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2nd Session, 43rd Parliament
Volume 152, Issue 14

Tuesday, December 1, 2020
The Honourable George J. Furey, Speaker


THE SENATE

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

(Pursuant to rule 3-6(2), the adjournment of the Senate was extended from November 30, 2020 to December 1, 2020.)

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

Prayers.


SENATORS’ STATEMENTS

The Late Honourable Nicholas William Taylor

Hon. Jane Cordy: Honourable senators, I would like to share a few words with you about a former colleague, the late Senator Nick Taylor. Senator Taylor passed away in Calgary on October 3 at the age of 92.

Trained as a geologist and a mining engineer, Nick worked with several oil companies before starting his own company, Lochiel Exploration, in 1960. The company grew to be an international operation, with offices in Calgary, London, Syracuse, Tel Aviv, Cairo and Istanbul.

Nick believed that the measure of a person was not in how many times he failed but in how he learned from his failures and how he kept moving forward. He held fast to this motto, particularly as the energy market moved up and down during difficult economic shifts.

Nick’s passion for politics began in the 1960s. In 1968, the start of the Pierre Trudeau years, Nick ran for the Liberals in the federal election. He lost but later became leader of the provincial Liberal Party in 1974. He didn’t have a seat in the legislature but gained many friends and regaled the legislative reporters with many stories. In 1986, Nick won a seat in the legislature, along with three Liberal colleagues, one of whom was our former colleague Senator Grant Mitchell.

Nick had a wicked sense of humour, and Senator Simons gave us some examples of this in her tribute to Senator Taylor a few weeks ago.

Honourable senators, I guess the reality is that if you are going to be the Liberal leader in Alberta, then a sense of humour is definitely going to be an asset.

I last saw Nick in the spring of 2019 when, at the age of 91, he was testifying before the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources. Nick spoke in favour of Bill C-69, which was not the prevailing sentiment of many Albertans. Nick demonstrated that, even at the age of 91, he stood up for what he believed in, whether or not it was popular. It was such a treat to talk with him, to catch up and to see that he had not lost any of his spark or spunk.

Honourable senators, upon Nick’s passing, our former colleague and also a former leader of the Liberal Party in Alberta, Senator Grant Mitchell had this to say about Senator Taylor:

Nick Taylor was a remarkable person, intelligent, witty, deeply committed to public service and the world is a better place for having had Nick Taylor.

His wit made him very engaging and a great deal of fun to work with, but he was so much more than that. The nature of his wit was an indicator of his intelligence.

Senator Mitchell also said that Nick Taylor was “funny, fearless and deeply committed to making the world a better place.”

Honourable senators, my thoughts and prayers go out to his wife, Peg, and to his family. Thank you.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.

Canada’s Vote at the United Nations

Hon. Linda Frum: Honourable senators, this past summer, a monumental step forward was taken to advance the peace process in the Middle East. Two Gulf countries, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, opened diplomatic relations with Israel. Other Arab states are expected to follow — if not in the coming months, then in the coming years — including Sudan, which signed a normalization agreement in October.

These developments herald an extremely positive new era of peace and acceptance for the State of Israel. These agreements also signal a new attitude in the region — one in which the political, economic and human rights deprivations of the Palestinian people are understood to be the fault of the stale and stubborn Palestinian leadership.

Unfortunately, the Trudeau government used the situation otherwise. For the second year in a row, it has voted at the UN in favour of a one-sided resolution that supports Palestinian self-determination without acknowledging that Israel has the same right. It is a well-known anti-Israel ritual at the UN that takes place annually, but this is only the second time in 20 years that the Canadian government has voted in favour of the resolution. Both times occurred under the direction of Prime Minister Trudeau.

What is so odd, other than breaking with a 20-year tradition of being fair-minded, is that before proceeding to vote for the resolution, the Trudeau representatives at the United Nations detailed the resolution’s many shortcomings and pointed out that it unfairly targeted Israel. By voting in favour of the anti-Israel resolution, Canada took a side against the United States and Israel, and stood instead with North Korea, Syria, Iran and Venezuela.

As the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs put it:

That decision is not only contradictory, it flies in the face of Canada’s principled opposition to other resolutions in the unbalanced Question of Palestine basket of resolutions that are tabled annually at the U.N. . . . .

Honourable senators, this is not simply the complaint of a Conservative senator about a Liberal policy. Michael Levitt, until very recently, was a Liberal MP in good standing in the Trudeau government. He stepped down on September 1 to become the President and CEO of the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies. Here is what he had to say about the Trudeau government’s vote:

We are dismayed by Canada’s decision to undermine its longstanding policy of rejecting one-sided and prejudicial anti-Israel resolutions at the UN. By supporting this resolution, Canada is providing ammunition to those who seek to delegitimize and demonize the State of Israel, which ultimately sets back the prospects for peace in the region.

Honourable senators, I am standing today in support of Michael Levitt of the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal, CIJA, B’nai Brith and members of Canada’s Jewish community who are hurt and disappointed by the hostility expressed by our government against Canada’s friend and ally, Israel.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.

(1410)

Child Poverty

Hon. Mary Jane McCallum: Honourable senators, I rise today to speak on behalf of Grand Chief Arlen Dumas of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs with regard to the thirtieth anniversary of the federal government’s proclamation to end child poverty in Canada by 2000.

As of January 2020, over 1,350,000 children in Canada continue to live in poverty, with Indigenous children disproportionately affected. The updated Campaign 2000 report notes that the national child poverty rate has decreased very slowly over these last 30 years, from 22% to 18.6%. At this rate, it will take over 155 years for the government to reach their goal of eliminating child poverty.

The Manitoba region has among the highest rates of child poverty in Canada, at 31.6%. Almost one in three children who are under the age of 6 live in poverty. This is 12% above the national rate. A staggering 47% of status First Nations children live in poverty, 53% of those live on reserve and 41% reside off reserve.

We have seen first-hand how poverty is a cycle for many, emanating from the inter-generational effects and trauma from colonialization and federal and provincial government policies aimed at balancing budgets rather than creating legislative frameworks with sustained funding that will create meaningful change in a matter of a few years, not a few decades. We know that poverty, among other social determinants, is a direct pathway to the overrepresentation of First Nations’ children in the child welfare and justice system. Manitoba has the highest child welfare rates in Canada, with 11,000 children in care and 9,000 being First Nations children and youth. According to the 2018 Winnipeg Street Census, 77.9% of those who reported homelessness identified as First Nations and over 50% reported having involvement with child and family services.

A national, cookie-cutter approach has never worked as a solution. First Nations in Manitoba have a very different relationship with the Manitoba government than First Nations in other regions do. Take, for instance, how the Manitoba government has captured the Children’s Special Allowance from First Nations children in care from the years 2005 to 2019. These federal funds intended exclusively for the care, maintenance, education, training or advancement of children in care were forcibly clawed back from CFS agencies to be placed instead in the province’s coffers.

Thank you.

Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.

Federal, Provincial and Territorial Ministers of Agriculture

Hon. Robert Black: Honourable senators, I rise today to speak about the outcome of the recent virtual meetings of the federal, provincial and territorial ministers of agriculture.

I was pleased to hear the Minister of Agriculture announce a substantial package and firm timeline to support supply managed farmers in dairy, poultry, and egg industries, and reiterate this government’s dedication to improving our business risk management program, as well as the joint commitment by the two levels of government to create a working group to examine unfair grocery store practices. I’m looking forward to hearing the further details of these programs from both government and industry partners.

While these announcements are good news for Canadian agriculture, I am hopeful that additional supports will be made available for farmers as they continue to navigate these unprecedented circumstances. I am particularly hopeful that this government will expedite the promised financial support for dairy and poultry processors. They have been waiting patiently for further details on compensation to offset the impacts of recent trade deals, and it is imperative that this support come sooner rather than later. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted many important issues facing the agriculture and agri-food industries.

These issues, namely the limitations of the business risk management programs, the difficulty of interprovincial trade, and the need for sustained financial support as a result of detrimental trade agreements, as well as unfair grocery store practices, should continue to be top of mind for all levels of government given the critical role that Canadian agriculture has played throughout this crisis.

Honourable senators, the agricultural sector is struggling to utilize the suite of business risk management programs and access the financial support they need to survive. I hope that with the minister’s significant proposed changes the provinces and territories will come on board and work to further enhance Canada’s AgriStability program.

Another issue of concern to the agricultural industry is trade, as it pertains to both domestic and international opportunities. It is extremely unfortunate that it is more difficult to transport agricultural products within our country’s boundaries than it is to move them across the ocean. We will never be able to reach our full potential in international markets without being able to fully benefit from our internal trade. Moving forward, I hope that the government will be more cautious and not engage in deals that will further harm our country’s food producers.

At this time, I would like to thank the federal, provincial and territorial ministers of agriculture for their ongoing support of the agricultural sector throughout this pandemic. Our farmers, food processors and producers and agricultural workers have continued to put themselves at increased risk to feed Canadians, and the support of our government is both much needed and appreciated.

I am proud of Canadian agriculture for its continuous resiliency and adaptability over these past months. I truly believe that agriculture can come out of this crisis stronger than ever, and that agriculture will be an economic driver to help Canada through this pandemic.

Thank you very much for listening. Meegwetch.

Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.

[Translation]

National Missing Persons Strategy

Hon. Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu: Honourable senators, I rise today to pay tribute to the families of missing persons in Canada.

Honourable senators, according to the RCMP’s National Centre for Missing Persons and Unidentified Remains, or NCMPUR, 32,759 adults and 40,425 children across all categories were reported missing in 2019.

Fortunately, 90% of those cases were solved in less than a week. Unfortunately 10% of these missing persons cases, involving women, adults and children, will never be solved. That is worrisome.

Those figures give us an overview, but they are an underestimate. The numbers should be higher, but the criminal data regarding missing persons in Canada are unreliable. We need to remember that the families of these victims wait day after day, month after month, year after year for some sign of their missing loved one that will give them new hope. Waiting for answers is worse than the worst possible outcome.

People go missing because of human trafficking, the sexual exploitation of women and girls, organ trafficking and pedophilia. The victims are innocent, and often the guilty do not get criminally charged because the body of their victim is never found.

Sadly, victims’ families are often at a loss in dealing with this situation. It is hard to say goodbye to a loved one when there is no explanation, no body, no one to blame. All they have is the passing of time, as these families’ hopes of one day finding their loved one or getting justice slowly disappear, day by day.

