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1st Session, 43rd Parliament
Volume 151, Issue 2

Tuesday, December 10, 2019
The Honourable George J. Furey, Speaker


THE SENATE

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

The Senate met at 2 p.m., the Speaker in the chair.

Prayers.

Welcoming Remarks

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, there have been consultations and an agreement to allow Senators Plett, Woo and Day to make welcoming remarks before proceeding to Senators’ Statements.

Is it agreed, honourable senators?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Hon. Donald Neil Plett (Leader of the Opposition): Thank you, colleagues. Honourable senators, I would like to begin by once again warmly welcoming you all back to this chamber. It’s a pleasure to see each one of you. I look forward to working together with you during this Forty-third Parliament.

I would like to congratulate our colleague, the Honourable George Furey, on his continued role as the Speaker of this house.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

Senator Plett: Senator Furey has distinguished himself as an excellent Speaker during the previous Parliament. I am certain that all senators are as delighted as I am — and that has been shown already — as he continues in this role.

I also want to recognize our colleagues who recently retired: Senators Andreychuk, Demers, McIntyre, Neufeld and Pratte. I know we will all miss their presence in this chamber, but we wish them well in their next season of life.

As you all know, colleagues, Senator Harder has announced his resignation as the Government Representative in the Senate. I want to take a moment to thank Senator Harder for his many years of service, especially for these last four years.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

Senator Plett: Senator Harder was given a caucus of 3 and expected to get 53 votes each and every time — no small task.

Senator Harder, we have had many differences of opinions and have expressed those openly, but we have always found a way of working through and around our differences. I can say without hesitation, Senator Harder, that I consider you not only a colleague but, much more important, a friend.

In that vein, I would like to thank Senators Bellemare and Mitchell for their service in their respective roles of Legislative Deputy to the Government Representative in the Senate and Government Liaison.

Colleagues, I am humbled and honoured to have been chosen by our caucus to stand before you today as the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

Senator Plett: Today, at the beginning of the Forty-third Parliament, we find ourselves with a country that is not only divided but increasingly balkanized. As representatives of our regions and advocates for a healthy federation, our voices have never been more important.

Honourable senators, there have been many unexpected changes in this chamber since we last met. I think we were all surprised by the sudden retirement of our friend and colleague Senator André Pratte. We saw the formation of the new Canadian Senators Group. We received many notices of changes of affiliation, and we saw the Senate Liberal caucus transition to the progressive senators group, only to lose official status just days later.

This last development was particularly disappointing for me because, for a few days, the Conservative Senate caucus shared the third floor with the progressive senators group. I was looking forward to being able to refer to the third floor as the “progressive conservative floor.” Perhaps Senator Downe caught wind of the plan and decided to do something about that.

Joking aside, I think it is clear to all of us that these are unusual times for the Senate of Canada. In fact, the Hill Times referred to it as an “’unprecedented’ upheaval.” They quoted Professor Donald Savoie saying:

We’ve turned the Senate into 100 unguided missiles. Where it’s going to go is still unclear.

I could not agree more. In many ways, the Senate has always served as a ballast to the ship of state. While election results can shift the makeup of the other place suddenly and sometimes drastically, senators have always returned to this chamber after an election to find it largely unchanged. This stability and continuity has served the nation well.

There will be disagreements in this chamber. We all bring different perspectives to this house, and in the past, this has resulted in vigorous debate. This should not change, colleagues. But in the midst of that debate, let us remember that we are colleagues who share a common goal: to see Canadians flourish from coast to coast to coast — Canadians of every demographic, ethnicity, gender and economic status.

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Let us remember, colleagues, that while we may disagree on the way forward, we remain united in our vision and in our passion to see a thriving Canada where no one is left out and no one is left behind. Thank you.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

Hon. Yuen Pau Woo: Honourable senators, I would also like to welcome everyone back to the Senate for the start of the Forty-third Parliament. While I’m sure we all enjoyed the pomp and ceremony of last week’s Speech from the Throne and the presence of many VIPs in our chamber, I must say it is nice to return to more familiar surroundings this afternoon, and it is nice to see His Honour in his proper chair. May I also take this opportunity, on behalf of the Independent Senators Group, to congratulate you on your reappointment to this important position.

Colleagues, in the months since we rose in June 2019, all of us have been busy in our respective regions doing outreach, meeting with community leaders, Indigenous groups and other stakeholders to talk about the work of the Senate and collecting information on the needs and challenges of our communities in order to bring them back to this chamber so we can advance some of these issues in the Forty-third Parliament. It is inherently our job to represent our regions. I was so proud, as I reviewed the news clippings through the summer, to learn of all our colleagues who were doing this work with such diligence.

It’s particularly important that we remember our role in representing the less-well-represented on this day, which is, of course, the seventy-first anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; a document that has a very strong Canadian pedigree, and one to which this chamber in particular pays special attention in our deliberations.

[Translation]

I want to again welcome our new colleague, Senator Loffreda, and I will take this opportunity to welcome Senator Bellemare back to the ISG. If I may, I would also like to recognize the contribution of our colleagues who left the Senate or who retired this summer: Senators Andreychuk, Demers, McIntyre, Neufeld and Pratte.

[English]

The impact of our retired and departing colleagues will be long remembered and long cherished.

I want to also take the opportunity to recognize and celebrate the outstanding work of Senator Harder, who served not only with effectiveness and efficiency as the Government Representative in the Senate through the Forty-second Parliament, but also did so with grace, dignity and class. The fact that we had such a successful last sitting of Parliament, getting through so much legislation, making as many amendments as we did and doing all of that without the government having to resort to time allocation, is particularly impressive.

I think that owes much to the work of Senator Harder and to, of course, his two able colleagues, Senator Bellemare and Senator Mitchell. It was a pleasure working with you, Senator Harder, in the leaders group. It was a pleasure working with Senators Bellemare and Mitchell. We hope you will stick around for a long time because we continue to look forward to working with you on other issues.

Colleagues, there has been some movement in our ranks over the last little while, which Senator Plett has already described. However, these movements are trivial compared to the fact that whatever group or whatever caucus we may sit in, we are, first and foremost, senators of the Upper Chamber of Parliament and we remain colleagues one and all.

To the new group that has been formed, the Canadian Senators Group, I bid a very warm welcome. I want to express the willingness and desire of the Independent Senators Group to work closely with the CSG, and particularly leaders Senator Tannas and Senator Verner.

