The Senate met at 2 p.m., the Speaker in the chair.
Business of the Senate
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, there have been consultations and there is an agreement to allow a photographer in the Senate Chamber to photograph the introduction of a new senator.
Is it agreed, honourable senators?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I have the honour to inform the Senate that the Clerk of the Senate has received a certificate from the Registrar General of Canada showing that Julie Miville-Dechêne has been summoned to the Senate.
The Hon. the Speaker having informed the Senate that there was a senator without, waiting to be introduced:
The following honourable senator was introduced; presented Her Majesty’s writ of summons; took the oath prescribed by law, which was administered by the Clerk of the Senate; and was seated:
Hon. Julie Miville-Dechêne, of Mont-Royal, Quebec, introduced between Hon. Peter Harder, P.C., and Hon. Serge Joyal, P.C.
The Hon. the Speaker informed the Senate that the honourable senator named above had made and subscribed the Declaration of Qualification required by the Constitution Act, 1867, in the presence of the Clerk of the Senate, the Commissioner appointed to receive and witness the said declaration.
Congratulations on Appointment
Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): As the Government Representative in the Senate, it is my great honour to welcome our new colleague, the Honourable Julie Miville-Dechêne, who will be representing Quebec.
Throughout her career as a journalist and senior public servant, through her example and her work, Senator Miville-Dechêne has emphasized the importance of women’s rights and gender equality.
With an impressive academic career that includes a BA in political science followed by a master’s in journalism and, finally, a graduate degree in conflict prevention and resolution — something that could be helpful in this chamber — Senator Miville-Dechêne was well prepared for her 25-year career at Radio-Canada.
Her career as a reporter, writer and creator of documentaries took the senator to Toronto, Ottawa, Washington and then Montreal.
From 2007 to 2011, Senator Miville-Dechêne served as the first woman ombudsman of Radio-Canada.
After that, she was appointed chair of the Quebec government’s Conseil du statut de la femme, where her journalistic spirit led her to address emerging issues, such as women in the construction industry, and more difficult subjects, such as prostitution and honour-based crimes.
Senator Miville-Dechêne then went to Paris to represent Quebec at the Permanent Delegation of Canada to UNESCO, and most recently she was an envoy for human rights and freedoms for Quebec.
She has also received several awards over her career in recognition of her efforts in the fields of journalism and French expression.
Senator, your educational and professional background demonstrates a vivid curiosity, a great intelligence and a desire to understand the world around you, and now the world around you here.
I know all your colleagues look forward to helping you explore the world you are entering and discovering as Canada’s newest senator.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Hon. Larry W. Smith (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, I am also pleased to rise today to welcome the Honourable Julie Miville-Dechêne. As honourable senators know, our new colleague was appointed to the Senate of Canada on the recommendation of Prime Minister Trudeau on June 20, so today is the first opportunity she has had to take her seat among us. I would like to congratulate her on behalf of all honourable senators, including the members of the Conservative group.
I am particularly delighted to welcome Senator Miville-Dechêne since she will represent our common province of Quebec. Our colleague is well known in Quebec because of her long career as a journalist at Radio-Canada, where she also served as ombudsman. I’m sure her rich professional background will be very helpful to her as she exercises her duties here in the Senate.
It is a great honour to be appointed to serve our fellow Canadians as a senator. I know that every senator here today proudly remembers the day that they were sworn into the Senate. Senator Miville-Dechêne will be one of the last senators sworn in in this chamber before the building is closed for several years for renovations, which may not be finished in my lifetime. I therefore invite her to take this opportunity to take in the Senate Chamber, to consider its history and splendour, and particularly to admire the eight powerful paintings of World War I that hang on the walls here and remind us every day of the important responsibilities that we hold as parliamentarians.
On behalf of all Conservative senators, I wish our new colleague and her family all the best as they embark on this new chapter of their lives.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Hon. Raymonde Saint-Germain: Honourable Senator Miville-Dechêne, your appointment is without a doubt the logical continuation of a career in which your professionalism, integrity and competence served the public interest both in Canada and abroad. The many awards you have received and the various responsibilities you have assumed are a clear reflection of this.
You have informed the public and held politicians accountable for more than 25 years while upholding high journalistic standards. As ombudsman of Radio-Canada’s French services and as chair of the Conseil du statut de la femme du Québec, you have also upheld the values of integrity, fairness and impartiality that are so important in this chamber.
You are taking the oath at a pivotal time for the Senate and its future. Each and every one of us has a responsibility to restore public confidence in this important democratic institution. We must uphold the highest standards in the Senate in the interests of Canadians.
I will say what is not said often enough in this chamber. Wherever we sit, we have much in common. First and foremost, we share a desire — and a duty — to serve our fellow citizens to the best of our ability.
We strive to respect basic democratic values: loyalty, fairness, respect for opposing opinions and the equality of senators. In many ways, we are interdependent. The functioning of parliamentary business and the credibility of the Senate depend on our collective contribution. A senator’s failure to meet her or his ethical obligations, or a senator’s inappropriate behaviour — inside or outside this chamber — has a negative impact on all senators.
We are also mindful of public opinion. We make every effort to meet the highest standards of ethics and modern governance. However, the added value of our work is not sufficiently known.
In this respect, Senator Miville-Dechêne, your record will undoubtedly be a valuable asset to the Senate.
On behalf of all members of the Independent Senators Group, welcome. I know you will make a valuable contribution to the Senate.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Hon. Joseph A. Day (Leader of the Senate Liberals): Colleagues, welcome home.
Honourable colleagues, after what I hope was a restful summer, here we are with a new senator among us. On behalf of the independent Liberal senators, I welcome Senator Julie Miville-Dechêne, who represents the senatorial division of Inkerman, Quebec.
As other senators have mentioned, Senator Miville-Dechêne began her career in journalism, a career that would take her across Canada and the United States for 25 years. She then became the first woman ombudsman of Radio-Canada before being appointed chair of the Quebec government’s Conseil du statut de la femme.
In 2016, she served as the Quebec representative in the Permanent Delegation of Canada to UNESCO and the Quebec government envoy for human rights and freedoms.
Over the weekend, the Canadian Press published an interview with the new senator, which I had the occasion to review, in which she outlined her priorities here in the Senate. Given her past work, it should surprise no one that the issues she identified directly affect women. This is a reflection of the time she has spent advocating for women both here and around the world.
Senator Miville-Dechêne achieved much in her previous roles, and I have no doubt that she will push forward with the same diligence and passion as she embarks on the next stage of her professional life here in the Senate.
Senator Miville-Dechêne, you are surrounded by senators who work hard on behalf of Canadians from coast to coast to coast and beyond. We strive to deliver the best possible results for our provinces and our country, as well as for this institution, considering the role it plays in the Parliament of Canada.
Once again, the Independent Senate Liberals welcome you to the Senate and wish you the best of luck in your duties. My colleagues and I look forward to working with you.
The Late Paul Gérin-Lajoie and Lise Payette
Hon. Diane Bellemare (Legislative Deputy to the Government Representative in the Senate): Honourable senators, I rise today to pay tribute to two people we lost in the past few weeks who left a lasting mark on Quebec. Those two people are Paul Gérin-Lajoie and Lise Payette.
Paul Gérin-Lajoie passed away on June 25 at the age of 98. A lawyer by training who also held a doctorate in constitutional law, Paul Gérin-Lajoie spent much of his career in the public service and in politics, taking on various roles in the Quebec government. Quebec will remember him as one of the visionaries and principal architects behind the creation of a more open, accessible, secular and government-led education system. He was also Quebec’s first Minister of Education. In addition, he served as deputy premier and Minister of Youth during the Quiet Revolution. Those are the roles for which I wish to commemorate him today.
He helped make higher education more accessible to young working-class and middle-class Quebecers. It is largely thanks to this visionary figure that I myself was able to go to university. He paved the way to education for thousands of young people like me who could not otherwise have afforded to go to university.
Lise Payette passed away on September 5 in Montreal at the age of 87. She left her mark on many areas of Quebec society after the Quiet Revolution. She was sometimes controversial, and as a feminist, politician and media personality she advanced the cause of women through television and with her political ideas.
Her very popular television program “Appelez-moi Lise,” which aired in the 1970s, greatly helped broaden the horizons of an entire generation of both men and women. I am thinking of my father and grandfather, who faithfully watched her evening program and were influenced by her arguments. This program opened a dialogue between men and women and opened minds as well, thanks to Ms. Payette’s sense of humour and lighthearted tone.
When she entered politics, she was able, among other things, to help create no-fault Quebec auto insurance to compensate people involved in accidents. She was also the first Minister for the Status of Women.
I wish to express my condolences to the family of Paul Gérin-Lajoie and Lise Payette.
The Tragic Events in Fredericton, New Brunswick
Hon. Percy Mockler: Honourable senators, it is with great sadness that I rise today.
I want to take a moment this afternoon to pay tribute to all those involved in the tragic events that unfolded in Fredericton, New Brunswick, on August 10, 2018.
On that day, this entire community, a province, a country, was shocked at the news of the shooting in Fredericton that left four people dead, including two police officers. Canadians stood strong with the people of Fredericton affected by this tragedy.
I want to recognize the leadership of Fredericton Chief of Police Leanne Fitch and Mayor Mike O’Brien, who stood strong and supported all of those affected by this barbaric action. They demonstrated great leadership during this difficult time.
On behalf of all honourable senators, today I want to express our deepest condolences to the families and friends of the victims and to the colleagues of the officers who were killed in the line of duty while protecting the people of Fredericton.
I want to pay tribute, honourable senators, to our fallen heroes. We must not forget the sacrifice of our men and women in uniform who day after day put their lives on the line to keep us all safe.
Today, I would also like to express my most sincere condolences to the families and friends of the victims and the colleagues of the officers who were brutally murdered in the line of duty.
I wish to pay tribute to Mr. Donnie Robichaud and Ms. Bobbie Lee Wright, who are also victims of this terrible tragedy, which is a senseless and unfathomable act.
Honourable senators, thousands of heavy hearts participated at the regimental funeral on August 18 in Fredericton to celebrate the lives of the fallen members. My colleague Senator Richards and I attended the ceremony to support the community and families and friends of Constable Sara Burns and Constable Robb Costello. We were touched by the thousands of members of law enforcement across North America and first responders from across Canada who attended the funeral.
