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66 Elizabeth II , A.D. 2017, Canada

1st Session, 42nd Parliament

Issue 154 (Unrevised)

Wednesday, November 1, 2017
2 p.m.

The Honourable GEORGE J. FUREY, Speaker


The Members convened were:

The Honourable Senators

AndreychukBattersBellemareBernardBlackBoisvenuBonifaceBoveyBrazeauCampbellCarignanCoolsCordyCormierDagenaisDawsonDayDeanDowneDoyleDuffyDupuisDyckEggletonEnvergaForestFrumFureyGagnéGalvezGoldGreeneGriffinHarderHartlingHousakosJafferJoyalKennyLankinLovelace NicholasMacDonaldMaltaisManningMarshallMartinMarwahMassicotteMcCoyMcInnisMcIntyreMcPhedranMégieMercerMitchellMocklerMoncionMunsonNgoOhOmidvarPatePetitclercPlettPoirierPratteRaineRichardsRinguetteSeidmanSinclairSmithStewart OlsenTannasTardifTkachukUngerVernerWallinWattWellsWetstonWhiteWoo

The Members in attendance to business were:

The Honourable Senators

Andreychuk*AtaullahjanBattersBellemareBernardBlackBoisvenuBonifaceBoveyBrazeauCampbellCarignanCoolsCordyCormierDagenaisDawsonDayDeanDowneDoyleDuffyDupuisDyckEggletonEnvergaForestFrumFureyGagnéGalvezGoldGreeneGriffinHarderHartlingHousakosJafferJoyalKennyLankinLovelace NicholasMacDonaldMaltaisManningMarshallMartinMarwahMassicotteMcCoyMcInnisMcIntyreMcPhedranMégieMercerMitchellMocklerMoncionMunsonNgoOhOmidvarPatePetitclercPlettPoirierPratteRaineRichardsRinguetteSeidmanSinclairSmithStewart OlsenTannasTardifTkachukUngerVernerWallinWattWellsWetstonWhiteWoo

The first list records senators present in the Senate Chamber during the course of the sitting.

An asterisk in the second list indicates a senator who, while not present during the sitting, was in attendance to business, as defined in subsections 8(2) and (3) of the Senators Attendance Policy.

PRAYERS

The Senate observed a minute of silence in memory of the victims of the tragic attack in New York, New York on October 31, 2017.

Senators’ Statements

Some Honourable Senators made statements.

ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

Introduction and First Reading of Government Bills

A message was brought from the House of Commons with Bill C-46, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (offences relating to conveyances) and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, to which it desires the concurrence of the Senate.

The bill was read the first time.

The Honourable Senator Harder, P.C., moved, seconded by the Honourable Senator Bellemare, that the bill be placed on the Orders of the Day for a second reading two days hence.

The question being put on the motion, it was adopted.

Introduction and First Reading of Senate Public Bills

The Honourable Senator Jaffer introduced Bill S-241, An Act to establish International Mother Language Day.

The bill was read the first time.

The Honourable Senator Jaffer moved, seconded by the Honourable Senator Day, that the bill be placed on the Orders of the Day for a second reading two days hence.

The question being put on the motion, it was adopted.

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The Honourable Senator Enverga introduced Bill S-242, An Act to amend the Competition Act (misrepresentations to public).

The bill was read the first time.

The Honourable Senator Enverga moved, seconded by the Honourable Senator Ngo, that the bill be placed on the Orders of the Day for a second reading two days hence.

The question being put on the motion, it was adopted.

Tabling of Reports from Interparliamentary Delegations

The Honourable Senator Andreychuk tabled the following:

Report of the Canadian Delegation of the Canada-Africa Parliamentary Association respecting its bilateral mission to Accra, Republic of Ghana and Banjul, Republic of Gambia, from August 25 to 30, 2017.—Sessional Paper No. 1/42-1676.

Question Period

The Senate proceeded to Question Period.

Orders of the Day

SPEAKER'S RULING

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Government Business

Bills – Messages from the House of Commons

Order No. 1 was called and postponed until the next sitting.

Bills – Second Reading

Orders No. 1 to 3 were called and postponed until the next sitting.

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Second reading of Bill C-60, An Act to correct certain anomalies, inconsistencies and errors and to deal with other matters of a non-controversial and uncomplicated nature in the Statutes of Canada and to repeal certain Acts and provisions that have expired, lapsed or otherwise ceased to have effect.