At the start of a new Parliament with relatively little government business on our Order Paper, we have an opportunity to take a closer look at the rules and practices of the Senate so that we can try to improve where improvements are needed. In particular, I believe that there can be progress made in the area of increasing, enhancing and entrenching the equality of all senators and the equality of all Senate groups.

I believe there is an opportunity for us, particularly in the first few weeks and months of the new Parliament, to look at how we can also better improve the functioning of our Senate so that we can be a chamber that takes all the time we need to deliberate, to make decisions and to debate, but do it in a way that makes good use of our time. I look forward to having these further discussions in the weeks to come.

Let me conclude by saying that it’s a delight to be back and we’re very much looking forward as the ISG to working together with all the groups and with all senators. I wish us a very successful Forty-third Parliament.

Hon. Joseph A. Day: Honourable senators, in my brief remarks, I would like to first echo the comments of Senator Plett and Senator Woo. On behalf of my colleagues in the progressive Senate group, I too would like to take a brief moment to welcome everyone back to this chamber, however briefly that may be. I expect we will only be here for a few days more, but it feels like a long time since we were all together. It is nice to be back at our desks again, rather than the benches we experienced last week.

Much has changed over the last several months. In fact, two new groups have formed since we last assembled: the Canadian Senators Group and the progressive Senate group. The Forty-second Parliament was a challenging time for all of us and for the government as the changes the government introduced to our institution began to take effect.

The Forty-third Parliament will, in my view, be even more challenging, particularly with a minority government in the other place. But with goodwill and open lines of communication between us, anything is possible. We are showing what can be done when we work together as we deal with the estimates and supply bill over the next few days.

I know that senators are all anxious to get back to work. The progressive senators in this group are certainly eager to do so and we look forward to working with all of you in the new Parliament.


SENATORS’ STATEMENTS

Visitor in the Gallery

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I wish to draw your attention to the presence in the gallery of Sandra Jansen, former Alberta cabinet minister. She is the guest of the Honourable Senator Duffy.

On behalf of all honourable senators, I welcome you to the Senate of Canada.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

Grey Cup 2019

Congratulations to Winnipeg Blue Bombers

Hon. Donald Neil Plett (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, I am delighted to rise in this chamber today to congratulate — though it’s a little belated — the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on an outstanding season, which culminated in a Grey Cup victory.

On November 24, the Blue Bombers won their eleventh Grey Cup, defeating the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 38 to 12 and bringing their 29-year drought to an end.

The year 1990 was a long time ago, and that was the last year that the Blue Bombers brought the Grey Cup home. By the time the playoff season rolled around this year, it did not look like another victory was likely and skepticism was high. The Bombers had finished third in the West Division and few people gave them a chance of coming out on top.

Well, never underestimate a Manitoban. From halftime of their first playoff game, they broke all expectations, outscoring their opponents 83 to 25.

By the time they got to the big game, running back Andrew Harris was a man on fire. He ended the game with 134 yards rushing, 35 yards receiving and two touchdowns.

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He then became the first player in CFL history to be named not only the game’s most valuable player, but was also awarded the Dick Suderman Trophy as the most valuable Canadian player. This is an incredible achievement for Andrew Harris since it comes on top of his earlier 2011 win of the same Dick Suderman Trophy.

To top it all off, Andrew Harris was born and raised in Winnipeg, and Manitobans couldn’t be prouder. But as we all know, it takes an entire team to win. And the other week, fans turned out in force to celebrate their entire team, shutting down Winnipeg’s downtown for a huge, jubilant Grey Cup parade. Winnipeg police estimate that over 10,000 people lined the streets to cheer on their team.

Colleagues, as tremendous as it is to win the Grey Cup, it is even more rewarding to see your city and province come alive with joy, celebration and camaraderie. Football for many Canadians is not only a wonderful sport; it is an event that brings families and communities together.

I want to thank the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, not only for their success this season, but for being role models to our youth every year, for demonstrating what can be achieved through perseverance and hard work, for pressing through the difficult times and not giving up when things looked bleak. These are the qualities of true champions, and that’s exactly what they are.

Colleagues, I know that every senator will want to join me today in congratulating coach Mike O’Shea and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on both a great season and a fantastic finale to that season; their impressive victory in the 2019 Grey Cup.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

The Late Arlene (Dozay) Christmas

Hon. Brian Francis: Honourable senators, on November 21, the Mi’kmaq nation, Cape Breton, and all of Canada lost a brilliantly talented illustrator and artist. And our colleague, Senator Dan Christmas, lost his beloved wife and soulmate of 37 years, Arlene “Dozay” Christmas. I believe I speak for all of us when I say that our hearts ached for him, his children, and the Mi’kmaw community when we heard the news.

As a young woman, Dozay decided to pursue a career as an artist and she created and displayed her artwork in galleries and exhibits across the Maritimes, Ontario, and the United States. She also became a well-known illustrator of books including Loon Rock/Pkwimu Wkuntem and Tales From Maliseet Country. She was considered one of Canada’s pre-eminent Indigenous artists. My own words fail to adequately express the unique character of Dozay and to properly describe the important role she played in the Membertou community. So I’ll leave it to Senator Christmas to do so himself as he wrote in her obituary:

Dozay was truly a one-of-a-kind person. She loved the Created World and all that belonged to it. She loved its trees, its plants, its medicines and its four legged ones, its winged ones (especially its eagles and its red-tailed hawks) and the ones that lived in its waters. Dozay took so much joy in drawing and painting their likenesses.

Dozay loved all peoples especially her own people, the Wolastoqiyik (or the Maliseet) from Neqotkuk (or Tobique First Nation) in New Brunswick and her adopted people, the Mi’kmaq from Unama’ki (Cape Breton).

On behalf of the Senate family, I offer our sympathies to Dan and their children Peter, Lacey and Gail and to the Mi’kmaw of Membertou and the Maliseet of Tobique, New Brunswick, Dozay’s home community, as we celebrate the life of Arlene “Dozay” Christmas, whose artworks and murals will serve as a testament to her amazing talent for generations to come. Thank you.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Seventy-first Anniversary

Hon. Thanh Hai Ngo: Honourable senators, today marks the celebration of the seventy-first anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, UDHR, a milestone document that asserts basic human rights are universal, inalienable and indivisible.