Some missing persons cases are resolved months or even years later, often with bad news. Too often, families feel as though they were not listened to or were simply forgotten.

The national missing persons strategy is not effective. It is practically non-existent. Files on missing persons are scattered across the records of multiple police forces, justice departments, and provincial and local law enforcement agencies.

Furthermore, the families of victims often have to conduct their own investigations and research to provide evidence to law enforcement. They do not get any resources, experts or assistance, but more than anything, they do not get any consideration.

Dear colleagues, Canada needs new legislation to create a national missing persons strategy. It should create a national missing persons registry that is regularly updated, improve collaboration and communication among local, provincial, territorial and federal law enforcement agencies, and give the authorities more powers so that they can search for missing persons more effectively.

The first few hours are often the most crucial, and authorities should not take a lack of criminal evidence as an indication that a situation is not serious.

In closing, I want to pay tribute to the families of missing persons. I am sure this chamber will join me in listening to these families and meeting their expectations.

[English]

The Late Frederick (Fred) Sasakamoose, O.C.

Hon. Brent Cotter: Honourable senators, when I was a kid growing up in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, in the 1950s, the name Fred Sasakamoose was magical. The name rolls beautifully off the tongue. More importantly, Fred Sasakamoose was a hero to many of us young boys, aspiring hockey players that we were, unrealistically in my case. Fred was the most valuable player in Western Canada in those years and went straight from our beloved Moose Jaw Canucks to the National Hockey League. You had to be a great hockey player in those days. There were only six teams in the NHL compared to the 30 now.

(1420)

By all accounts, he was among or perhaps the first Indigenous man to play in the National Hockey League. In that sense, he was a trailblazer and door opener for many Indigenous hockey players who followed; George Armstrong, Reggie Leach, Theron Fleury and Jordan Tootoo come to mind.

After his career in hockey, Fred returned to his home reserve, the Ahtahkakoop First Nation, to continue to make contributions. He served on the band council for over 30 years, six as chief, a quiet, considerate role model and community leader.

What was not known until much later was that Fred Sasakamoose was not only an attendee at a residential school but a residential school survivor and had suffered horrendous abuse while at residential school.

We all admire people who, from humble roots, have risen to greatness and made meaningful contributions to their communities, but we are particularly admiring of those who have done so while overcoming almost insurmountable obstacles. Fred Sasakamoose was such a man.

Another great First Nations leader, the historic Chief Poundmaker, once said the following in Cree so this is a rough translation:

We all know the story of the man who sat beside the trail and the trail grew over and he could not find his way again. We cannot go back. We cannot sit beside the trail. We must go forward and try to build a better life.

Well, Fred Sasakamoose did not sit beside the trail. He was a trailblazer. He was a contributor to the sports world in his community and he helped build a better life for many. He was a great role model for young people, Indigenous and non-Indigenous people alike. Fred Sasakamoose, a Member of the Order of Canada, died last week of complications from COVID-19 at the age of 86.

Thank you, Fred Sasakamoose for a life well lived, for a life courageously lived. Thank you, hiy hiy.

Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.


[Translation]

ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

Auditor General

2020 Annual Reports Tabled

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the 2020 Annual Reports of the Auditor General of Canada to the Parliament of Canada, pursuant to the Auditor General Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. A-17,sbs. 7(5).

[English]

International Labour Conference

Convention and Recommendation Concerning Violence and Harassment, June 2019—Report Tabled

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the report to Parliament with Respect to the Convention and Recommendation concerning Violence and Harassment adopted at the 108th Session(June 2019) of the International Labour Conference, Geneva, Switzerland.

Finance

Supporting Canadians and Fighting COVID-19: Fall Economic Statement 2020—Report Tabled

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the document entitled Supporting Canadians and Fighting COVID-19: Fall Economic Statement 2020.

Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration

First Report of Committee Tabled

Hon. Sabi Marwah: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the first report of the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration entitled Financial Statements of the Senate of Canada for the year ended March 31, 2020.

Second Report of Committee Tabled

Hon. Sabi Marwah: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the second report of the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration entitled Annual Report on Parliamentary Associations’ Activities and Expenditures for 2019-20.

Foreign Affairs and International Trade

Report Pursuant to Rule 12-26(2) Tabled

Hon. Peter M. Boehm: Honourable senators, pursuant to rule 12-26(2) of the Rules of the Senate, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the first report of the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade, which deals with the expenses incurred by the committee during the First Session of the Forty-third Parliament.

(For text of report, see today’s Journals of the Senate, p. 196.)

Banking, Trade and Commerce

Report Pursuant to Rule 12-26(2) Tabled

Hon. Howard Wetston: Honourable senators, pursuant to rule 12-26(2) of the Rules of the Senate, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the first report of the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce, which deals with the expenses incurred by the committee during the First Session of the Forty-second Parliament.

(For text of report, see today’s Journals of the Senate, p. 196.)

Audit and Oversight

First Report of Committee Presented

Hon. David M. Wells: Honourable senators, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the first report (interim) of the Standing Committee on Audit and Oversight, which deals with the nomination of external members to the committee.

(For text of report, see today’s Journals of the Senate, p. 197.)

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this report be taken into consideration?

(On motion of Senator Wells, report placed on the Orders of the Day for consideration at the next sitting of the Senate.)

[Translation]

Judges Act
Criminal Code

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-3, An Act to amend the Judges Act and the Criminal Code.

(Bill read first time.)

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

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

[English]

Offshore Health and Safety Act

Bill to Amend—First Reading

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate) introduced Bill S-3, An Act to amend the Offshore Health and Safety Act.

(Bill read first time.)

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

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

(1430)

[Translation]

Corrections and Conditional Release Act

Bill to Amend—First Reading

Hon. Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu introduced Bill S-219, An Act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (disclosure of information to victims).

(Bill read first time.)

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

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

[English]

Transport and Communications

Notice of Motion to Authorize Committee to Study Elements Related to its Mandate Found in Ministerial Mandate Letters

Hon. Michael L. MacDonald: Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:

That the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications be authorized to examine and report on the elements related to its mandate found in the ministerial mandate letters of the Minister of Transport, the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry and the Minister of Canadian Heritage; and

That the committee submit its final report no later than September 30, 2022.

Committee of Selection

Notice of Motion to Authorize Committee to Meet during Sittings and Adjournments of the Senate and Hold Hybrid or Entirely Virtual Meetings

Hon. Terry M. Mercer: Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:

That, the Committee of Selection be authorized:

(a)until the end of December 2020, and notwithstanding rule 12-18(1), to sit even though the Senate may then be sitting;

b)until February 1, 2021, and pursuant to rule 12-18(2), to meet during an adjournment of the Senate; and

(c)to hold hybrid meetings or to hold meetings entirely by videoconference, notwithstanding any provision of the Rules or usual practice and taking into account the exceptional circumstances of the current pandemic of COVID-19; and

That the provisions of subparagraphs 7 to 10 of the order adopted by the Senate on November 17, 2020, concerning hybrid meetings and meetings entirely by videoconference, apply in relation to any hybrid meetings of the committee or any meetings that are entirely by videoconference.

Audit and Oversight

Notice of Motion to Authorize Committee to Meet During Sittings of the Senate

Hon. David M. Wells: Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:

That, for the remainder of the current parliamentary session, the Standing Committee on Audit and Oversight have the power to meet even though the Senate may then be sitting, and that rule 12-18(1) be suspended in relation thereto.

Notice of Motion to Authorize Committee to Refer Papers and Evidence from Audit Subcommittee of Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration of the First Session of the Forty-second Parliament and the First and Second Sessions of the Forty-third Parliament

Hon. David M. Wells: Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:

That the papers and documents received or produced by the Audit Subcommittee of the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration from the First Session of the Forty-second Parliament and the First and Second Sessions of the Forty-third Parliament, be referred to the Standing Committee on Audit and Oversight.

The Senate

Notice of Motion Pertaining to Wearing Masks during Senate Sittings and Committee Meetings

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

That, until the Speaker is satisfied that health and safety is not at risk, having reference to public health guidelines issued by local authorities, all senators present in the Senate Chamber during its sittings, or in one of its committee rooms during a committee meeting, be required to wear a mask at all times, except when intervening in debate or another proceeding of the Senate or one of its committees.

The Honourable Lillian Eva Dyck

Notice of Inquiry

Hon. Jane Cordy: Honourable senators, I give notice that, two days hence:

I will call the attention of the Senate to the career of former senator the Honourable Lillian Eva Dyck.


QUESTION PERIOD

Finance

Economic Update—COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout

Hon. Donald Neil Plett (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, my question is for the government leader in the Senate.

Senator Gold, safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines offer hope for the future for all Canadians. However, yesterday’s fall economic statement failed to provide any details on how and when vaccines will be rolled out across our country. This is despite the fact that the economic statement acknowledges that Canada’s economy cannot reopen until a vaccine is widely available.

The only thing we learned yesterday about the vaccine rollout is that the government plans to spend $125 million to ship and store the vaccines. This work, quite frankly, should have been completed months ago, senator.

Leader, the United Kingdom has said its vaccine rollout will begin within days. The United States has given its states until Friday to order doses of the Pfizer vaccine. Why can’t the Trudeau government give us details of Canada’s vaccine rollout?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you for your question. I think everyone in the chamber would agree that the distribution of vaccines and its rollout are important steps for us to combat the pandemic and to help us return to a more robust and normal economic life.

The government has been working on preparations for obtaining the necessary vaccines and their distribution for many months now. It has been working with the territories and the provinces who have the primary responsibility to make decisions within their borders on how those vaccines will be distributed.

The government is now nearing the final stages of finalizing the third-party logistical support that it needs, so that vaccine distribution can begin early next year. As we know, most recently the government has tasked Major-General Dany Fortin to oversee the logistical operations. The government remains committed to providing information as it is rolled out, and more importantly, to roll out vaccines for the benefit of Canadians in a timely fashion.

Senator Plett: The most true and most significant part of that answer was that everybody in this chamber understands the importance. It’s unfortunate that the Prime Minister, who spends most of his time in his cottage, does not have the same feelings that you and I do.