Honourable senators, thousands of citizens from Fredericton and the neighbourhood communities of Fredericton stood shoulder to shoulder on the streets to express their compassion and solidarity.
The people of Fredericton and the surrounding communities stood in solidarity as the funeral procession passed, in a show of compassion and support for members of law enforcement.
Honourable senators, we were all profoundly affected by what happened on August 10. No doubt the lives of family and friends have changed forever. For that reason, honourable colleagues, we must remember them and their families.
Visitors in the Gallery
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I wish to draw your attention to the presence in the gallery of Sonja Lebreton, Noah Lebreton and Samuel Lebreton. They are the guests of the Honourable Senator Hartling.
On behalf of all honourable senators, I welcome you to the Senate of Canada.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Youth Mental Health
Hon. Nancy J. Hartling: Welcome back, Your Honour and dear colleagues.
Coming back to this place reminds me of returning to school after the summer break. It made me focus my attention on the many youth in Canada who are experiencing mental health issues. This summer, I chatted with people in our community about this topic and the great need to ensure that youth and their parents have access to support and resources. One of my visits was to the Atlantic Wellness Community Center located in my home town of Moncton, New Brunswick.
Director Andrew LeBlanc and counsellor Kelli Etheridge shared with me their incredible work for our youth who experience mental health issues. Mental health is one of the greatest challenges a person may experience and it’s particularly true for youth. One in five people in Canada experience mental health issues, and 70 per cent of adults living with mental health problems had symptoms during their youth.
Suicide is among the leading causes of death for young people between ages 15 and 24. This is shocking and might be preventable with resources such as the Atlantic Wellness Community Center.
The non-profit agency provides professional one-on-one counselling for youth in southeastern New Brunswick free of charge, supporting youth from the ages of 12 to 21 who need counselling or other group support. It also provides services for their parents. Since 2012, the centre has served 1,100 youth, 90 per cent of whom reported doing better after services.
In New Brunswick, as elsewhere, the public health system is able to fund only a limited number of therapy sessions, after which time a person must pay out of pocket. I wonder how many families are able to afford that.
It is crucial to offer a follow-up to a person seeking mental health services; the fewer the gaps, the fewer the opportunities for a person to fall through the cracks.
In the spring, I met with a group of brilliant youth here during the Senate’s Forum for Young Canadians. They were telling me about how few resources are available to them and how professional mental health services in schools are totally inadequate. One youth spoke about the importance of having walk-in clinics for mental health services.
As we begin this session, let us be mindful of the mental health challenges of all Canadians, but especially those of our youth. Many of us know someone in our families, our circles or our communities who is struggling. I strongly believe that we need to be compassionate, but we also need to ensure that all communities across this country have the resources they need.
I applaud the work of groups like the Atlantic Wellness Community Centre and others who work tirelessly on mental health. Thank you.
Visitor in the Gallery
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I wish to draw your attention to the presence in the gallery of Mrs. Zenobia Jaffer. She is the guest of the Honourable Senator Jaffer.
On behalf of all honourable senators, I welcome you to the Senate of Canada.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
The Late Aneez Sherali Bandali Jaffer
Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, when the Senate rose in June, I was looking forward to what the summer would bring, an opportunity to spend time with my constituents in British Columbia, time with the navy, my nephew’s wedding, a family reunion and quality time with my grandchildren.
I quickly learned that the Creator had a different plan for me.
Early in the summer, I was diagnosed with cancer. While this news shook me and my family to the core, I remain confident that together we will persevere.
Shortly after my diagnosis, my younger brother Aneez travelled to Vancouver to celebrate his son’s marriage. Being the only boy in a house full of strong and opinionated women wasn’t easy, but Aneez was kind and patient and very generous with all, especially the needy.
My brother said to me, “You’re not going anywhere. You can’t leave me behind.” And then what does he do? He goes and leaves me.
Soon after our conversation, my brother Aneez unexpectedly passed away in his sleep, leaving behind his loving and supportive wife, Naz, his always loving and supportive children, Alicia, Azhar and Kanu, and our entire family, who miss him more each day.
While this summer tested my strength both physically and emotionally, it also forced me to relearn four very important lessons.
Lesson 1: You, honourable senators, staff of the Senate, administration and security, whom I have the privilege of working with, are more than just my colleagues—you are my family. Thank you for your kindness, support and prayers, Speaker Furey’s constant phone calls, the support of my leaders, Senators Day, Mercer and Downe, and Senator Harder’s and Senator’s Woo’s support. Thank you.
Senator Smith, when I saw your tweet, which said, “Sending prayers and best wishes from your Senate family,” I felt blessed. I truly feel part of this great Senate family.
Lesson 2: I am blessed to have a remarkable team whose loyalty knows no bounds. Thank you to Chris and Donna Shingera, Gavin Jeffray, Seema Rampersad, Melina Bouchard, Safiya Dossa and Alex Mendes for being in my corner.
Lesson 3: True friends are always there when you need them. When people learned about my diagnosis, friends I had not spoken to since I became a refugee reached out to me, offering their love, support and prayers and even offering to come and spend time with me to look after me.
Lesson 4: Never take your family for granted. Cherish every minute, every laugh and every tear. Thank you to my husband’s amazing family, Shenin Mohamed, my sisters Zenobia, Nimet, Bergees and Umeshaffi, and my brothers-in-law Karim, Adil and Farouk, and my nieces and nephews for rallying around me.
My sister Zenobia is here today to support me. She is spending the month with me so that I can be in the Senate.
Honourable senators, I owe my greatest debt of gratitude to my husband, Nuralla, my children, Shaleena, Azool and Farzana, and my grandchildren, Ayaan and Almeera. Thank you for working so hard to make my life comfortable. You all give me a purpose.
Senators, I look forward to working with you all for a very long time. I am not going anywhere.
The Hon. Mary Coyle: Honourable colleagues, I hope you all had a good summer.
I have the honour of being a member of the Senate Special Committee on the Arctic, providing input on Canada’s new Arctic Policy Framework.
Senator Patterson, our chair and Arctic legend, and our deputy chair, Senator Bovey, recently led our group, including Senators Eaton, Pate, Oh and Day, all the way from Kuujjuaq, home of our former colleague Charlie Watt, across Canada’s Arctic region to Iqaluit, Baker Lake — near the geographic centre of Canada — an overnight in Agnico Eagle’s Meadowbank gold mine to the newly minted Canadian High Arctic Research Station in Cambridge Bay, westward to Yellowknife, Inuvik, located on the Mackenzie Delta, the second-largest delta in North America after the Mississippi, and finally to the Yukon Territory, where the premier, Sandy Silver, comes from my home town of Antigonish.
Across this vast territory, the Inuit, First Nations and Metis communities are the original peoples. The Inuit lands of Nunatsiavut, Nunavik, Nunavut and of the Inuvialuit comprise 40 per cent of Canada’s vast land mass, not to mention their seas and ice.
So what did we hear from the people we met? I quote these people:
“It is important to see the Arctic framework in a nation-building context.”
“Canada needs to be a full player in the North.”
“Climate change is huge, blow your mind huge.”
“My grandmother was on the land; my parents went to residential school — this has caused a rapid loss and shift in identity.”
“Our biggest asset is our youth.”
“There are lots of lost kids in this small community — kids need to be able to see their possibilities.”
“We don’t want to lose our young people.
“Education is critical. We need to bring up the academic standard while restoring pride and knowledge of Inuit identity, thought, culture and language.”
“We need to find creative ways to make education accessible.”
“Our strength is our Inuit culture. Our people have a legacy of resilience in this harsh environment. We need to reinforce that.”
“Language is the carrier of our culture.”
“We have minerals in the North which are critical for the green tech future.”
“Employed people in charge of their own destiny are healthy people.”
“We’re worried about the growing inequality between the have and have-nots in our territory.”
“Housing is one of the main reasons people leave and don’t return.”
“I want you to understand how important a home is.”
“We need infrastructure with redundancy built in. We need housing, ports, roads, energy, the Internet, airports.”
“We are concerned about food insecurity and for energy insecurity.”
“Innovation is needed in every sector.”
“Self-determination and community-based decision-making is key.”
“Reconciliation needs to be a prominent and central goal of the Arctic and northern policy framework. We need to hold the pen and co-write it with Canada.”
And finally, I end with the mantra we heard repeatedly: “In the North, for the North, by the North.”
Parliamentary Budget Officer
Extended April 2018 Economic and Fiscal Outlook— 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 Extended April 2018 Economic and Fiscal Outlook, pursuant to the Parliament of Canada Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. P-1, sbs. 79.2(2).
PBO’s Approach to Measuring Potential GDP— 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 PBO’s Approach to Measuring Potential GDP, pursuant to the Parliament of Canada Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. P-1, sbs. 79.2(2).
Status Report on Phase 1 of the Investing in Canada Plan—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 Status Report on Phase 1 of the Investing in Canada Plan, pursuant to the Parliament of Canada Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. P-1, sbs. 79.2(2).
2017-18 Annual Reports Tabled
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the annual reports of the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2018, pursuant to the Access to Information Act and to the Privacy Act, R.S.C. 1985,c. A-1 and P-21,sbs. 72.
Study on Issues Relating to Social Affairs, Science and Technology Generally
Twenty-Sixth Report of Social Affairs, Science and Technology Committee Deposited with Clerk during Adjournment of the Senate
Hon. Art Eggleton: Honourable senators, I have the honour to inform the Senate that pursuant to the orders adopted by the Senate on December 14, 2017, and June 14, 2018, the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology deposited with the Clerk of the Senate on June 27, 2018, its twenty-sixth report (interim) entitled Breaking Down Barriers: A critical analysis of the Disability Tax Credit and Registered Disability Savings Plan.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this report be taken into consideration?
(On motion of Senator Eggleton, report placed on the Orders of the Day for consideration at the next sitting of the Senate.)
Twenty-Seventh Report of Social Affairs, Science and Technology Committee Deposited with Clerk during Adjournment of the Senate
Hon. Art Eggleton: Honourable senators, I have the honour to inform the Senate that pursuant to the orders adopted by the Senate on December 14, 2017, and June 14, 2018, the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology deposited with the Clerk of the Senate on July 19, 2018, its twenty-seventh report (interim) entitled The Shame is Ours - Forced Adoptions of the Babies of Unmarried Mothers in Post-war Canada.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this report be taken into consideration?