Today, we are reminded of the colossal work that has been done throughout the years so the principles enshrined in the UDHR are upheld.

Today, unfortunately, we are also reminded of the monumental work that is left for all of us to undertake as we all are witnesses to the immeasurable atrocities and gross human rights violations still being perpetrated worldwide.

Today, more than ever, we need to stand up with the Uighurs, the Hong Kong protesters, and all the people who are being persecuted, killed, have their organs harvested, and so on, based on their —

 . . . race, colour, sex, language, religion, political, and other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth, or other status.

[Translation]

Now, more than ever, as our fundamental rights and freedoms are guaranteed in Canada and many other countries, we must commit to taking action to ensure that all human beings around the world enjoy the fundamental rights and freedoms enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Gordon Brown, former British Prime Minister and current UN Special Envoy for Global Education and Chair of the Global Citizenship Commission, wrote the following in the commission’s report on the declaration:

Today, the UDHR provides a “common conscience” for humanity. It is a beacon of hope. It is also a call for action, setting a high standard by which we judge the width of our generosity, the depth of our compassion, and the breadth of our humanity.

[English]

Furthermore, as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said:

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

Colleagues, it is our duty to abide by those wise remarks. Thank you.

The Late Dennis Fentie

Hon. Pat Duncan: Honourable senators, it’s a privilege to rise today as the senator for Yukon to pay tribute to my former colleague in the Yukon Legislative Assembly, Dennis Fentie. Dennis and I had several things in common. We were both born in Edmonton, Alberta, we were both elected to the Yukon Legislative Assembly in 1996, and both of us had the privilege of serving the Yukon as premier.

Dennis and I also had our differences in terms of our political affiliation, and a quick read of Hansard might reveal some of the more entertaining moments of our discourse. Ultimately, however, we shared a common passion for the Yukon. The member for Watson Lake was a tireless champion of the community he called home, its people and its resources.

As his role serving the public expanded from the NDP member for Watson Lake responsible for the forestry commission to that of Yukon Party premier of the territory, his energy and passion was the whole Yukon. The groundwork for the Northwest Territories Land and Resources Devolution Agreement, the transfer of land, water and resources to the territory, had been concluded by others, including Dennis’s former colleague in the NDP government, Government Leader, Premier Piers McDonald, Yukon Party leader, John Ostashek and myself. If that agreement could be considered allowing Yukon to be masters of our own house, then Dennis Fentie got the keys to the property. The actual physical transfer of the territory to the public resources was one hallmark of Premier Fentie’s leadership. He was also about the people and communities. During his term as premier, Yukon constructed two new hospitals, one in the community of Watson Lake and one in Dawson City.

Dennis Fentie’s leadership and his appearance — as he looked like a bit of a gambler — belied his strong negotiating skills. One public servant recalled, who is now a member of the legislature, he somehow, on the way to a First Nation land claim agreement signing, managed to find himself in a three-and-a-half-hour drive with the Minister of Northern Affairs and the premier alone with no public officials present, by themselves. Who knows what got done?

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Stories like that and his many abilities were recalled fondly with honour, with love and with laughter on November 8, which would have been his sixty-ninth birthday, at the Kwanlin Dun cultural centre on the traditional territory of the Kwanlin Dun and the Tr’ondek Hwech’in council on November 8 in Whitehorse.

Perhaps the most eloquent moments of the celebration of Dennis’s life were shared by his love, Lorraine Nixon. We appreciate and give thanks to Dennis for his contribution to Yukon. To you, Lorraine, may I also express, on behalf of all Yukoners, and in this special place on behalf of all Canadians, our gratitude. I offer my heartfelt thanks to you and to Dennis’s family and friends for loaning Dennis to public service. May your love and the special memories that you shared bring you some small measure of comfort as we mourn the loss of the late Premier Dennis Fentie.

Mahsi’cho, gùnáłchîsh, thank you, honourable senators.

Senate of Canada Building

Hon. Michael L. MacDonald: Honourable senators, last week we heard the first Speech from the Throne to be delivered from the renamed Senate of Canada Building. I’m sure we would all agree that, in terms of temporary lodging, the Senate of Canada has found a place it can comfortably call home. Perhaps it is only fitting that the Senate has found a new home in a railway station, as both the Senate and the railroad were so important to the birth and growth of Canada.

Opened in June 1912, the Grand Trunk Central Station was built as part of a lavish ensemble with the Château Laurier — located across the street — by Charles Melville Hays, President of the Grand Trunk Railway, which is one of the great railroads not just of Canada, but all of North America.

Hays was a visionary who was determined to build a transcontinental railway to Prince Rupert, which he identified as the great Canadian port of the future for trade with Asia. The route west led to the establishment in his name of such communities as Melville, Saskatchewan, and Hays, Alberta, and he is considered the founder of the city of Prince Rupert, which has a fine public statue to his memory. I wonder what Charles Melville Hays would have thought about Bill C-48.

Hays also saw the need and opportunity to create a transport and social hub on these grounds. Now this historic station is our new home, but this place is not really new at all, and if these walls could talk they’d tell quite a story. For decades world leaders, royalty, celebrities and throngs of tourists would pass within these walls when arriving to Canada’s capital, as in 1939, when King George VI arrived to dedicate the National War Memorial, or in 1941, when Prime Minister Winston Churchill visited to address Parliament.

It was also here where so many of our military boarded trains to begin the long journey overseas. When war was declared in 1914, the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry — Canada’s first contingent to go to Europe — paraded through Ottawa on their way to the train station, destined for the Western Front.

The Princess Pats would be involved in some of the most notable engagements in Canadian military history. Of the initial complement of almost 1,100 soldiers to board the trains that day, only 44 would survive the war. As we sit here in the comfort, splendour and privilege of this place, let us reflect on that.

A generation later, Canadian soldiers would board the trains again. Among them were Ottawa’s Cameron Highlanders, destined for the shores known us to today as Juno Beach, where they’d fight on D-Day.

But Charles Melville Hays would never enjoy the station or see it open. Sadly, he died just days prior to the unveiling of his bold venture. After attending meetings with company directors in England in the spring of 1912, Hays boarded the newly christened RMS Titanic for the journey home. Hays would see to it that his wife and daughter were safely loaded on a lifeboat, but he would be among the nearly 1,500 souls who perished in that terrible disaster.