We have no specifics on the vaccine rollout, no widely available rapid tests, no details on the upcoming fiscal stimulus and no long-term fiscal anchor, only a hazy reference to — listen to this; they found a new word — fiscal guardrails. What the fall economic statement clearly did show, however, is that we are in debt to the tune of $1.1 trillion, and with a debt-to-GDP ratio of well over 50% for years to come, no matter which of the four proposed stimulus scenarios the government ultimately chooses.

(1440)

Leader, how are the so-called fiscal guardrails going to rein in your government when you can’t even tell us what they are? Do you commit to lay out these guardrails in — my notes say next year’s federal budget, but we have no guarantee that this government will ever bring down a budget, so let me say — whenever the government decides to present a budget?

Senator Gold: Thank you for your question, but the question betrays a certain assumption that this government does not share. This is not the time to be reining in the investment this government is making in the well-being of Canadians and their health and safety, and in maintaining their economic well-being. Its priority remains, and must remain, focused on the well-being of Canadians and businesses.

History teaches us there is wisdom in continuing to provide this kind of support to Canadians. The fiscal update that was provided yesterday was clear with regard to the government’s intentions, and this government’s commitment, to not only continue to invest in Canadians, but also to keep a very close eye on its spending to make sure that we continue to be able to spend in a responsible way.

In this regard, colleagues, it is important to remind ourselves not simply that we have the continuing fiscal capacity to do so, but that even after all this spending, which this chamber and the other place approved to help Canadians, and notwithstanding the hundreds of billions of dollars that we have spent in order to combat the health and economic crisis with which we are confronted, Canada remains in a strong economic position. Our debt-to-GDP ratio, which has climbed inevitably by virtue of the increased expenditures and the loss of revenues as a result of the economic crisis we are in, still remains the strongest, and is projected to remain the strongest, in the G7. As well, our credit rating from Moody’s has been reaffirmed, recently, in AAA terms.

Foreign Affairs

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development

Hon. Salma Ataullahjan: Senator Gold, here is my question for you. Prime Minister Trudeau said that he would vigorously support the former finance minister’s candidacy for the Secretary-General position in the Organisation for Economic Co‑operation and Development.

Also, it was reported that 19 public servants are working part-time on Morneau’s campaign. How much money is the government spending on staffing Mr. Morneau’s campaign?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you for your question. I don’t have the answer. However, to the extent that the answer is publicly disclosable or available, I will make inquiries.

Senator Ataullahjan: Thank you, Senator Gold. If you remember, when I ran for the presidency of the IPU, I was denied, and there was no cost endorsement by the Prime Minister. This reminds me of a very famous quote by George Orwell, one which I used to cite quite often in my student days, which says, “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” In March 2021, the OECD will decide on this top-level position, and as far as we know, the campaign has already incurred $6,265 just in hospitality costs. How much more does the government plan to charge taxpayers for Mr. Morneau’s campaign?

Senator Gold: Again, I don’t know the answer to that. I can’t help, though, but remind this chamber that the government has historically taken a different position with regard to elections to parliamentary associations as opposed to government associations.

[Translation]

Finance

Pharmacare System

Hon. René Cormier: Honourable senators, today being World AIDS Day, my question is for the Government Representative in the Senate.

In yesterday’s economic update, the Government of Canada reviewed the measures taken to create a national pharmacare program. Each province and territory has its own approach to covering the cost of treatment for HIV/AIDS patients, and there are many disparities.

COVID-19 has done a good job of reminding us that, absent a vaccine, the best solution is prevention. That’s one of the most effective weapons in the fight against the HIV/AIDS epidemic and, in this case, the best prevention is oral pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, a pill that HIV-negative people take preventively to avoid getting HIV/AIDS.

At this time, will the Government of Canada commit to fighting this now 40-year-old epidemic by guaranteeing uniform coverage of the drugs needed to treat HIV/AIDS?

In other words, will the government commit to providing easy, free access to PrEP for all Canadians who need it, no matter where in the country they are?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you for your question and for emphasizing the importance of this medication, which was developed for individuals at high risk of contracting HIV/AIDS and enables them to preventively reduce the risk of contracting the virus.

Since you gave notice of this question, I was able to contact the government and request information, but unfortunately I haven’t received an answer yet. Once I have the necessary information, I will inform the chamber.

Health

UNAIDS 90–90–90 Targets

Hon. Marie-Françoise Mégie: My question is for the Government Representative in the Senate.

I would like to follow up with another question similar to the one asked by Senator Cormier. As you know, today is World AIDS Day. The year 2020 is the deadline for achieving the UNAIDS targets of a 90-90-90 treatment ratio. Given that Canada endorsed those targets in 2016, can you tell us what concrete action the government has taken to achieve them?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you for the question and for highlighting the importance of this day. I unfortunately don’t have the information you’re looking for, but I can tell you that the government recognizes World AIDS Day as a reminder of the strength and resilience of people living with HIV/AIDS, a reminder of all the people we have lost, and a reminder of the significant progress that has been made in the fight against HIV/AIDS, although there is still work to be done.

Senator Mégie: Thank you, Senator Gold.

Could you promise me that you will table, in this chamber, a detailed report of the government’s plans for meeting our commitments as soon as you receive it?

Senator Gold: As soon as I receive such a document, I will definitely table it in the Senate, but first I will find out whether one is being produced.

[English]

Innovation, Science and Economic Development

Industry Strategy Council

Hon. Douglas Black: My question is also, of course, for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Senator Gold, I called for a Canadian economic COVID recovery council on April 2 of this year, and I have continued to press the government for a comprehensive framework for recovery ever since. While my call has not been heeded, the government did ask its existing Industry Strategy Council for sector-specific recommendations, and yesterday Minister Freeland spoke of jump-starting the economy.

I have learned that the Industry Strategy Council’s report was forwarded to Minister Bains two weeks ago. Immediately, I again undertook to seek answers from the minister, and, of course, I have heard nothing.

Senator Gold, let me ask you a couple of questions. First, would you please inform the Senate on when the government intends to release the complete recommendation of its Industry Strategy Council, and how the government intends to use these recommendations to jump-start the economy? Second, will the government commit to tabling a COVID economic recovery plan based on those recommendations within the next month?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you for your questions, senator. With regard to your second question, I’m not in a position to make a commitment of that nature. We are in the midst of the COVID pandemic and we are doing the best that we can to deal with it, but I will make inquiries and certainly get back to you.

With regard to the first part of your question, I have been advised that the Industry Strategy Council has, in fact, been meeting and providing advice to the government on an ongoing basis since early June of 2020. It has held a number of engagement sessions with businesses and key stakeholders, including labour and Indigenous communities, as part of its consultations to support its work.

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At this juncture, I cannot comment on the specific themes and points that may be contained in the council’s report, nor comment on any advice that is related to active government deliberations, but we expect that the report to which you made mention will be published soon.

Finance

Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility Program

Hon. Douglas Black: Thank you very much, Senator Gold. As has been well documented, Senator Gold, the support program for large employers, such as airlines, which have been devastated by COVID, has not worked. To date, only a casino, a metallurgical coal company and government consultants have benefited from the program. The Government of Canada, in fairness, has acknowledged that the program is not working and has promised changes to the LEEFF program.

Senator Gold, when will the revamped program details be available?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you for your question and for raising the important issue of support to that sector. I don’t know when exactly the details of the work and support will be announced. I am advised, however, that the government is working hard — as it has announced on a number of occasions and I have said in this chamber as well — to pivot from its approach of general support to all Canadians, regardless of sector, to more sector-specific support, some of which was announced by the Minister of Finance just yesterday.

Infrastructure Canada

COVID-19 Community Resilience

Hon. Patricia Bovey: This question is for the Government Representative in the Senate.

Senator Gold, millions of Canadians have been affected directly and indirectly by COVID, having lost loved ones, not being able to see loved ones, had the virus themselves and lost employment.

When I last spoke about COVID, I suggested four constructive actions our federal government can take: one, the development of national care standards; two, bricks-and-mortar development with assistance from federal infrastructure programming to build care homes with one-person rooms with ensuite bathrooms; three, immigration increases for health care personnel to assist with stressed and too few front-line workers; and four, supporting and leading the UN initiative for an international convention for the rights of elder persons.

I understand the government supports at least some of these suggestions. Can you tell us where the government is in enacting them?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you, senator, for your question. Let me say at the outset that with regard to items three and four of your suggestions — all are welcome — I have no information, but I can comment on the other two.

Regarding infrastructure and bricks and mortar, as you called it, the government recognizes that significant and immediate investments in public infrastructure are needed to help address the current health crisis and create jobs, but equally to continue our work toward rebuilding our infrastructure for the benefit of our communities.

Under the COVID-19 resilience funding stream launched in August, which amounts to $3.3 billion, as you know, provinces can retrofit existing not-for-profit long-term care homes or build new facilities, as long as the total project cost does not exceed $10 million and can be completed by the end of 2021, underlining the importance of finding immediate solutions to this crisis. Under that new stream, colleagues, the federal government pays 80 cents on every dollar invested, and 100% for such projects in Indigenous and remote communities.

With regard to national standards, and the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance was clear yesterday in her various appearances in the media. This is an example of how federalism can work together, given the exclusive provincial responsibility for health, but with the federal role in providing support in funding and leadership. It’s an example not only of how it can work, but how it needs to work through consultation and negotiation. It’s impossible to give a timeline on when the national standards will emerge because it involves, by constitutional necessity, the buy-in from the provinces and territories. The finance minister underlined that if she could wave a magic wand — alas, there is no magic wand — we would have the national standards in place in short order. There is a lot of work to do, and it involves the consultation and collaboration of all jurisdictions in this country.

Senator Bovey: Senator Gold, a report by the OECD, which was issued after the first wave of COVID-19 and based on numbers as of May 25, demonstrated that in Canada, some 81% of the total COVID-19 deaths occurred in long-term care homes. This is the highest number of 18 countries surveyed and double that of the OECD average. The numbers varied across the provinces, but the overall percentage does not paint a pretty picture.

Don’t you think it’s time for work on these national standards to be fast-tracked and started quickly, and let’s try to wave that magic wand?

Senator Gold: Thank you for your question. Every province, jurisdiction and owner of the homes where our families live are working hard to provide a safe and secure environment. It is a tragedy that so many have fallen sick and so many have perished.

National standards are something this government would support, but it cannot be done any faster than the relevant jurisdictions, both federal and provincial, can manage it, and situations vary so dramatically from province to province and within the province. Even within my own community, it varies within neighbourhoods. Alas, it is not something that can be wished to go faster, important though it is, and thank you for your question.

