The Senate met at 6 p.m., the Speaker in the chair.
Festival of Lights
Hon. Judith G. Seidman: Honourable senators, this evening marks the beginning of the second night of Chanukah, the Jewish Festival of Lights. There are many great lessons that can be drawn from the story of Chanukah, lessons not exclusive to the Jewish people but ones that can be relevant to us all.
This holiday tells the story of a courageous group of Jewish warriors, the Maccabees, who decided to stand up against their oppressors. The Maccabees were not known to be mighty, yet they exceeded all expectations, reminding us that even a small group of people can make a big difference.
Not long after their victory, the Jewish people returned to their desecrated temple and miraculously found a small jar of oil used to light the menorah. They thought this oil would last them one night, yet it lasted for eight. This was a miracle of light. To all those around, it sent a message of hope and redemption. Light will always triumph over darkness. We know this to be true, even today.
Following the harrowing event that shook Pittsburgh’s Jewish community in late October, Canadians and many communities around the world came together and united against anti-Semitism, prejudice and acts of terror. They showed us it is only through true spirit, commitment, courage and determination that we can triumph over evil.
Some of you may know the name for this holiday, Chanukah, comes from the Hebrew word for “dedication.” In the spirit of this holiday, let us dedicate ourselves to always protect our Canadian values of freedom, tolerance, peace and security. This is what binds us as a nation.
It’s my wish to all celebrating, either here in Canada or around the world, that these upcoming days of celebration bring you and your loved ones peace and joy. Thank you.
Hon. Diane F. Griffin: Honourable senators, I rise today to applaud the work being done at Canada’s agricultural research stations. I had the privilege of visiting two this year, one in Prince Edward Island and one in British Columbia.
In July, I visited the Harrington Research Farm, which is a part of the Charlottetown Research and Development Centre. Activities at the centre include research into managing soil and water resources, sustainable production systems, pest management, improved food production, bioresources and value-added crops. During the tour, I watched presentations on new agricultural technologies, including air seeders, automated soil sampling and a one-pass hiller. I also toured the research plots.
In October, I visited the Summerland Research and Development Centre in British Columbia. Activities at this centre include research into proving the sector’s capability to resist climate change and other stresses to the physical environment; improving the sector’s ability to respond to diseases, viruses and other biological threats; and supporting opportunities to grow agricultural contributions for the economy and society.
The Summerland Research and Development Centre is particularly effective at partnering with industry, especially the wine industry in the Okanagan Valley and the B.C. apple industry. It’s too bad we can’t use props in the chamber because I still have two beautiful apples I managed to save from Senator Maltais and his pocketknife during our visit to the research centre with the Senate’s Agriculture and Forestry Committee in October. You had to be there to see it. This is an inside joke now. I’ll tell you what it was about.
There were four to six trays of apples, four apples in each tray, all set out for experimental purposes. Our illustrious senator, our deputy chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry, decided to sample one with his pocketknife. It was priceless to see the reaction of the scientists. Anyway, they knew we were there.
The agricultural research stations in Canada are doing extraordinary work and are helping to ensure the feeding of the world’s population as it continues to grow and as climate change presents challenges, the likes of which we have not seen before. I hope you will join me in applauding their efforts.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Recognition and Promotion of Indigenous Languages
Hon. Serge Joyal: Honourable senators, last week, the House of Commons approved the recommendations of its Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs and authorized the use of Indigenous languages in parliamentary debate.
It is an historic and symbolic step in the rehabilitation of the status of Indigenous languages in Canada that any Indigenous MP could stand up in the House of Commons and speak his or her own Indigenous language, with translation available to fellow parliamentarians. The fact the House of Commons has accepted to move in that direction should be commended. And, honourable senators, we can be proud of the fact that we in the Senate led the way in that direction.
In a motion adopted by the Senate in 2007 — that is to say, more than 10 years ago — the Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament conducted a study to determine the feasibility for Inuit senators to speak Inuktitut in the chamber. At that time, there were two Inuit senators, Senator Adams and Senator Watt.
The Rules Committee concluded this would be technically feasible if senators gave advance notice of their intention to speak their Indigenous language, in which case an interpreter would be made available for translation purposes.
Following the adoption of that Rules Committee report by this chamber in May 2008 under Speaker Noël Kinsella, we were privileged to hear an Inuit senator formally speaking Inuktitut for the first time on the floor of the Senate during an official debate in our chamber with the requisite translation.
This was a historic moment, one which had not taken place over the preceding 140 years of Confederation. It also demonstrated that allowing an Indigenous senator to express himself or herself in their own language of origin was not only desirable but also very much possible. The Rules Committee report was complementary to this important achievement.
Moreover, this prompted me to introduce a bill on the recognition of Indigenous languages in Canada in 2009.
We are happy the House of Commons has adopted a similar approach. It should be a matter of pride that the Senate led the way in this regard, and we did so, senators, over 10 years ago, I repeat.
In fact, some of us, me included, were invited last year to testify in the other place to outline the work done in the Senate and the lessons they could draw from our own experience. The testimony we gave is reflected in the Procedure and House Affairs Committee’s report adopted last Thursday by the House of Commons.
I am proud of the fact that the Senate broke ground on this transformative issue and that our chamber has recognized the inherent dignity of Indigenous senators speaking their ancestral mother tongue now in both houses of the Canadian Parliament. Let’s hope the government will move soon to table its own formal bill on the recognition and promotion of Indigenous languages.
Visitor in the Gallery
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I wish to draw your attention to the presence in the gallery of Jason Bremner. He is the guest of the Honourable Senator Deacon (Nova Scotia).