I trust we truly appreciate how fortunate we are to work in this beautiful edifice. I want to thank Senator Tkachuk and his steering committee colleagues, Senators Furey and Stewart Olsen, on the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration at the time, for identifying the train station as a potential temporary location for the Senate.

I would also be remiss if I did not acknowledge the outstanding work done by Senators Tannas, Saint-Germain, Joyal, and others, including all Senate staff and skilled workers who were involved in the rehabilitation of this magnificent historical building. Charles Melville Hays would be honoured and impressed. To all involved, a job well done.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!


[Translation]

ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

Parliamentary Budget Officer

Economic and Fiscal Outlook – November 2019—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 Economic and Fiscal Outlook – November 2019, pursuant to the Parliament of Canada Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. P-1, sbs. 79.2(2).

[English]

Privacy Commissioner

Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act and Privacy Act—2018-19 Annual Report Tabled

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the Annual Report of the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2019, pursuant to the Privacy Act, R.S.C. 1985,c. P-21,s. 38 and to the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, S.C. 2000,c. 5,s. 25.

[Translation]

Auditor General

Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development—Fall 2019 Reports Tabled

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the Fall 2019 Reports of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development to the Parliament of Canada, pursuant to the Auditor General Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. A-17, sbs. 23(5).

Ombudsman for Victims of Crime

2017-18 Annual Report Tabled

Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the 2017-18 Annual Report of the Office of the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime.

Justice

Judicial Compensation and Benefits Commission—October 28, 2019 Report Tabled

Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the report of the Judicial Compensation and Benefits Commission of October 28, 2019, pursuant to the Judges Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. J-1, sbs. 26(4).

Borrowing Authority Act

Bill to Amend—First Reading

Hon. Joseph A. Day introduced Bill S-201, An Act to amend the Borrowing Authority Act.

(Bill read first time.)

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be read the second time?

(On motion of Senator Day, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for second reading two days hence.)

Criminal Code

Bill to Amend—First Reading

Hon. Serge Joyal introduced Bill S-202, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (conversion therapy).

(Bill read first time.)

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be read the second time?

(On motion of Senator Joyal, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for second reading two days hence.)

National Capital Act

Bill to Amend—First Reading

Hon. Serge Joyal introduced Bill S-203, An Act to amend the National Capital Act (buildings or works of national significance).

(Bill read first time.)

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be read the second time?

(On motion of Senator Joyal, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for second reading two days hence.)

[English]

Criminal Code
Immigration and Refugee Protection Act

Bill to Amend—First Reading

Hon. Salma Ataullahjan introduced Bill S-204, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (trafficking in human organs).

(Bill read first time.)

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The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be read the second time?

(On motion of Senator Ataullahjan, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for second reading two days hence.)

Canadian NATO Parliamentary Association

Defence and Security Committee Meeting, March 19-21, 2019—Report Tabled

Hon. Joseph A. Day: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian NATO Parliamentary Association respecting its participation at the Defence and Security Committee Meeting, held in Hawaii, United States of America, from March 19 to 21, 2019.

[Translation]

Meeting of the Sub-Committee on Future Security and Defence Capabilities, June 10-14, 2019—Report Tabled

Hon. Joseph A. Day: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian NATO Parliamentary Association respecting its participation at the Meeting of the Sub-Committee on Future Security and Defence Capabilities, held in Beijing and Shanghai, China, from June 10 to 14, 2019.

Joint Meeting of the Ukraine-NATO Interparliamentary Council, the Sub-Committee on NATO Partnerships and the Officers of the Committee on the Civil Dimension of Security, June 24-25, 2019—Report Tabled

Hon. Joseph A. Day: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian NATO Parliamentary Association respecting its participation at the Joint Meeting of the Ukraine-NATO Interparliamentary Council, the Sub-Committee on NATO Partnerships and the Officers of the Committee on the Civil Dimension of Security, held in Lviv, Ukraine, from June 24 and 25, 2019.

Annual Session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, October 11-14, 2019—Report Tabled

Hon. Joseph A. Day: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian NATO Parliamentary Association respecting its participation at the 65th Annual Session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, held in London, United Kingdom, from October 11 to 14, 2019.

[English]

Canada-Europe Parliamentary Association

Annual Session of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Parliamentary Assembly, July 4-8, 2019—Report Tabled

Hon. Terry M. Mercer: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian delegation to the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly respecting its participation at the 28th Annual Session of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, held in Luxembourg, Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, from July 4 to 8, 2019.

Parliamentary Election Observation Mission of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Parliamentary Assembly, July 21, 2019—Report Tabled

Hon. Donald Neil Plett (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian delegation to the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly respecting its participation at the Parliamentary Election Observation Mission, held in Kyiv, Ukraine, on July 21, 2019.

[Translation]

ParlAmericas

Gathering of the Gender Equality Network and Meeting of the Board of Directors, June 18-20, 2019

Hon. Raymonde Saint-Germain: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian Section of ParlAmericas respecting it participation at the 11th Gathering of ParlAmericas Gender Equality Network and the 48th Meeting of the Board of Directors of ParlAmericas, held in Mexico City, Mexico, from June 18 to 20, 2019.

[English]

Ethics and Conflict of Interest for Senators

Motion for Appointment Adopted

Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): Honourable senators, with leave of the Senate and notwithstanding rule 5-5(j), I move:

That, notwithstanding rule 12-27(1) and subsections 35(4), (5) and (8) of the Ethics and Conflict of Interest Code for Senators, the Honourable Senators Joyal, P.C., Patterson, Seidman, Sinclair and Wetston be appointed to serve on the Standing Committee on Ethics and Conflict of Interest for Senators, until such time as a motion pursuant to rule 12-27(1) is adopted by the Senate or the Senate otherwise replaces the membership of the committee; and

That, notwithstanding rule 12-27(1), for the duration of the membership of the committee pursuant to this order, when a vacancy occurs in the membership of the committee, the replacement member be appointed by order of the Senate.

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.)

