majesty in right of Canada except as provided by or under
(a) this Act;
(b) any other Act of Parliament that expressly authorizes the borrowing of money; or
(c) any other Act of Parliament that provides for the borrowing of money from Her Majesty in right of Canada or of a province.
In other words, colleagues, if the government wanted to borrow money, it needed to pass a bill in Parliament. There had to be an act of Parliament that authorized the borrowing of the money.
And if you go back through the statute books, you will see that when governments were running deficits, there was at least one borrowing bill for each fiscal year. This allowed Parliament to scrutinize and debate the government’s fiscal and economic policy and to consider and debate the government’s debt management strategy. And as I have said, this is a fundamental role of Parliament — to hold the government to account for its management of the public purse.
Colleagues, I’m giving you this history because in 2007, centuries of tradition and practice were overturned. Slipped into the middle of a long omnibus budget bill was a small, one-sentence clause that gave away Parliament’s authority over borrowing by the government. The clause sounded so innocent that no one noticed it at first. It was an amendment to the Financial Administration Act. There would be a new clause that would come right after clause 43 of the Financial Administration Act, which I just read.
The new clause read as follows:
43.1 The Governor-in-Council may authorize the Minister to borrow money on behalf of Her Majesty in right of Canada.
Twenty words, easy to miss in an omnibus bill that had tempers fraying and hot debate raging on a completely different issue — in that case, on changes being made at the time to the Atlantic accord and their effect on equalization payments.
But this one short sentence undid hundreds of years of parliamentary history. With it, Parliament gave up its authority — its responsibility, more accurately — to authorize all borrowing by the government. This 20-word clause swept away the government’s need to come to Parliament and said instead that the Governor-in-Council — that is, the cabinet — had the power to authorize the borrowing of money. In other words, the government could now authorize itself to borrow money.
When I spoke about this last June, I said this was like a blank cheque for the government. It could borrow however much money it wanted, whenever it wanted.
Our former colleague Senator Tommy Banks was the first to realize what had happened in that omnibus bill. This was a few days after the omnibus bill had passed into law. He discussed it with Senator Willie Moore and with me, and the three of us then raised the matter with one of our other colleagues, Senator Lowell Murray. Senator Murray, for those of you not familiar with him, was one of the most knowledgeable and respected individuals to sit in the chamber. He had a deep knowledge of Parliament and of the Senate in particular, and he served on and indeed chaired our National Finance Committee for many years.
By the way, this was not a partisan matter. Senator Banks, Senator Moore and I were all members of the Liberal Senate caucus, and Senator Murray had been a long-serving minister in Prime Minister Brian Mulroney’s government.
But what united the four of us was our deep concern at what Parliament, and what we as senators, had unwittingly done. In 2008, the next year, Senator Murray introduced a private member’s bill to repeal the new section 43.1 and thereby restore Parliament’s oversight over government borrowing. He reintroduced his bill several times because the bill died on the Order Paper because of prorogation and elections, et cetera. Then, upon Senator Murray’s retirement from the Senate, Senator Moore took up the cause. All of these were strongly opposed by the government of the day and all died on the Order Paper.
That brings us to 2015 and the election that took place in that year. The Liberal Party ran with a strong commitment to restore and reinvigorate Parliament. And this issue, restoring Parliament’s borrowing authority, was explicitly recognized as part of that commitment. The Liberal Party platform for the last election included the following promise in a chapter entitled, “Giving Canadians a Voice in Ottawa.”
We will . . . require the government to receive Parliament’s approval on borrowing plans.
As you can imagine, Senators Murray, Banks, Moore and I were delighted. To be safe, when Parliament returned following the general election in 2015, Senator Moore re-tabled his private member’s bill. It was at that time Bill S-204. However, we were all reassured in early 2016, when we saw the following clause in Bill C-15, Budget Implementation Act, No. 1. This was the first Budget Implementation Act of the new Liberal government at that time. It reads as follows:
182. Section 43.1 of the Financial Administration Act is repealed.
To make this even clearer, on May 3, 2016, when the Minister of Finance, Bill Morneau, came to the Senate for Question Period, Senator Moore asked him directly to confirm that the government’s bill did what his private member’s bill sought to do, that it would repeal the dreaded section 43.1 and restore the requirement of the government to obtain the approval of Parliament to borrow money.
Minister Morneau began by thanking Senator Moore effusively and saying that the inclusion in his government’s budget bill of the provision to repeal section 43.1 was because of the efforts of the four of us, and he named us individually. He confirmed that the clause did what it appeared to do, and that is to remove section 43.1. So the budget bill passed, received Royal Assent, and we were all understandably very pleased. On September 27, 2016, Senator Moore removed his bill from the Order Paper believing that he had achieved the result he was looking for.
Colleagues, you are likely thinking this is a good news story and all is fine. So why the fuss? Well, honourable senators, we discovered early last June that this critical clause 182 — and the minister indicated that he had intended to remove 43.1 with that particular clause — had never been declared into force by the government. After it had been passed by Parliament, it had never been declared into force. It was never proclaimed.
It had been passed by Parliament with great acclaim by the government and then brushed under the rug by that same government. It was ignored as if it had never been passed at all.
So a year after we passed Bill C-15, the 2016 Budget Implementation Act No. 1, we discovered that section 43.1 was still in force. It took the government until December 2017 — last year — to finally declare the coming into force of section 182 of the 2016 Budget Bill. This finally repealed section 43.1 of the Financial Administration Act, which had given cabinet a blank cheque to borrow however much money it wanted, whenever it wanted. But unfortunately this is still not the end of the story because even though section 43.1 had finally been repealed, it had already been replaced in the interim by another law that did virtually the same thing. Let me explain.
When the 2017 Budget Implementation Act, that is Bill C-44, came to us in mid-June of last year, it contained a new Borrowing Authority Act. That was the title for all statutes used over the years by governments of all political stripes. When they came to Parliament asking for authority to borrow money. These had always been separate stand-alone bills, but this time, instead of a separate stand-alone bill, the 2017 Budget Bill had buried inside it a Borrowing Authority Act. So there is a borrowing authority act inside a budget implementation bill.
That gave the government permission to borrow money, but it was very different from any Borrowing Authority Act that Canada’s Parliament had ever seen previously.
Unlike past legislation, it did not ask Parliament for permission to borrow a specific amount of money for the year. Instead, it anticipated the repeal of section 43.1, which everybody was looking for, and introduced another clause that virtually incorporated the same thing as section 43.1.
The new clause reads as follows:
3. The Minister, with the authorization of the Governor in Council under subsection 44(1) of the Financial Administration Act and in accordance with that Act, may borrow money on behalf of Her Majesty in right of Canada, by way of the issue and sale of securities, as defined in section 2 of that Act, or otherwise.
Colleagues, as you can see, that is very similar to the now repealed section 43.1, which read:
The Governor-in-Council may authorize the Minister to borrow money on behalf of Her Majesty in right of Canada.
The new clause 3 provides that the minister with the authorization of the Governor-in-Council may borrow money. It is just moving a couple of players.
Instead of “the Governor-in-Council may authorize the Minister to borrow money,” the new clause 3 says, “The Minister, with the authorization of the Governor-in-Council . . . may borrow money.”
There were two other differences with this new clause 3. First, the new section begins by apparently restricting this power to borrow to “by way of issue and sale of securities.” But then the provision goes on to say “or otherwise.” In other words, this covers all kinds of borrowing by the government. It is a very sweeping provision.
Does this go further than the original section 43.1 provision, which simply gave the minister power to borrow without specifying how he or she could do so? I don’t have an answer to that at this time, but perhaps this is a question our committee can examine when it receives the bill.
The other difference between this new section 3 and old section 43.1 is trickier to work through, but bear with me. The new clause 3 says that this borrowing may happen “with the authorization of the Governor-in-Council under subsection 44(1) of the Financial Administration Act and in accordance with that Act.”
So you go to the Financial Administration Act, and we look at 44(1).
It reads as follows:
When by this Act or any other Act of Parliament authority is given to raise money by Her Majesty, the Governor-in-Council may, subject to the Act authorizing the raising of the money, authorize the Minister to borrow the money by any means that the Minister considers appropriate.
This simply says that when an act of Parliament — and the new Borrowing Authority Act would, of course, be an act of Parliament — gives authority to raise money, the Governor-in-Council may, subject to that act, authorize the minister to borrow the money by any means that the minister considers appropriate.
In other words, honourable senators, all this is a tight circle giving cabinet and the minister full authority to borrow money in any amount and any way they consider appropriate and, most notably, without any need to go for Parliament’s approval.
Colleagues, unless we take action to change the provision, don’t expect to see any future borrowing bills here in the short term. The government will already have all the authority it needs to borrow very large sums of money for many years to come.
Our colleague Senator Woo was the sponsor of Bill C-44 here in the Senate at this time last year, and he did an excellent job arguing for the adoption of the bill.
On the Borrowing Authority Act, he pointed to the fact that it introduced, for the first time, a limit on total outstanding federal debt, specifically, $1.168 trillion.
Colleagues, that is certainly a valuable addition to Parliament’s oversight of the federal finances, but it is a much broader-brush oversight than what Parliament had before, which required the government to come to Parliament whenever it wished to borrow money and opened up an opportunity to question the borrowing proposal, why that amount was necessary and what the government intended to spend it on.
The fundamental problem under the new Borrowing Authority Act is that the government can continue to borrow money every year without the authorization of Parliament so long as the total outstanding federal debt does not exceed $1.168 trillion.