On behalf of all honourable senators, I welcome you to the Senate of Canada.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Four Exceptional Women
Hon. René Cormier: Honourable senators, I rise today to pay tribute to four exceptional New Brunswick women who were recently honoured.
Louise Imbeault, the President of the Société Nationale de l’Acadie, Chancellor of the Université de Moncton, and owner of the publishing house Boutons d’or Acadie, received the 2018 Order of New Brunswick for her impact on the social and cultural life of New Brunswick through her contributions to the field of media and communications. Ms. Imbeault had a distinguished career at CBC/Radio-Canada as the first female news director and first female head of Radio-Canada Atlantic region. Congratulations to Louise Imbeault, a committed woman with an impressive record of achievement.
On November 28, Shippagan native Marie-Claude Rioux, the Executive Director of the Fédération acadienne de la Nouvelle-Écosse, was awarded the Ordre des francophones d’Amérique for her invaluable contribution to the development of Nova Scotia’s Acadian community. This strong-minded woman coordinated the legal action that won the community the right to access French-language education from kindergarten to Grade 12. She also worked tirelessly on the reference regarding the elimination of protected Acadian ridings. Congratulations to Marie-Claude Rioux, an inspiring Acadian who is deeply committed to Nova Scotia’s Acadian community.
Roberta Dugas was awarded the Order of New Brunswick 2018 in recognition of her outstanding community involvement and her leadership in the nursing profession. After working for 30 years in hospitals and community health centres on the Acadian Peninsula, this active member of her professional association and union dedicated herself to the fight against cancer. Ms. Dugas has had an impressive career as a municipal councillor and mayor of Caraquet. Congratulations to Roberta Dugas, a woman of conviction and commitment.
Building a kinder world was at the heart of Rebecca Schofield’s mission. Her constant efforts have inspired her community to make a significant social contribution in New Brunswick and beyond.
Diagnosed with an incurable cancer at the age of 15, that exceptional young woman shared with her relatives her wish that people would perform acts of kindness toward one another. The #BeccaToldMeTo hashtag was born. Since then, and even after she passed away in February 2018, it has been used worldwide, with thousands sharing stories about acts of kindness they’ve done or received in Ms. Schofield’s name.
On November 27, she received the Order of New Brunswick, posthumously.
Congratulations to Rebecca Schofield, a young woman who could be a great ambassador for a future kindness week.
Honourable senators, I tip my hat to these inspiring women, and I thank them from the bottom of my heart for their outstanding contributions to our country.
Congratulations on 2012 Olympic Gold Medal
Hon. Marty Deacon: Honourable senators, this morning at the National Arts Centre, an event took place for a very special Canadian. This morning a wrong was made right — at least more right. Christine Girard, 33 years of age, received her London 2012 Olympic gold and Beijing 2008 Olympic bronze medals in a much-anticipated ceremony for the now-retired weightlifter. She has waited 10 long years to put these Olympic medals around her neck.
As Christine said, “I’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time.” She was very emotional in speaking to the crowd gathered at the National Arts Centre. “There’s just so much emotion. I’m just so proud to be able to be here today to receive this, not only in my name, but for my family, my friends that supported me, for Canada.”
The best photo today, I believe, will be a long-remembered photo of Christine on that handmade Olympic podium this morning with her three toddlers and the medals around their neck, a Canadian flag on one side and a beautiful youth choir on the other.
Girard learned in 2016 that she would be upgraded to a gold medal for the 63-kilogram weightlifting event in London after Maiya Maneza of Kazakhstan and Svetlana Tsarukaeva of Russia were stripped of their medals. A retest of their urine samples tested positive for a banned substance.
The feeling of winning bronze is still a point of pride for Girard, despite now knowing she could be on the top of the podium as she became the first Canadian woman to medal in weightlifting. From Christine: “I grew up believing that it wasn’t possible for a female in Canada to win an Olympic medal in my sport. For me to do that it was proving to that little girl that she wasn’t right to not believe. It was such an important moment for me.”
Earlier in 2016, Girard was awarded the bronze medal from the Beijing 2008 games after the silver medallist failed the retest. It took two years to get the medal into her hands.
Girard hasn’t spoken to the competitors who’ve had their medals stripped, but she says she holds no ill will against them. “I’ve spoken to other athletes who were caught and I don’t necessarily believe it’s their choice (to use illegal substances),” she said. “It’s often those around them. Their trainers, those responsible for the sport, it’s really out of their control. Some were forced to use illegal substances. I’m extremely proud to be Canadian and live in a country that doesn’t condone that. I’m not mad at those women (who cheated). I’m just very disappointed that they had to grow up in a country that’s so different.”
While Girard is pleased the record has been set straight, she says she wonders how different things could have been had she received her medals at the games. “My four years between 2008 and 2012 were very difficult. I trained in a carport that was barely heated. I went through a bit of depression; I was burnt out and went through five different trainers. Things really weren’t going well. It was a really difficult time. If I had those medals on time I would have had a different life, that is for sure. Now I have the chance to go out there and tell my story it’s worth it to believe, it’s worth it to do it the right way.”
Girard and her young family, including her nine-month-old, four-year-old and two-year-old children, recently moved to Gatineau. She hopes to work with a local gym and its young athletes. She’s also been a strong advocate for clean sport and attends a number of symposiums —
The Hon. the Speaker: I’m sorry, senator, but your time for statements has expired.
National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians
Special Report into the Allegations Associated with Prime Minister Trudeau’s Official Visit to India in February 2018 Tabled
Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the special report of the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians into the allegations associated with Prime Minister Trudeau’s official visit to India in February 2018 (revised version pursuant to subsection 21(5) of the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians Act), pursuant to the Act, S.C. 2017, c. 15, sbs 21(2).