(On motion of Senator Eggleton, report placed on the Orders of the Day for consideration at the next sitting of the Senate.)
Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration
Twenty-ninth Report of Committee Presented
Hon. Larry W. Campbell, Chair of the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration, presented the following report:
Tuesday, September 18, 2018
The Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration has the honour to present its
Your committee has the mandate to consider all matters of a financial or administrative nature relating to the internal management of the Senate. In fulfilling its mandate, your committee conducts the majority of its business in public and it now televises its meetings. Your committee is required, from time to time, to deal with sensitive matters. On those issues, it meets in camera.
According to rule 12-16(1) of the Rules of the Senate, all committees of the Senate are authorized to discuss items in camera which deal with one of the following:
(a)wages, salaries and other employee benefits;
(b)contracts and contract negotiations;
(c)labour relations and personnel matters; and
(d)a draft agenda or draft report.
This rule does not explicitly outline all situations which are applicable to the proceedings of the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration, such as security matters and litigation.
Your committee recommends that the Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament examine the possibility of amending the Rules of the Senate to expressly give the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration the necessary discretion to meet in camera when required. Any proposed amendment should balance the occasional need to conduct certain proceedings in private with the need to respect the highest standards of openness, accountability, and transparency.
LARRY W. CAMPBELL
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this report be taken into consideration?
(On motion of Senator Campbell, report placed on the Orders of the Day for consideration at the next sitting of the Senate.)
Thirtieth Report of Committee Tabled
Hon. Larry W. Campbell: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the thirtieth report (interim) of the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration entitled Diversity in the Senate: From Aspiration to Action.
Wrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels Bill
The Hon. the Speaker: informed the Senate that a message had been received from the House of Commons with Bill C-64, An Act respecting wrecks, abandoned, dilapidated or hazardous vessels and salvage operations.
(Bill read first time.)
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be read the second time?
(On motion of Senator Harder, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for second reading two days hence.)
Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act
Bill to Amend—First Reading
Hon. Art Eggleton introduced Bill S-253, An Act to amend the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act and other Acts and Regulations (pension plans).
(Bill read first time.)
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be read the second time?
(On motion of Senator Eggleton, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for second reading two days hence.)
Banking, Trade and Commerce
Notice of Motion to Authorize Committee to Extend Date of Final Report on Study of New and Emerging Issues for Canadian Importers and Exporters with Respect to Competitiveness of Canadian Businesses in North American and Global Markets
Hon. Douglas Black: Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:
That, notwithstanding the order of the Senate adopted on January 30, 2018, the date for the final report of the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce in relation to its study on new and emerging issues for Canadian importers and exporters with respect to the competitiveness of Canadian businesses in North American and global markets be extended from September 28, 2018 to November 30, 2018.
Notice of Motion to Authorize Committee to Study International and National Human Rights Obligations and Refer Papers and Evidence since Beginning of First Session of Forty-second Parliament
Hon. Wanda Elaine Thomas Bernard: Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:
That the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights be authorized to examine and monitor issues relating to human rights and, inter alia, to review the machinery of government dealing with Canada’s international and national human rights obligations;
That the papers and evidence received and taken and work accomplished by the committee on this subject since the beginning of the First Session of the Forty-second Parliament be referred to the committee; and
That the committee submit its final report to the Senate no later than September 30, 2019.
Notice of Motion to Urge the Government to Address the Issue of the Selling of False Membership Cards
Hon. Patrick Brazeau: Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:
That the Senate urge the Government of Canada and the RCMP to address the issue of fraudulent “native” individuals and organizations selling fraudulent membership or status cards, a practice that is detrimental to the Indigenous peoples of Canada.
Girl Guides of Canada
Private Bill—Petition Tabled
Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table a petition from the Girl Guides of Canada, of the City of Toronto, in the Province of Ontario; praying for the passage of a private Act to replace its Act of incorporation with a new Act that continues the corporation and makes changes relating to its administration.
Trans Mountain Pipeline
Hon. Larry W. Smith (Leader of the Opposition): My question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate.
In May, when Minister Morneau announced the government’s purchase of the Trans Mountain pipeline from Kinder Morgan with $4.5 billion of taxpayers’ money, he said this would “secure the timely completion of the Trans Mountain Expansion Project,” not just the pipeline built in 1953 but the new expanded pipeline.
Instead, the project is at a standstill. Almost three weeks have passed since the Federal Court of Appeal overturned the approval of the Trans Mountain expansion. The government has yet to show Canadians a viable plan to get the pipeline built. The government said repeatedly it had done its due diligence on Trans Mountain. If so, could the government leader please tell us why the government didn’t consider the impact of a negative Federal Court ruling? Why can’t the government tell taxpayers and pipeline workers how it will move forward on this project?
Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I welcome the senator back for Question Period, as well as all of the work we do here together.
Let me repeat — as I have said earlier and as the government, through its lead spokespersons, has over the summer — that the Trans Mountain expansion project is an important investment in Canada’s future, one to which the government is deeply committed.
Since the court ruling especially, the government has been reviewing not only the court’s decision to ensure the best way forward, but also to ensure that we meet the high standards that Canadians expect with respect to this project and other environmental projects. The court, as the senator is referencing in his question, has been very clear that we must move forward promptly without unnecessary delay, and that’s exactly what the government intends to do in the very near future. I, and all senators, will be anxious to learn how this project will proceed in light of the court decision.
Senator Smith: I have a supplementary question. The government’s failure on the Trans Mountain project reflects its mismanagement of our energy sector. Kinder Morgan is reportedly looking to get out of Canada completely. The President of Suncor announced last week that it will not move forward with expanding oil production at existing facilities unless there is more clarity on the pipelines. There are no private sector pipeline development proposals on the table. The oil tanker ban, the carbon tax and the changes contained in Bill C-69 also do nothing to support this industry, investment or jobs.
Could our leader tell us why the federal government is intent on bringing forward policies that hurt our energy sector and Canada’s oil and gas workers?
Senator Harder: Again, I thank the honourable senator for his question. Let me answer it in two parts.
The senator will know that in many respects, the North American energy market has adjusted with the fracking and the expansion of the crude market in the United States, which is why it is important for Canada to diversify its marketplace. Senators, 99 per cent of our energy is exported to the United States, and we need to ensure that we have pipelines and capacity to achieve markets outside of North America, as important as those are.
The senator then references Bill C-69. I would point out that not only will we be debating this bill this afternoon under the competent sponsorship of my colleague Senator Mitchell, but I would reference the point the Prime Minister made yesterday with respect to criticism of BillC-69, which has centred on environmental sciences, additional approval stages, as well as thorough and clear consultation with Indigenous peoples, which is embedded in this legislation. These are the very issues that the Federal Court of Appeal highlighted as necessary when moving forward with major resource projects. That is exactly what Bill C-69 seeks to remedy while providing clarity to industry and investors.
Indeed, I was pleased to read, as I’m sure all senators were, the support for Bill C-69 achieved this morning in the statement of Pierre Gratton, President and CEO of the Mining Association of Canada. He said:
. . . if well implemented, Bill C-69 holds the promise of improving upon predecessor legislation for most mines and the status quo – and the status quo is not sustainable for Canada.
Hon. Elizabeth Marshall: Honourable senators, my question is also for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. It’s on the Kinder Morgan pipeline. I wanted to ask a question about the government’s agreement to purchase the pipeline, which closed on August 31. Under the agreement, the purchase price was $4.5 billion, plus or minus a number of adjustments. Could you tell us what those adjustments were, the amounts, and also the final price that was paid by the Government of Canada?
Senator Harder: I thank the honourable senator for her question. I would be happy to take that on notice. The ministers concerned have indicated their expectation of making public those numbers in the future.
Senator Marshall: I have a supplementary question. It relates to an issue I asked you about in June. We also asked the Minister of Finance when he attended the Senate Finance Committee meeting. He told us that the construction of the pipeline would continue over the summer from June 1 until the closing date, which turned out to be August 31. The government guaranteed the financing for the summer through a loan guarantee from the Export Development Corporation, and that was the question I asked you about in June.
Can you tell us the cost of the pipeline to Canadian taxpayers from June 1 to August 31? That number should be known.
Senator Harder: I will endeavour to seek that number for the honourable senator.
Foreign Affairs and International Trade
Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: My question is to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Leader, the people of Venezuela need our help more than ever. Their economy is in shambles with the annual inflation rate now at 83,000 per cent. To put this in perspective, this means that Venezuelans are no longer able to afford even the most basic needs. Shelves in supermarkets are bare, water is scarce and families never know whether or not they will have power for the day.
Venezuelans are forced to flee the country because their hospitals no longer have medicine, and pregnant women must cross the border to get life-saving vaccines for their future babies.
Leader, this is a humanitarian crisis and I am proud to see that Canada is stepping up to help with the $5.3 million that Minister Freeland promised in May. However, little has been announced since that promise was made. Leader, can you provide us with an update on the funding of the humanitarian relief efforts?
Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I thank the honourable senator for her question, and this is indeed an evolving situation for which I’m sure there will be future announcements as well. Let me, first of all, state the strong action the Government of Canada has taken with respect to sanctions against members of the Maduro government.
Colleagues will know that new sanctions on 14 key figures of that regime have been taken by the government, and we have downgraded our diplomatic status as a reflection of the concerns we have with the direction of the government. As a government, we’re clearly concerned about the worsening political and economic situation. The government is working very closely with the UN Refugee Agency, as well as the Canadian private sponsors to identify the most vulnerable persons in the world for resettlement. Some of them, as the senator suggested, have now already left Venezuela. Ecuador is taking a large number of them, I should point out.
The government resettles those who are referred to them by the UNHCR or those sponsored through private sponsorships. I would be happy to report precise numbers at a future date. That, too, is an evolving point of work.
Since 2017, Canada has provided over $2.2 million in humanitarian assistance directly to help the most concerned and vulnerable populations. This includes support for the UN World Food Programme and Action Against Hunger, and to the Colombian Red Cross to provide basic services protection, gender and inclusion activities to affected populations in Columbia where there is also a large host group.
Senator Jaffer: Leader, thank you very much for your extensive answer. I appreciate it.
Leader, if anybody knows this, you do. On the TV, I have never seen — and I have been a refugee myself and been involved in refugee crisis — so many women and babies crossing the border. That just breaks your heart.