The 2018 Budget document explained, at page 359, that:
. . . Parliament authorized a maximum stock of outstanding government and Crown corporation market debt of $1,168 billion. The Government does not expect to exceed this limit in 2018–19 and therefore is not required to seek renewed Parliamentary approval. Outstanding government and Crown corporation market debt is projected to reach $1,066 billion in 2018–19 . . . .
Honourable senators, this means that at the end of March 2019, next year, when the total federal debt reaches $1.066 trillion, there would be room for more than $100 billion of additional borrowing before the $1.168 trillion ceiling would be reached. More than $100 billion of government borrowing in future years, after March of next year, without any parliamentary approval or oversight.
As a point of reference, there is a table at page 25 of the 2018 Budget which estimates budget deficits in the four years following the 2018-19 fiscal year, when the total accumulated stock of outstanding debt is projected to be $1.066 trillion. The table shows that in the 2019-20 fiscal year, a deficit of $17.5 billion is projected. In the 2020-21 fiscal year, there will be a $16.9 billion deficit; in 2021-22, a $13.8 billion deficit; and in 2022-23, a $12.3 billion deficit.
So in those four years after next year, the government is projecting accumulated deficits of $60.5 billion. But as we have seen, the government can borrow more than $100 billion before it reaches the new debt ceiling of $1.168 trillion, which means that they will not have to come back to Parliament while borrowing funds to cover these deficits.
So unless there are large borrowings by Crown corporations, the government can run large deficits over the next five years without hitting the new debt ceiling and consequently, without needing to come to Parliament for any authority to borrow.
To make matters even worse, under the new Borrowing Authority Act, the government need only report to Parliament every three years as to what it’s been doing with the money it has borrowed. This means there will not be any more reporting until after the next federal election. Once every three years is simply not good enough, honourable senators. We have had governments that haven’t lasted more than three years. How are we as parliamentarians to hold them to account when they can wait three years before telling Parliament anything about their borrowing activities?
So, honourable senators, I think there are improvements to be made to the 2017 Borrowing Authority Act, which was tucked inside the Budget Implementation Act of 2017. And that is what my bill is attempting to do — bring improvements to the Borrowing Authority Act.
As you see — or as you will see when you refer to the bill — it is quite short.
First, it would amend section 3 of the new Borrowing Authority Act to make it clear that the government must come to Parliament for authorization to borrow money. In other words, we will ensure that, having finally repealed section 43.1, we have not turned around and done the same thing with another law, and that’s section 3 that I referred you to.
The next amendment, in clause 2 of my bill, is to section 4 of the Borrowing Authority Act. That is the section that provides what Senator Woo praised as the upper limit on outstanding federal debt. I take Senator Woo’s point that this represents a positive step, and my bill only amends this section to bring it into accord with the amendment I just explained in section 3 of that law. So this is really a consequential amendment to the first, critical amendment.
The third and final clause of my bill changes the new three-year reporting requirement to annual reporting on the government’s borrowing activities.
Basically, my bill requires that the government must come to Parliament annually to explain what they wish to borrow, if they need to borrow. We will keep the upper limit that has been proposed by the government, but they won’t be able to wait for three years to tell us how they spent the money.
Needless to say, my bill would come into force upon Royal Assent. There is no special coming-into-force clause in this bill as we have seen that trick — once burned, twice shy. We have certainly learned our lesson on that one.
So that is what this bill is all about and that’s what it would do, honourable senators.
Last year, many of us stood in this chamber to pay tribute to one of the truly great former senators, the Honourable Allan J. MacEachen. He worked with equal passion to advance social justice and to uphold the principles of our parliamentary democracy. He understood that there is no social justice without strong democratic institutions.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Senator Day, excuse me.
Honourable senators, it is now 6 o’clock, and pursuant to rule 3-3, I’m obliged to leave the chair until 8 o’clock, when we will resume, unless it is your wish not to see the clock.
Is it agreed not to see the clock?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: So ordered.
Continue, Senator Day.
Senator Day: I was talking about Allan J. MacEachen. He understood that there is no social justice without strong democratic institutions. That is something Prime Minister Justin Trudeau highlighted in his address at the celebration of Allan J.’s life.
Colleagues, one of Senator MacEachen’s first battles here in the Senate after he was appointed was to defend Parliament’s right to scrutinize the government’s borrowing plans.
Borrowing authority may seem dry and technical. It is not an easy or flashy issue, but it is deeply important, one that goes to the heart of our parliamentary democracy, namely Parliament’s control over the public purse.
This is not a partisan issue. Allan J. MacEachen, the great Liberal, understood this. Lowell Murray, one of the great Progressive Conservatives, understood it as well. It’s an issue of the right of Parliament as an institution.
I hope that we can all support the principle of this bill at second reading and allow the question of Parliament’s control over government borrowing to be fully explored in committee.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Senator Day, will you answer a question from Senator Bellemare?
Senator Day: Yes.
Hon. Diane Bellemare (Legislative Deputy to the Government Representative in the Senate): I want to start by thanking you for your continuing interest in this subject.
This issue was debated several times in committee in the context of the bill sponsored by Senator Moore. You will recall that the discussions got fairly lively. During these debates, it emerged that the act had been amended in 2017 in response to the crisis affecting public finances. Due to the urgency of the situation, the government struck down or repealed previous legislation. This was quite a radical step to take, I admit, given that democracy has to be our focus and our duty.
As part of the reform introduced by the government, the Borrowing Authority Act was renewed. As for the maximum amount provided for, the existing act covers not only amounts borrowed by the government, but also amounts borrowed by Crown corporations. In this broader context, it is estimated that by 2019, the debt level will be $1.066 trillion. It is projected to reach $1.068 trillion in 2019-20. If the debt level reaches $1.200 trillion, and exceeds the maximum, the government will have to report to Parliament. In other words, I think the way that you presented—
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Senator, is there a question coming? We are in debate.
Senator Bellemare: I do not want to join the debate just now.
Are you aware of the Parliamentary Budget Officer’s analysis of this government bill?
Senator Day: Thank you for the question. I am aware of the study that was done. It sought to include pensions in the formula. However, that is not the matter we are discussing now. Pensions are not included in this amount. It is possible that the amount will reach that point in two or three years. It is also possible that in five years, if the deficit is not too big, the government may be able to continue without having to explain to Parliament how much money it is spending over a three-year period, the three-year period referred to in the act. I have asked that the three-year reporting be changed to annual reporting. However, I am satisfied with the limit that is there.
Senator Bellemare: I have a follow-up question about the Parliamentary Budget Officer’s report.
Senator Day, have you looked at the previous act that was repealed in 2007? Did you know that it was never applied between 1996 and 2007?
Senator Day: No, I didn’t know that.
Senator Bellemare: Are you aware that the previous act was much more restrictive than this one?
Senator Day: I wouldn’t call it more restrictive. That’s a matter of interpretation.
(On motion of Senator Cools, debate adjourned.)
Gender Equality Week Bill
Second Reading—Debate Continued
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Dawson, seconded by the Honourable Senator Joyal, P.C., for the second reading of Bill C-309, An Act to establish Gender Equality Week.
Hon. Rose-May Poirier: Honourable senators, I rise here today in support of Bill C-309, An Act to establish Gender Equality Week. I would like to thank and recognize Senator Dawson as a sponsor of this bill as well as Senator Hartling for the great speeches in which we clearly saw their passion and dedication for gender equality.
Let’s take this opportunity to look back at what we have accomplished in the last 100 years and to also look ahead at some of the key issues that need to be addressed.
When looking at Bill C-309, the preamble is quite long, but it lists a lot about the current state of our nation in terms of what women are facing. It is a reminder that we have made progress, but there is still some work left to do. Having a gender equality week would give us an opportunity to talk about these important issues and to keep the conversation going.
As for today, I would like to talk mainly about women in politics and the challenges for seniors and single mothers.
As some you may know, my provincial political career began in 1999, having won the trust of the people of Rogersville—Kouchibouguac in New Brunswick. My riding had traditionally mostly voted Liberal. I was the first Progressive Conservative member of the legislative assembly for my riding since it became one in 1974. One would think the question would have been: Will the people vote for a Progressive Conservative this year? But instead, some questioned whether the people would be ready to have a woman represent them. That’s barely 20 years ago. But regardless of these obstacles and views, I’m proud to say that we were ready and so was I, because they re-elected me twice more with a bigger majority every time regardless if our party was in government or in opposition.
But unfortunately, honourable senators, even to this day, too often we are looking at certain women in politics as success stories, having to work harder to achieve their goal instead of having women in politics more the norm. Although the population is split 50-50, only 26 per cent of the MPs in the House of Commons are women. But if we look at it from 1921, almost 100 years ago, we have come a long way since only having one woman MP occupying a seat.
According to an international ranking of women in politics prior to the writ being dropped in August 2014, Canada ranked fiftieth in the world in terms of women representation in the elected house. But one house in which we are having a bigger and more accurate representation of the Canadian population is our Senate, where we are currently 43 women, accounting for 46 per cent of the current members in this house. We have come a long way today in 2018. I think we can be proud of being just 4 per cent away from being 50 per cent and 5 per cent away from being a majority.
Again, as part of my role as a provincial MLA, I encountered too many cases of gender-related issues, whether it was violence, housing or discrimination. I would like to share one aspect I heard too often when women would reach me at my office for assistance. They shared with me that they were more comfortable to speak on their issues such as poverty, violence and housing because, as a woman, they felt it was easier for me to relate to their needs. That’s another reason why we need equal representation not just in politics but in all aspects of life, to make sure women are comfortable to reach out for assistance in times of need whether for financial reasons, health, housing, et cetera.