(Pursuant to paragraph 21(7)(a) of the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians Act, this document stands referred to the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence.)
Budget Implementation Bill, 2018, No. 2
Fourteenth Report of Aboriginal Peoples Committee on Subject Matter Tabled
Hon. Lillian Eva Dyck: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the fourteenth report of the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples, which deals with the subject matter of Bill C-86, A second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 27, 2018 and other measures.
(Pursuant to the order adopted on November 7, 2018, the report was deemed referred to the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance and placed on the Orders of the Day for consideration at the next sitting.)
Oil and Gas Industry
Hon. Larry W. Smith (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate and concerns yesterday’s announcement that the Province of Alberta has ordered an 8.7 per cent cut in oil production. The tanker ban, Bill C-69, the carbon tax, the rejection of Northern Gateway and the regulatory obstacles to Energy East, these policies from the federal government have contributed to the position Alberta finds itself in today. Over six months have passed since the government has said it was buying Trans Mountain. We are still no closer to seeing construction begin. In October, the government voted against Senator Doug Black’s Bill S-245 which would have declared the expansion project to the general advantage of Canada.
Senator Harder, has this difficult decision taken by the Province of Alberta led the government to reconsider its harmful policies or can the energy sector expect more of the same from the current federal government?
Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I thank the honourable senator for his question. Let me deal with it in two parts. First, with respect to the particular announcement made yesterday, of course, the Government of Canada believes that this is an important decision made by the Premier of Alberta on behalf of the interests of Alberta and one that the frustration of which is an expression that the government shares with respect to the ongoing and unacceptable discount from which Canadian production suffers. That is why this government has undertaken a series of measures to ensure a pipeline gets built so that we have our product available for export through sea lanes as opposed to cross-border to the United States, where it is captive. That commitment expresses itself not only in support for the TMX but also for purchase of the pipeline.
The honourable senator will know that there is a process underway now that is court directed that the government is respecting that does have a timeframe attached to it. But the commitment of the government to deliver a pipeline to tidewater is a commitment of the government.
Furthermore, it is the view of the government, and we are debating it in this chamber as the legislation is before us, where the government and certainly I take a different view than that expressed in the question with regard to Bill C-69. It is one in which there are differing points of view, which I hope we can get to committee soon so that we can see how the bill can be improved to bring refinements that some have suggested. But the objective of the bill is to ensure that we have an environmental assessment process that can lead to decisions which are implementable and decisions and review processes that have timeframes that can be determined. As I say, decisions that are implementable.
That’s the objective, and I hope that we in this chamber can deal with the legislation in a timely fashion to bring that assurance to the private sector. The businesspeople with whom I have spoken on this bill, and there have been a number, aren’t saying, “Kill the bill,” they’re saying, “Improve it.” We’re saying, “Let’s have that conversation.” So I hope we can advance that and I look forward to the leader’s support to achieve that.
The Leader of the Opposition in the Senate has mentioned other bills that are also before this chamber, Bill C-48, for example. Senator Wells gave an eloquent speech at our last sitting — he probably gave an eloquent one yesterday as well, but I wasn’t there — to endorse the position of your group. I happen to agree with the position that was first taken by Prime Minister Mulroney when he introduced the moratorium and has been supported by other prime ministers since. I understand that the Conservative caucus, Mr. Wells made clear, is now opposing the voluntary moratorium. That is why we need to legislate and that is the legislation that is before us.
So, colleagues, I do think the government has made a significant commitment of its time, effort and indeed the resources of the people of Canada to achieve an objective that meets the needs of an evolving resource sector in Alberta, and I look forward to other occasions where we can debate just that.
Senator Smith: Thank you, sir, for your answer. I think it’s important to understand that there will be lots of work when Bill C-69 is sent to committee. I’m giving you feedback from the business community, and the business community has been vehement about their position. So I think it’s important to balance out what you hear coming from this side of the room with the reality of what’s coming from major businesspeople throughout Canada. There’s very little support for this particular bill right now, so we just have to figure out the best way of doing something to it so that it could become acceptable.
Returning to the issue of Energy East. In recent days — and I’m sure Senator Mockler would be happy with that — the new Premier of New Brunswick has expressed his interest in reviving this proposal. Premier Higgs has said he raised Energy East with the Prime Minister, who said he would be willing to discuss this issue again if Premier Higgs was able to get Quebec on side.
A simple question: Energy East was a nation-building proposal. Why isn’t the Prime Minister willing to show some leadership and speak with the new Premier of Quebec about this matter himself?
Senator Harder: Again, I thank the honourable senator for his question. Let me first speak to the preamble of his question, in which he exhorted us to seek amendments to Bill C-69 that would respond to the concerns of industry. I’m not dismissing that. In fact, I thought that was the purpose of my comments. But I would also want to underscore the need to retain the ongoing support for an improved environmental assessment process from the environmentalists and the Aboriginal communities that have committed themselves at this point to the bill, and I believe that the art of the Senate’s deliberations will be: How do we keep the whole together so that we come forward with an improved environmental assessment bill that can have all of the stakeholders that are necessary for progress?
With respect to Energy East, let me simply reiterate that the Government of Canada continues to support projects that come forward from the private sector and that have the support of the private sector for consideration by the due processes that any project would have to be reviewed by, and certainly the ambitions of the new Premier of New Brunswick are ones which obviously we would need to take into consideration should they lead in fact to a proposal from the company.