National Defence

Military Technology to Turkey

Hon. Leo Housakos: My question is for Senator Gold. Recently, we had the Trudeau government announce that they are conducting an investigation into the exemption that was granted that allowed for Canadian military technology to be sold to Turkey, which of course was then passed on to Azerbaijan and used in the massacre of Armenian men, women and children in Artsakh. Yet only two weeks ago we see that the Canadian ambassador was visiting Yerevan, presenting our credentials to the president of Armenia, and she chose not to honour a request by the ANCC for her to visit first-hand the evidence on the site where this Canadian technology was used in these atrocities.

Senator Gold, my question is very simple: Is the Trudeau government conducting an investigation in a serious way, or have they arrived at a predetermined conclusion already, similar to what we saw recently when they put out transcripts of readouts of phone calls before the phone calls had even occurred?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you for your question, senator. The government is engaged in a serious investigation, and when the results of that are made public, I will be the first to communicate it to this chamber.

Foreign Affairs

Canada’s Vote at the United Nations

Hon. Leo Housakos: I have a supplementary question for the government leader. Senator Gold, Canada has a long-standing history, one that dates back to then-Liberal prime minister Paul Martin, and was adhered to very steadfastly by the former prime minister and the Harper government, of not voting against the State of Israel, and always stood steadfastly with the State of Israel and did not support resolutions that seek to delegitimize the Jewish state.

Last year, when your Liberal government broke with this principled position, it was because of Justin Trudeau’s attempt to secure a UN Security Council seat, and that was of course just to upstage the former government, and we saw how that turned out. But now your government has done it again and has made it clear that this is your position going forward — to vote against Israel when it is prejudicially singled out by dictators and despots at that United Nations that has become a fiasco right now.

My question to you is very simple: What has happened to your principles, and why has this government chosen not to stand by the State of Israel and not stand by the only beacon of hope and the only democracy we have in the Middle Eastern region?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you for your question. As your colleague Senator Frum underlined in her statement earlier today, the vote has been disappointing to large segments of the community, especially but not exclusively the Jewish community, and I understand that well, as most of you would know.

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However, honourable senators, with respect, it is not the case that Canada is not standing with Israel. If you take a fair look at the number of resolutions that have been put before the UN and Canada’s voting record on those, it is overwhelmingly in support of Israel, notwithstanding this one continuation of a change to which you referred. Canada and Israel are strong allies. Israel relies upon Canada and Canada upon Israel for economic cooperation and cooperation in many other domains.

Though I understand the disappointment when the government continued on this one particular motion amongst many, it is simply not the case that this represents an abandonment of principles. On the contrary, Canada stands with Israel as a beacon of democracy in the Middle East and as a strong and enduring ally.

[Translation]

Finance

Palliative Care

Hon. Claude Carignan: I will continue in the same vein as Senator Bovey.

You said that the federal government’s role in health is to provide support and leadership. I would like to talk to you about palliative care.

Quebec has established that it usually needs one bed per 10,000 inhabitants to meet the demand for palliative care. One bed costs approximately $180,000 per year.

I asked the office of the Minister of Health to provide me with the amounts allocated to each province for palliative care. I was extremely surprised to receive a reply, but I was even more surprised by the reply itself.

British Columbia receives $12.8 million, which funds about 74 beds, or approximately 13%; Alberta receives $8 million for about 47 beds, or 10% of needs; Saskatchewan receives $5 million for 29 beds, which represents 23% of needs; Manitoba receives $2 million for 12 beds, or 8%; and New Brunswick receives $3 million for 17 beds, when it needs 78 beds.

Leader, given that we are studying Bill C-7, do you think that the federal government is providing support and leadership with respect to funding for palliative care when it gives $3 million to New Brunswick?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you for raising the importance of this aspect of our health care system that helps ensure that people can be properly cared for, especially at the end-of-life stage. However, I must point out that there is a host of programs and transfers in place for every level of government.

The federal government recognizes its responsibility for contributing to health care funding, just as it recognizes the needs of the provinces. It also respects the priorities of the provinces that receive significant transfers from the federal government, without conditions, in order to invest in the most important sectors.

Senator Carignan: Leader, in my region, there is a palliative care home with seven beds. It has to reject 53% of the applications it receives because of the shortage of beds.

Half its budget, or $650,000 a year, has to be raised by the public through fundraisers. These are volunteers who try to raise 50% of the palliative care home’s budget.

Do you really think the federal government is playing its role of providing support and leadership to Maison Sercan in Saint-Eustache?

Senator Gold: I tip my hat to you for your involvement, Senator Carignan. I have no doubt that other senators are involved in fundraisers to help palliative care centres, which unfortunately still do not receive enough public funding.

Again, I think that the federal government recognizes its responsibility, and I believe that it is making a good contribution. With the aging population and growing health costs, there will never be enough funding to help the volunteers. I thank you for your question.

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, the time for Question Period has expired.


[English]

ORDERS OF THE DAY

The Senate

Motion to Call Upon the Government to Conduct and Publish an Analysis on Iran-sponsored Terrorism—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Housakos, seconded by the Honourable Senator Martin:

That the Senate of Canada call upon the Government of Canada to conduct and publish an analysis, no later than March 30, 2021, on Iran-sponsored terrorism, incitement to hatred, and human rights violations, emanating from Iran and to identify and impose sanctions, pursuant to the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act (Sergei Magnitsky Law), against Iranian officials responsible for those activities.

Hon. Leo Housakos: Honourable senators, this motion is pretty straightforward. It calls on the government to publish an analysis by the end of next March of the Iran-sponsored terrorism, incitement to hatred and human rights violations emanating from that country, and to identify and impose sanctions pursuant to the Magnitsky law against Iranian officials responsible for those activities.

You will recall that on October 29, in speaking to another one of my motions on China, I went into detail about the origins of Canada’s Magnitsky law and what it does.

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I won’t repeat myself other than to say that, due to the efforts of our former colleague Senator Andreychuk, but more importantly because of the ordeal suffered by the bill’s namesake, Sergei Magnitsky, at the hands of the Russians, there are now in Canadian law, consequences for foreign officials who commit human rights abuses and violate principles of fundamental justice and the rule of law.

I also mentioned at that time that, since the bill came into effect, foreign officials in Russia, Venezuela, South Sudan, Myanmar and Saudi Arabia have had Magnitsky imposed upon them. That is good, of course. What is mystifying is why this government has imposed no Magnitsky sanctions on officials in Iran.

Mystifying, although sadly it is perfectly predictable with this government since it took office in 2015, and in keeping with their approach to tyrannical regimes like Iran. It is an approach that, more than anything, seems to have sprung from the need by the Trudeau government to distinguish itself again from the Harper government that preceded it.

Maybe that’s the answer to the question I asked of the government leader earlier today. Perhaps that’s why his leader, Justin Trudeau, has departed from the long-standing principled position of not supporting anti-Israeli resolutions at the United Nations. When the PM first did so last year, it was because he was chasing a UN Security Council seat, which was nothing more than an attempt again to upstage former Prime Minister Harper. We saw how that ended up.

Mr. Trudeau did so again a couple of weeks ago. Michael Levitt stepped down as a Liberal MP this summer and is now president of the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center. I quote Michael Levitt who is not a Conservative and who is not partisan:

By supporting this resolution, Canada is providing ammunition to those who seek to delegitimize and demonize the State of Israel which ultimately sets back the prospects for peace in the region.

In supporting a resolution that so unfairly and unjustly targets Israel, in siding with every despot and tyrant in the world, it’s clear that it wasn’t a one-time departure, as the government leader in the Senate says, but that Canada will maintain an anti-Israeli position under Justin Trudeau. It’s not only a petty obsession with differentiating oneself from the former prime minister; it’s all the more dangerous given the approach to Iran.

As senators will recall, the Harper government took a tough line on Iran, going so far in 2012 as to sever diplomatic ties with that regime, expelling their diplomats and closing our embassy.

In doing so, then-foreign minister John Baird noted that Iran is amongst the world’s worst violators of human rights. But he went even further than that, noting that in addition to their abysmal record on human rights, Iran shelters and materially supports terrorist groups and incites hatred against and threatens Israel with annihilation, and was amongst the most fervent supporters of the murderous Assad regime in Syria. In fact, in recognition of Iran’s record as being the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism, the Harper government enacted the Justice For Victims of Terrorism Act. The JVTA, as it is known, allows victims of terrorism and their families, in the words of then-justice minister Rob Nicholson,

. . . to sue perpetrators and supporters of terrorism, including listed foreign states, for loss or damage that occurred as a result of an act of terrorism committed anywhere in the world . . .

— on or after January 1, 1985. In other words, it removes state immunity from regimes sponsoring terrorism.

The first lawsuit under the JVTA was launched a year later by Vancouver dentist Sherri Wise , who sued Iran for its role in the 1997 Hamas bombing in which she was injured.

Three years later, in 2016, in Ontario, five court proceedings were launched by victims of eight separate attacks by Hamas and Hezbollah. The judge awarded the victims millions of dollars from Iranian non-diplomatic properties and bank accounts in Ottawa and Toronto.

Honourable senators, the JVTA addresses Iran’s sponsorship of terror. The measure of its effectiveness can be weighed not just in the dollar amounts awarded to the victims of Iranian-sponsored terrorism, but in the amount of outrage it has caused on the part of the Iranian government.

An Iranian foreign ministry spokesman called the Ontario court ruling, “a political ruling,” that was hostile to Iran, and likened it to the policies of the “former extremist government.” He was talking about the Harper government, of course, and its hardline stance against terrorism and those who sponsor it.

What I say to that is boohoo. Like other authoritarian governments — China for instance — what the Iranian regime and its foreign minister in particular fail to appreciate about democracies is that in our system of government, the state does not interfere in judicial proceedings.

Of course, given the Trudeau government’s reprehensible behaviour in the SNC-Lavalin affair, the Iranian regime perhaps could be excused for being somewhat confused about this principle.

Honourable senators, I mention the JVTA for two reasons — as an example of an effective measure applied to a criminal regime and because, as then-Minister Nicholson mentioned in his speech, the JVTA has its origin in the Senate. Specifically, he referred to our former colleague Senator Tkachuk and other great giants of this institution, and to Bill S-7, which like the government bill that became law, sought to remove state immunity from those states who have been listed for supporting terrorism.