Last year I had the opportunity to meet with the YWCA and learn about the important work they do as well as the awareness they bring to women’s issues. They are the country’s oldest and largest women’s multi-service organization and the single largest national provider of shelter to women, annually serving 25,000 women, children and teen girls, which includes 6,000 fleeing domestic violence. I would like to focus on single mothers as well as seniors because too often I have witnessed that they fall in between the cracks of some policy decisions. For example, for senior women who haven’t reached the age of 65 yet, some of their cases were exceptional due to their circumstance of being a single senior woman. Whether they were recently separated, divorced or widowed, they would not qualify for an old-age-related program and, therefore, could barely make ends meet and were living in poverty.
With the demographic evolution that we have seen and will be upcoming in Canada with an aging population, the number of people over 65 will increase. According to the Canadian Women’s Foundation, 16 per cent of single senior women live in poverty. It’s important that we have measures and programs in place to ensure we support the most vulnerable, such as single senior women.
Another issue I would like to talk about is the challenge faced by single mothers. According to the YWCA, 79 per cent of single-parent families are led by women and over 50 per cent of the women who arrive in the shelters are with children. When I met with the YWCA, I was shocked to hear how the demand was so high when it came to affordable housing, especially for single mothers. By looking at the statistic for lone-parent families, there is a disparity between gender. According to Statistics Canada, only 78.3 per cent of single mothers were working full time, compared to 93.7 per cent for single dads. The average usual weekly hours for a single mom was 34.8, compared to 40.1 for a single dad. The same goes for the average hourly earnings: $23.14 for women and $29.48 for men, which accumulates to a single mom earning $360 less than a single dad on a weekly basis. It is clear with such a gap of weekly earnings that single mothers are facing greater challenges to provide the basic necessities for their families. There remains a lot of work to do to close the gap so that single mothers are not disadvantaged and can still provide for their families as a single mom.
Not only is gender equality week an opportunity to talk about the current issues facing women, but I also feel it would be a great time to recognize the road travelled to where we are today in terms of attaining gender equality. As a former MLA in New Brunswick, I would like to recognize the following women who have preceded me and followed me in being elected in the provincial legislature: Pamela Jane Barry, Marie-Claude Blais, Margaret-Ann Blaney, Gertrude Ann Breault, Beverly Mae Brine, Martine Coulombe, Patricia Crossman, Georgie Margaret Day, Marie Carolle de Ste. Croix, Mabel DeWare, Madeleine Dubé, Shirley Dysart, Brenda Fowlie, Lisa Harris, Kim Jardine, Ella Jarrett, Carole Keddy, Joan Margaret Kingston, Marie Landry, Francine Landry, Cheryl Lavoie, Monique LeBlanc, Pam Lynch, Joan McAlpine-Stiles, Marcelle Mersereau, Pierrette Ringuette, Brenda Robertson, Carmel Robichaud, Cathy Rogers, Mary Schryer, Dorothy Shephard, Sue Stultz, Nancy Teed, Marilyn Trenholme Counsell, Elizabeth Weir, Sherry Wilson and myself.
When you look at the New Brunswick legislature, it currently has 49 members. If we were to put the 37 members who have been elected in the New Brunswick legislature over all the time, we would still not even be able to fill all the seats.
We have so much work to do to attain gender equality, but I am encouraged, honourable senators, that so far, thanks to the initiative Women for 50% for the upcoming provincial election, 40 per cent of the candidates are women.
I’m reminded of a comment that then-Premier Bernard Lord shared with me: In a perfect world, we would have the same number of women and men in a legislature and in cabinet. Because men and women can have a different approach to the same issue, and it is important to have a good balance between both to find the best solution.
In conclusion, honourable senators, I encourage you to support this legislation. It would be an opportunity to raise awareness to the many issues still facing women today. It would happen in the middle of Women’s History Month, where we have the day of the person, the day of the girl. It would be fitting to have a gender equality week to bring more awareness and to measure where we have come from and towards where we are going.
(On motion of Senator Martin, debate adjourned.)
Library of Parliament
First Report of Joint Committee Adopted
The Senate proceeded to consideration of the first report of the Standing Joint Committee on the Library of Parliament (Quorum and Mandate of the Committee), presented in the Senate on April 25, 2018.
Hon. Lucie Moncion moved the adoption of the report.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
(Motion agreed to and report adopted.)
Motion to Instruct Senate Administration to Remove the Website of the Honourable Lynn Beyak from Any Senate Server and Cease Support of Any Related Website until the Process of the Senate Ethics Officer’s Inquiry is Disposed Of—Motion in Amendment—Debate Continued
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Pate, seconded by the Honourable Senator Marwah:
That the Senate administration be instructed to remove the website of the Honourable Senator Beyak from any Senate server and cease to support any website for the senator until the process undertaken by the Senate Ethics Officer following a request to conduct an inquiry under the Ethics and Conflict of Interest Code for Senators in relation to the content of Senator Beyak’s website and her obligations under the Code is finally disposed of, either by the tabling of the Senate Ethics Officer’s preliminary determination letter or inquiry report, by a report of the Standing Committee on Ethics and Conflict of Interest for Senators, or by a decision of the Senate respecting the matter.
And on the motion in amendment of the Honourable Senator Pratte, seconded by the Honourable Senator Coyle:
That the motion be not now adopted, but that it be amended:
1.by deleting the words “the Senate administration be instructed to remove the website of the Honourable Senator Beyak from any Senate server and cease to support any website for the senator”; and
2.by adding the following after the word “matter”:
“, the Senate administration be instructed:
(a)to remove the 103 letters of support dated March 8, 2017, to October 4, 2017, from the website of Senator Beyak (lynnbeyak.sencanada.ca) and any other website housed by a Senate server; and
(b)not to provide support, including technical support and the reimbursement of expenses, for any website of the senator that contains or links to any of the said letters of support”.
Hon. Lillian Eva Dyck: Honourable senators, I rise today in support of Senator Pratte’s amendment to Senator Pate’s Motion No. 302. This motion, as amended, would seek to instruct Senate administration to remove the 103 letters of support dated March 8, 2017, to October 4, 2017, from the website of Senator Beyak, lynnbeyak.sencanada.ca, and any other website hosted by a Senate server and cease to provide support, including technical support, and the reimbursement of expenses for any website of the senator that contains or links to any of the said letters of support until the process of the Senate Ethics Officer’s inquiry is disposed of.
Basically, the intention of Senator Pate’s motion is to apply an interim sanction while we wait for the Senate Ethics Officer to make a decision on the request by Senators Gagné, Lankin, Omidvar, Petitclerc and Pratte to Commissioner Legault to undertake an investigation under section 47(2)(b) to determine whether publishing the letters of support on Senator Beyak’s parliamentary website is a violation of the rules of conduct under the Ethics and Conflict of Interest Code for Senators.
I believe that Senator Pate’s motion is in order. The Senate has taken interim measures in the past. For instance, during investigations into the expense claims of several senators, the Senate took action before investigations were completed, and a motion to suspend these senators was tabled and passed on division.
I believe Senator Pratte’s amendment is a more appropriate response than the original motion. Limiting the letters of support from Senator Beyak’s website is a more appropriate sanction because it is aimed specifically at the offensive racist content rather than her whole website.
Colleagues, Senator Pratte’s motion is consistent with the intention of my written request to the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets, and Administration. On January 8, 2018, I asked that, with respect to Senator Beyak, a determination be made and an opinion be issued by the Internal Economy Committee as to whether her posting of these kinds of racist, offensive letters using Senate resources is permissible under the Senate Rules, and if not, that they determine what course of action should be taken.
The Internal Economy Committee has decided to wait for the Senate Ethics Officer to conduct an investigation and report back, but, ultimately, it is up to the Senate as a whole to make the final decision. After the Senate Ethics Officer releases his report, it will be debated in the Senate, and we may not even accept his recommendation. In the end, it is up to us, all of us as senators, to decide whether we consider some of the letters on Senator Beyak’s Senate website to be racist and whether we should take remedial action, such as instructing her or Senate administration to remove them from her website.
Colleagues, the letters on Senator Beyak’s Senate website, which contain racist content directed against Indigenous peoples, have been there since September 2017, according to Garnet Angeconeb. He is a First Nation elder, an Order of Canada appointee and a residential school survivor. He said, with regard to the letters:
I’m really disappointed. I’m discouraged and outright hurt by some of those comments.
Colleagues, the presence of these letters on Senator Beyak’s website became a news item in early January, at which time I was interviewed and raised my objections to them being on a public Senate website. There were a total of 103 letters at that time. Doing a quick scan, I found about 20 that were highly offensive. Some were frankly racist and could constitute hate speech, in my opinion. There are now 129 letters of support on Senator Beyak’s website.
Frankly, I find it hard to believe that we are even debating this issue. It is absolutely clear from jurisprudence that there is no such thing as an absolute freedom of speech in Canada that gives Senator Beyak the right to post whatever she wants with no regard for the impact and harms it could have on Aboriginals who are the target of racist and hateful comments in some of the letters on her website.
This idea of absolute freedom of speech has been suggested not only by Senator Beyak but also by Senator Plett in his speech last week. Because Senator Beyak’s supporters also have a false notion that people have complete freedom of speech, I have decided that it is necessary and important to outline in some detail why this concept is false.