The Honourable Senator Bellemare moved, seconded by the Honourable Senator Petitclerc, that the bill be read the second time.

After debate,

The Honourable Senator Martin moved, seconded by the Honourable Senator Wells, that further debate on the motion be adjourned until the next sitting.

The question being put on the motion, it was adopted.

Motions

Orders No. 1, 131 and 132 were called and postponed until the next sitting.

Inquiries

Order No. 2 was called and postponed until the next sitting.

Other Business

Senate Public Bills – Third Reading

Orders No. 1 to 4 were called and postponed until the next sitting.

Commons Public Bills – Third Reading

Orders No. 1 and 2 were called and postponed until the next sitting.

Senate Public Bills – Reports of Committees

Orders No. 1 and 2 were called and postponed until the next sitting.

Senate Public Bills – Second Reading

Orders No. 1 to 5 were called and postponed until the next sitting.

Commons Public Bills – Second Reading

Orders No. 1 to 3 were called and postponed until the next sitting.

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

The Honourable Senator Martin moved, for the Honourable Senator Plett, seconded by the Honourable Senator Raine, that further debate on the motion be adjourned until the next sitting.

The question being put on the motion, it was adopted.

o o o

Order No. 5 was called and postponed until the next sitting.

Reports of Committees – Other

Orders No. 1, 5 to 8, 10, 15, 29 and 33 were called and postponed until the next sitting.

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

The Honourable Senator Martin moved, seconded by the Honourable Senator Wells, that further debate on the consideration of the report be adjourned until the next sitting.

The question being put on the motion, it was adopted.

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

The Honourable Senator Martin moved, for the Honourable Senator Mockler, seconded by the Honourable Senator Raine, that further debate on the consideration of the report be adjourned until the next sitting.

The question being put on the motion, it was adopted.

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

The Honourable Senator Martin moved, for the Honourable Senator Mockler, seconded by the Honourable Senator Wells, that further debate on the consideration of the report be adjourned until the next sitting.

The question being put on the motion, it was adopted.

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

The question being put on the motion, it was adopted.

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

The Honourable Senator White moved, seconded by the Honourable Senator Enverga, that the report be adopted.

After debate,

The question being put on the motion, it was adopted.

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

The Honourable Senator Dawson moved, seconded by the Honourable Senator Eggleton, P.C., that the report be adopted.

The Honourable Senator Martin moved, seconded by the Honourable Senator Raine, that further debate on the motion be adjourned until the next sitting.

The question being put on the motion, it was adopted.

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Orders No. 61 and 62 were called and postponed until the next sitting.

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Consideration of the eighth report of the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights (Budget—study on the issues relating to the human rights of prisoners in the correctional system—power to travel), presented in the Senate on October 31, 2017.

The Honourable Senator Munson moved, seconded by the Honourable Senator Dawson, that the report be adopted.

After debate,

The question being put on the motion, it was adopted.

Motions

Orders No. 31, 73, 89, 92, 139, 146, 158, 174, 189 and 206 were called and postponed until the next sitting.

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

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

The Honourable Senator Martin moved, for the Honourable Senator Ataullahjan, seconded by the Honourable Senator Wells, that further debate on the motion be adjourned until the next sitting.

The question being put on the motion, it was adopted.

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Order No. 245 was called and postponed until the next sitting.

Inquiries

Orders No. 8, 11 to 14, 19 and 20, 23 to 26, 28 and 31 were called and postponed until the next sitting.

ADJOURNMENT

The Honourable Senator Bellemare moved, seconded by the Honourable Senator Petitclerc:

That the Senate do now adjourn.

The question being put on the motion, it was adopted.

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

DOCUMENTS DEPOSITED WITH THE CLERK OF THE SENATE PURSUANT TO RULE 14-1(7)

Report of the Correctional Investigator, together with the government response, for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2017, pursuant to the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, S.C. 1992, c. 20, s. 192.—Sessional Paper No. 1/42-1674.

Report of the Parole Board of Canada on Record Suspension Decisions for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2017, pursuant to the Criminal Records Act, R.S.C. 1985,c. C-47,sbs. 11(2).—Sessional Paper No. 1/42-1675.