Bill S-7, under different bill numbers, spent some seven years in the Senate before former prime minister Stephen Harper made it a government bill and passed it into law. But Senator Tkachuk was not done yet. In 2017, he introduced another Senate public bill, Bill S-219, that cut a broader swath than did Bill S-7. It recognized that not only is the Iranian regime one of the world’s leading sponsors of terrorism abroad, but also an inciter of hate; an habitual and flagrant abuser of human rights.

Senators will recognize in my motion echoes of Bill S-219, which had it become law, would have, among other things, required the Minister of Foreign Affairs to publish an annual report on Iran-sponsored terrorism, incitement to hatred and human rights violations.

That bill was voted down in the Senate, though many of the senators who voted against it had only been newly appointed, literally days before they voted it down. They couldn’t possibly have been familiar with it or with the witness testimony for it or against it; yet they voted against it.

One of the witnesses at the committee was Irwin Cotler, without a doubt Canada’s pre-eminent expert on human rights and a former Liberal Minister of Justice. He can hardly be called by you partisan.

At the time of his testimony, Mr. Cotler was the chair of the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights. He was a supporter of Bill S-219, which he described as “a modest framework . . . dealing with the three major threats of the Iranian threat network.”

Mr. Cotler went on to elaborate on the three areas that my motion is focused on. I quote:

It is important to emphasize that [Iran] is in standing violation of international norms and international agreements to which Canada and Iran are both state parties. In other words, if Iran engages in international terrorism, then it is violating a network of international treaties and agreements, including when it is engaged in international terrorism that ends up targeting diplomats, as it has, and this engages the whole network of diplomatic immunity, treaties and the like.

If it involves incitement to genocide, then, as I said, it’s a standing violation of the genocide convention and a breach of the obligations to us as a state party not to engage in such incitement.

If it engages in major human rights violations, it is in violation of major international treaties such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights or the treaty on torture. Again, these are treaties where we are both state parties.

In a word, we are obligated as a state party to these treaties, let alone as a responsible member of the international community, to enforce these international norms, to sanction these violators, and to combat the culture of impunity that purports to immunize violators from accountability.

Those are not my words. Those are the words of former Justice Minister Cotler.

The main argument made by those who opposed Bill S-219 was that it insisted Canada maintain its sanctions against Iran until in two consecutive annual reports — similar to the report I am proposing in my motion — it could be demonstrated that Iran had made improvements on all three fronts.

Several expert witnesses were invited to committee and testified that Canada going it alone with sanctions would not work and might in fact be counterproductive.

Additionally, Global Affairs Canada sent a letter to the committee in which they strongly opposed Bill S-219 as being contrary to their policy of engagement with Iran. Global Affairs wants to engage with everybody. That’s their business, colleagues.

Senators will recall at the time that Canada was discreetly meeting with Iranian diplomats in order to further that engagement and quite possibly reopen our embassy there.

Initially, ISG senators on the Foreign Affairs Committee tried to kill it in committee, but wiser heads prevailed and it was sent back to the chamber, where it was defeated on third reading on May 9, 2018.

I guess the government was happy.

Honourable senators, much has changed since then. The Magnitsky law, which was before the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee at the same time as Bill S-219, received Royal Assent back in October 2017.

In the time since, as I have mentioned, Canada has imposed Magnitsky on foreign officials in many, many countries. There are ample precedents here for imposing sanctions against Iranian officials who would be identified in the government’s analysis for Iranian regime behaviour that I am proposing.

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Second, almost exactly a month after Bill S-219 was defeated in the Senate, members of both the government and opposition in the house voted 248 to 45 in favour of a motion that Canada, “. . . immediately cease any and all negotiations or discussions with the Islamic Republic of Iran to restore diplomatic relations. . . .”

Supporting that motion were Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland and Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale.

The motion also called for the immediate designation of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a listed terrorist entity under the Criminal Code. Again, the Liberal Prime Minister, the foreign minister and the public safety minister voted in favour of the motion.

Honourable senators, no Magnitsky sanctions have been imposed on Iranian officials, who are members of a regime that remains one of the world’s worst violators of human rights.

The IRGC, the main organ of the regime perpetrating many, if not all of that — has yet to be listed under the Criminal Code despite the government voting more than two years ago in favour of a motion to immediately list it. Perhaps they need to be nudged again or they need to be reminded what motions they actually unanimously support in the House of Commons. It is well past the time for the Canadian government to identify who the Iranian officials are who carry out its many crimes and impose Magnitsky sanctions on them.

I hope, honourable colleagues, we come to recognize that without a doubt Iran is the biggest perpetrator of human rights violations, the biggest supporter of extremism right now around the world, yet time and time again our government refuses to call them out. They refuse and they have pushed aside the wishes of this Parliament. We now have another opportunity to continue to stand up for democracy, human rights and the rule of law. I hope, honourable colleagues, those of you who do will support this motion. Thank you.

Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.

(On motion of Senator Dasko, debate adjourned.)

Social Affairs, Science and Technology

Committee Authorized to Study the Implementation and Success of a Federal Framework on Post-traumatic Stress Disorder

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Housakos, seconded by the Honourable Senator Martin:

That the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology be authorized to examine and report on the implementation and success of a federal framework on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) by the Government of Canada as it relates to the four identified priority areas with a focus on data collection, that is, improved tracking of the rate of PTSD amongst first responders and its associated economic and social costs, when and if the committee is formed; and

That the committee submit its final report no later than February 28, 2021.

Hon. Yonah Martin (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Question.

Hon. Pierrette Ringuette (The Hon. the Acting Speaker): Are honourable senators ready for the question?

Hon. Senators: Question.

The Hon. the Acting Speaker: It was moved by the Honourable Senator Housakos, seconded by the Honourable Senator Martin that the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology — shall I dispense?

Some Hon. Senators: Dispense.

An Hon. Senator: No.

The Hon. the Acting Speaker: Who said, “no?”

That the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology be authorized to examine and report on the implementation and success of a federal framework on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) by the Government of Canada as it relates to the four identified priority areas with a focus on data collection, that is, improved tracking of the rate of PTSD amongst first responders and its associated economic and social costs, when and if the committee is formed; and

That the committee submit its final report no later than February 28, 2021.

Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?

Some Hon. Senators: No.

An Hon. Senator: On division.

The Hon. the Acting Speaker: I hear a “no.”

Some Hon. Senators: No. 

The Hon. the Acting Speaker: Those in favour of the motion and who are present in the Senate Chamber, please say, “yea.”

Some Hon. Senators: Yea.

The Hon. the Acting Speaker: Those who oppose the motion and who are present in the Senate Chamber, please say, “nay.”

Some Hon. Senators: Nay.

The Hon. the Acting Speaker: In my opinion, the nays have it.

And two honourable senators having risen:

The Hon. the Acting Speaker: Do we have an agreement on the bell?

Some Hon. Senators: Thirty minutes.

The Hon. the Acting Speaker: If you are opposed to a 30‑minute bell, please say, “nay.” We will have a 30‑minute bell, with the vote at 3:55. Call in the senators.

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The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, there was a message on the screen about voting on an adjournment. I want to make it perfectly clear before the vote starts that we are voting on Motion No. 9, not on an adjournment. Is that understood?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, if you are participating by videoconference, you should have three voting cards, one to vote yea, one to vote nay, and one to abstain. If you do not have the voting card, you can reproduce them on paper with a pen or marker.

Please hold the appropriate card at the appropriate time to indicate how you wish to vote. Once your name has been called, please lower your card.

After reading the question, I will ask those in favour who are in the chamber to rise, after which those participating by videoconference will hold up the “yea” card. We will then proceed in the same way for the nays and the abstentions.

It was moved by the Honourable Senator Housakos, seconded by the Honourable Senator Martin:

That the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology be authorized to examine and report on the implementation and success of a federal framework on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) by the Government of Canada as it relates to the four identified priority areas with a focus on data collection, that is, improved tracking of the rate of PTSD amongst first responders and its associated economic and social costs, when and if the committee is formed; and

That the committee submit its final report no later than February 28, 2021.

Motion agreed to on the following division:

YEAS
The Honourable Senators

Ataullahjan Lankin
Batters Loffreda
Bellemare MacDonald
Beyak Manning
Boniface Marshall
Brazeau Martin
Busson Massicotte
Campbell McPhedran
Carignan Mercer
Cotter Mockler
Dalphond Munson
Dawson Ngo
Frum Oh
Gagné Patterson
Gold Plett
Greene Poirier
Griffin Ravalia
Harder Richards
Housakos Seidman
Jaffer Smith
Klyne Stewart Olsen
Kutcher Wells
LaBoucane-Benson Wetston—46

NAYS
The Honourable Senators

Anderson Duffy
Bernard Duncan
Black (Alberta) Dupuis
Black (Ontario) Forest
Boehm Hartling
Bovey McCallum
Dagenais Omidvar
Dasko Simons
Dean Tannas
Downe Woo—20

ABSTENTIONS
The Honourable Senators

Cordy Marwah
Cormier Mégie
Coyle Miville-Dechêne
Deacon (Nova Scotia) Moncion
Deacon (Ontario) Moodie
Forest-Niesing Pate
Francis Ringuette
Galvez Saint-Germain—16

Hon. Jane Cordy: Your Honour, I believe if you abstain, you can explain your vote. I would like to say that the study of post-traumatic stress disorder would be an excellent study. However, we’ve passed numerous motions in this chamber telling committees what they should study. Committees are masters and mistresses of their own destiny. They can choose what they wish to study. Even if a motion like this passes in the chamber, it does not force a committee to study that. That’s why I abstained.

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I think that we’re getting a little carried away with telling committees what they should study. Most committees are currently in the organizational stages, and I’m sure they will have lengthy discussions about the types of issues they feel would be most relevant to them. That’s why I abstained this time, because it is up to the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology to determine what studies they would like to go forward with. Thank you.

Human Rights

Motion to Authorize Committee to Study Issues Relating to the Human Rights of Federally Sentenced Persons in the Correctional System and Refer Papers and Evidence from First Session of the Forty-Second Parliament to Current Session—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Pate, seconded by the Honourable Senator Boehm:

That the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights be authorized to examine and report on issues relating to the human rights of federally sentenced persons in the correctional system, with reference to both national and international law and standards, as well as to examine the situation of marginalized or disadvantaged groups in federal prisons, including Black and Indigenous Peoples, racialized persons, women and those with mental health concerns, when and if the committee is formed;

That the papers and evidence received and taken and work accomplished by the committee on this subject during the First Session of the Forty-second Parliament be referred to the committee; and

That the committee submit its final report no later than June 30, 2021.