Foreign Affairs and International Trade
Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement
Hon. Jean-Guy Dagenais: My question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Prime Minister Trudeau and his people clearly have no idea what it means to maintain a solid balance of power in negotiations. When he signed the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement on Friday, he just bowed down to the American president, surrendering in the battle over tariffs on steel and aluminum, two of Canada’s biggest industries.
He signed the agreement without insisting that the 15 per cent and 10 per cent tariffs be lifted, and that, in my opinion, is very disappointing. We just lost any leverage we had to demand the tariffs be lifted, plus the government made as yet unclear concessions on supply management for the dairy industry.
Will the government leader acknowledge that this agreement can only be seen as a step backward for major Canadian economic sectors?
Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I thank the honourable senator for his question. I couldn’t disagree with his question more. I believe it’s a significant achievement for the negotiators from Mexico, Canada and the United States to have reached an agreement. That agreement, as the senator identified, was signed on the margins of the G20 to give the next step of review that must be accomplished in each jurisdiction before the new agreement can come into force.
That agreement has obviously had its arguments throughout the now almost two years it has been discussed and negotiated. The Government of Canada has had advice from a broad number of Canadians of all political persuasions and stakeholders from a wide range of groups. I won’t recite them all here, but they include support and advice from former Prime Minister Mulroney and advice and support from the former acting Leader of the Opposition, along with other Canadians and, indeed, former premiers who have welcomed the agreement, even though of course, it is by definition an agreement where we have not achieved all of our objectives. No country has, but it is a win-win-win to move forward.
With regard to the aluminum and steel tariffs, throughout this piece the Government of Canada acknowledged that track was different from that of the negotiations on the NAFTA. That is because the clause being invoked is not a NAFTA clause, but the national security clause of the United States, which, as I have indicated in previous questions, is completely rejected by the Government of Canada because the national security of the United States is in no way jeopardized by exports of steel or aluminum. In fact, I would argue they are enhanced by that relationship. We continue to oppose them.
Although your question didn’t refer to the Prime Minister’s direct public statement to the president with respect to the need to remove those tariffs, that remains the objective of the Government of Canada. It is clear the United States is being slow to reach that understanding. I must say it’s not just with Canada either.
Invest in Canada
Hon. Leo Housakos: Honourable colleagues, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate.
In July, it was revealed the Liberal government spent $24,000 of taxpayers’ money to change the name of Invest in Canada Hub to Invest in Canada. That’s right, colleagues: $24,000 went to a creative agency for brainstorming, benchmarking and focus group testing, all to remove just one word.
Senator Harder, please tell us: Does the government consider this taxpayer money well spent?
Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I thank the honourable senator for his question. I would need to verify the facts as presented. On the face value of it, it’s clearly important for Canada to have an agency to promote investment that has a contemporary and professional characterization. That’s the objective and one the government welcomes.
Senator Housakos: Government leader, your government changed an institution’s government leader name to Government Representative on a whim. They changed the government whip in this institution, as per the Parliament of Canada Act, to the Facilitator of the Government and that didn’t cost Canadians anything. They did that quickly over a cup of coffee in the Prime Minister’s Office.
Surely you must find it unusual that, just to drop a word from Invest in Canada Hub to Invest in Canada for the cost of $24,000, an explanation has to be given. I appreciate you have undertaken to come back with some information. Can you also make sure we get the name of the consultant paid $24,000 to conduct this work?
Senator Harder: I will make every effort to make that inquiry.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship
Refugees and Asylum Seekers
Hon. Yonah Martin (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): My question is also for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. The Parliamentary Budget Officer’s report last week showed illegal border crossers will cost the federal government upwards of $1.1 billion by the end of the next fiscal year, in March of 2020.
These migrants are individuals who deliberately decided to bypass our regular immigration system and challenge the integrity of our rule of law. There are thousands of law-abiding migrants who applied through the regular channel and have been waiting for years to hear back on application from the federal authority. To date, the Prime Minister has not come up with any clear plan to address the issue, let alone discourage future illegal migrants from joining the suit.
I can only imagine how frustrated and furious these regular applicants must be to see tens of thousands illegal migrants skip ahead of them while they have been waiting for years.
Leader, would you explain what the government is doing for the regular applicants who have been waiting in the queue for years?
Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I thank the honourable senator for her question.
It gives me another opportunity to reinforce for senators the refugee determination stream — the spontaneous arrivals of people claiming refugee status — is based on a different law and commitment than the immigration stream. There is no competition or difference. Queue jumping is often used. There are, in fact, different queues. That is to the say the immigration program Canada has announced and the Department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship is executing on is resourced to achieve the number of immigrants in the categories of the plan which was recently tabled in Parliament and that is proceeding apace.
At the same time, because of our signing of the Geneva Refugee Convention and the protocol of 1967, we have taken on certain obligations to determine whether there is a well-founded fear of persecution by those who arrive at our borders.
As the honourable senator will know, that immigration and refugee process came into force 30 years ago next January. It was revised as a result of a Supreme Court ruling which requires a face-to-face hearing before the decision maker. We have now had 30 years of experience in that regard.
In addition, a number of years ago, Canada entered into the Safe Third Country Agreement with the United States, which provides for the return of certain categories of claimants who come to Canada through the United States that meet the criteria of that agreement so that their claim is adjudicated in the United States.
The challenge, more recently, has not been at the ports of entry; it has been between the ports of entry where we have had a significant number of claimants from countries arrive and claim refugee status not at a port of entry but in Canada itself. That makes them subject to the commitments we’ve taken on as a country to make refugee determination processes.
That is a different queue. I think it’s important for us all to articulate that to those with legitimate concerns so we are not feeding a sense of undermining the broad political consensus there has been in Canada for immigration and integration.