Leader, you were involved in the Women at Risk program. Is our government going to take the step of bringing those women and babies to our country, and under the Women at Risk program?
Senator Harder: Again, I will inquire specifically, but I want to assure the senator that programs such as Women at Risk are exactly the programs that are targeted in situations like this because of the vulnerable community and groups that are identified, and as a government we work very closely with the UNHCR to ensure we are providing support to those of this group who are most vulnerable.
Trans Mountain Pipeline
Hon. David Tkachuk: My question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate and it’s also on Trans Mountain.
This summer, documents filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission by Kinder Morgan revealed that the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project could cost Canadian taxpayers up to $1.9 billion more than originally estimated. The total construction cost is now thought to be $9.3 billion, and this amount is in addition to the $4.5 billion in taxpayers’ money that this government committed back in May to purchase the existing 65-year-old pipeline.
Does the Government of Canada agree with Kinder Morgan’s assessment, and does the Government of Canada acknowledge that the construction cost is now $9.3 billion, or is it more?
Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): Again, I thank the honourable senator for his question. I will leave it to the ministers concerned to report as they have indicated they would in the very near future on the details of the funding. Let me simply reinforce, though, the commitment of this government to do what is necessary to build this pipeline.
Senator Tkachuk: I have a hard time understanding why the government has been unable or unwilling. The deal is done. Why are the Canadian people not being given the information and why are you not prepared to give the information in the Senate on something that happened some time ago?
Did the government do a cost analysis before purchasing Trans Mountain? If so, did it have outside advisers assisting them in this? And if so, who were they and could it be tabled here in the Senate Chamber?
Senator Harder: Again, I would urge the senator to reflect on where we would be had the government not intervened and not decided to do what Canada must do in a situation like this, and that is ensuring the pipeline gets built.
Hon. Richard Neufeld: My question for the government leader is also on the Trans Mountain pipeline project. Back in April, the Prime Minister told Premiers Notley and Horgan and, indeed, all Canadians that the federal government was pursuing legislative options to assert and reinforce the Government of Canada’s jurisdiction in this matter. Three weeks later, Minister Carr said legislation was just one of the options under consideration.
We all know what happened next: There was nothing. The government failed to bring forward a bill. Last week, speaking about Trans Mountain, the Prime Minister said he wasn’t going to use legislative “tricks.”
Why does the Prime Minister now view legislation on Trans Mountain as a trick when he promised it in the first place?
Senator Harder: I thank the honourable senator for his question and ongoing interest in this subject.
Let me reiterate that the Government of Canada at the most senior levels is very carefully calibrating the response of the Government of Canada to the court decision and including, in that reassessment of the strategy going forward, the obligations that it has already made and is doing everything to ensure that this pipeline gets built.
The Prime Minister, in the press conference and availability to which the honourable senator referred, spoke to coming forward in the very near future with the ministers responsible to outline how the Government of Canada will proceed. Let’s wait for them.
Senator Neufeld: Well, the Senate actually provided the government with a path, and that path was Bill S-245. That was brought forward in the Senate, and right now it sits in the House of Commons and has been there since May. It was brought forward by Senator Black and had support in the Senate when we finished debating that bill. There is an easy avenue to move forward in that bill and ensure that Trans Mountain gets built. Why will the government not deal with that bill?
Senator Harder: Again, the senator will know that that is a private member’s bill in the other place, and it will be dealt with in the other place as that business is dealt with.
With respect to the government’s actions, the government has indicated that it will be coming forward very shortly with a comprehensive approach going forward. Again, have patience.
Hon. Jean-Guy Dagenais: My question is for the Government Representative in the Senate and concerns the famous Trans Mountain file. It follows up on a question I asked earlier this year. In May, when the government revealed that it intended to spend thousands of taxpayer dollars to nationalize this pipeline, it failed to tell Canadians what its crisis management plan would be to deal with protesters along the route.
We all know that protests sometimes turn violent or hold part of the population hostage. In fact, many RCMP officers were injured during the protests at the Kinder Morgan site in March, including one officer who was kicked in the head.
Senator Harder, we all support the right to protest peacefully. However, as the owner of the pipeline, what does the government plan on doing if the protests become violent? What will it do if police officers are confronted by a blockade of Indigenous groups who, like many Canadians, are shocked by your Prime Minister’s position on the Trans Mountain file?
Senator Harder: I thank the honourable senator for his question. As his question references, we all agree with the orderly and peaceful protest and the right to do so by all individuals who might have a point of view on this project or others.
What the government has spoken with concern about is the violent protest that has from time to time affected this project and others. What the government is determined to do in its way forward, while meeting the court guidance and, indeed, court decision, is to ensure that the pipeline gets built with the appropriate protections for the construction workers so that the building can proceed.
Hon. Yonah Martin (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): I, too, have a question for the Leader of the Government on the Trans Mountain issue.
For me it’s very personal and front and centre. I live in Burnaby South, right on the front line, and it has been very frustrating listening to the debate and the growing tension because of the lack of presence of the government at a time when it was needed, right at the start of this issue, rather than letting it get to where it is.
As we’re discussing the current state of this project, I think it’s important to remember not just all of the stakeholders who have been named but especially the workers in our country, not just in B.C. and Alberta but across the country, who are worried about their future now that the Trans Mountain expansion project has come to a halt.
Thousands of middle-class Canadians in Alberta and my home province of B.C. were counting on these good, well-paying jobs to support their families. They have been patiently waiting almost three weeks for the government to let them know how it intends to respond to the Federal Court of Appeal ruling.
I know there have been many questions, senator, but I’m wondering what you have to say to these energy workers who are counting on the Trans Mountain expansion moving forward, and what is the government doing to give certainty to all of the workers about their jobs?
Senator Harder: I thank the honourable senator for her question and for her concern for the workers involved. I think we all share that concern.
What I would say, first of all, is it is a welcome development that the Government of Canada has taken the action that it has to take over the project in order to ensure the project gets built.
Yes, the court ruling has put a pause in the go-forward process to give the government time to respond, and that response is being developed and will be announced shortly. But we would be in a much more difficult situation, frankly, if the government hadn’t taken the action it has, and I would hope that the honourable senator would agree that was absolutely the right thing to do.
Senator Martin: Well, I respectfully disagree that the government’s intervention very late in the process has helped the situation. In fact, I think the government should have lived up to the fiduciary duties of what the federal government needs to do in a situation where two provinces are involved and not leave it up to the premiers to do what they did. I think we are waiting and we are in this mess because of the lack of federal leadership right from the beginning.
You say it will be announced shortly, but can you give us greater certainty in terms of how soon we can expect to hear from the federal government on this issue?
Senator Harder: In the shortly part of soon.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Impact Assessment Bill Canadian Energy Regulator Bill Navigation Protection Act
Bill to Amend—Second Reading— Debate Adjourned
Hon. Grant Mitchell moved second reading of Bill C-69, An Act to enact the Impact Assessment Act and the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, to amend the Navigation Protection Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts.
He said: Colleagues, I am pleased to speak today on Bill C-69, officially entitled An Act to enact the Impact Assessment Act and the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, to amend the Navigation Protection Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts.
Bill C-69 arrives at a pivotal moment in our history, when climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our generation, when marrying the strength of our economy with the protection of our environment is not an option; it is an imperative.
With that in mind, it is important to appreciate the magnitude of the contribution of our natural resources sector to Canadians’ economic well-being. This sector accounted for 17 per cent of Canada’s GDP and provided over 1.8 million jobs to Canadians in 2017.
It is equally important that we acknowledge the contribution that citizens of my province, Alberta, make to Canadians’ well-being through their resource development in Alberta. Albertans’ hard work, ingenuity, innovation and investment create economic prosperity that significantly benefits people across this country.
At the same time, most Canadians, including Albertans, are deeply concerned with environmental issues, I expect in particular with climate change. Compounding or competing with that concern is the fear that fixing environmental issues may threaten jobs, economic growth or, to put it another way, our ability to feed our families.
Bill C-69 runs head on into this trade-off. Efficiency, shorter time limits and certainty in project reviews are critical for our resource companies to be successful and for investors to be confident in highly competitive resource and capital markets.
On the other hand, limiting the scope of reviews, restricting public consultation and failing to honour Indigenous rights and partnerships can result in grievous environmental and social mistakes that rattle public confidence.
Concern with resource project review is not particularly new. The previous government, for example, introduced the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act of 2012 in an attempt to streamline, they would say, the review process. That act, which is referred to as CEAA 2012, was based upon the hypothesis that weakening Canada’s review processes would redress concerns about efficiency, timeliness and, therefore, competitiveness.
But — and this is an important “but” — it did not solve the problem of advancing resource projects. In particular, the priority target of getting approval for pipelines to tidewater eluded business and authorities under this review regime. It did not create the kind of certainty hoped for by industry, and it built neither the public trust nor the courts’ conviction that the reviews were adequate.
Bill C-69 is based upon an extensive, transparent, 14-month consultation process designed to capture the diverse views of Canadians, including Indigenous peoples, industry, provinces and territories and the general public. This involved two expert panel reviews, two parliamentary standing committee reviews, hundreds of meetings and written submissions and thousands of online comments.
The bill is premised upon the idea that competitiveness and building trust in project review processes are not mutually exclusive.
It aims to ensure that the impacts of resource projects are being reviewed rigorously so as to build public and Indigenous peoples’ trust and to meet the exacting interpretations of the courts, and it will implement provisions to sustain and enhance industry’s competitiveness and investor confidence.
Bill C-69 contains three main parts. Part 1 enacts the Impact Assessment Act, which will replace the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012, and it creates the Impact Assessment Agency, which I will refer to as IAA, which will replace the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency.
It also specifies and reduces timelines, enhances consultation and cooperation among various jurisdictions, and provides for a more comprehensive scope and public participation.
Part 2 creates the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, repeals the National Energy Board Act and replaces the National Energy Board with the Canadian Energy Regulator, or CER. It invokes important governance improvements and extends the purview of the CER to offshore renewable energy projects.
And finally, Part 3 amends key elements of the Navigation Protection Act and renames it the Canadian Navigable Waters Act. The emphasis here is upon keeping navigable waters navigable for the future, regardless of their use today.