In Canadian law, the right to free speech arises from section 2(b) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. However, contained within section 1 of the Charter is the ability to place reasonable limits on any of the Charter rights, including freedom of expression. As was stated by the majority in Slaight Communications Inc. v. Davidson, Supreme Court of Canada, 1989, the underlying values of a free and democratic society both guarantee the rights in the Charter and, in appropriate circumstances, justify limitations upon those rights. In law, there are many provisions where limits have been placed on the freedom of expression. The Criminal Code includes many such restrictions in offences such as defamatory libel, counselling suicide, perjury and fraud. These are all limits on the freedom of expression.
In addition, the Criminal Code contains hate speech provisions in sections 318 to 320. Section 319(2) clearly outlines the balance of the right to free speech and the limits that are justified to protect identifiable groups. Section 319(2) of the Criminal Code states, under “Willful promotion of hatred”:
Every one who, by communicating statements, other than in private conversation, wilfully promotes hatred against any identifiable group is guilty of
(a) an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years; or
(b) an offence punishable on summary conviction.
I point out this section as it is the basis for much legal precedent in Canada surrounding the reasonable limits placed upon freedom of speech with regard to hateful and discriminatory speech.
In 1990, the Supreme Court ruled in R. v. Keegstra that section 319(2) of the Criminal Code, which prohibits wilful promotion of hatred except in private conversation, does indeed violate freedom of expression rights. However, the Supreme Court also noted that this violation is justified because it is a reasonable limitation of that right. In Keegstra, the court ruled that, on balance, the limitation was less harmful than the harm of the speech itself. The majority noted many harmful effects of hate speech in society, and the court noted:
Disquiet caused by the existence of such material is not simply the product of its offensiveness, however, but stems from the very real harm which it causes. Essentially, there are two sorts of injury caused by hate propaganda. First, there is harm done to members of the target group. It is indisputable that the emotional damage caused by words may be of grave psychological and social consequence. . . .
The derision, hostility and abuse encouraged by hate propaganda therefore have a severely negative impact on the individual’s sense of self-worth and acceptance. This impact may cause target group members to take drastic measures in reaction, perhaps avoiding activities which bring them into contact with non-group members or adopting attitudes and postures directed towards blending in with the majority. Such consequences bear heavily in a nation that prides itself on tolerance and the fostering of human dignity through, amongst other things, respect for the many racial, religious and cultural groups in our society.
The court went on to describe the second harm which attracts others to a hateful cause.
It is thus not inconceivable that the active dissemination of hate propaganda can attract individuals to its cause, and in the process create serious discord between various cultural groups in society. Moreover, the alteration of views held by the recipients of hate propaganda may occur subtly, and is not always attendant upon conscious acceptance of the communicated ideas. Even if the message of hate propaganda is outwardly rejected, there is evidence that its premise of racial or religious inferiority may persist in a recipient’s mind as an idea that holds some truth, an incipient effect not to be entirely discounted.
Colleagues, this is vitally important to understand. Allowing hateful and untruthful commentary that targets an identifiable group harms not only the members of that group that are singled out, but it harms the social cohesion in a multicultural society like Canada. As the court noted:
Hate propaganda contributes little to the aspirations of Canadians or Canada in either the quest for truth, the promotion of individual self-development or the protection and fostering of a vibrant democracy where the participation of all individuals is accepted and encouraged.
Colleagues, in addition to the Criminal Code, the Canadian Human Rights Act also places limits on freedom of expression. While section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act was repealed by the Harper government in 2013, section 12 still restricts expression if it discriminates against an identifiable group. Section 12 reads:
It is a discriminatory practice to publish or display before the public or to cause to be published or displayed before the public any notice, sign, symbol, emblem or other representation that.
(a) expresses or implies discrimination or an intention to discriminate, or
(b) incites or is calculated to incite others to discriminate.
if the discrimination expressed or implied, intended to be expressed or implied or incited or calculated to be incited would otherwise, if engaged in, be a discriminatory practice described in any of sections 5 to 11 or in section 14.
What is important to note that subsection (b) pertains to representations that incite others to take certain discriminatory actions. In other words, these are representations that spread a message to convince others to undertake certain discriminatory actions.
It is also important to note that every legislature in Canada has passed a human rights law to prohibitive or limit discriminatory activities. With the exception of the Yukon Human Rights Act, each of these laws contains a provision similar to section 12 of the Canadian Human Rights Act that prohibits in some form the public display, broadcast or publication of messages that announce an intention to discriminate or that incite others to discriminate based on certain prohibited grounds.
Colleagues, I trust that can you see clearly from this long, detailed explanation that there are limits to what we can say or express. There is no such thing as complete freedom of speech. We must remember the rights of the person to whom we are expressing our thoughts and opinions. They have a right not to be harmed and not to be discriminated against by another’s words.
Colleagues, I’ve received hate-filled racist emails or letters both times after I called out comments made by Senator Beyak. A year ago I read into Hansard one such hateful message. Since this January, I’ve received 18 messages from supporters of Senator Beyak. Twelve of these mentioned that there was a right to freedom of speech with “no muzzling, no silencing, no right to object to racism or no limitations due to political correctness.”
Clearly, as I outlined earlier, they are mistaken. No one, including a senator, has the right to make racist comments. If they do, they can be silenced or sanctioned. With respect to political correctness, let me just say this: I want factual correctness.
I’d like to touch upon another aspect of this discussion, which was brought up by Senator Plett. He said if we didn’t like what we saw on Senator Beyak’s website, we didn’t have to read it. Yes, that’s true, but the presence of the racist comments on a Senate-sponsored and official Senate website gives them an “air” of credibility. This in turn helps feed the fire of racial prejudice in those who agree with such an opinion. It creates room for people to be more overt with anti-Aboriginal, racist comments. In other words, leaving those letters on public display perpetuates further racism.
The Hon. the Speaker: I’m sorry senator, but your time has expired. Are you asking for five more minutes?
Senator Dyck: Yes, please.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted, honourable senators?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Dyck: Especially troubling is the misinformation contained in these racist letters related to taxpayer monies and the suggestion made by Senator Beyak that federal funds going to First Nations have to be audited. This statement leads people to believe that First Nations are not audited. This is false. First Nations are audited, and the audited statements are posted publicly, including on the INAC website. And today we heard Minister Bennett confirm that First Nations are audited.
Taxpayer dollars and the perceived misspending of taxpayer dollars is a hot button issue that underlies many of the racial stereotypes of Aboriginals misspending and Aboriginals receiving unfair financial benefits. The inaccurate information about Aboriginals and taxpayer dollars in some of the letters on Senator Beyak’s website certainly could fuel the flames of anger and racism towards Aboriginal people.
It is worth noting that 8 of the 18 messages sent to me by Senator Beyak’s supporters also mentioned misspending of taxpayer money by Aboriginal people, and four of these were excessively angry and vile. I’ll read two of them into the record. You can see one in bold type, which shows how angry this person is.
LILLIAN, I WANT TO EXPRESS MY BITTER INDIGNATION RELATED TO YOUR STAND AGAINST THE GREAT senator Lynn Beyak. . . .
I had lived before Winnipeg, I had experienced the native, when the police were picking up the drunkard native every morning . . . dead on the street . . . living on welfare!
JUST TELL US . . . HOW MANY BILLION DOLLAR COST THE CANADIAN TAXPAYERS TO SUPPORT THOSE native PARASITES EVERY YEAR?
I am sure . . . you have no courage to tell us!
That clearly is a vile, racist message.
The second one came, and I actually tried to put limits on this person. His title was: “Canadian Citizens Are Not First Nations Slaves. I Stand With Senator Lynn Beyak On This Issue Because She Stands With Tax Payers Not Being Further Abused.”
I sent a response back to him saying: “Your email message is offensive and clearly racist towards First Nations people. I do not want to receive your ignorant and racist messages. Remove me from your email list.”
He then writes back to me and says:
You being a pathetic lying traitor doesn’t qualify me a racist for pointing out the fact that First nations living on reserves and not paying taxes is what justifies them not getting government services that tax payers pay taxes for.
Do you hear that? I said to them: “Your message is filled with hate. I am instructing the email managers to block your messages.”
Then he writes back to me one more time before I can block him.
I do not hate anyone or anything you pathetic filthy liar. It is my pleasure to stand against such pathetic filthy disgusting liars and traitors such as yourself.
So that is what I get for standing up.
I believe these two messages, especially the last one, clearly illustrate how the spreading of misinformation about Aboriginal people, especially when taxpayer money is mentioned, can feed the fires of prejudice, which leads to overt racism and can incite hatred toward Aboriginals. Those messages clearly show that.
The only other time I’ve received hate-filled racist messages was when I defended the rights of First Nations not to be required to post private financial information on the INAC website. As I said, money issues are a hot button that trigger anger and racism. Thus, it is particularly disturbing to note that Senator Beyak has stated there should be an audit of money going in and out of First Nation reserves. As I said before, this leads people to believe that First Nations are not audited. This is false. First Nations are audited, and the audited statements are posted publicly, including on the INAC website. Calling for an audit perpetuates the malicious myth that First Nations can spend their money because there is no oversight. Feeding the public misinformation about a need to audit money going into and out of First Nation reserves is not just irresponsible; it is reprehensible because of the hatred that such information can incite in others.
That is why Senator Beyak’s posting of racist comments and misinformation about Aboriginal people may well fall under the category of hate speech.