I would hope we can take the time to acquaint ourselves with the rules and procedures in play.
Now, the honourable senator asks what the government has done with respect to the recent spontaneous arrivals. I enumerated a number last week when one of your colleagues asked this. I referred to the work being done outside of Canada to inform potential arrivals of what they could face in Canada in terms of a claimant process.
Two, the Government of Canada has made additional investments in the border service to better manage the irregular arrivals and also to support the communities hosting these claimants. There are a number of provincial agreements that have been made and hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent.
In addition, extra resources have been deployed in the border service. I believe 470 border service officials have been added to the cohort to manage this.
There are a number of initiatives underway. The minister responsible is actively engaged with the stakeholders to ensure an ongoing response. But I do think my overall point is that we all have a responsibility to remind Canadians of our immigration program and how it works, and our refugee determination program and the obligations we have under the Geneva Convention and the 57 protocol, which we have now endorsed and practised for decades.
Senator Martin: Well, thank you. That was the longest answer I think you’ve given in this chamber.
I appreciate your summary, and, of course, we all know the very robust and generous system we do have. But, as a country, what is under threat is the integrity of our entire system. What has happened at the border is more recent, but it’s a growing issue. It is becoming a crisis when we look at the numbers in the PBO report.
You mentioned the discussion with provinces, and so if I may just follow up, in June the federal government announced $50 million in funding for Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba for temporary housing for asylum claimants. At the Canada-U.S. border we are seeing illegal migrants, and that is the concern.
Senator, would you explain how much of the $50 million has been disbursed? What sort of detailed discussions is the federal government having with these provinces? It is a shared responsibility, but it is a growing crisis.
Senator Harder: Senator, I’ll endeavour to get the most recent figures on that. I would not describe it as a crisis. I think the moment you start using the word “crisis,” you are putting in the imagination a situation that doesn’t exist.
Secondly, you say they are illegal migrants. If they claim refugee status, who is to prejudge that? That is to be determined by the Immigration and Refugee Board. To suggest and conflate the two is to undermine, as I said earlier, the broad political consensus that we’ve enjoyed in this country that doesn’t get us into the debates that are animated south of our border, and I hope never do.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Oil Tanker Moratorium Bill
Second Reading—Debate Continued
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Jaffer, seconded by the Honourable Senator Cordy, for the second reading of Bill C-48, An Act respecting the regulation of vessels that transport crude oil or persistent oil to or from ports or marine installations located along British Columbia’s north coast.
Hon. Jane Cordy: Honourable senators, I will speak today to Bill C-48, An Act respecting the regulation of vessels that transport crude oil or persistent oil to or from ports or marine installations located along British Columbia’s north coast.
Honourable senators, on October 16, Senator Neufeld addressed this chamber regarding a new liquefied natural gas megaproject in Canada. He spoke about the importance of this unprecedented investment in LNG for our resource workforce, the families they support, and our national economy. In discussing the single largest private-sector investment in Canadian history, Senator Neufeld said:
Two weeks ago, a business consortium announced its final investment decision for LNG Canada, a $40 billion project that will help Asia get off coal and replace it with the world’s cleanest LNG. This is a great story for Canada, but you may have missed it.
Honourable senators, Senator Neufeld makes a great point. LNG Canada’s historic investment in Canadian energy has, I think, been under acknowledged, and the LNG project in the Pacific Northwest is proof positive that economic development and environmental protection can go hand in hand.
This is particularly so as we think about LNG in the context of Bill C-48, the proposal to formalize the 1985 oil tanker moratorium on B.C.’s northern coast after more than three decades of effective safeguards. Bill C-48 would give this long-standing environmental protection the strength of law, providing for community and industry resupply of persistent oils but prohibiting shipments of over 12,500 metric tonnes.
Bill C-48’s purpose in this regard is to minimize the risk of a catastrophic oil spill along this ecologically extraordinary, pristine and remote region, which contains the Great Bear Rainforest, the islands of Haida Gwaii, and many important species and wildlife populations.
As we debate Bill C-48, including the appropriate balancing of economic and environmental factors, we should keep in mind that the bill will allow LNG tanker exports in the affected region — that is, from the northern end of Vancouver Island to the Alaskan border. And, of course, we should keep in mind that Bill C-48 does not restrict tanker transport of persistent oils farther south than British Columbia, such as those emanating from the Trans Mountain pipeline.
This geographic distinction for crude oil transport is critical to Bill C-48 because spills — which are very unlikely, but always possible due to human and mechanical failure — can be more effectively prevented and, if they do occur, contained farther south due to the resources located in the region.
So, with LNG, what kind of economic development are we talking about?
Canada is currently the fourth-largest producer and fifth-largest exporter of natural gas in the world. As senators know, in October, LNG Canada announced a $40 billion investment in major liquefied natural gas export projects in northern British Columbia, including a terminal in Kitimat, giving Canada the fastest route to Asia for North American gas. This will allow Canadian gas to reach Tokyo from Kitimat in eight days versus 20 days from the United States Gulf. These LNG production, pipeline and marine terminal facilitates will create approximately 10,000 jobs at the peak of construction.
The project will eventually generate billions of dollars in direct government revenues, and this investment in the energy sector will include hundreds of millions of dollars in construction contracts for Indigenous businesses.
However, this development will be balanced with environmental interest. No extraction or shipping industry is without its environmental footprint. But this project will have the lowest carbon intensity of any large-scale LNG facility globally. And perhaps most exciting, it will enable the export of cleaner energy to Asian markets to replace fuels like coal, thereby helping to reduce carbon emissions globally. This international shift to cleaner fuels is of critical importance to mitigating the disastrous effects of climate change.