The key elements of Bill C-69 can be organized into two categories: provisions that build public trust by strengthening the reviews of resource projects and provisions that address competitiveness.
To begin, the bill strengthens project review processes with a range of provisions; first, those that affect Indigenous peoples. The bill incorporates a strong commitment to advancing reconciliation with Indigenous peoples in the development of projects. It lays the framework for an inclusive relationship based upon rights, respect, cooperation and partnership. The bill clearly and repeatedly states a commitment to respect Indigenous rights.
The legislation specifically requires that impacts on Indigenous communities be assessed. It ensures that Indigenous knowledge be formally regarded and integrated into review processes. Assessment reports will have to describe how this knowledge was taken into account. Indigenous peoples will be guaranteed positions on review and advisory bodies. It will be mandatory to provide funding to support Indigenous participation in public hearings and in capacity building to support effective participation in project reviews.
Furthermore, Indigenous jurisdiction will have equivalent status in the creation of joint and integrated panels that will include federal and/or provincial, territorial and Indigenous authorities.
Second, in building public trust in review processes, the scope of assessments will be broadened. Bill C-69 establishes that reviews must consider more than specific environmental impacts. This was a key finding of the expert review panel on environmental assessments.
Reviews, to be credible in today’s context, must consider climate implications. They must also consider the social, economic, health and gender impacts and opportunities of resource projects. Broadening the scope of impact assessments to include gender-based analysis will help to understand better the socio-economic and health impacts of projects on communities.
Yes, this means that a broader range of negative impacts may become apparent, but it also means that consideration of positive impacts will now be entrenched in the review and reporting process for clear public understanding. This is an important distinction and significant improvement on current practice. It also provides the minister with a broader base of information with which to weigh the overall public good of resource projects against adverse impacts while making the decision on given projects.
Third, in regard to public consultation, perhaps most critical to the credibility of project reviews is that public input be comprehensive. Bill C-69 removes the limits on participation in public consultation and requires funding to support it. Under the new Canadian Energy Regulator, the standing test that required Canadians to seek formal approval to participate in regulatory hearings, will be removed. The impact of expanded public participation on timeliness will be governed by the implementation and management of clear, legislated timelines.
Fourth, an emphasis on science: Interestingly, both industry and non-industry participants in the pre-Bill C-69 consultation process emphasized the importance of science in driving assessment reviews and decision making. The bill explicitly mandates the consideration of scientific knowledge in the environmental and broader review impact process.
Transparency and accountability: Reasons for decisions made throughout an assessment process will be reported publicly. Scientific data, Indigenous knowledge and other information derived in the preplanning and assessment phases will be placed on a centralized, publicly accessible website.
Combined, this list of measures will strengthen the project review process and enhance its credibility. This is critical to building public trust in resource development. However, some would say that these provisions undermine industry’s competitiveness, fearing, in particular, potential delays, broadened scope, expanded public participation and reference to climate change impact. That brings me to the second category of provisions in Bill C-69, those that bear upon competitiveness.
First, timelines. Some in industry fear that Bill C-69 will create delays due to extended timelines, but, in fact, timelines for the assessment phase in all review categories will be reduced and, where there are none now, some new ones will be imposed.
Assessments of major projects done by the IAA alone will be reduced from 365 days to 300 days. That’s from one year, 12 months, to 10 months.
Assessments of major projects done by joint review panels or integrated review panels will be reduced from 720 days to 300 days. That’s from 24 months to 10 months.
There is an option to set the timeline up to a maxim of 600 days for these kinds of reviews for more complex projects, but the minister will be required to report publicly the reasons for such decisions.
Timelines for projects reviewed by life-cycle regulators such as the Canadian Energy Regulator and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission would be shortened from 450 to 300 days. That’s 30 per cent.
The minister will be required to decide on a project, and this has not been the case before, no later than 30 days after the impact assessment report is completed. In the cases requiring a cabinet decision, the deadline will be within 90 days. This corrects the current situation where there are no specific timelines or deadlines on project decisions by the minister or cabinet.
The minister will have authority to suspend timelines for short periods, but the management of timelines under the proposed legislation will be more controlled than under CEAA 2012. Extensions by the minister will be limited to 90 days.
Provisions in the new information requirements and time management regulations will govern rigorously when timelines can be suspended, and the minister will have to report publicly why a suspension of a timeline has been imposed. All of this adds up to better time management and significant time savings.
Concerns have been raised about the addition of a 180-day preplanning period, but I believe that this will, in fact, facilitate the timeliness of project reviews. Currently, much unofficial preplanning is already done by proponents in anticipation of a project application. The new process would recognize these efforts and formalize industry preplanning best practices. This will not necessarily be a net new time commitment.
This early planning phase will engage stakeholders, improve preparation for the assessment phase and clarify the government’s expectations of proponents in that phase. It will allow proponents to plan and adjust accordingly.
It will be the responsibility of the IAA to use the information gathered in this stage to provide the proponent a new tool, the Tailored Impact Statement Guideline document, with emphasis on “tailored.” This will set out the scope of the impact assessment phase. This has the potential to streamline the demands proponents will face in that phase.
Finally, the work done at this stage will identify any significant issues that could likely result in a project not being approved. This addresses an industry concern that, if a project is to be rejected, proponents should find out earlier rather than later before much more investment has been committed.
Second, Bill C-69 creates many efficiencies in the review process which will benefit business. Federal authorities with responsibility to lead major reviews will be reduced from three to one. A single authority, the IAA, will lead all major reviews. This will provide for better coordination, greater consistency in reviews and more efficient application of expertise. It will also ensure that reviews are rigorously managed within the new timelines. Bill C-69 embraces the one-project-one-review principle to reduce duplication and enhance efficiency. Under the current environmental assessment legislation, projects are sometimes required to undergo several assessments.
Mines are often subject to both a federal review and a separate provincial review. Under the new legislation, the IAA will work cooperatively with provinces, territories, Indigenous authorities and regulatory bodies to plan a single harmonized process. At the IAA’s disposal to do that will be joint panel possibilities, integrated panel possibilities and outright delegation of processes to other jurisdictions.
A further advantage to the industry in the proposed review process is that ministerial and cabinet decisions will be transparent. Decisions about project approvals will be based upon specified elements, including economic, health, cultural and social impacts and gender implications. These decisions and their reasons will be outlined in clear decision statements, with written rationales that will be made public. This represents an important improvement over the current system defined by CEAA 2012, where it is not always clear why decisions are made or what factors were considered.
The transition period: No starting over. No project already in the pipeline, if I can intend that pun, will be required to start over under the new rules, not the Trans Mountain pipeline, not any other project, unless the proponent requests it.
Certainty: Many of the initiatives I have just mentioned will enhance certainty. Timelines are legislated, specified and shorter. Decisions will be transparent. The range of possible impacts and, with that, the potential problems will be identified earlier. Targeted impact assessment guidelines will be provided to proponents. Single review authority under the IAA will provide consistency.
This set of measures will enhance competitiveness.
There are several other advances in this bill that do not fall neatly into the two categories I have just discussed, but I’d like to discuss them anyway.
Navigable waters: Navigable waters are vital to our economy. They are vital to our way of life, and we all know that they are part of who we are. Indigenous people have a particularly profound connection with them. We need to ensure the protection of our navigable waters.
Bill C-69 strengthens the protection of navigable waters. It amends the Canadian Navigable Waters Act to include, for the first time, a comprehensive definition of navigable water. This new definition strikes a balance. It is not so broad as to capture every ditch or irrigation canal that could float a canoe or, as our colleague Senator Neufeld would say, float your boat, nor is it so narrow as to exclude bodies of water that are important to Canadians now or will be in the future.
The amended Canadian Navigable Waters Act will restore protections to all navigable waters.
Second, I would like to address the creation of the Canadian Energy Regulator — the CER — to replace the National Energy Board. The NEB has served Canadians well for nearly six decades. However, the mandate, structure and role of the NEB have all remained relatively unchanged for those nearly six decades. It is, in fact, almost as old as I am. There are things that we can fix.
Building from the recommendations of the expert panel for modernizing the NEB, Bill C-69 will create a more modern governance structure for the new agency. The chief executive officer will be separated from the chair. The board of directors will provide the CER with strategic direction and, through the CEO, will oversee the management of the organization. That role will be separate from a newly created category of commissioners responsible for participating in the actual assessment processes. It separates the adjudication role, therefore, from the role of regulating operating projects.
The bill also accords the Canadian Energy Regulator new authority to regulate the construction and operation of offshore renewable energy projects. These resources represent untapped economic growth in jobs potential for our coastal communities, but no current federal regulator has the responsibility for these projects, and none has ever been done. Through Bill C-69, companies will have a clear regulatory path to undertake this kind of project.
Turning to sustainability, Bill C-69 reflects the concept of sustainability. This is evident in the broadening of assessment criteria beyond only environmental impacts, to include social, economic, Indigenous, health and gender impacts. Long-term strategic goals for Canada will certainly include traditional resource development, but they will also include diversification of our energy economy, diversification of our economy in general, protection of our environment, strengthening of our communities and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. This is what constitutes sustainability.
This is not a threat to economic or resource development. It is an essential element of a modern strategy of integrating and balancing the true range of forces, challenges and opportunities that Canadians face in developing our economy, country and society.
Bill C-69 has been forged in a difficult time for all of us concerned with the economic well-being of Canada, on the one hand, and with fears about environmental sustainability and climate change, on the other.
At times, the debate has been polarizing, some saying that the bill will render our resource industries uncompetitive, while others arguing that the pressures on the environment and the ever more apparent effects of climate change demand greater rigour in our reviews. Bill C-69 contributes strongly to bridging this gap. Public trust is essential to government initiatives in a democracy. If it is in doubt, it needs to be nurtured.
Bill C-69 will strengthen the review process. In addition, Indigenous rights will be respected, public participation in the hearing process will be enhanced, decisions will be transparent, information will be public, the scope of reviews will be broadened and reviews and decisions will be rooted in sustainability.
Canadians want a credible process that supports timely decisions based on sound evidence that ensures good projects go ahead. And it is not the threat to competitiveness that some would argue. Building public trust will enhance industry’s ability to sell these projects to Canadians. Timelines will, in fact, be shorter. Expectations will be made clear earlier. Duplication will be reduced. Coordination between and amongst jurisdictions will be improved and the concerns of courts will be addressed.