Motion Concerning the Honourable Lynn Beyak Adopted

Hon. Serge Joyal: Honourable senators, with leave of the Senate and notwithstanding rule 5-5(j), I move:

That the Standing Committee on Ethics and Conflict of Interest for Senators be authorized to examine and report on developments and actions in relation to the committee’s fifth report from the first session of the Forty-second Parliament, since the adoption of that report by the Senate on May 9, 2019, as well as any additional measures relating thereto that it considers appropriate;

That the papers and evidence received and taken and work accomplished by the committee in relation to the report, as well as documents relating to the inquiry report on the Honourable Senator Beyak, during the Forty-second Parliament be referred to the committee for the purposes of this study;

That, notwithstanding the provisions of rule 12-28 and any provisions of the Ethics and Conflict of Interest Code for Senators, the committee be empowered to authorize the attendance and participation of the Honourable Senator Beyak in its work on this study;

That the committee present an interim report on this study no later than January 31, 2020, and its final report no later than June 30, 2020; and

That, for greater certainty, if, as a result of this study, the committee makes a report concerning the Honourable Senator Beyak, that report be dealt with pursuant to the provisions of rule 12-30, provided that, notwithstanding rules 4-13 and 4-14, it be the first item on the Orders of the Day.

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.)

Notice of Motion Concerning Former Senator Don Meredith

Hon. Serge Joyal: Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:

That, in order to preserve the authority, dignity and reputation of the Senate of Canada, and in light of the following reports from the First Session of the Forty-second Parliament:

1.the Senate Ethics Officer’s Inquiry Report under the Ethics and Conflict of Interest Code for Senators concerning [then] Senator Don Meredith, dated March 9, 2017;

2.the Second Report of the Standing Committee on Ethics and Conflict of Interest for Senators presented on May 7, 2017;

3.the Senate Ethics Officer’s Inquiry Report under the Ethics and Conflict of Interest Code for Senators concerning former Senator Don Meredith, dated June 28, 2019; and

4.the Sixth Report of the Standing Committee on Ethics and Conflict of Interest for Senators tabled on July 29, 2019;

the Standing Committee on Ethics and Conflict of Interest for Senators be authorized to examine and report on the advisability of adopting the following motion:

That the Senate call on the Prime Minister to recommend to Her Excellency the Governor General that former senator Don Meredith be excluded from the application of section 6 of the Table of Titles to be used in Canada, and no longer entitled to the style of “Honourable”, and that former senator Meredith no longer receive any precedence or status that would normally be accorded a former senator.;

That in conducting its examination of this question, the committee afford former Senator Meredith the opportunity to be heard by the committee;

That notwithstanding the provisions of rule 12-28(1), the committee be empowered to meet in public for the purposes of this study if it accepts a request from former Senator Meredith to that effect; and

That the committee present its final report no later than January 31, 2020.

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The Senate

Notice of Motion to Call Upon the Prime Minister to Advise the Governor General to Revoke the Honorific Style and Title of “Honourable” from Former Senator Don Meredith

Hon. Josée Verner: Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:

That, in light of the reports of the Senate Ethics Officer dated March 9, 2017, and June 28, 2019, concerning the breaches by former Senator Don Meredith of the Ethics and Conflict of Interest Code for Senators, the Senate call upon the Prime Minister to advise Her Excellency the Governor General to take the necessary steps to revoke the honorific style and title of “Honourable” from former senator Meredith.

[English]

National Security and Defence

Notice of Motion to Authorize Committee to Study the Body of Issues Known as “Intelligence to Evidence”

Hon. Marc Gold: Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:

That the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence be authorized to examine and report on the body of issues known as “intelligence to evidence”, when and if the committee is formed; and

That the committee submit its final report no later than December 31, 2020.

The Senate

Notice of Motion to Call Upon the Government to Impose Sanctions against Chinese and/or Hong Kong Officials

Hon. Leo Housakos: Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:

That the Senate call upon the Government of Canada to impose sanctions against Chinese and/or Hong Kong officials, pursuant to the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act (Sergei Magnitsky Law), in light of the violation of human rights, of the principles of fundamental justice and of the rule of law in relation to the ongoing protests in Hong Kong and to the systematic persecution of minority Muslims in China.

National Security and Defence

Notice of Motion to Authorize Committee to Study the Prospect of Allowing Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd. to be Part of Canada’s 5G Network

Hon. Leo Housakos: Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:

That the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence be authorized to examine and report on the prospect of allowing Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd. to be part of Canada’s 5G network, when and if the committee is formed; and

That the committee submit its final report no later than April 30, 2020.

Social Affairs, Science and Technology

Notice of Motion to Authorize Committee to Study the Future of Workers

Hon. Frances Lankin: Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:

That the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology, when and if it is formed, be authorized to examine and report on the future of workers in order to evaluate:

(a)how data and information on the gig economy in Canada is being collected and potential gaps in knowledge;

(b)the effectiveness of current labour protections for people who work through digital platforms and temporary foreign workers programs;

(c)the negative impacts of precarious work and the gig economy on benefits, pensions and other government services relating to employment; and

(d)the accessibility of retraining and skills development programs for workers;

That in conducting this evaluation the committee pay particular attention to the negative effects of precarious employment being disproportionately felt by workers of colour, new immigrant and indigenous workers; and

That the committee submit its final report on this study to the Senate no later than April 7, 2022.

Link between Prosperity and Immigration

Notice of Inquiry

Hon. Ratna Omidvar: Honourable senators, I give notice that, two days hence:

I will call the attention of the Senate to the link between Canada’s past, present and future prosperity and its deep connection to immigration.

Life of Larry Dohey

Notice of Inquiry

Hon. Fabian Manning: Honourable senators, I give notice that, two days hence:

I will call the attention of the Senate to the life of Larry Dohey.

Unrecognized Histories and Meaningful Contributions of First Nations, Métis and Inuit Peoples

Notice of Inquiry

Hon. Marty Klyne: Honourable senators, I give notice that, two days hence:

I will call the attention of the Senate to the unrecognized histories and meaningful contributions of First Nations, Métis and Inuit.

[Translation]

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.


[English]

QUESTION PERIOD

Privy Council

Representation of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta

Hon. Donald Neil Plett (Leader of the Opposition): All right, colleagues, recess is over. My question is for the government leader in the Senate.

Leader, for the first time in longer than I can remember, the provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta only have one member between them in the Federal Cabinet, that being Dan Vandal, the Minister of Northern Affairs, from my province of Manitoba. It is understandable why Jim Carr would want to step out of cabinet at this time, and I know that all senators join me in wishing Mr. Carr all the best.