Bill C-48 will allow tankers to transport liquefied natural gas from the terminal at Kitimat. LNG will be permitted because it does not have the same devastating effect on the environment, as it dissipates quickly through evaporation.
However, the transport of heavier oil products, categorized as persistent oils, will be prohibited to provide protection to the marine environment. This means that in such an ecologically sensitive, pristine and remote area of Canada, Bill C-48 allows less risky energy transport activity with LNG on a large scale. This makes good sense and supports regional and national economic development.
But the bill does not allow a higher risk activity with persistent oils because of geographical obstacles to spill prevention and response, as well as the acute risk to the area’s extraordinary ecosystems. These conditions do not exist on the southern British Columbia coast, which is much more developed, and also close to the response capabilities of Washington State. This is the reason why Bill C-48’s regional restriction on persistent oils in the north minimizes and is intended and designed to minimize the risk of a catastrophic spill.
Indeed, Bill C-48 seeks to minimize the risk of a disaster like the grounding of the Exxon Valdez in Prince William Sound in Alaska in 1989. Many of us may remember those devastating and unforgettable scenes of coastlines and wildlife covered in crude oil. For senators looking to downplay the small but ever-present risk of a catastrophic spill in oil transport at sea, we would do well to remember the effects of the Exxon Valdez disaster that linger to this day.
The Valdez disaster was one of the worst oil spills in United States history until the BP Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. As Senator Jaffer told this chamber, the Exxon Valdez spill killed 250,000 seabirds, 2,800 sea otters, 300 harbour seals, 250 bald eagles, up to 22 orcas and billions of salmon and herring eggs. We must consider the cumulative effects of the loss of all these fish on interconnected terrestrial ecosystems, which rely on marine resources like salmon to feed bears and other animals, and to fertilize the temperate rainforest. When thinking about the scale of a potential disaster, we also need to be mindful of the potential effects on fisheries, tourism, ecotourism and Canada’s international reputation as a steward of the natural world.
As well, we must keep in mind the effects of a spill on coastal communities, particularly Indigenous communities, which is why British Columbia’s coastal First Nations support Bill C-48 so strongly. Listening to speeches on Bill C-48 to this point, the suggestion from some senators seems to be that oil spills are next to impossible. While we hope an oil spill never happens, we must do what we can to protect our coastlines. Honourable senators, human error and mechanical errors are always possibilities and a long-term disaster would require only one such incident.
The geographic challenges of assisting disabled tankers and responding to spills along British Columbia’s north coast justified Canada’s creation of voluntary tanker exclusion zone in 1985, which was also formalized by the United States Coast Guard in 1988. The zone extends about 100 kilometres offshore and was created in response to the completion of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline system in the 1970s. The size of the area was determined by calculating the worst possible drift of a disabled tanker loaded with cargo, compared to the time required for help from a sufficiently powerful tugboat. Then, of course, there are immense logistical challenges for an effective spill response should disaster strike. This is particularly so in the rough waters of northern British Columbia, where the currents and the tides are strong.
To be precise, Bill C-48 is a risk management decision based on the sound geographic and ecological distinction between coastal regions. Conservation often involves choices of this sort, giving strong protections to some habitats to preserve ecological strongholds. As Senator Jaffer outlined, the ecological features of British Columbia’s northern coast make these strong protections appropriate.
Moreover, the concept behind Bill C-48 is similar to the concept behind national parks or marine protected areas. This is a subject we have been discussing with Bill C-55, which has also been at second reading for quite some time. With the oil tanker moratorium, Bill C-48 seeks to strongly protect one of the world’s greatest coastal habitats as well as the cultures who have relied on and protected this natural wealth for millennia.
To be sure, the moratorium’s protection will extend over a large area, as it has for the last 33 years. However, Bill C-48 also allows for large-scale energy exports in the region with LNG. We do have a balance: major resource development going hand in hand with strong, environmental protections. The LNG project is significant for the region and for the country.
Honourable senators, Bill C-48 had support at third reading in the other place from the NDP, the Green Party, the Groupe parlementaire québécois and the governing Liberals.
Therefore, in addition to the compelling public policy rationale behind the Oil Tanker Moratorium Act, I support Bill C-48 and believe restricting crude oil tanker traffic on the north coast of British Columbia strikes the right balance between economic growth and environmental protection.
With that, honourable senators, I hope you will join me in supporting the sending of Bill C-48 to committee soon, as it has been in this chamber since the spring.
Hon. David M. Wells: Would Senator Cordy take a question?
Senator Cordy: Yes.
Senator Wells: Thank you for your speech. I noticed you are supportive of the tanker ban off the northeast coast of B.C. Would you also be supportive — for the same reasons — of a tanker ban off the coast of Nova Scotia, your home province?
Senator Cordy: That’s a really good question. I talked about the pristine coastline of British Columbia. I believe the coastline around Nova Scotia — it’s a peninsula, so there are three sides surrounded by water — is also pristine. We also have to work at balancing the delivering of fuels with the environment.
Senator Wells: Would you take the same question again, Senator Cordy? Would you be supportive of a tanker ban off the coast of Nova Scotia?
Senator Plett: Answer the question; don’t be like Senator Harder.
Senator Cordy: That’s a really good question. I think it’s very important we look at balancing the environmental concerns with delivery of products to the East Coast of Canada.
Hon. Michael L. MacDonald: Honourable senators, I have a question for Senator Cordy.