Strengthening the review process makes us more competitive, not less competitive. It also enhances sustainability. An economy, a society and a Canada prepared for the future demand both.
The Hon. the Speaker: Senator Mitchell, would you take a question?
Senator Mitchell: Yes, certainly.
Hon. Carolyn Stewart Olsen: Thank you, senator.
I have not reviewed the legislation, but you have made many interesting points that have raised a good number of questions for me. One of them being that I can’t quite comprehend the number of review panels and advisory boards and there seems to be a multitude of people now going to be involved in making these decisions. Then you go on to say a single regulator, yet that regulator is not the final say before the minister. How is that all integrated? How on earth can that integration happen within the new timelines?
Senator Mitchell: That is a very good question. And I will say that in the process of preparing for this responsibility of sponsoring the bill, I have spent a lot of time focusing on that.
I will say that it makes absolute sense in the way it has been structured and it is actually more streamlined than what we have now. I can address some of the highlights here, but I think it requires a greater detailed explanation than we could probably do in the time available and I will make an effort to get that to you. But let me point to some highlights at least and then I will be happy to hear follow-up questions.
Right now you have three separate authorities — independent authorities or groups of authorities — that review resource projects. You have the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency; you have the National Energy Board, together with offshore petroleum boards, and you have the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. They all have independent authority and they run separate assessments in their areas of jurisdiction, so you’ll have duplication of management and duplication of expertise. You’ll have some confusion about what is required in each case. And one thing that is a real problem is that you’ll often end up at the end of the assessment process with it being approved but the proponent not actually being aware of which licences and specific certificates they have to get from where. So that would be one streamlined process.
The IAA will now take the role of the CEAA, the Canadian environmental authority, and run it all. They will delegate as appropriate in a streamlined fashion. They will conduct a major portion of major reviews themselves. Those will be if there is no other jurisdiction involved, for example.
If there is another jurisdiction involved, they will set up that panel to reflect that multitude of jurisdictions. So they may have federal representatives, and provincial and territorial, and now they will have Indigenous. Under CEAA 2012 that’s already done in many cases.
If the review will be of an oil pipeline, that review will involve the CER and it will be added to that joint panel and called an integrated panel. When you sort that out, it actually makes a great deal of sense and in the end it will be much more streamlined than what we have at present, I believe much more predictable, and the authority will be more focused so you will get quicker, more efficient decisions with consistency.
Senator Stewart Olsen: Thank you for the explanation, senator, but I’m still questioning the necessity of the government drafting such a complicated piece of legislation, such a complicated number of panels, numbers of this and numbers of that. I haven’t reviewed the legislation, so I haven’t made my decision. However, this sounds like a lot of bafflegab and a lot of extra setting up regulators and setting this up and oh, yes, we’re changing that. I’m not sure we’re going to get to the heart of establishing these energy projects that are so necessary to our financial position and our economy off the ground.
The government seems to continue its marching to wean Canadians off fossil fuels. This legislation seems to be much more complicated than we actually need. That would be my first impression, but I think this will take a lot of time.
Would you agree this is one of those bills that is so important to the Canadian economy that the bill should be divided perhaps? I think Aboriginal Affairs should look at this, as well as other committees such as Banking, Finance and Social. Several committees should examine this in depth and perhaps we can assist with streamlining the actual piece of legislation. Would you agree?
Senator Mitchell: Should I just poke you for a moment here in a jocular way to say that, on the one hand, you’re concerned that there is too much confusion in boards, processes and agencies in the bill, but now you want to set up four or five or six different committees to review it? I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist that.
I do want to say though, yes, I as sponsor owe it to you to clarify it as much as I possibly can. Maybe in the end we simply won’t be able to agree that it’s more streamlined. I know that CEAA 2012 tried to streamline the process. To some extent it did, but it fell short. It has three parallel leadership agencies. There is no coordination there. They did use joint panels, but I’m not sure they used integrated panels. So this actually brings it more together.
It’s also true that the Mining Association of Canada is very pleased with this. One of the things they highlight is how it simplifies the processes for them. I should point out that 60 per cent of the major reviews under CEAA 2012 right now are for mining projects. I should also point out that the energy industry isn’t monolithic in its position on this. In fact, a number of significant energy interests are mining companies or considered to be mining companies. I’m not speaking for them, but there may be some real advantages for them in this.
As for where it goes in committee, I don’t think we’re at that stage yet. However, given the complexity that you perceive it to have, it would be a logical conclusion that we should get it to committee pretty quickly so we can sort that out.
Hon. David Tkachuk: The mining industry isn’t that monolithic either. The Saskatchewan Mining Association and others have big problems with this bill, but I have a number of questions, Senator Mitchell, you might be able to help me out with.
How many acts does this bill amend?
Senator Mitchell: It amends a number of acts. I will find out a specific number for you. I haven’t counted them.
Senator Tkachuk: Is there evidence to show that the National Energy Board and the other regulatory boards ignored science?
Senator Mitchell: I don’t think so, but I will tell you that the sectors of the energy industry — for example, the CEPA is very concerned that science be at the base of the review, so it might be something they are aware of. I’m not sure.
Senator Tkachuk: You base your argument for the bill that this particular new board that is going to make these decisions will base their decisions on science. I’m asking you what evidence is there to show that our present regulatory boards have ignored science?
Senator Mitchell: I’m telling you that I’m not aware of any evidence, but I think it works to reinforce the commitment to science. In fact, the input from industry is that they want to emphasize science, and the input from the public is that they want to see science emphasized. We don’t know necessarily what happened in the ultimate decision-making process, but we will see it now because those decisions will be announced publicly.
Senator Tkachuk: Regarding the removal of the standing test, can any and all comers participate now, even if they are not affected directly by the project? And is there any limit on who can participate? If so, what is it?
Senator Mitchell: It’s interesting you should ask that because under the current situation, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency does a great number of major reviews. In this debate, we often focus on the NEB and the reviews it does.
The parameters that limit its standing were only invoked for the National Energy Board. CEAA 2012 didn’t invoke those standing parameters, or requirements, or limits, for any other review of the other two of the three sections. So what you have is a real life, real-time experience with how input has been managed. In fact, throughout the process, under CEAA there is a process of review. It does have to be relevant. Communities have to be affected to have a presentation. That’s all been done in a very effective, managed way. Now that approach and that expertise will be applied once again, as it was up until 2012, to the CER, which will replace the National Energy Board. That will be managed.
Also, remember that there are very restrictive timelines. Those public hearings and that public process will have to be done within those restricted timelines. I think that there is lots of experience on how to manage that.
Not only that, I want to make one other point. One of the things that the courts have ruled on and have been very concerned about is that public participation isn’t open and comprehensive enough, and that people who should have had a chance to present should get to present. We have to address that so that we can get over that hurdle and create certainty in this process.
Finally, many people have input into these processes — not personally, but in writing — through websites, emails and presentations of that sort. So there are many vehicles for this. They don’t all show up at the door to present.
The Hon. the Speaker: Before I go to a second round, I have a list of senators.
Senator Tkachuk: I want to ask a question. We’re kind of running out of time.
The Hon. the Speaker: Go ahead.
Senator Tkachuk: You talked about navigable waters, so it’s not a ditch. I would think it may be like the Saskatchewan River or a lake. Are there navigable waters in between that would be taken into consideration by this bill?
Senator Mitchell: What was brought in under the previous government was an assessment of what were navigable waters. I think even there the effort really was, among other things, to avoid farmers’ irrigation ditches, reservoir pools and things like that. That process is under way. It will be a regulation-based process. In most sectors people with concerns will have input into that. I think you’ll find a great deal of sympathy for what you’re inferring. But an irrigation ditch on a farmer’s field is not going to be a navigable water.
Hon. Pamela Wallin: We have all been getting, as I’m sure you can attest, hundreds of emails. Perhaps I’m getting more because I’m in an area that is directly affected by the future of energy projects. Many questions have been raised about this piece of legislation, but I would like your comments on the following two.
The concern is that there is added discretionary power for the Minister of Environment enshrined in this bill. The current incumbent, of course, is not predisposed and is often hostile to traditional oil and gas or fossil fuel projects. Giving that ministry essentially a veto does not bode well. Can you comment?
The second issue raised repeatedly — and people are just asking for information — is that projects will be scrutinized according to “the intersection of sex and gender with other identity factors.” I believe that’s a quote. The question is: What on earth does that mean?
Senator Mitchell: Actually, I don’t think that is a quote, but those are good questions. Thank you.
The first one is the question of ministerial decision and cabinet decision. There are two conditions under which decisions will be made at that level. One is for a minister if it’s a very refined, specific project. If the project has broader implications for more departments, then it will involve the cabinet. There are specific timelines for that, namely, 30 and 90 days respectively. They can be extended, but those have to be public.
In some senses, there is less discretion for a minister now. First of all, it is specified that the overall public good, national interest, must be considered. It has also specified a variety of other impacts. That’s in writing. I don’t believe that, even for the last 10 or 15 years, any cabinet has made decisions on projects without considering health care, community impact and Indigenous impact to some extent. But we didn’t know that. It was done behind closed doors. We don’t know what criteria were used. Now the criteria are specified in the act, in legislation, and a decision statement will be published for all to see regarding what were the considerations and the rationale.
I don’t believe that more discretion will be given to the minister. I believe there will be less discretion. I also know that because of that openness, there will be greater accountability.
I would also like to say that I have never heard Minister McKenna say she is opposed to resource projects. I think that’s an unfair statement.
Regarding “intersection of sex and gender,” I’m not sure about the wording. If you read it, I think you got it from a document that has been sent around. I would like to go through that. We will be sending you information. Every one of the 10 points in that document are wrong. They are misinformed. I will argue that in each case.
All this says, essentially, is that gender is of great consequence in the assessment of resource projects. It can mean that jobs are being allocated fairly. It can mean that pressures on communities can affect women differently than men. If you are overwhelmed because of investment and the influx of workers — and this has happened in Alberta and it does in resource centres — then maybe there aren’t the services for women and maybe you need greater policing that affects everybody.
So that is what this is saying. What I know is that Canadians own these resources and Canadians have a right to be considered in the process of how these resources will be developed. This isn’t going to stop resource projects. This is going to improve them and their impact on Canadians. I think more information doesn’t make it worse. If you know more, you do better.