Senator Harder, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta have serious challenges before them and would only benefit from greater representation at the cabinet table. Could you please tell us, leader, why the Prime Minister thinks that only one member of cabinet from the Prairie provinces is sufficient?

Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): Let me begin by thanking the honourable senator for his first question as Leader of the Opposition. I trust he meant the earlier words of kindness towards me and will indulge my answer more generously than he otherwise would.

Let me say that the question as to the lack of representation on the government benches from Saskatchewan and Alberta in particular are ones, like he, I share a deep regret over. That is the consequence, of course, of the democratic vote that took place. And as he will also recognize and acknowledge, the Prime Minister has both, since the election and even in recent days, including today, taken steps to ensure the voices of Western Canada, the political leadership at the provincial and municipal levels are paid attention to and that steps are taken by the government, as appropriate, to ensure that the concerns of Western Canada find their way to the ears of not only the Prime Minister but the cabinet as a whole and parliamentarians.

That is the consequence of parliamentary elections in our system of government, and it is one the Prime Minister is taking steps, as I’ve mentioned, to ensure those voices, though unrepresented, are heard.

Senator Plett: Well, thank you, Senator Harder. As you know and as is well known, there is a long-standing tradition of prime ministers appointing senators to cabinet when the governing party in the house is shut out of seats in specific provinces or regions, as the Liberal Party was in October’s federal election.

For example, in the 1990s, Jean Chrétien appointed Nova Scotians Alasdair Graham and Bernie Boudreau to cabinet as Leader of the Government in the Senate, as the Liberal Party had lost all of its seats in the province. Jack Austin and Michael Fortier are other more recent examples of honourable senators who represented their respective regions as well as members of cabinet.

(1500)

Senator Harder, I look around this chamber, and I don’t want to name names, but I could look and whistle. I see a lot of talented individuals who I have no doubt would provide fine representation for Manitoba, Saskatchewan and especially, Alberta. Could you tell us why the Prime Minister did not see fit to appoint any of our colleagues to cabinet?

Senator Harder: As disappointing as it was to the Prime Minister that the honourable senator didn’t make himself available, let me simply repeat, as I have privately and on other occasions with the media, indicate that it was the Prime Minister’s view that the electoral decisions of Canadians ought to be respected and that he has taken the steps I’ve described, ensuring that those voices are heard at the cabinet table in considerations of government. But he is also of a view that a Senate that is more independent and less partisan is the kind of Senate that is appropriate for Canada in 2016, let alone now.

I appreciate and certainly endorse the respect that the honourable senator has implied for my colleague from Alberta. I know that he is looking for a new challenge in life. Perhaps we can combine our efforts and have him run in an early by-election.

Natural Resources

Forestry Sector

Hon. Yonah Martin (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, my question is also for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I was listening very carefully to the Throne Speech last week and was very disappointed not to hear anything addressing the very serious state of our forestry sector, especially in British Columbia. There’s not a week that goes by without talk radio and other concerned citizens expressing their growing concern about what is happening. Since the spring there have been over 45 announcements of temporary curtailments or permanent mill closures, impacting thousands of jobs. The bad news just keeps coming.

For example, in September, Teal-Jones announced a shutdown resulting in 300 immediate job losses. And about two weeks ago, Mosaic Forest Management announced an earlier-than-usual winter shutdown, impacting 2,000 jobs. In July, mayors from across the province wrote to the federal government asking for urgent assistance for their communities and guidance on how to access this assistance.

Senator, what response, if any, was provided to the mayors and, more specifically, what will the new Minister of Natural Resources, Seamus O’Regan, do to help forestry workers and their families in British Columbia and other provinces?

Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I thank the honourable senator for her question. Let me say that I will have to take under advisement the specific question with respect to the specific letter to which she referred. But let me take the occasion to remind the Senate as a whole that this government takes the forestry sector extraordinarily seriously as a priority. That is why the government has placed the efforts it has on softwood lumber and seeking to resolve that dispute, which is a historic and ever-repeating feature of our bilateral trade relationships with the United States. It is also why the Government of Canada has sought to enhance the Asian markets for our timber products and why the Government of Canada sees fit to increase our diversity of trade, particularly in this sector.

I look forward to having Minister Seamus O’Regan speak directly to the forestry sector and, indeed, perhaps when he comes to this chamber for Question Period — if that wasn’t a tweet from him, that should be added — let me say that I will bring this to his attention.

[Translation]

Health

Regulation of Vaping Fluids

Hon. Chantal Petitclerc: Honourable senators, my question is for the Government Representative in the Senate.

[English]

Senator Harder, in the past few months, I think we have all seen many articles that address the great concern over youth vaping. For example, the investigation from the Globe and Mail in November titled “How the vaping industry is targeting teens — and getting away with it.” This investigation — you may have read it — revealed that e-cigarette companies are targeting youth; promotion of flavours such as cake, candy and ice cream. They’re hiring social media influencers to endorse products and run vaping giveaways. They’re boosting child-friendly e-liquid flavours online. They are running pop-up events staffed by attractive models and many other disturbing facts.

This, as we all know, is against existing federal regulations. Clearly, the rules are being ignored by the e-cigarette companies. I know that you can’t answer in details, but I think it’s fair to say that I’m quite worried about it. I think many members of the Senate are equally worried, and Canadians are worried. I think Canadians need to know what is being done to fill this regulatory void quickly. I think we all want to avoid growing a new generation of nicotine consumers.

Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I thank the honourable senator for her question. I know that the honourable senator and the Honourable Senator Seidman, particularly in consideration of the legislation, are working together along with other senators. The very question you raise is one that we debated in this chamber. How do you strike that balance between a technology, vaping, that some experts were asserting would be helpful in nicotine reduction by being a device that would wean cigarette smokers away from cigarettes while not be an introductory technology to new, particularly young and vulnerable people with vaping tools and the various attractions to vaping that you referred to?

The experts provided advice, and experience has given us how that has not unfolded quite the way some experts had predicted. That is why the government shares the concerns about the implications of the vaping legislation and the mandate that was given in the last Parliament to the vaping sector. There were restrictions on packaging, which again I think the Senate was instrumental on toughening, if I could use that word.