I’d like to note that I have received 45 messages that were opposed to Senator Beyak’s position: 12 people thought her views were racist, 21 stated she should be sanctioned by being asked to resign or being expelled or disciplined somehow, and two thought the senator was censoring the free speech of those who disagreed with her because she was not posting those letters.
The Hon. the Speaker: Sorry, Senator Dyck. Your time has expired again. Are you asking for more time?
Senator Dyck: I need one minute.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Dyck: In closing, I support Senator Pratte’s amendment to Senator Pate’s motion, Motion No. 302. I believe it is a fair and reasonable option the Senate ought to adopt in the interim as we wait for the report from the Senate Ethics Officer. However, the amendment needs to be amended, because there are now 129 letters of support as of April 25. I urge you all to support this amendment or any other amendment. Thank you.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.
The Hon. the Speaker: Senator Tkachuk would like to ask a question, but you are out of time again.
Is leave granted to answer a question, honourable senators?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Hon. David Tkachuk: Senator, I listened to your speech. You kept referring to the emails you received. I admit they were pretty nasty emails you got, but if those are the first ones you’ve gotten, you lead a pretty sheltered life, because the ones I get are just as nasty as that for just opposing a government bill.
Those messages weren’t on the website. Those are messages you received because you opposed this website.
Senator Dyck: That’s true, but if you look at the messages on Senator Beyak’s website, they are racist. I didn’t read those into the record, because they’ve been talked about a number of other times.
It’s true that you may get equally disturbing messages, but these are messages directed to me as an Indigenous person. That’s a very different category than someone complaining about you taking a stand on a particular piece of legislation. So I don’t think it’s fair to compare the two.
The Hon. the Speaker: Senator Cools, did you want to ask a question?
Hon. Anne C. Cools: Yes, I want to ask a question.
The Hon. the Speaker: Senator Dyck is going to need to ask for more time again.
Is leave granted, honourable senators?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
An Hon. Senator: No.
The Hon. the Speaker: I’m sorry, Senator Cools, I hear a “no.”
(On motion of Senator Lovelace Nicholas, debate adjourned.)
Increasing Overrepresentation of Indigenous Women in Canadian Prisons
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Pate, calling the attention of the Senate to the circumstances of some of the most marginalized, victimized, criminalized and institutionalized in Canada, particularly the increasing overrepresentation of Indigenous women in Canadian prisons.
Hon. Mary Jane McCallum: Honourable senators, I rise today to speak to Inquiry No. 19. As the inquiry says, incarcerated Indigenous women are among the most marginalized citizens of Canada who all too often go without a voice and without adequate support systems. It is this group of women who are the most represented and the least taken care of when it comes to their presence in federal institutions across the country.
The numbers are discouraging. In 2016, the Correctional Investigator of Canada indicated that, for the first time, more than a quarter of prisoners in Canadian prisons are Indigenous people. The numbers are bleaker when we consider Indigenous women, as recent statistics show that some 39 per cent of women in prisons are of Indigenous descent.
This is a trend that has continued to increase consistently over the past three decades with no signs of slowing down.
Honourable senators, I would like to call your attention to a 1988 report of the Standing Committee on Justice and Solicitor General entitled Taking Responsibility. This report was groundbreaking at the time because it took a much-needed review of sentencing, conditional releases and other related aspects of corrections within the Canadian context. Although this report may now be dated in certain aspects, there are many themes and realities that are still reflected clearly in today’s society.
This report states, in part:
The serious disruption of the Native culture and economy that has taken place in this century has had a devastating effect on the personal and family life of Native inmates. They are often unemployed, and have low levels of education and vocational skills. Many of them come from broken families and have serious substance abuse problems. Some Native inmates, especially Native women, are incarcerated at great distances from their home cities or towns, or their reserves.
Honourable senators, for greater context, when this report was written in 1988, it was noted that Indigenous peoples represented a disproportionate percentage of offenders in federal institutions when compared with their proportion of the general population. At that time, Indigenous peoples made up roughly 2 per cent of Canada’s overall population but 9.6 per cent of Canada’s prisoner population. In 2016, Indigenous peoples made up 4.9 per cent of the general population and a staggering 25.4 per cent of Canada’s prisoner population.
Remember, colleagues, that this number is considerably higher when the number of Indigenous women who are incarcerated is taken into consideration, as this marginalized demographic makes up over 39 per cent of incarcerated women.
It is apparent that Indigenous peoples in Canada, especially Indigenous women, are stuck in a debilitating cycle where generation after generation face an uphill battle to lead successful, healthy, crime-free lives. If today’s system is still reflective of the problems that existed 30 years ago, not enough is being done to close this gap and right the wrongs that exist in order to ensure the next generation does not have to face the same bleak prospects.
Colleagues, this Justice Committee’s 1988 report also contains wise words that should be heeded today, noting that programs delivered to Indigenous prisoners must be done in a way that is respectful and considerate of the cultural differences that exist between Indigenous and non-Indigenous prisoners. Specifically, the report found that:
A related development has been the increasingly widespread interest in Native spirituality among Native inmates. This involves the spiritual guidance in Native traditions offered by Elders and the observance of such practices as the sweat lodge. The effect of Native spirituality is to put the Native inmate in touch with the Native community and its age-old traditions.
Honourable senators, shortly after this report, the 1992 Corrections and Conditional Release Act, or CCRA, came into law and brought forth options for Indigenous peoples remanded in federal custody to be transferred to Indigenous care and custody. Section 81 of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act deals with the notion of transfers. Through this section, the Minister of Public Safety is enabled to enter into an agreement with an Indigenous community to provide, with the consent of the prisoner, that he or she be transferred into the care and custody of the community, to be paid for by the minister.
Although this is a discretionary power of the minister, it was a welcome development. Having Indigenous prisoners be released into the care of the community, surrounded by the traditional healing that they could provide, was a sorely missed aspect of treatment in federal institutions. These prisoners are often imprisoned a long way from their home communities and reserves, and far from their cultural heritage, traditions and support groups that make rehabilitation more viable.
Colleagues, there is an equally important section of the 1992 CCRA that also deals with the transfer process. I am speaking of section 84, which holds that if an Indigenous prisoner asks to be released into an Indigenous community, Correctional Service Canada must give the community notice of the prisoner’s release date and an opportunity to propose a plan for the prisoner’s integration into the community. This allows the community to adequately prepare in advance of the prisoner being remanded into their care.
Sections 81 and 84 were undoubtedly aimed at giving Indigenous peoples greater control over matters that affect them. They allow communities to welcome their own back to their ancestral home where they can undergo the healing and treatments that are sacred and unique to Indigenous people. Yet, while these two sections are intended to help alleviate the overrepresentation of Indigenous peoples in federal prisons, the criteria that a prisoner must meet in order to be considered for transfer are highly restrictive and counterproductive to what these sections attempt to accomplish. Namely, one of the criteria indicates that the prisoner must be classified as minimum security or, in rare cases, as medium security.
The issue with this, colleagues, is found in a report of the Office of the Correctional Investigator entitled Spirit Matters: Aboriginal People and the Corrections and Conditional Release Act. This report found that in 2010-11, only 11 per cent of Indigenous prisoners were held in minimum security institutions. I do not believe that the original intent of these transfer sections, aimed at reducing the number of Indigenous peoples in prison, included barring 89 per cent of applicable prisoners from consideration.
Colleagues, although the transfer process requires improvement through a greater level of accessibility to help ensure its effectiveness in lowering the number of Indigenous peoples, especially Indigenous women in prison, of greater concern is the level of health care that is afforded to these institutionalized women.
A 2003 report of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, titled Protecting Their Rights speaks of the limited and varying access to health services that incarcerated women face. It states:
The health needs of federally sentenced women and their access to necessary and appropriate health services must be looked at in the context of how women’s health issues differ from men’s: “... (w)omen experience more sickness, more disability and more psychological distress (than men).” Health inequality can be particularly serious for Aboriginal women who have higher rates of suicide and substance abuse. These patterns are mirrored in the lives of women incarcerated in federal correctional facilities.
Because they are in custody, federally sentenced women are not generally eligible for health services provided under provincial health insurance plans. Instead, under sections 86 and 87 of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, the Correctional Service of Canada has a duty to provide essential health care services to inmates in accordance with professionally accepted standards. What health care services are “essential” has been interpreted very broadly in the human rights context.
Honourable senators, I am of the firm belief that the basic right of adequate health services should be afforded to all women equally, incarcerated or not, and especially for those who are most vulnerable and at risk: Indigenous women.
It is important to recognize the barriers to accessing health care that incarcerated women face in Canada. A 2016 report in the International Journal of Prisoner Health entitled Access to healthcare services during incarceration among female inmates finds that female prisoners in Canada have cited a number of barriers when accessing health care services during incarceration. These barriers include long waiting lists, difficulty accessing medications, underskilled or non-empathetic health care staff, lack of continuity of care, lack of health literacy and poor transitional planning.
There exists an overall sense that incarceration negatively impacts health. This is despite the fact that in many cases the instability within many of these women’s lives before entering prison was underscored by a general lack of well-being and poor self-care.
Honourable senators, within this report’s study, incarcerated women in Canada listed several reasons why they felt their access to health care was hindered. The first concern was the general lack of knowledge around existing health care services and how to go about obtaining this vital information.
Women are reported as feeling “embarrassed” or “afraid” to ask for this information. Colleagues, this comes back to the notion of health literacy defined in this report as “the inability to access, understand, evaluate and communicate information as a way to promote, maintain and improve health in a variety of settings across one’s life-course.” This is intricately linked to one’s own health as it affects their ability to make informed choices, reduce risks to health and navigate the health care system.