Senator Wallin: I will be quick. The concern is that there is no consideration of the consequences on gender and families at this point, when hundreds if not thousands of people are being thrown out of work, there is not enough food on the table and kids can’t sign up for hockey. Those are also considerations that have to be taken into account. But that language in some form is in there.
Secondly, if I heard you correctly, you said that there is less discretion for the Minister of Environment, not more, under this particular piece of legislation. Is that correct?
Senator Mitchell: Yes. I am saying, if it is specified in the act, if we see what it does, that can curtail what is going on in the decision-making process. Openness and transparency sustain greater assessment and greater criticism. So those are factors that I think will enhance that decision-making process.
Hon. Richard Neufeld: Thank you for your remarks, Senator Mitchell. You are a senator from Alberta. Senator Black is also from Alberta and sits right beside you. Senator Tannas is from Alberta. If anybody knows how much the oil and gas industry means to Canada, you folks do because of where you live. Most Canadians actually benefit from Alberta having a robust energy industry.
You say there is not a threat to the energy industry. Can you explain to me, then, why CAPP — the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, for those that may not be familiar with it — acts for almost every company that works in the oil and gas industry across Canada, including offshore, and why they have huge concerns about what this bill may do to investment, to activity and the continued creation of jobs, and for us to actually move our resources around the world to markets that we need?
As an Albertan, can you tell me what makes you so sure? When you go back to Alberta, when you start talking to people, do you stand up and say there is no threat, everything will be fine and rosy? Tell me, do you do that, and where do you do it?
Senator Mitchell: First of all, there are two premises of your preamble that I disagree with. I do not believe that all Albertans think that this trade-off has to be sustained and that we can’t do both. I think most Albertans think we can do both. Most Albertans are extremely concerned about climate change, as we should all be.
Secondly, I do not believe that this bill will inhibit resource development in the way that people are saying it might. There is no evidence that it will. There is speculation that it could. I agree, logically it’s possible. But all the arguments that I see, from organizations like the one you mentioned, I can argue against, but, as I have said, timelines will be shorter. To the extent that there is an increase in the 180-day pre-planning timeline, that’s probably not new time. It has already been done and it will streamline the process.
The building of public trust will allow projects to go ahead that haven’t been allowed to go ahead. The fact that we have had the kind of regime that organizations like the one you mentioned may have liked better — CEAA 2012 didn’t produce the results — underlines something we should be taking notice of. This bill responds to that six years of frustrating experience to get that fixed. We’ll wait and see what CAPP has to say when it comes before the committee.
I want to make one other point clear. Again, I do not believe this will damage the future of resource and economic development. I think it’s the way we get there. I also have every profound belief in Albertans. They understand and care deeply about the environment, and they are very worried about it.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I have four or five more senators on the list. I would ask you to keep your questions brief. Senator Mitchell is running out of time. I know that if he asks for an extra few minutes he will get it, but I’m not sure he will get much more.
Senator McPhedran, a short question, please.
Hon. Marilou McPhedran: Thank you for your explanation, Senator Mitchell. My questions relate to the unanimous decision of the Federal Court of Appeal a few weeks ago in relation to the Trans Mountain pipeline. While that was a specific decision, I want to ask whether, given that Bill C-69 was developed before we heard from the Federal Court of Appeal, and given that a number of the points made were general points about the process and what needs to happen, you could help us understand the ways in which Bill C-69 aligns in a positive way with the key points raised by the Federal Court of Appeal in relation to the consultation with Indigenous peoples in particular.
Senator Mitchell: Yes, thank you. With respect to consultation with Indigenous people, as I have read analysis of it, it says that the federal government has to be more directly involved in a two-way discussion. In both the first and the second reviews there is evidence that —
The Hon. the Speaker: Excuse me, Senator Mitchell, but your time has expired. As I said, there are a number of other senators who wish to ask questions. Are you asking for five more minutes?
Senator Mitchell: Yes.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted, honourable senators?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Plett: Five minutes.
Senator Mitchell: The most recent Federal Court of Appeal case underlined that the two-way discussion wasn’t adequately conducted. For those who want these projects to go ahead, that’s actually a positive observation because that can be done and that’s fixable.
There were two other issues that they outlined. One was species at risk, and you’ll remember the first one. There is some provision in here to deal more rigorously with species at risk. I will get you more detail on that.
Finally, the consultation with the public at large has certainly been a problem for the courts, and that is addressed in Bill C-69. It’s one of the criticisms we hear most about. In fact, it’s absolutely critical to getting these things through the courts.
Hon. David M. Wells: Senator Mitchell, would you take a question?
Senator Mitchell: Yes.
Senator Wells: You may know of the previous job I had before coming to the Senate. I’m sure you know the Alberta oil business very well and what may be appropriate for land-based wells. Land-based pipelines obviously would be appropriate for that, but it is very different from what happens 300 or 500 miles off the shore of Newfoundland, beneath the seabed, where they have been drilling for over 40 years without a wellhead or pipeline incident.
My question is twofold. One is on the designated project list. Will the DPL exclude already well-understood routine activities with proven mitigations, such as exploration, geophysical activities, like seismic, and expansions to existing offshore projects? Those things are routine. They happen all the time, and they are regular activities in the Newfoundland and Labrador offshore and probably in the Nova Scotia offshore as well.
If they are not excluded, and given the fact that the bill will allow the minister to establish a time limit longer than the current 300 days specified in subclause 37.1(1) of Bill C-69 to a limit of 600 days for the assessment of those routine activities — the seismic, the extension of the existing wells — how can this be better for the Newfoundland and Labrador offshore? This will be devastating to not only the exploration sector in offshore Newfoundland and Labrador, but it will also be devastating to those who want to invest. We only have big offshore operators in Newfoundland. It’s very expensive. We have Suncor, Husky, Chevron, ExxonMobil. These are the companies that are going to be taking a second look at other places because of the arduous nature of this bill.
Senator Mitchell: That’s a very good question. Of course, what you are addressing is what projects will be included on the project list that exists now, and will that project list exist or not exist? I’m told that it will exist and that the parameters will be altered to some extent, but that’s an open process. I would encourage you to send what you’re saying here into the process, but others will; there’s no question about it.
Having said that, a couple of factors will mitigate your concern. The IAA will have a limited budget. The CER will have a limited budget. The board you were on will have a limited budget. There will be lots of pressure not only to go off and do every possible project in an extensive review, and there will be a settling process. In fact, that’s one of the things that will occur in a preplanning process.
However, many projects will never go that route. They won’t be designated projects under the project list; they won’t be major projects. That principle will hold firm. So it’s very unlikely, I would say — but we’ll see what the regulations say — that the kinds of projects that you’re mentioning — which is a very good point — will not be subjected to major project review under the IAA or under the joint or integrated process. In fact, if it’s relatively small, it will be done specifically by the offshore board through what is called a regulatory process and not the designated project process.
The Hon. the Speaker: I’m sorry, Senator Mitchell. As I said, there are a number of other senators who still wish to ask questions, but your time is expired. Are you asking for more time, another five minutes?
Senator Mitchell: For my seatmate, certainly.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted, honourable senators? Is it agreed?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Hon. Douglas Black: Senator Mitchell, thank you very much for your generosity. It is good to be sitting right next to you.
I have a number of questions, but the question I want to leave with you today relates to timelines. Senator Mitchell, you have indicated in your review that your view after reading the legislation is that timelines under Bill C-69 will in fact be shorter than exist today. That is the position you have taken.
Are you able to indicate to this chamber the number of times the minister has the ability to stop the clock in respect of reviews? I wouldn’t expect you to have that at your fingertips, but if you could provide the list of how many times that can be done.
Similarly, while the minister only has the ability to defer a decision once, could you confirm with me that the legislation allows the Governor-in-Council to defer legislation “any number of times,” is the language used in the legislation? Could you confirm that the Governor-in-Council can, any number of times, defer decisions? The minister can defer it once for a period of time, and there are innumerable instances in Bill C-69 where you can push the pause button. If you could tell us how often that can happen.
Senator Mitchell: With respect to length of time and number of pauses, the current situation is that there is no limit to the number of pauses. I’m not aware that there is a limit to the number of pauses imposed under Bill C-69, so nothing is changing.
I will say that the average length of time that a major review process has taken since CEAA 2012 was invoked is 2.6 years, or 959 days. So even if we went to 600 days on major projects, plus 180 days, you’re at 780 versus 950. The average number of stops has been 6.67 stops under the current process.
It’s not going to get any worse because of that, but it is, I believe, very strongly — because there is huge pressure to meet these timelines, and one of the pressures is that every time the minister delays or suspends a timeline, he or she is going to have to publicly disclose why they did it. Public disclosure is a real motivator for a politician. It holds their feet to the fire, as it were, and I think that’s an important and promising change and improvement over what we have.
I believe very strongly that when we get some experience with this new bill, we’ll find that the process is much more efficient, much quicker and people will be much happier.
Hon. Elaine McCoy: I, too, am from Alberta. I must say that before I came to the Senate, I was advocating much of what is being proposed in this bill. So I congratulate us in finally getting to this point. But we fought against the changes in 2009, we fought against them in 2010, and we fought against them in 2012. So now we’re putting some of the balance back. But it is balanced, because we haven’t given up timelines.
My question is on this discussion of the principle of the bill, which is to expedite the environmental assessment process — not the conditioning and licensing process but the assessment process.
I’ve heard little talk about performance indicators. As Senator Black said, you may not have those details right at your fingertips, Senator Mitchell, but could I ask you to bring forward — if not today, then at least in committee discussion — more details, and perhaps in some briefings that we might have in advance so that we can see the trend line and how this legislation will truly improve?
That’s my question. I will say that the Mining Association of Canada has been asking for these changes, and some more, for five years or so. So they are consistent, and I’m pleased to see they are supporting the trend.
Senator Mitchell: Yes, I’m happy to do that, and we’ll get on it.
The Hon. the Speaker: Senator Mitchell’s time has expired again.
(On motion of Senator Tkachuk, debate adjourned.)
Speech from the Throne
Motion for Address in Reply—Debate Continued
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Jaffer, seconded by the Honourable Senator Cordy:
That the following Address be presented to His Excellency the Governor General of Canada:
To His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Chancellor and Principal Companion of the Order of Canada, Chancellor and Commander of the Order of Military Merit, Chancellor and Commander of the Order of Merit of the Police Forces, Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada.