Hon. Wanda Elaine Thomas Bernard: Honourable senators, today I speak in support of Motion No. 31, that the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights be authorized to examine and report on issues relating to the human rights of federally sentenced persons in the correctional system. I thank our colleague Senator Pate for calling on us to complete this study.

In the previous Parliament, the study’s final report was drafted by Human Rights Committee members and analysts over the course of a three-year study, consisting of 30 public hearings with testimony from over 150 witnesses and 30 on-site visits across the country. We visited federal penitentiaries, healing lodges, community-based correctional facilities and mental health centres. As the former chair of the committee and as a registered social worker, I emphasize the urgency of the tabling of this final report and its recommendations. Our duty as senators is to act in the best interests of all Canadians. Witnesses placed their trust in us, and prisoners are relying on us to follow through with our commitment to hold our government accountable for the safeguarding of their rights.

This study was a thorough examination into the policies, practices and procedures in the correctional system and the resulting conditions endured by prisoners. The final recommendations have the power to create real change. This work recognizes the humanity of prisoners and their right to access basic needs. It is about building strong communities and creating systemic change. Throughout this study, committee members heard repeatedly that this system is not working. It was frequently referred to as a “revolving door.” This report will outline concrete recommendations for systemic change to the criminal justice system.

The Senate Human Rights Committee’s interim report entitled The Most Basic Right is to be Treated as a Human Being, exposed racial inequities and the ways systemic racism impacts the lives of Indigenous, Black and racialized people. As we find ourselves witnessing and experiencing the current civil rights movement after the murder of George Floyd in May 2020, many colleagues have expressed dismay and disappointment as they have become aware of some of the realities of systemic racism faced by Black Canadians.

On October 24, The Globe and Mail released an in-depth article on how Black and Indigenous prisoners are impacted by systemic racism, specifically in the form of assessments that have been shown to disproportionately rank Black and Indigenous prisoners as more likely to reoffend.

These findings are just one of many racial inequities found in the criminal justice system. The committee heard, over the course of the study, many forms of systemic racism in Canada through policies and practices within the correctional system. The final report on prisoners’ rights is a step toward racial justice. Finalizing this study will shine a light on the experiences of incarcerated Indigenous, Black and racialized people, showing that we believe their lives matter and we have not forgotten our commitment to them.

Honourable senators, we have each sworn to represent our regions and to serve the most vulnerable people in our country. Many people do not recognize prisoners as vulnerable people due to their criminal records. The punishment for a crime is serving time or the loss of liberty. The punishment for a crime is not to have your other rights taken away through everyday practices in prisons. All people, no matter their history, deserve basic human rights. The reality is that prisoners are vulnerable people due to the systemic oppression that impacts their circumstances, such as poverty, racism and colonialism. Some of the key areas of concern that the committee examined were basic physical needs like access to health care, dentistry, nutrition, exercise and physical space. We also looked at social and psychological needs, including social contact, access to educational resources, mental health services and access to meaningful cultural, religious and faith-based ceremonies and practices.

In my 40-plus years of working as a social worker, I have worked with incarcerated men and women, families of those incarcerated and communities on the other side of that revolving door. Canadians have collectively grown accustomed to ignoring the realities of prisons as prisoners are warehoused out of sight and, therefore, out of mind. Prisoners are members of our communities, and ignoring their human rights does not strengthen our communities.

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The realities of Indigenous, Black and racialized people; people with disabilities; and women are all represented within the interim report, and the final report would deepen the understanding of some of the most vulnerable people we represent.

In my years of research with the African Nova Scotian community, one crucial part of my research has been to share the results with people who were interviewed, peripherally involved and could be impacted by the results. Not allowing the public to see this final report would be harmful to the people who have been invested throughout the process, awaiting the potential for systemic change.

My fellow committee members can attest to this. As we walked through each institution, prisoners told us that they were following the study; they watched us on CPAC. My office still receives requests from prisoners regarding the release of this final report.

Finishing this study is an issue of human rights, research ethics, and of transparency and trust. Canadians have placed their trust in our institution with their personal stories and professional opinions. People participated in this study in good faith, and we have a responsibility and a duty to follow through with this work for them.

Honourable senators, I urge you to recognize the humanity of the thousands of prisoners who are essentially warehoused across Canada. Let’s put a stop to the human rights violations that are invisible to most of our society by finalizing this study and tabling the final report to change a system that is not working.

Thank you.

Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.

Hon. Kim Pate: I call the question.

The Hon. the Speaker: Are honourable senators ready for the question?

Some Hon. Senators: No.

Hon. Yonah Martin (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): I move the adjournment of the debate.

The Hon. the Speaker: It was moved by the Honourable Senator Martin, seconded by the Honourable Senator Plett, that further debate be adjourned to the next sitting of the Senate.

Any senator opposed to the motion will please say “no.” I hear a “no.”

All those in favour of the motion in the Senate Chamber will please say “yea.”

Some Hon. Senators: Yea.

The Hon. the Speaker: All those opposed to the motion in the Senate Chamber will please say “nay.”

Some Hon. Senators: Nay.

The Hon. the Speaker: In my opinion, the “yeas” have it.

(On motion of Senator Martin, debate adjourned, on division.)

The Senate

Motion to Call Upon the Government to Condemn the Joint Azerbaijani-Turkish Aggression Against the Republic of Artsakh—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Housakos, seconded by the Honourable Senator Smith:

That the Senate of Canada call upon the Government of Canada to immediately condemn the joint Azerbaijani-Turkish aggression against the Republic of Artsakh, uphold the ban on military exports to Turkey, recognize the Republic of Artsakh’s inalienable right to self-determination and, in light of further escalation and continued targeting of innocent Armenian civilians, recognize the independence of the Republic of Artsakh.

Hon. Pierre J. Dalphond: Honourable senators, I will speak to Motion No. 36, inviting this chamber, amongst other things, to:

 . . . call upon the Government of Canada to . . . recognize the Republic of Artsakh’s inalienable right to self-determination and . . . recognize the independence of the Republic of Artsakh.

I thank Senator Housakos for bringing to our attention the civil war that was raging in the South Caucasus and that went largely ignored as the world focused on COVID-19 and the American election.

I had the privilege of visiting Armenia in 2008 as head of a delegation of Canadian judges when the Armenian judiciary was admitted as a member of the International Association of Judges, a body affiliated with the United Nations, which promotes an independent judiciary worldwide.

The Hon. the Acting Speaker: Honourable senators, we are experiencing technical issues, and some senators are not receiving translation. We will suspend to resolve the issue.

(The sitting of the Senate was suspended.)

(The sitting of the Senate was resumed.)

(1630)

[Translation]

Senator Dalphond: On my first day in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, I was struck by the beauty of the town square. I was then pleasantly surprised to learn that Charles Aznavour’s French songs are regularly played over the loudspeakers there. As you may know, this famous French singer was a son of Armenia. I fell in love with Armenia and its people right then and there, and that love story still lives on today.

[English]

During my stay, I was invited to visit the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute which overlooks the scenic Ararat Valley and majestic Mount Ararat, where Noah’s ark is said to have sat. The museum is an impressive and beautiful building that serves as a reminder to Armenians and world of the atrocities committed against Armenians between 1914 and 1923, the final years of the Ottoman Empire, including the 1915 genocide. It is said that between 800,000 and 1.5 million Armenians living in this part of the world lost their lives due to pogroms and forced expulsion from their various homelands. In the last 20 years, many democratic countries have come to recognize the Armenian genocide.

[Translation]

In 2001, France passed the Loi relative à la reconnaissance du génocide arménien de 1915, a law recognizing the 1915 Armenian genocide. In 2019, President Macron signed a decree making April 24 an annual day of remembrance of the genocide for France.

In 2004, the House of Commons adopted a motion recognizing the existence of the Armenian genocide of 1915 and declared it a crime against humanity.

The Quebec National Assembly has unanimously supported every motion related to the Armenian genocide that has been moved since 1980. That support culminated in the passage of the Act to Proclaim Armenian Genocide Memorial Day in 2003, which made April 24 a day of remembrance of the genocide for Quebec.

[English]

Almost one year ago, the American House of Representatives passed a resolution recognizing the Armenian genocide, and president-elect Joe Biden has committed to recognizing it.

Unfortunately, when boundaries between Armenia and Azerbaijan were drawn by the Soviets in the 1920s, the Armenian community located in the region called Nagorno-Karabakh ended up in what was called the Soviet Republic of Azerbaijan, where it was granted the status of autonomous oblast, or region, in acknowledgment of its distinct, largely Armenian identity. However, this area is surrounded by various other parts of west Azerbaijan, inhabited by Kurds and Azeris.

In the beginning of the 1990s, while the Soviet regime was collapsing, a civil war erupted between the Azerbaijan army and the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh backed by the Armenian army. It led to a military victory by Armenian forces. By 1994, when a ceasefire was agreed upon, Armenian forces were in full control of the Nagorno-Karabakh region and all of its western surrounding regions, in whole representing about 20% of Azerbaijan territory. As a result, between 700,000 and 1 million Kurds and Azeris were displaced from their farms, villages and homelands and made refugees in Baku, Azerbaijan’s capital, and other regions of Azerbaijan. Some international observers called it an ethnic cleansing.

These historical events, and many others affecting the ethnic groups living in this part of the world, have come to define them, the region and their relations with neighbouring countries. For example, Azerbaijanis are called “Turks” by many Armenians, and hate speeches are frequent by one group against the other.

After the 1994 ceasefire, most of the world forgot about this conflict, but tensions remained high between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and some experts wrote about a “frozen” conflict. In reality, an enduring state of hostility was present on both sides of the line of conflict. Despite three United Nations resolutions calling for a return of control of the western parts of Azerbaijan to the Baku government, and five proposals from the Minsk Group led by Russia, the United States and France, nothing changed.