On the East Coast of Canada, on some days we have probably 500,000 barrels of oil going through to the refineries in Quebec and New Brunswick. All these tankers go through Nova Scotia waters. All the jobs are in other provinces. That’s fine; that’s part of the price of being a Canadian. I’m curious, though, how you can justify shutting down the same type of activity on one coast of this country and allowing it to occur or say nothing about it occurring in your own backyard.
Why is it okay to do this on the West Coast, and where is the balance on the East Coast when all of the oil is coming through on the East Coast?
Senator Cordy: A voluntary moratorium has been in place since 1985, when Prime Minister Mulroney brought it in. All this bill is doing is putting into law what has been happening since 1985.
(On motion of Senator Martin, debate adjourned.)
Bill to Amend—Second Reading—Debate Continued
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Christmas, seconded by the Honourable Senator Deacon (Ontario), for the second reading of Bill C-68, An Act to amend the Fisheries Act and other Acts in consequence.
Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): Honourable senators, it is my privilege to rise in the Senate today to speak in support of Bill C-68, An Act to amend the Fisheries Act and other Acts in consequence.
Let my start by thanking the sponsor of the bill, Senator Christmas, for his eloquent speech and his able stewardship of this important piece of legislation. I also want to thank Senators Bovey, Plett, McCallum, Patterson and Tannas for their speeches outlining the important objectives of the bill and, in some bases, what could be done to improve the bill.
As honourable senators know, Senator Plett and I are cousins — although, you have to go back five generations. While, at times, our family relations may seem fractious and competitive in this place, we have more in common than appears in this chamber. For example, we both represent provinces with many lakes — although I will point out my province, Ontario, with approximately 250,000 lakes, has more than Senator Plett’s home province of Manitoba, with a mere 110,000 lakes.
Water aside, honourable senators, the point is that no matter your province, Canada is a nation that boasts ecological and economic gifts from its fresh water and marine coastal areas.
Another similarity between Senator Plett and myself is we both come from rural and agricultural stock. In fact, I spent a number of my summers as a youth planting potatoes and picking tomatoes and other tender fruits. It’s a happy memory in a long past. Today, Senator Plett and I are both proud to represent regions where agriculture is a major part of our economy.
I was happy to hear Senator Plett say he supports the objectives of Bill C-68, which is to protect fish and their habitat for future generations. However, I take to heart — and the government takes to heart — the concerns both he and other senators have raised in this chamber, particularly concerns related to agriculture and the resource sector. This is a government that keeps an open mind with respect to the Senate’s work and a government that, while it may not always agree, does listen.
A key objective of the government is to protect the environment without creating unnecessary burdens on key drivers of our economy such as the natural resource and agricultural sectors. It is clear Canada’s oceans and waterways, and the ecosystems they hold and support, need protection. Oceana Canada, a charity whose mandate is to restore Canada’s oceans, has conducted audits of our fisheries and reports struggling and declining fish stocks.
Honourable senators, managing fisheries is complex. We harvest fish and other marine organisms from biological systems that are constantly changing. The status of fish stocks is not fully within our control. Considerable science must be undertaken to try to understand this uncertainty and to estimate the abundance of fish stocks, particularly as climate change causes the migration and other behavioural changes of various species. Fishing plans may require extensive consultation with fish harvesters. As I stated, we must balance conservation and economic goals.
With Bill C-68, Canada has a chance to improve on the status quo with respect to the management of its fisheries. In particular, the proposed fish stock provisions will strengthen the tools available to rebuild and manage fish stocks sustainably. Under Bill C-68, proposed fish stock provisions include requirements to maintain stocks at levels that promote sustainability and plan for the rebuilding of depleted stocks. These obligations will create stronger requirements for managing fisheries and will further strengthen the management framework for our fisheries. They will provide legal tools that are on par with other major fishing nations. These provisions will also make government decisions about fisheries more transparent. In addition, Bill C-68 includes authorities to make new regulations, including regulations respecting the rebuilding of fish stocks.
In the coming months, consultations will take place to set out the contents for rebuilding plans and to list the first batch of fish stocks that will be subject to the provisions of Bill C-68.
The government is also proposing new measures in Bill C-68 to provide clear and predictable processes for the management of work or activities that could harm fish and fish habitat. This includes a new permitting scheme for big projects and a code of practice regime for smaller ones.
During the bill’s review in the other place, and in speeches of honourable senators in this chamber, we heard concerns about how certain provisions in the bill could affect Canada’s resource and agricultural sectors. The government’s goal is to be clear and provide certainty through streamlined processes.
Honourable senators, habitat loss and degradation, changes to fish passage and water flow are all contributing to the decline of freshwater and marine fish stocks in Canada. This decline is an important environmental issue and that is why the restoration of degraded fish habitats is essential.
As proposed, Bill C-68 establishes regulatory authorities that would establish a list of designated projects, made up of activities for which a permit would always be required.
The government has heard the concerns of industry, members of the public regarding project designations, and indeed this chamber. I would argue that the development of codes of practice as well as authorization and permitting processes will ensure that industry and the agricultural sector are clear on what is required of them.
However, the government has indicated its openness to considering how the proposed processes can be improved and clarified, including through a Senate amendment.
With this in mind, and looking forward to committee, I hope we can now turn our minds not to the question of “if” but the question of “how.” As I’ve said, the overall goal of Bill C-68 is to balance environmental and economic considerations, while maintaining the public’s trust.
Another area around which the government has heard concerns are the amendments proposed under section 2(2) of the bill, the so-called “deeming” provision regarding water flow. There has been a great deal of speculation as to what this change means. There are legitimate questions surrounding the government’s intent, scope and application of the water flow deeming clause amongst stakeholders, particularly agricultural and resource stakeholders. In this regard, the government has indicated it is open to amendments that would clarify this provision to allay any fears that it extends the definition of fish habitat.