MAY IT PLEASE YOUR EXCELLENCY:
We, Her Majesty’s most loyal and dutiful subjects, the Senate of Canada in Parliament assembled, beg leave to offer our humble thanks to Your Excellency for the gracious Speech which Your Excellency has addressed to both Houses of Parliament.
Hon. Julie Miville-Dechêne: Honourable senators, I would first like to express my thanks to Senators Harder, Smith, Saint-Germain and Day for showering me with praise.
Thank you for all of your good words, honourable senators. Many of you came to see me at my new desk. I feel like I’m a student in a new school with this desk. It’s an interesting experience. Thank you very much for all of your kind words.
I chose to speak briefly on the day that I was sworn in. I know that doesn’t happen very often, but I was sworn in three months after I was appointed to the Senate, which is a relatively long time.
I have started reading, reflecting, meeting with colleagues and finding ways to contribute to the common good in my role as senator, which gives me the opportunity to influence public policy. I feel privileged, very privileged, to be able to participate in the new dynamic in the upper chamber, which has an increasing number of independent senators who are trying to find new ways to fulfil their duties. As with any period of change, there will be an adjustment period and mistakes will be made, but it’s up to us to find our way through.
I’m one of the 24 senators from Quebec, so I have a duty to defend the interests of the people of Quebec in our consideration of legislation. I believe that the Senate is the most logical place for me to promote the idea of a distinct Quebec, which has its own aspirations and constitutional jurisdictions while still being part of Canada. That is the essence of a federation such as ours, a political system where we in Quebec have been able to establish a nation-to-nation relationship, obtain certain powers, and grow economically and culturally, despite the tensions that exist in any political system. As a senator, I will therefore be particularly vigilant when it comes to matters involving Quebec’s jurisdictions, the French language and the vitality of linguistic minorities. I was appointed to the senatorial division of Inkerman, in western Quebec, where there is an appreciable proportion of residents who identify as Anglophones, with more than 18 per cent in the Outaouais alone.
For the past seven years, I was a member of Quebec’s public service and I have seen up close how the Quebec government is able to manage the destiny of its own people and to shine on the international stage. My time in diplomacy was instructive. The actions around the world of a federal state like Quebec illustrate once more that this francophone society has a distinct voice. Another source of pride is the progress Quebec has made on LGBTQI rights and, naturally, gender parity.
The years I spent defending the rights of women forced me to choose to defend and protect the most vulnerable, whether it is indigenous women, immigrant women, the poorest, the less educated, homeless women, prostitutes, those I call the people forgotten by the feminist revolution. It is a cause that is important to me, and I know that many other senators share these concerns.
As is the case for many Quebecers, my relationship with Canada is complex and constantly evolving. Now that I am no longer a Radio-Canada/CBC journalist I can talk openly about it. This relationship was profoundly affected by the wounding failure of the Meech Lake Accord, which I covered and witnessed first-hand as a political journalist. I believe that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms has made it possible to make significant progress — we need only think of the right to abortion — but I am among those Quebecers who hope that conditions will one day coalesce and be favourable for Quebec to accede to the Constitution Act, 1982.
Throughout my career, I was one of those bilingual journalists who spent years outside Quebec explaining that Canada is not monolithic and also pointing out that many people consider the French language to be a treasure, a language to master, which explains the popularity of immersion classes. The long waiting lists and the shortage of French-language teachers, particularly in British Columbia, attest to that. In short, with my reporting, I tried to dispel the caricature of this country, and also of Quebec, that some wanted to present. Making distinctions, being wary of ideologies, no matter which ones, that is in my DNA. I travelled across Canada, covered francophone minorities and developed a great admiration for those who fight tooth and nail to retain their language and their services.
However, Canada is changing before our eyes, whether because of the arrival of immigrants, whose numbers will continue to grow in the future, the arrival of climate change, whose effects we are already feeling and which requires that we do our part to try to save the planet and humanity — and the debate we are having here on Bill C-69 is a good example of that — or with social inequality and the wealth gap, which undermine the very foundations of the world we live in. It is imperative that our government do more than give speeches, here and abroad, to reduce misery and to provide tools and hope to victims of violence and those who are barely surviving.
In closing, I hope I can meet these new challenges. To all my colleagues, I want to assure you that my priority will always be to work with you in the public interest. Thank you very much.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
(On motion of Senator Omidvar, debate adjourned.)
National Physicians’ Day Bill
Second Reading—Debate Continued
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Eggleton, P.C., seconded by the Honourable Senator Day, for the second reading of Bill S-248, An Act respecting National Physicians’ Day.
Hon. Judith G. Seidman: Honourable senators, I rise today to speak to Bill S-248, An Act respecting National Physicians’ Day at second reading. This bill would declare the first day of May each year as National Physicians’ Day, creating an opportunity to celebrate Canada’s physicians and medical residents, and bring attention to their contributions to patient care, research, teaching and innovation.
It is easy to forget the sacrifices that doctors make regularly on behalf of their patients, whether it is forfeiting time with loved ones, long work hours or the burden of the many life-and-death decisions they face. National Physicians’ Day would recognize the everyday selflessness of our doctors amid the myriad challenges of our health care system. A recent survey conducted by the Canadian Medical Association found that 54 per cent of physicians are showing signs of burnout. Many sacrifice work-life balance to provide the highest standard of care to their patients, and they do it while contending with a health care system in need of comprehensive reform.
The 2015 report of the federal government’s Advisory Panel on Healthcare Innovation documented some of the systemic challenges that doctors face, including the ways in which cumbersome regulations and perverse incentives stifle their creativity and innovation. The report notes that while Canada’s physicians have made enormous contributions to our health care system, the current mode of organizing and funding our system is holding them back from playing a larger leadership role.
As we celebrate the tireless work of our doctors in helping others, we would do well to consider the constraints of the system in which they practise, both as a barrier to their professional satisfaction and as a detriment to the quality of care that Canadians receive.
Nevertheless, National Physicians’ Day is an occasion to recognize our doctors’ achievements with the national attention they deserve. It is also a time to celebrate the profession’s pioneers, especially those who blazed trails for the diverse and vibrant medical community practising in Canada today.
The sponsor of this bill, Senator Eggleton, told this chamber about Dr. Emily Stowe, the first woman to practise medicine in Canada. Dr. Stowe has earned her place in medical history, and it is fitting that this bill would mark her birthday. But we would be remiss if we did not take this time to recognize others who also broke important ground at a time when women seeking to enter the field were viewed with intense doubt and suspicion.
As a proud Montrealer and McGillian, I would like to share the story of Dr. Maude Abbott, an unwavering trailblazer with a devotion to science who paved the way for future generations of women in medicine. After graduating from McGill’s Faculty of Arts in 1890, she was barred from pursuing a degree in medicine because she was a woman. Undeterred, she studied at Bishop’s University and was granted her MD in 1894. She went on to open an independent clinic dedicated to serving women and children, where she conducted first-hand research on heart defects in newborn babies.
Dr. Abbott was eventually hired by McGill University to teach in the pathology department, where she published groundbreaking work on congenital heart disease. Her 1936 publication, Atlas of Congenital Cardiac Disease, laid the foundation for modern heart surgery. As curator of the McGill Medical Museum, she pioneered new methods of teaching pathology. Although she was world famous, Dr. Abbott was never promoted beyond the rank of assistant professor.
In 2018, Maude’s home province of Quebec became the first in Canada to have more women than men actually practising medicine. While women have made significant advancements in the field, female physicians continue to be paid less than their male counterparts and are less likely to obtain the most senior positions in hospitals and academia.
The gender balance that persists among medical leadership makes Maude’s achievements even more remarkable. Consider the fact that over 100 years after she was appointed to the McGill faculty, there are only two female deans of medicine out of 18 in Canada, and that, earlier this year, the Canadian Medical Association welcomed its very first female president.
There is more to be done to encourage more women like Maude to become leaders in the field of medicine. The same is true for new Canadians, many of whom struggle to find work in the medical field despite their international training.
A more diverse physician workforce is proven to benefit patient care, and we should be encouraged by our progress, but we must not forget that our overburdened and outdated health care system is desperate for reform of its own.
I am hopeful that celebrating National Physicians’ Day will be an opportunity to celebrate how far we’ve come, while reflecting on the challenges ahead. For this reason, honourable senators, I urge you to support Bill S-248 at second reading. Thank you.
(On motion of Senator Martin, debate adjourned.)
Motion Concerning Infrastructure of Newfoundland and Labrador—Debate Continued
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Doyle, seconded by the Honourable Senator Tannas:
That the Senate encourage the Government of Canada to work with the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, the only province whose major population centres are not physically linked to the mainland of Canada, to evaluate the possibility of building a tunnel connecting the Island of Newfoundland to Labrador and the Quebec North Shore, in an effort to facilitate greater economic development in Canada’s Northeast, and to further strengthen national unity, including the possibility of using funds from the infrastructure program for this work; and
That a message be sent to the House of Commons to acquaint that house with the above.
Hon. Yonah Martin (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Your Honour, it’s at day 14, so I would like to move this in my name.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Do honourable senators agree to reset the motion?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Carried.
(Ordered, That debate on Order No. 310 stand adjourned in the name of the Honourable Senator Martin.)
Committee of Selection
Notice of Motion to Authorize Committee to Meet During Sitting of the Senate Withdrawn
On Motion No. 364 by the Honourable Donald Neil Plett:
That the Committee of Selection have the power to sit on Wednesday, June 20, 2018, even though the Senate may then be sitting, and that rule 12-18(1) be suspended in relation thereto.
Hon. Donald Neil Plett: Your Honour, I would like to withdraw that motion.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Thank you.
(Notice of motion withdrawn.)
Notice of Motion to Authorize Committee to Meet During Sitting of the Senate Withdrawn
On Motion No. 367 by the Honourable Percy Mockler:
That the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance be authorized to meet on Wednesday, June 20, 2018, even though the Senate may then be sitting, and that the application of rule 12-18(1) be suspended in relation thereto.
Hon. Percy Mockler: Your Honour, I would ask that we withdraw Motion No. 367.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Thank you.
(Notice of motion withdrawn.)
(At 4:27 p.m., the Senate was continued until tomorrow at 2 p.m.)