On September 27, 2020, the unresolved tensions erupted in a new civil war in many parts along the line of conflict. This time, Azerbaijan was a superior military force, thanks to oil revenues that provided them the ability to buy military equipment from Russia, Israel and France, among other arms suppliers. Later on, it was reported that some military equipment sold by Canada to Turkey, a NATO ally, was being used in drones used by Azerbaijani forces in the ongoing civil war.

In response, Minister Champagne announced that Canada was suspending the export of military equipment to Turkey pending an investigation on how they made their way into the civil war zone.

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It was also reported by credible sources that Turkey was providing other forms of support to the Baku government, including the provision of war mercenaries recruited in Syria, ready to inflict exactions, brutality and even murders on civilian Armenians living in the western parts of Azerbaijan, especially those living in the former Kurdish and Azeri regions under the control of Armenian forces since 1994.

Prime Minister Trudeau called on the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan to urge an immediate ceasefire and a resumption of negotiations. Subsequently, Minister Champagne travelled to Europe to support a ceasefire, seeking the intervention especially of the three co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group: France, the United States and Russia.

Incidentally, the OSCE this year celebrates its thirtieth anniversary since the Charter of Paris was entered into in 1990. It has committed to try again to bring the parties to reach a settlement in the long-lasting conflict over the status of Nagorno-Karabakh.

So far, the acts of the Canadian government are in line with our commitment to multilateralism, respect for international law principles, peaceful solutions to conflicts and deployment of neutral forces when required.

As you know, on November 9 — 10 days after Senator Housakos’s motion, and after six weeks of violent fights — a ceasefire has been agreed to between the Government of Armenia and the Government of Azerbaijan under the supervision of Russia. Pursuant to it, peacekeeping operations will be conducted by Russia to preserve the ceasefire, prisoners will be exchanged, humanitarian assistance will become available and negotiations will be held on the future of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Unfortunately, since September 27, too many civilians — men, women and children — on both sides of the line of conflict have died or were injured, destruction has been widespread and tens of thousands of people were once again displaced, this time toward Armenia. The peace talks must consider the situation of the displaced civilians and see to their safe return to the parts of Nagorno-Karabakh where they used to live before the 1990 civil war.

Displacement of ethnic groups is not an answer to conflicts. A desire to end hate and to accommodate differences should be favoured. We, as Canadians, know that a pluralistic and tolerant society is workable and beneficial to all of its components.

[Translation]

We also know that the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is not just a local conflict. It has been exacerbated by influences from neighbouring countries, including Turkey, Iran and Russia. Russia has actually entered into a defence pact with Armenia and is its primary weapons supplier.

Unlike Iran and Russia, Turkey is one of Canada’s NATO allies. Under article 5 of this defence pact, if Turkey were attacked, Canada would have to come to its assistance. That’s how strong our ties are.

Because we share with our NATO allies the desire to protect freedom and peace in Europe and around the world, the Government of Canada and other NATO member countries must not hesitate to speak to President Erdoğan, the leader of an allied, friendly country, about our growing concerns regarding certain actions by his government that are contrary to the principles that unite us in NATO. This includes ensuring the freedom and security of the person among populations covered by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and Europe, all in accordance with the principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law, which also includes freedom of the press, freedom of expression and freedom of association.

Friendship sometimes requires difficult trade-offs, and our alliance requires one ally to relinquish certain ambitions for the common good of the entire alliance.

NATO must also ask the Ankara government to quickly repatriate Syrian fighters. The Government of Canada must ensure that the war crimes committed in the past six weeks, by both sides, which included the use of unconventional weapons and the use of torture, do not go unpunished. It is regrettable that neither Armenia nor Azerbaijan recognize the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court.

Through international organizations, our government must also ensure that the Lachin corridor linking Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia is fully secured by international troops, and that the religious and cultural monuments of all faiths found in Nagorno-Karabakh and the rest of western Azerbaijan are preserved, mainly under the supervision of UNESCO.

Finally, I believe that our government must endeavour to provide humanitarian aid without delay, especially for the refugees who have ended up in Armenia.

In conclusion, unlike Senator Housakos, I am of the opinion that a unilateral declaration of the recognition of the Republic of Artsakh would only make things more difficult rather than contributing to the resolution of a crisis, especially since no international guarantee of the recognition of this new state can be realistically envisaged. I would remind senators that no country has opted for the recognition proposed by Senator Housakos, not even Armenia or Greece.

What we should do instead is advocate for international protection of Nagorno-Karabakh through the channels I identified earlier, in partnership with our allies and in a manner that respects the principles of international law, including peoples’ right to self-determination and the right to territorial integrity.

Thank you. Shnorhakalut’yun. Tesekkür ederim.

[English]

Hon. Leo Housakos: Will Senator Dalphond take a question?

[Translation]

Senator Dalphond: Madam Speaker, do I have any time left? I’ve lost track of time.

The Hon. the Acting Speaker: We have about two minutes left.

[English]

Senator Housakos: I have a series of questions, but I’ll ask just one to the honourable senator. Thank you for participating in the debate, and thank you for your thoughtful speech.

The only question I have, because of the time factor, is: Would you agree, senator, that the Republic of Turkey and their behaviour in the last while in Syria, their aggressive behaviour in the Aegean against another NATO ally country — because, you are right, we have a military alliance with a series of countries, and we’ve seen the belligerent behaviour in the Aegean over the last few months that has almost led to war on a number of occasions. There are occupying forces recognized by your beloved United Nations, which you quoted, in northern Cyprus, and they refuse, after various proclamations from the UN, to evacuate from Cyprus.

Will you tell me that you also, after confirming the behaviour of Turkey in Nagorno-Karabakh, the use of Syrian commandos and supporting Azerbaijan militarily in their attack — because a civil war is when domestic citizenry fight amongst themselves. But Turkey has supplied military equipment, as many countries have acknowledged, to the Azerbaijanis.

My question to you: Is that behaviour in the last couple of years by Turkey befitting of a NATO ally of Canada?

[Translation]

The Hon. the Acting Speaker: Senator Dalphond, before you go on, are you requesting another five minutes to answer the question?

Hon. Senators: No.

Senator Dalphond: The question was too long.

(On motion of Senator Dasko, debate adjourned.)

[English]

Motion Pertaining to Mi’kmaw Fishers and Communities—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Francis, seconded by the Honourable Senator Pate:

That the Senate affirm and honour the 1999 Supreme Court of Canada Marshall decision, and call upon the Government of Canada to do likewise, upholding Mi’kmaw treaty rights to a moderate livelihood fishery, as established by Peace and Friendship Treaties signed in 1760 and 1761, and as enshrined in section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982; and

That the Senate condemn the violent and criminal acts interfering with the exercise of these treaty rights and requests immediate respect for and enforcement of the criminal laws of Canada, including protection for Mi’kmaw fishers and communities.

Hon. David Richards: Honourable senators, I’m going to speak to this motion of my colleague Senator Francis just by speaking about the fishermen I grew up with and knew.

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Honourable senators, the first time I went fishing, a First Nation boy put the worm on my hook. He was 8 years old and I was 4, and we were fishing at a place on the Nor’west Miramichi — a river I would come to haunt in later years, pole down from pool to pool in a canoe on those soft July days. It is all gone now, of course; the river has been depleted, and the sounds of the poles hitting a canoe’s gunnels have stopped dead.

I dedicated my third novel to a First Nation boy I hunted and fished with long ago. I mentored First Nation kids over the years, helped to get them into universities or on writing assignments. My father hired First Nation men and women and was, over his lifetime, honorary chief of two reserves.

Why would I ever mention this? I never in my life thought I would have to. It is something that should always have been private; a part of my private not public experience.

I grew up in Burnt Church — that is, I spent every summer there from the time I was the born until the time I trailed off to university. I fished for trout in Church River and hunted partridge there in the fall. At night, I listened to the great Miramichi Bay break against the shore. I lived in the summertime on its wharf. I knew the men who fished there all my life.

I’ve been out on the lobster boats and the drifters right to the last bell buoy before the bay stretches out to P.E.I. I have been stranded there too — one night, with my engine dead, floating away to sea.

One night, a young man I knew from herring fishing hit a bad storm. His engine gone, he tried to keep his boat afloat. He tried to protect his crew. When it was all desperate, he radioed to his friends back on shore his final message, “Can’t talk no more boys — I’m goin’ down.”

If you cannot see past the first buoy, you cannot know the sea.

At 8 years old, in Burnt Church, I began to know fishermen. I saw parts of drifters tossed up on the shore under the grey sky and bodies washed up all the way down to Oak Point.

There was the aftermath of the Escuminac disaster, where 35 men and boys died. The storm came up from the south without warning and waves 40 to 50 feet high washed over the gunnels and disabled the engines of those small boats.

One youngster was just 15 years old. He was on a drifter with his 11-year-old brother, uncle and father. The uncle, hit by a flying piece of metal, was killed, and as the boat was floundering, another drifter — bigger, with a wider prow — came alongside and managed to get a lifeline to them. The 15‑year-old boy tied his little brother to it and got him across to safety. It took over half an hour for the Lorrie Jane to get back to them because of the wind and the size of the sea. And when they got the lifeline over again, the 15-year-old boy managed to get to his father and tie him to it.

“But I’m the captain,” the injured man said. “No dad,” his young 15-year-old son answered. “I’m the captain tonight.”

He tied the father on and they got the father to the Lorrie Jane. It was 45 minutes — three quarters of an hour — before they got back to him, and his boat gunnels were level with the swell. I was honoured to give him and another man a senatorial medal because of their heroics that night.

I know the men who fish for lobster. You see, I’ve grown up with them. My brothers have as well. We were on the Burnt Church wharf all our lives, really. My youngest brother lost his best friend, a First Nation boy, in a car accident that ruined my youngest brother’s legs. He was two weeks away from joining the RCMP. It has been 37 years and he has never gotten over the loss.

When we were younger, we played on that wharf that gained so much national attention some years back. There was never close to thousands of traps on that wharf, I guarantee you, and if we were lucky and got there at the right time, we would get a dollar or two for lugging a few traps to the boats.

The fishermen were filled with a gruff and gentle kindness. I, a skinny kid, cared for them all.

I also like and respect Senator Francis and Senator Christmas. I am quite sure they know I do. Senator Francis joined me and others, including Senator Mockler, in trying, with the chief of the First Nation reserve in Eel Ground, to come to some resolution, some reasoning about the depletion of our Atlantic salmon. Again, we had to deal with the incomprehensible, tone-deaf DFO, and an unsympathetic and unaware Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard.