I hope that indicating support for this change at second reading — which, as I said, responds to understandable practical concerns of some in the agricultural and other sectors, as well as some senators — will allow us to focus our debate on the bill in terms of other aspects that are so important to this bill.
Again, I thank senators for raising the issue. As with designated project provisions, the government has indicated it is open to hearing what can be improved. I do not believe it is anyone’s desire to make this a bureaucratic and cumbersome process of regulatory approval. In fact, the government has shown continued openness to working with interested parties, including industry, environmental groups, Indigenous peoples and the public to find the right controls and protections.
As Preston Manning stated in a recent opinion article in The Globe and Mail, we have to:
. . . enable regulatory authorities, governments and the courts to receive both the environmental assessments and the economic assessments they need to strike timely and appropriate balances between the two.
Honourable senators, Bill C-68 helps fulfill the government’s commitment to protect Canada’s freshwater and marine fisheries more effectively by ensuring their long-term economic and environmental sustainability.
In addition to restoring protections for fish and fish habitats and introducing new ecological safeguards, Bill C-68 also recognizes the rights of Indigenous peoples with respect to the fisheries.
Since the introduction of this bill, Canadians have voiced support for these amendments, which will ensure the protection of Canada’s rivers, coasts and fish for generations to come.
I urge all honourable senators to join me in supporting this bill, to send it to committee, where we can further improve this bill so that the benefits enjoyed by our fishers can be achieved in common.
Hon. Donald Neil Plett: Would Senator Harder take a question?
Senator Harder: I’m happy to.
Senator Plett: Senator Harder, you have lauded the Liberal government here about how open and transparent they are, and how they want to help us all. You have quoted today Brian Mulroney and Preston Manning. I wish I could quote some Liberal leader having said some good things the way you quoted Conservative leaders.
Senator Harder, would you be open — not the government — would you support the following amendment: removing from the bill subclause 2(2), and I’ll read it:
Deeming habitat. For the purposes of this act, the quantity, timing and quality of the water flow that are necessary to sustain the freshwater or estuarine ecosystems of fish habitat are deemed to be fish habitat.
Would you support removing that clause from the bill?
Senator Harder: Senator, as the Government Representative in the Senate, I’ve indicated just now the openness of the government to amendments. Specifically I referenced 2(2). I do not want to prejudge the conclusions of total Senate deliberation, although I would hope that we can get this bill to committee so that the proposed amendment that you have, along with others, can be tested. But the objective from the government’s point of view is to deal with some of the concerns that you rightly raised, and I of course will, as the representative of the Senate, take those amendments, should they be made, to the government and argue for them as being consistent with the commitments I’ve made today.
Senator Plett: And of course I’m willing to put my words on the line here and put myself on the line in saying I will vote for that amendment. And I understand you cannot speak for all of the people on your side of the chamber. My question was this: If that amendment passes committee, will you support that amendment in this chamber, you personally?
Senator Harder: I will support in this chamber an amendment to 2(2) that wins the favour of the committee.
Senator Plett: Thank you.
Hon. Percy Mockler: Would the honourable senator take another question?
Senator Harder: Certainly.
Senator Mockler: We have on the agenda of our Order Paper and Notice Paper Inquiry No. 56, which was brought in by Senator Richards. In part that inquiry will address:
. . . calling the attention of the Senate to the decimation of Atlantic salmon spawning grounds on the Miramichi, Restigouche and their tributaries.
My question to you, Senator Harder, as the Government Representative, we all know that decisions must be taken on science-based evidence.
Bill C-68, there are a lot of concerns with it. How will this bill help the Atlantic salmon?
Senator Harder: I thank the honourable senator for his question and concern.
It is the view of the government this bill gives added clarity and framework to how concerns of the fisheries, irrespective of where they are, Restigouche or others, to take into account the causes of the dwindling stocks, to make decisions in a transparent evaluation process that lead and empower the minister to take necessary actions to ensure the proper husbandry of this important resource.
I hope when the bill does get to committee, we can deal with specific regional concerns so the issues of science, climate change, long-term effects of various species, can be seen as a framework for dealing with those concerns, which you so rightly raise.
(On motion of Senator Martin, debate adjourned.)
Business of the Senate
Hon. Diane Bellemare (Legislative Deputy to the Government Representative in the Senate ): Honourable senators, with leave of the Senate and notwithstanding rule 5-5(j), I move:
That the sitting be suspended to the call of the chair, with the bells to ring for five minutes before the sitting resumes.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted, honourable senators?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
(Motion agreed to.)
(The sitting of the Senate was suspended.)
(The sitting of the Senate was resumed.)
Criminal Code Youth Criminal Justice Act
Bill to Amend—First Reading
The Hon. the Speaker informed the Senate that a message had been received from the House of Commons with Bill C-75, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Youth Criminal Justice Act and other Acts and to make consequential amendments to other Acts.
(Bill read first time.)
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be read the second time?
(On motion of Senator Harder, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for second reading two days hence.)
Budget Implementation Bill, 2018, No. 2
The Hon. the Speaker informed the Senate that a message had been received from the House of Commons with Bill C-86, A second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 27, 2018 and other measures.
(Bill read first time.)
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be read the second time?
Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): Honourable senators, with leave of the Senate and notwithstanding rule 5-6(1)(f), I move that the bill be placed on the Orders of the Day for second reading at the next sitting of the Senate.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted, honourable senators?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
(On motion of Senator Harder, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for second reading at the next sitting of the Senate.)
(At 7:35 p.m., the Senate was continued until tomorrow at 2 p.m.)