I want to assure the house that the government is working with the private sector to restrict advertising and is in the process of limiting vaping products, flavours, nicotine content and online availability. The government remains in close contact with the medical community to monitor cases of vaping-related illnesses and take appropriate action. I know that the new Minister of Health takes this issue as an early mandate must, and it is the intention of the government to move forward as I’ve described.

Natural Resources

Softwood Lumber

Hon. Yonah Martin (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Senator Harder, you mentioned the softwood lumber agreement. I was actually going to ask you about that because it’s been four years since the last one expired. You mentioned it so I’m wondering if there has been progress? Are we closer to getting one? And is this an absolute priority for this government?

Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I want to recognize the honourable senator’s ongoing interest in this. Of course softwood lumber is a priority for this government. The sector that is represented in the forestry industry is important to Canada. As you know, there is a NAFTA Chapter 19 binational panel in place, and the Government of Canada looks forward to its work.

I would also point out that dealing with the bilateral relationships in North America is a high priority, and I know that while it’s not directly related, today’s announcement with respect to NAFTA or the CUSMA, or whatever you would wish to call it, is a further step forward to clear the issues that are important to Canadians in the bilateral and multilateral trade area. This is certainly one of them.

Environment and Climate Change

Weather Disasters and Protection of Property

Hon. Joseph A. Day: Senator Harder, it’s good to have you back answering questions, but with all due respect to you, I hope that we’ll continue to invite ministers to appear weekly before the Senate. I found that to be a very helpful process of keeping us informed here.

(1510)

In the last election, Canadians elected a progressive mandate. The progressive Senate group aims to reflect those progressive values in the Senate. That is why I was heartened to hear mention of climate change in last week’s Speech from the Throne.

As a New Brunswicker, I have seen first-hand the toll climate change is taking on our coastal communities. Our province is experiencing changes in temperature, sea levels, coastal erosion, and last spring we saw very significant flooding.

Senator Harder, can you tell us what the government is doing to support New Brunswickers and other Canadians affected by climate change related to natural disasters and other weather-related emergencies, particularly on coastal properties?

Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I thank the honourable senator for his question. With respect to his preamble, it is certainly my view that a minister in Question Period is an important innovation of the last Parliament. The approach was suggested and trumpeted by Leader Carignan at the time. I hope this is an innovation we will return to in this Parliament. I think it is a useful way for ministers to hear directly from senators and for senators to hear directly from ministers.

I know that ministers have appreciated their Senate Question Period, in particular for how different it was from the Question Period that they enjoy in the other place.

Let me say with respect to your raising climate change, congratulations, I hope we all raise it more often because it is surely the message of the electorate and, frankly, the message from our children and grandchildren that we take action with respect to climate in a more aggressive fashion than we have. That is why the Minister of Environment, the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, is in Madrid today for the Chile-hosted COP25 to have the opportunity for Canada to participate directly in collective action. The honourable senator will know that the government has staked a lot of its electoral platform on climate change action, particularly on the pricing of pollution.

With respect to the specific question of coastal mitigation, let me assure the honourable senator that steps were taken, including in the last Parliament on legislative steps, protection of oceans and coastal areas. I would be happy to make inquiries with respect to New Brunswick in particular and report back probably when you and I are no longer asking and answering questions.

National Revenue

Charitable Sector

Hon. Terry M. Mercer: Honourable senators, I hope this government representative and, indeed, all senators have taken time to read the report of the Special Senate Committee on the Charitable Sector and its 42 recommendations to help the charitable, voluntary and non-profit sectors across the country. An estimated 86,000 registered charities and 85,000 non-profit organizations are engaged in public benefit activities that generate $150 billion to the national economy, which represents approximately 8.1 per cent of the GDP. That is no small change and the sector accomplishes what governments cannot get done.

Government leader, I was discouraged to hear no mention of charities or the charitable sector in the Speech from the Throne. Leaders of political parties in this country cannot say they’re not aware of this. A group of us involved in the sector sent copies of the report to the leaders of all political parties early in the campaign and encouraged them to take the document and make it part of their platform.

Is the government aware of this important report and what action can we expect on our recommendations?

Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I thank the honourable senator for his question and also for his leadership in the study of this issue in the previous Parliament. Let me assure the honourable senator that the government is aware of the report, that the report will, I’m sure, find its way into the considerations of the government on a wide range of policies and considerations with respect to the charitable sector. There are other occasions than the Speech from the Throne for the government to present its views and intentions.

Health

Advertising of Vaping Products

Hon. Judith G. Seidman: Honourable senators, my question is for the government leader in the Senate, and I’m sure you can guess what the subject of the question is.

On February 5, 2019, Health Canada released a consultation paper entitled, Notice of Intent – Potential Measures to Reduce the Impact of Vaping Products Advertising on Youth and Non-users of Tobacco Products.

Revealed in this paper is that vape manufacturers, vape shop owners and vaping industry associations have requested that Health Canada allow the use of comparative health effects and harm reduction statements to provide what they call “balanced” messaging for people who smoke. We know that e-cigarette companies like Juul already use a wide range of innovative marketing strategies to entice their customers.

Senator Harder, is the federal government really going to allow vape shop owners, manufacturers and vaping industry associations to promote the “benefits” of vaping?

When will the government prohibit all advertising of vaping products, as they do for tobacco?

Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I thank the honourable senator for her question. It’s not unrelated to that which was asked previously. Let me assure the honourable senator that I will bring her concerns and those of other senators to the new Minister of Health’s attention. I know that this issue is one the minister is well aware of and the intentions of the government will be clarified by the minister after appropriate consideration.

Senator Seidman: Thank you very much.

Health Canada has confirmed that as of December 3, 2019, there have been 13 cases of severe lung illness related to vaping in Canada: three from British Columbia, two from New Brunswick, three from Ontario and five from Quebec.

In fact, a recent Ontario case published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal reports a new diagnosis of a life-threatening vaping-related lung illness in a 17-year-old. Physicians suggest that this illness relates to flavoured compounds found in the e-liquid, which makes it distinct from the recent outbreak of cases of vaping-related pulmonary illnesses across North America. It has become ever clearer that the inhalation and ingestion of e-cigarette vapour pose serious risks to the health of its users.

Senator Harder, do we finally have enough evidence for the federal government to stop their endless consultations and tighten the regulations on vapes and e-cigarettes to protect the health of our children? When will the federal government ban all flavoured vapes and e-cigarettes?