The other concerns reported surround the Health Service Request form. Through this form, prisoners outline any health concerns they are experiencing. This is reviewed by correctional nursing staff who then provide a written response to the prisoner, which may require further assessment as determined by a physician. Many prisoners flag the wait times between these steps as a source of delay in receiving their required and, at times, urgent treatment.
Further, many prisoners reported feeling sloughed off and that, in some cases, their concerns or issues were not taken seriously by the medical staff.
An additional barrier to health-care services for many prisoners is the lack of consistency with treatment during periods of transition. Many report transition periods as pocked with fragmentation as entry and release into the community — as well as transfers from one correctional facility to another — often result in treatments, testing and prescriptions being discontinued or not followed up on.
The Hon. the Speaker: I’m sorry, Senator McCallum, your time has expired. Are you asking for more time?
Senator McCallum: Yes.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted, honourable senators?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator McCallum: When considering the many barriers faced by women in prison — especially Indigenous women — in having their health care needs met, this 2016 report gives three recommendations which are believed would alleviate many of the problems surrounding access to adequate health care for these prisoners during incarceration. These recommendations are: the provision of comprehensive incarceration entry and exit health assessments, strategies to improve health literacy, and the establishment of health support networks while incarcerated.
Honourable senators, it is important to hear the words of the individuals directly impacted and affected by these barriers and unacceptable conditions. A 1990 report from CSC entitled Creating Choices: The Report of the Task Force on Federally Sentenced Women has a chapter called, “The Voices of Aboriginal People,” which quotes incarcerated Indigenous women on their experience in prison. It states:
Aboriginal women have “a strong and uniform plea that their cultural and spiritual backgrounds be recognized and accepted, and that all aspects of their treatment within the prison and on release in the community reflect this recognition.”
Our distinct experience as Aboriginal women must be recognized. We cannot be either women only or Aboriginal only. Our race and our gender are integrally linked. Our identities as women flow from the teachings of our various Aboriginal Nations. That we are distinct must not be trivialized.
. . . because the prison focuses only on the incident or incidents in the Aboriginal women’s history which brought them into conflict with the law, Aboriginal prisoners cannot heal because the source of their pain lies within entire lives of violence, victimization, and abuse.
Honourable senators, federally sentenced Indigenous women are women who are most at risk and have the fewest advantages in Canadian society. We need to ensure these women are no longer part of the cycle that sees them as underrepresented in our society and overrepresented in our prisons. It is time we facilitate these transfers out of prisons and into Indigenous communities for appropriate healing and rehabilitation.
Finally, it is time we heed Call to Action 35 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and work with Indigenous communities to provide culturally relevant services to prisoners on issues such as substance abuse, family and domestic violence and overcoming the experience of having been sexually abused. It is incumbent on us, colleagues, to do our part in giving a voice and a hand to those members of our society who are most in need of it. Thank you.
(On motion of Senator Sinclair, debate adjourned.)
Bill to Amend—Declaration of Private Interest
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I wish to draw to your attention that the Honourable Senator Eaton has made a written declaration of private interest regarding Bill C-45, and in accordance with rule 15-7(1), the declaration shall be recorded in the Journals of the Senate.
Bill to Amend—Declaration of Private Interest
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I wish to draw to your attention that the Honourable Senator Eaton has made a written declaration of private interest regarding Bill C-46, and in accordance with rule 15-7(1), the declaration shall be recorded in the Journals of the Senate.
Captain Augustine Dalton
Hon. Fabian Manning rose pursuant to notice of February 1, 2018:
That he will call the attention of the Senate to the extraordinary life of Captain Augustine Dalton.
He said: Honourable senators, I feel honoured this afternoon to have the opportunity to tell you the story of my friend, a fellow Newfoundlander and Labradorian and, in my view, a great Canadian. Augustine Leo Dalton was born on September 15, 1930, to James and Gertrude, nee Doody, the second youngest of five boys and two girls.
The Dalton family lived in Reginaville, on Great Colinet Island, in St. Mary’s Bay, Newfoundland. Gus’s early education took place at a school in Mosquito. At the tender age of 16, Gus began what would become his lifelong passion, the life of a fisherman.
In those days life was difficult and trying to make a living from the ocean presented many challenges for Gus and his fellow fishermen, but through those challenges there were opportunities and Gus and the others took full advantage of them. They provided for their families by living off the bounties of the sea and the land. They set gardens, raised animals, cut their own firewood, built better roads and constructed their own homes.
Skills were passed from generation to generation and survival meant long days, hard work and a steadfast determination to make a better life for themselves and their families. Giving up or waiting for someone else to do what needed to be done was not part of that generation’s DNA and Gus Dalton was a living example of such.
During the 1960s, the province of Newfoundland was experiencing a societal change with the introduction of then Premier Joey Smallwood’s resettlement plan. The idea was to move people from the isolated communities that dotted the shorelines of our province to the mainland portion. The powers that be thought that by bringing more people together in one area the high cost of servicing those outport communities would be significantly reduced and new economic opportunities would be created for those who were relocated. People throughout Newfoundland and Labrador still debate whether this was the best decision when many communities were closed down and people were forced to move from the places they called home.
Gus Dalton was part of the resettlement program when he moved from Colinet Island to the beautiful rural community of Admiral’s Beach. Together with his wife Margaret, they made their home and raised three lovely daughters, Bernadette, Diane and Arlene. He continued the life of a fisherman and built a solid reputation as a dependable and community-minded person.
On a foundation of strong faith, a loving family and genuine friendships, Gus Dalton became a symbol of a true Newfoundlander and Labradorian. He continued to fish for a livelihood, lived quietly and honestly and was never a person to seek the limelight.
Little did anyone know, including Gus himself, that all that was about to change. A very humble and kind man was about to become a Canadian hero, a person who would make a positive difference in the lives of so many people. This is the story of how a Newfoundland fisherman became a godfather to a generation of Tamil Canadians.
It was 1 a.m. on August 11, 1986, when Captain Gus Dalton and his crew of hardy fishermen were fishing about 10 kilometres off St. Shott’s on the southern tip of Newfoundland’s Avalon Peninsula when the captain saw a blip on his radar. Not sure what it was that he was actually seeing, he maneuvered his 45-foot vessel, the Atlantic Reaper, closer. On this calm and foggy night, Gus Dalton and his crew came upon two 24-foot fibreglass lifeboats, built to hold 35 people each, now overloaded with more than 150 Sri Lankan Tamils, mostly men, along with three women and five children.
At first, Captain Dalton thought the large group had been shipwrecked but it turned out they had been deliberately dropped from the vessel Aurigae by a human trafficker. They were set adrift in a treacherous part of the ocean in an area many locals consider the graveyard of the North Atlantic.
The cargo ship had sailed from Brake in West Germany, where the Tamils had lived in refugee camps in Hamburg, and each had paid about $3,400 each for their journey. They had been adrift for three days when they were spotted by Captain Dalton. Even though Captain Dalton and his three-man crew, including his brother, had been fishing for cod all day, they wasted no time in reacting to the serious situation that lay before them. What they did next would alter the course of Canadian immigration history and forge a bond between Gus Dalton and thousands of Tamil-Canadians for generations to come.
Captain Dalton and his crew immediately dumped their catch, all 1,050 kilograms of cod and flounder. They then tied the lifeboats to both sides of their 45-foot vessel so that they wouldn’t tip and began taking on the women, the children and the sick.
They took as many people as they could — about 60 — on their boat. They then quickly enlisted the assistance of two other local long-liners, the Mary Theresa and the Mona B., which were fishing nearby, to secure the safety of the remaining refugees. Captain Dalton then alerted the Canadian Coast Guard ship The Leonard J. Cowley and requested immediate assistance. Next, they shared what supplies they had aboard — 11 loaves of bread and 75 litres of water — with the scared and also relieved refugees who were overjoyed at being saved.
The Tamils were at first reluctant to reveal the name of the ship that had dumped them. They also initially said they had embarked from India, not Europe, and they were vague about the time they had spent at sea. They later confirmed they had been set adrift in the lifeboats two days earlier and told they would be in Montreal in four hours.
Their arrival in 1986 did meet with some controversy. There were grumblings from within Brian Mulroney’s federal Conservative government, as well as from some people in the existing Tamil community who were expressing concerns over the perception of immigration queue jumping. The newcomers faced social stigma. They were heckled in the employment offices and bullied in the schoolyards, which added to their struggle to settle in this new country.
Prime Minister Mulroney strongly advocated for the refugees, who today mostly live in the city of Toronto. After they settled in, most of those refugees learned English, and several became businesspeople and professionals, and they have become part of the fabric of this wonderful nation, Canada.
Captain Dalton’s rescue garnered international headlines, including a story in the New York Times and on the cover of Maclean’s magazine. Media outlets throughout the country rushed to cover this incredible story. Captain Dalton was invited to appear on “Front Page Challenge,” and the famous rescue was also the inspiration for the 1989 feature film Welcome to Canada directed by John N. Smith.
Today, the rescue is celebrated as a remarkable moment in Canadian history. It was the spark that led to a large number of Tamils arriving in Canada. Today, there is a population of approximately 300,000, concentrated mostly in Toronto and Montreal. Captain Gus Dalton and the other fishermen involved in the rescue never considered themselves “national heroes.” In 2007, Gus told the Newfoundland Herald that anyone who came upon the refugees would have acted as he did. He went on to say, “We were lucky to have them come here. Any man who would sit on the water like that deserves to be here.”