Senator Harder: Again I thank the honourable senator for her question. It’s really a repeat of the earlier question.

I would like to make two points. First, that the scientific data that is quoted is an important subsequent piece of information to the legislation being considered. And second, the approach of the government in the previous Parliament, as I’m sure it will continue to be, is that science should lead us to good public health policy. I’m sure the minister is well seized of that, particularly in light of these studies.

Foreign Affairs

Detention of Canadians in China

Hon. Leo Housakos: Honourable senators, my question is for the government leader in the Senate.

I draw the attention of honourable senators to comments made last week by the Chinese Ambassador to Canada, in which he condemned a motion to be brought forward by Senator Ngo and myself, without even seeing the text. Before even a word of debate has taken place, the ambassador threatened firm countermeasures against Canada. These comments illustrate how China believes it can treat any democracy like it treats the people of Hong Kong — with bullying and intimidation.

I believe it’s incumbent upon the Government of Canada to stand up for the rights of parliamentarians to do their work and show the Chinese regime that this type of aggressive behaviour cannot win out.

Senator Harder, can you please tell us if Global Affairs will call in the Ambassador of China and explain to him that it is unacceptable to be issuing threats against parliamentarians and against Canada?

Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I thank the honourable senator for his question. Given the nature of the question, I, of course, will have to ask Global Affairs whether they have already done so or intend to do that.

(1520)

For my part, I have met with the ambassador and expressed my views with respect to what the appropriate interaction ought to be.

Senator Housakos: Honourable Senator Harder, you are the Government Leader in the Senate and it is incumbent upon you to answer questions, not for us to seek departmental answers.

Honourable senators, December 10 is designated as Human Rights Day by the United Nations. Unfortunately, it is also the one-year anniversary of Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig being illegally detained and incarcerated without due process by China. I also want to highlight that, over the last six months, China has trampled over pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong, who have been met with tear gas and batons by the Chinese regime.

Honourable senators, with regret, I would also like to point out that the Chinese, over the last few months, have incarcerated millions of Muslim minorities in China simply because of their desire for freedom of religion. The Chinese regime calls them “education camps,” but we know in reality what they are.

Government Leader, at what point will the government understand that our policy of appeasement towards China and kowtowing to all their demands is not working? When will the Canadian government take some real action?

Senator Harder: I thank the honourable senator for his question. I, of course, totally disagree and dismiss his suggestion that the Government of Canada is kowtowing or otherwise dismissing the concerns that he’s raised. It is quite the opposite. The Prime Minister, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and other appropriate ministers have, at the highest levels, engaged with China and our like-minded partners on a range of issues, some of which he has raised. With respect to the Uighurs, I know the Minister of Foreign Affairs raised this at his first meeting with his counterpart.

With respect to the detention of Canadians, the senator will know, or at least should recall, the actions that the government has taken throughout the course of the last year at various levels and in various fora. This is a very difficult situation for the Michaels, and I, for one, will not do anything or say anything that makes their lives more difficult.

Indigenous and Northern Affairs

Legislative Framework for First Nations Policing

Hon. Lillian Eva Dyck: Honourable senators, my question is for the Government Representative in the Senate.

Senator Harder, in the Speech from the Throne I was pleased to hear the government’s steadfast commitments to reconciliation and Indigenous peoples. Chief among them was a commitment to introduce legislation to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples by the end of 2020, to continue the work to implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action, and to the Calls for Justice of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

Carolyn Bennett, the Minister for Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs, speaking to the Assembly of First Nations Special Chiefs Assembly last week, stated that a national action plan in response to the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls would be tabled this coming June.

One of the Calls for Justice from the National Inquiry, No. 5.4, specifically deals with the call for governments to transform Indigenous policing. Call for Justice No. 5.4 calls upon governments to ensure that First Nations policing must be an exercise in self-governance and self-determination.

In the Liberal Party of Canada’s platform in the last election, a commitment was made to co-develop a legislative framework for First Nations policing which recognizes First Nations policing as an essential service. While this Liberal Party platform was not specifically mentioned in last week’s Speech from the Throne, the commitment to the inquiry to work on implementing the Calls for Justice was mentioned. As the national inquiry points out, First Nations policing is critical in addressing the tragedy of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

My question, Senator Harder, is this: While not specifically mentioned in the Speech from the Throne, can you confirm that the government is committed to the co-development of a legislative framework for First Nations policing, keeping in mind the specific parameters and Calls for Justice from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls?

Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): Again, I thank the honourable senator for her question and for her vigilance in raising the issues of Aboriginal and Indigenous reform and reconciliation.

The Speech from the Throne, as the honourable senator referenced, made significant commitments with regard to the priority that is placed by the government. I should also say that in the coming days I expect the mandate letters of ministers to become public, which will be further refinement of the expectations the government has of its ministry. I will leave for those documents to review the pacing and timing of the commitments the government made in the last election.

Foreign Affairs

Democracy Protests in Hong Kong

Hon. Jim Munson: Honourable senators, I have a supplementary question on the Hong Kong issue. I was going to ask a question about the children, but I have a year-and-a-half to ask about children and human rights.

I have been thinking about the young people on the streets of Hong Kong. Since we have spoken about human rights and the importance of this day, it seems to me that the government may have spoken but hasn’t spoken loud enough —

Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

Senator Munson: — about what is taking place on the streets of Hong Kong and particularly about police brutality. I had a young lawyer in my office two years ago —

The Hon. the Speaker: Senator Munson, you have about 10 seconds.

Senator Munson: Senator Harder, will the government speak louder about the human rights of the people of Hong Kong, as we’ve seen in the last few days and in the last six months?

Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I thank the honourable senator for his question. Let me say, as his question implied, that the government has been consistent in speaking out on these issues and in dealing with the appropriate interlocutors in the Government of China, and also with our like-minded partners, in terms of coordinating our approach and our concerns with respect to the events taking place in Hong Kong. The honourable senator and I attended a luncheon with Emily Lau last week to hear first-hand the concerns expressed by the leadership of the student movement.

These are quite unprecedented events and they’re events that the Prime Minister has spoken about and to. They’re ones that clearly all Canadians would wish the appropriate response to the democratic right of expression be observed. That has not been the case and that is to be regretted.

(At 3:29 p.m., the Senate was continued until tomorrow at 2 p.m.)