One of those men, who was only 22 years old at the time, was Mr. Siva Mehanathan. After three days of drifting in a crammed lifeboat in the middle of the Atlantic, Mr. Mehanathan was on the brink of despair. The Tamil rice farmer clutched a small picture of two Hindu gods and prayed as the lifeboats bobbed up and down in the dark blue water. He later said he thought they were going to die there in the ocean. He had chosen to leave the war-torn country to seek a better life in the West. Today, he owns a jewelry store in Scarborough and has three children.
He has never forgotten the rescue by Captain Dalton, and Siva’s family is quite familiar with the story of their dad’s journey to Canada. Siva’s 19-year-old daughter, Ommira, a student at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario, recalls her dad’s story as a lesson in faith: “As soon as he saw Gus, he said, ’God has seen me pray. He’s blessed me with this miracle right now.’” She goes on to say that her dad has “always taught us kids to stay hopeful and be faithful to God as well.”
There is no doubt that the actions of Gus Dalton and the other fishermen made a positive difference in the lives of so many people, some they never even had the opportunity to meet in person. One of the four children rescued, who was only six months old at the time, is now a doctor. Another is an engineer.
Captain Gus Dalton received many accolades throughout the years for the rescue, though he always shrugged off the attention and remained forever humble. I had the privilege to present Captain Dalton with the Queen’s Jubilee Medal in 2016, and in January 2012, the captain was in Toronto and was presented with the Leaders for Change Award by the Canadian Tamil Congress at the annual Thai Pongal dinner held in Toronto. In August 2011, several representatives of the Tamil community in Toronto made their way back to Newfoundland to mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of the rescue by Captain Dalton and the other fishermen.
I had the honour to be present at a dinner in St. John’s, hosted by the Tamil community, where they wanted to show their appreciation to the man who had given them so much. Captain Dalton may not have wanted the praise and gratitude, but he was sure happy to see the refugees and their families and to hear the stories of their success in our country.
Several of those same people and more besides visited Newfoundland once again in 2016 to mark the thirtieth anniversary of the rescue. Captain Dalton was experiencing some serious health issues at the time so the group travelled all the way to his home in Admiral’s Beach, where they presented Gus with a beautiful anchor-shaped pin as a sign of their gratitude and appreciation for saving their lives. There were many hugs shared and tears shed that day, because the captain was getting along in years and his health was failing.
In December 2017, Captain Gus Dalton received word that he would be formally recognized by the Queen and would be receiving a Governor General’s Meritorious Service Medal, which recognizes Canadians for exceptional deeds that bring honour to the country. Sadly, Captain Dalton did not have the chance to receive this prestigious award in person. He passed away on January 15, 2018, at the age of 87.
The Canadian Tamil Congress issued a tribute upon the passing of Captain Dalton, calling him a true Canadian hero, adding that his “legacy will always be intertwined with Tamil-Canadian history.” One of the lifeboats has been obtained by the group and is displayed at the annual Tamil-Canadian Festival in Scarborough. The Member of Parliament for Scarborough—Rouge Park, Mr. Gary Anandasangaree, who is also a Tamil-Canadian, paid tribute to Captain Dalton as well by saying, “With his deed, he helped 155 families take shape in Canada and helped the Tamil community in ways no one ever has.”
After learning of the passing of Captain Dalton, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had this to say:
We are the one place in the world that has figured out how to make differences a source of strength and not a source of weakness. So on top of everything else we celebrate here at Thai Pongal, we celebrate that as well.
A great example of exactly that, of reaching out to different communities, of being a good neighbour, of working to build a better world; as everyone in this room knows, is Captain Gus Dalton. He was an ordinary Canadian fisherman who did an extraordinary deed, rescuing 155 Tamils off the shores of St. Shott’s, Newfoundland.
It’s a sad day for all of us today, because as you know Gus passed away last night, but many in this room, including those who actually came off that boat on August 11th, 1986, as well as their children, are the legacy that Gus leaves behind – a legacy that has helped build this community.
. . . I know that the Tamil community carved out a special place in their hearts for Gus a long time ago.
I completely agree with that thought.
On a personal note, I have spent many years in public life, and I have interacted with many people from a variety of backgrounds, but I consider it my privilege and honour to have known and spent some quality time with Captain Gus Dalton. Although he was several years older than me, throughout the years he became a loyal friend. He was not only a great supporter but also a wonderful mentor in so many ways. Whether it was attending a function at the community centre in his beloved Admiral’s Beach or down on the wharf with the boys, he quietly but surely left his mark on all of us.
His many words of advice still echo in my ears today. He taught all who met him on his life’s journey that one person can truly make a difference in this world. Gus Dalton truly embodied the virtues of what it means to be a Canadian: kindness, compassion and selflessness. He was definitely one of a kind.
Gus Dalton’s passing has left a void in all of us, but none more so than Margaret, his wife of 54 years; his three daughters, Bernadette, Diane and Arlene; his son-in-law, Rick; his grandchildren, Sandi and Steve; his sister Teresa O’Brien; and his very special nephew, Rick Dalton.
In the Bible, our Lord said to the fishermen Simon and his brother Andrew: “Come follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” Indeed, Captain Gus Dalton was called upon to be a fisher of men, and he answered the call. Now, he has gone to his reward, and so I would like to end this tribute to my good friend with the words of a famous Irish ballad called “Fiddlers Green”:
Now Fiddler’s Green is a place I’ve heard tell
Where the fishermen go if they don’t go to hell
Where the weather is fair and the dolphins do play
And the cold coast of Greenland is far, far away.
Wrap me up in me oilskin and blankets
No more on the docks I’ll be seen
Just tell me old shipmates, I’m taking a trip mates
And I’ll see you someday on Fiddlers Green
Rest in peace, my good friend.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, if no other senator wishes to speak, this matter is considered debated.
Hon. Wanda Elaine Thomas Bernard rose pursuant to notice of March 1, 2018:
That she will call the attention of the Senate to anti-black racism.
She said: Honourable senators, I stand today to call for an inquiry into the systemic anti-Black racism in Canada. Canada has a history of anti-Black racism and our institution is not untouched by the continuation of this oppression. 2015 to 2024 is the International Decade for People of African Descent, and what better time to prioritize the lives of African Canadians? To quote the Right Honourable Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during Black History Month:
The International Decade also offers a framework to better address the very real and unique challenges that Black Canadians face. By working together, we can combat anti-black racism and discrimination, and deliver better outcomes for Black Canadians.
Let us seize this moment to address systemic racism at the federal level and create essential change at all levels of Canadian government, Canadian institutions and communities. African Canadian communities are continuously marginalized, and in order to address the root cause of these issues, I propose we begin looking within to create true racial justice.
I will first outline why specifically anti-Black racism is key to this inquiry. The United Nations Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent released a report that examines the ways in which systemic anti-Black racism is present in Canada. African Canadians experience disparities in health, education, housing, employment and are over-represented in the criminal justice system. I acknowledge that Indigenous people and other racialized groups are also impacted by racism and discrimination, and we’ve heard many of those stories here today. I stand with these groups as an ally in the challenges and barriers that they face. I am also an ally for persons with disabilities, women, the LGBTQ2 community and all people who experience oppression and exclusion. Today, I am asking for allies to take a stand against anti-Black racism.
African Canadians are impacted by a unique pattern of racism and invisibility in many contexts. Anti-Black racism identifies the historical context of slavery as the origin of the cycle of oppression and marginalization of people of African descent. After the prolonged exploitation and overt racism exerted during times of slavery in North America, emancipation of slavery occurred in Canada in 1834. The emancipation of slavery did not end racism. Slavery itself was no longer legally acceptable, though African Canadians continued to be treated as second-class citizens. Black communities were pushed to the fringes of Canadian society, with lack of equitable access to education, employment, housing and health care. These circumstances do not foster success and prosperity in communities. Even after emancipation, African Canadians were segregated in all aspects of their lives. The assumption that racism is no longer an issue is not accurate. Primed by the long history of slavery and segregation of people of African descent, the anti-Black racism that exists today is deeply ingrained and systemic.
In addition to being a senator, I am an African Nova Scotian woman, a social worker, an educator and a researcher. Much of my work prior to being appointed to the Senate focused on the harmful consequences of anti-Black racism. I have witnessed firsthand the destructive patterns of anti-Black racism in my social work career with African Nova Scotian communities, during my career as an educator in learning institutions, in my race and well-being research in three Canadian cities and in my own experience.
Honourable colleagues, I am calling an inquiry to identify how anti-Black racism impacts our functioning as an institution. In our culture, White supremacy goes unnoticed by the majority. It is normalized and deeply ingrained. This inquiry must address the invisibility of African Canadians in policy development, the lack of representation in government and the prevalence of anti-Black racism which impacts the day-to-day experiences of African Canadians. This inquiry builds on the work of a retired senator, the Honourable Donald Oliver, who worked tirelessly to address issues of racism and employment equity in Canada.
Part of Canada’s anti-Black racism legacy includes the systemic exclusion of people of African descent. When I applied to the Senate, quite frankly, I was surprised to be appointed. I applied not expecting to make it through the selection process, and systemic racism almost kept me out. When I am involved in various committees and discussions, I am often the only African Canadian voice. Not only are there few African Canadians in positions of leadership, there are few African Canadian voices being heard as witnesses in committees or as staffers.
For me to stand here today indicates that there has been some change, but there is so much more work to be done. I am dedicated to identifying all of the circumstances that prevent African Canadians from obtaining positions of leadership and identifying the ways that make it difficult to successfully maintain these positions. To make great change, we need to be active in uncovering the ways in which anti-Black racism is perpetuated through policies, and we should begin with examining Senate policies.
I teach my students how to use a race equity lens and consider intersectionality as social workers to identify ways in which racism deeply impacts the lives of African Canadians. I place particular emphasis on the treatment of people with intersecting identities. Understanding intersectionality of oppression is key to understanding privilege and power. There are many layers of racism, some harder to see than others. I will describe four layers to illustrate how diverse and subtle they can be: Individual, cultural, institutional and systemic racism.
Individual racism includes discrimination within interactions. This includes name-calling. For example, the use of the N-word or other derogatory terms. Whether or not this word is directed at an individual, to hear this word is a reminder of the history of slavery, segregation and discrimination against people of African descent. Microaggressions are a form of individual racism. A microaggression is a statement or action that derives from racist beliefs. They are subtle and often hard to pinpoint as they can be as minute as averting eye contact or a comment that could be excused by saying it was said with good intentions. Some examples of this are commenting on the quality of someone’s English as a surprise or a complement, or asking, “Where are you really from?” This is called “other-ing,” and it is very isolating and offensive.
Cultural racism can be described as a way of maintaining assumptions, preconceptions or stereotypes about groups of racialized people. These stereotypes are often socially constructed and have harmful impacts on African Canadians.
On a very cold and blustery day this past winter, I was getting on a shuttle bus at the Victoria Building. A few senators boarded the bus before me with no issues. The driver stopped me, asking for my ID. I didn’t have my ID, and I literally had to peel back the layers of my clothing — my coat, my sweater, my shawl — to get to my blazer to show my pin. This took some time, and several other people got on the bus while I was peeling back the layers of my clothing. They got on the bus and took their seats. They were not asked for IDs.
On this cold day, most people were in a rush. The driver’s request was not as simple as “doing his job.” This person made an assumption about me based on my identity as a Black woman — that I was not a senator, that I was trying to take the shuttle without being in a position to do so. He treated me differently than my colleagues, and he did not give me the benefit of the doubt like he did for the rest of the people who are also rushing out of the cold.
My colleagues also did not vouch for me. No one said anything to the driver. No one showed their ID in solidarity. This incident was isolating and degrading.
Colleagues, I experience incidents like this one on a regular basis in many environments. The micro aggressions themselves are harmful, and the lack of recognition from bystanders is also harmful.
Another example was in the news recently. A Black man was asked to pay for his meal in a restaurant prior to receiving the meal, contrary to the experience of other restaurant patrons. He took his case to the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal, and he won. This was an example of anti-Black racism and racial profiling.
The third layer, institutional racism, is built into policies and practices of Canadian institutions, such as education, law and health care, you name it. These practices disadvantage people of African descent. In turn, they reinforce the issues at hand. Some examples are the overrepresentation of Black children in the foster-care system; 41.8 per cent of children in care in Toronto are of African descent, while African Canadians only make up 6.9 per cent of Toronto’s population. The poor quality of education provided to schools in Black communities and the overrepresentation of African Canadians in the criminal justice system are other examples. If we had more time, I could give you many more examples.
Systemic racism is the final layer. It is cumulative, subtle and interconnected with the other layers. Systemic racism is a network of intertwined, normalized forms of racism. It is cumulative and interconnected, a web of various manifestations of racism that I suggest be the core of this inquiry.
The United Nations Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent released a report on its mission to Canada, in September of 2017, that calls on Canadian government to make significant changes for the improvement of the lives of African Canadians. The United Nations report on systemic racism aptly reflects the areas of particular concern, for example, over-incarceration, well-being and education.
Despite the overwhelming nature of this list of ways African Canadians are marginalized, the UN report also brings with it great hope. The report provides several recommendations centred on the anti-Black racism in Canada to work towards change.
For over 40 years I have been advocating for racial justice in front-line social work, in education and now in federal politics. I strongly support this UN report, which informs us on how best to create change.
Honourable colleagues, I look around this chamber, and I only see a few senators of African descent. When my staff sit in meetings, they see very few Black staffers. When appointing senators —
The Hon. the Speaker: I’m sorry, Senator Bernard, but your time has expired. Are you asking for five more minutes?
Senator Bernard: Please.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted, honourable senators?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Bernard: Thank you.
When appointing senators or hiring staff, there are likely multiple layers of racism occurring. Representation matters.
Laurier University held a summit to gather ideas about anti-Black racism in post-secondary institutions. The three main guidelines that arose in their resolutions for moving forward are: to name the racism, to bring students into the conversation with care, and to take seriously the systemic nature of racism and its reach within the sector.
I believe the guidelines established by Laurier’s summit would make an effective framework for the Senate of Canada. Using the word “racism” in order to address this issue is the first step.
Many workplaces have “diversity strategies” and goals to employ more “visible minorities.” Language like this does not address the deeply racist patterns within which our institutional practices were formed. These strategies minimize and erase the experiences of different racial groups.
Many of you may be familiar with the issues Member of Parliament Celina Caesar-Chavannes has had in the House of Commons. MP Ceasar-Chavannes is an advocate for racial justice. She works against the continuous anti-Black messaging that comes from media, other politicians and community members. The backlash MP Ceasar-Chavannes has received for naming anti-Black racism and privilege is aggressive and shows that it is often worse to call out racism than it is to be racist in the first place. It takes a lot of courage to take a stand against racism and oppression.
Honourable colleagues, I am calling on you as allies and leaders to support this inquiry into anti-Black racism in Canada. As we are in year four of the International Decade for People of African Descent, now is the time to bring the realities faced by Black communities to the forefront. We have been in Canada since 1605, and yet we continue to experience social and economic oppression. Let us lead the change we want to see in this country.
(On motion of Senator Lankin, for Senator McPhedran, debate adjourned.)
Hon. Pamela Wallin rose pursuant to notice of April 25, 2018:
That she 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.
She said: We can all remember the moments that touched a chord or stirred something disquieting. The daughter whispering the lyrics, that had he written but forgotten, into the ear of her father, Glen Campbell, on a music stage. Just last week, a lifelong friend lost, thankfully in his own seniors building, a wife left trembling.
In the rural area where I live, wandering can be deadly as temperatures hover in the minus 40s for months on end. Recently, we lost a wonderful husband and father and community-minded man when he became disoriented, lost in plain sight, in the middle of a field just outside of town, his blue truck hidden among the blue bee huts that dot the fields. And my own experience, of course, with my mother, her haunted eyes searching for signs of familiarity, unmoored from the reality or the recognition of all that she had known — lost, wandering wherever she was.
So what must we do as we prepare for what some have called the “silver tsunami,” the greying of our population? Well, the Silver Alert system is a place to start. It mirrors the successful Amber Alert system developed in Texas in 1996. It was a response to the disappearance and devastating loss of nine-year-old Amber Hagerman who was kidnapped while biking home in broad daylight. Fully implemented in the United States and Canada, it enables law enforcement to work with the media and to use other means to inform the public about missing and abducted children.
The Amber Alert has returned many children to their families. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, 924 have been rescued using the system in their country. In Canada, 70 children have been rescued over a nine-year period.
Its success can be the model to support vulnerable adults in our society, enabling law enforcement to work with the media and the public to locate the missing.
There are more than 700,000 Canadians diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s, and that number is not even close to the real numbers suffering from some form of impairment. It is estimated that diagnosis will double over the next 15 years, and the urgency is clear that we need national plan.
While Alberta and Manitoba have passed a Silver Alert bill and await implementation, there are other plans and strategies being tested. In Winnipeg, police announced a partnership with MedicAlert that allows law enforcement to access information about missing persons who wear a MedicAlert bracelet. A program director at the Alzheimer Society described the program as giving people a better chance of survival.
In Saskatoon, search and rescue and the Saskatoon Police Service launched Project Lifesaver, a program supported by the Saskatoon Police Foundation, which provides tracking bracelets to folks prone to wandering. They strive to provide bracelets at no cost, though at its launch there were only 20 bracelets available as this is a very expensive tool.
While these are both great steps, it is also true that a confused person often removes an unfamiliar article of clothing or jewellery. Regardless, important programs such as these provide resources and will likely help return some loved ones home. People are desperately trying to deal with the realities of these diseases.
We need national action to move on this issue. Ottawa may not have the constitutional authority to compel provinces to develop or implement a Silver Alert program, but moral suasion is a powerful signal and a source of support.
In the U.S., some jurisdictions have reported high rates of return when a Silver Alert is issued, but national action even there has been delayed for years. We should attempt to avoid this situation in Canada. When considering the dramatic rise of dementia cases in Canada, it simply makes sense. The discussion is timely and senators can provide a strong voice to support the development of a national commitment to Canadians living with dementia and Alzheimer’s.
They and we need support, resources and a plan. As family members, we are dealing with this. As senators, it is our responsibility to prepare our loved ones, ourselves and our fellow citizens for the future. We cannot predict what our own fates will be. In the words of that great poet Robert Frost, “The afternoon knows what the morning never suspected.”
Let’s use the wisdom that comes with age. Let’s use our hearts and our experience and our power here to be ready to reach out and find those who have lost their way.
(On motion of Senator Lankin, debate adjourned.)
(At 7:45 p.m., the Senate was continued until tomorrow at 2 p.m.)