The idea of what a moderate fishery is should be established, and the Minister of Fisheries has an obligation to establish it.

If you were ever on a wharf on opening day, you would see a cavalcade of boats heading out to the cut, the place where each captain rushes to place his pods. If someone is taking lobster for a month or so before you load your traps, no matter who in the world it is, it must feel like a betrayal.

Today in Burnt Church, the Native fishers fish alongside the commercial fishers in the bay. The Native fishers tie up at the Burnt Church wharf, the commercial fishers in Neguac, but there are other wharves where they tie up side by side. That shows what the community can and should manage, for one rarely ties his boat beside a man he does not trust.

The commercial fishers pay for their boats, have a quota for their traps and have children, dependents, mortgages, school, hockey and food. They have a livelihood too and. in some ways, they deserve our respect as well.

I agree with Senator Francis; the violence must be resolutely condemned. I condemn it without reservation. But it would be far too easy to say that the DFO, the minister and the courts are blameless in this crisis. They have shown themselves to be, once again, inept.

The wide expanses of maritime inland fishing are centred on zones. Those who drop their traps in the Miramichi are in a different zone from those out on the Northumberland Strait; different zones exist in the Chaleur and the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, and winter zones exist on the Bay of Fundy. No one who has a quota for one zone drops their traps in another, and all have a set number of traps and a quota set by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans that are bought and paid for with sweat and blood.

This dispute, with all due respect, is not about who is dropping traps but when those traps are being dropped.

I don’t think a senator here would ever disagree that there are no other people who in the world who have been more discriminated against than the First Nation peoples.

Still, I will end by saying that on occasion, I have been troubled by how many times the word “racist” is used in this most prestigious of chambers against those very many other Canadians we also have a sworn duty to represent and protect. Thank you.

[Translation]

Hon. Renée Dupuis: Honourable senators, I rise today to speak to Motion No. 40 regarding Mi’kmaq fishers and communities, moved by Senator Francis, in his name and in the name of Senator Christmas. This is a two-part motion. The first part calls upon the Senate to affirm and honour the 1999 Supreme Court of Canada Marshall decision and calls upon the Government of Canada to do likewise, upholding Mi’kmaq treaty rights to a moderate livelihood fishery. The second part calls on the Senate to condemn “the violent and criminal acts interfering with the exercise of those treaty rights.”

The despicable actions we have seen in Nova Scotia put the Mi’kmaq people in danger as they exercise their constitutional rights. These events are only the latest in a series of similar events elsewhere in Canada. Take, for example, the incidents in the 1980s in the salmon rivers on Quebec’s north shore and lower north shore, in which I was directly involved, and in the Gaspé, or the ones in Burnt Church, New Brunswick, in 1999 and 2000, which Senator Richards so eloquently described.

To understand these recent events, we have to go back a bit further than the Supreme Court of Canada ruling in Marshall 21 years ago. In that ruling, the Supreme Court of Canada interpreted only the instrumental change made to the Canadian Constitution in 1982, when the Constitution was patriated. That happened 38 years ago. The charged political context of that period in Canada’s history is something that we must keep in mind.

It was sustained political pressure from representatives of the First Nations, the Inuit and the Métis, and the lawsuits they brought before British courts in the years and months preceding the patriation of the 1981 Constitution that prompted a policy shift in the federal government, a shift that led to the inclusion of provisions on the rights of Indigenous peoples in the Canadian Constitution.

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A joint address of the House of Commons and the Senate calling on the U.K. Parliament to pass the Constitution Act, 1982, was adopted on December 2, 1981, in the House of Commons by a vote of 246 yeas and 24 nays. It was also adopted in the Senate on December 8, 1981, by a vote of 59 yeas and 23 nays. The address was then sent on, because, as you will recall, back then, the Canadian Constitution could not be amended without the adoption of a bill in the U.K. Parliament. That is what the U.K. did in 1982 when it passed the Canada Act 1982, which includes the Constitution Act, 1982, in its schedule.

Section 35 of the act stated that “The existing aboriginal and treaty rights of the aboriginal peoples of Canada are hereby recognized and affirmed.” By including this provision, the federal government chose to protect two classes of collective rights in specific ways. That protection sheltered Indigenous peoples from federal and provincial laws, up to a point. Also, the status of their rights changed radically within Canada’s legal system. In other words, dear colleagues, the senators who sat here before us voted in favour of this bill after members of Parliament did the same, and we must not forget that. Since 1982, lawmakers have no longer been able to impinge on the constitutional rights of Indigenous peoples if they cannot justify doing so.

The Constitution Act, 1982 also establishes a process for constitutional negotiations between the first ministers and representatives of the three recognized categories of Indigenous peoples, specifically First Nations, Inuit and Métis. These constitutional negotiations were supposed to define the nature of these rights, their scope and the holders of these rights.

A series of constitutional conferences were held between 1983 and 1987, and again in 1992, but no political consensus emerged on the definition, scope and extent of these rights, except that in 1983 it was clarified that rights resulting from a land claims agreement are considered and protected as treaty rights, and that the constitutional rights of Indigenous peoples are guaranteed equally to men and women.

Since a political consensus on the scope of these rights could not be reached, it is up to the courts to clarify them on a case-by-case basis. Eight years after the passage of the Constitution Act, 1982, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled on this matter for the first time in the Sparrow decision. According to the Supreme Court, the recognition of constitutional rights in Section 35 “provides a solid constitutional base upon which subsequent negotiations can take place.”

The court clarified that the recognition and affirmation of Indigenous rights, and I quote:

 . . . incorporate the government’s responsibility to act in a fiduciary capacity with respect to aboriginal peoples and so import some restraint on the exercise of sovereign power.

It is clear that since the recognition and affirmation of Indigenous rights are set out in the Constitution Act, it is up to the government to negotiate the terms.

Until 1982, the federal government’s basis for negotiations was founded on the accepted convention at the time that the federal legislator had the power to unilaterally terminate the rights of Indigenous people. That is what changed completely when the federal Parliament chose to grant them constitutional rights, in other words, the highest status in the hierarchy of legal standards. The government can no longer expect to enforce existing laws if they infringe on these rights that have been extended to Indigenous peoples. The balance of power has changed, since the legal framework for Indigenous rights has become much more solid since 1982.

As the Supreme Court also notes in Sparrow, the constitutional rights have to become reality. They cannot remain abstract concepts. They have to translate into tangible activities, and the laws have to change accordingly. Indigenous peoples expect protection of the rights that we promised to respect.

Honourable senators, can you imagine constitutional rights holders not wanting to exercise their rights? Are we really surprised that Indigenous people are insisting on exercising those rights? Can you imagine anyone, an individual or a corporation, being granted constitutional rights and then agreeing not to exercise them for 38 years?

The political strategy that the government has been using since the 1980s, which involves allowing the courts to define these rights in a piecemeal fashion, must be reviewed. Such a strategy is costly from both an economic and a social perspective. Indigenous peoples have been unable to fully exercise their rights for decades because of a lack of lasting agreements with them. They have therefore been deprived of a significant source of individual and collective revenue.

Let us remember that the right to sell the product of their fishing activities was provided for in another historic treaty signed with the British Crown in 1752, and that this right was already recognized for the Mi’kmaq of Nova Scotia in 1985 in another case, the Simon case. In Simon, the court stated the following:

 . . . that Indian treaties and statutes relating to Indians should be liberally construed and uncertainties resolved in favour of the Indians.

The court made a similar interpretation in Marshall, in similar terms, and it went even further when it said:

Treaty rights of aboriginal peoples must not be interpreted in a static or rigid way. They are not frozen at the date of signature. The interpreting court must update treaty rights to provide for their modern exercise. This involves determining what modern practices are reasonably incidental to the core treaty right in its modern context.

Furthermore, each new ruling that affirms their rights contributes to the public’s impression that the courts always give Indigenous peoples everything and ignore everyone else. This is particularly true on matters relating to fishing and hunting. The courts do not give Indigenous peoples anything. They are simply interpreting the rights recognized and affirmed in the highest law of the land.

This allows the government to recuse itself from the discussion about these rights on the basis that a case is before the courts. The government can then claim that it is not responsible for the court’s decision. That is quite the opposite of the pedagogical effort required to explain that the constitutional amendments passed by the federal legislator completely changed the situation and that laws must be amended, on terms to be established, to ensure that Indigenous people can exercise their recognized rights. The resulting negative atmosphere leads to social unrest and violent events, as we saw in certain situations, including the recent events in Nova Scotia.

The second Marshall ruling, handed down just two months after the first ruling of September 17, 1999, was unprecedented in that the Supreme Court was asked to elaborate on whether its first ruling was the decision it wanted to arrive at. The court stated the following:

The special trust relationship includes the right of the treaty beneficiaries to be consulted about restrictions on their rights. . . .

It added:

 . . . the concerns and proposals of the native communities must be taken into account, and this might lead to different techniques of conservation and management in respect of the exercise of the treaty right.

Dear colleagues, we should remember that legislators are the ones who initiated these constitutional changes and, as such, we, as senators, have a responsibility to hold the government to account, not only for what it did, but also for what it has failed to do so far to implement this law, which is a constitutional law to boot.

We have a responsibility to ask the government the following questions. How has it fulfilled its obligation to implement negotiation processes with the relevant First Nations representatives to define the terms for exercising their fishing rights since 1985? How have the departments in question, those responsible for Indigenous people and those responsible for fisheries, fulfilled their obligation to implement negotiation processes with the representatives of the Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq First Nations to adopt a framework for the exercise of their fishing rights, particularly those defined in the Marshall case? What methods of communication have the relevant ministers used to ensure that the First Nations communities in question are aware of these negotiations and how they are unfolding? What methods have they used to simultaneously establish communication with other non-Indigenous stakeholders in this industry to ensure that they understand the parameters of this type of negotiation? Finally, what consequences have these negotiations had on the negotiations that are currently being held to resolve the situation in Nova Scotia?

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Honourable senators, it is up to us to determine the appropriate forum for holding a discussion on these issues.

Thank you.

[English]

Hon. Patricia Bovey: Honourable senators, today, I also rise to speak to and fully support Senator Francis’s motion:

That the Senate affirm and honour the 1999 Supreme Court of Canada Marshall decision, and call upon the Government of Canada to do likewise, upholding Mi’kmaw treaty rights to a moderate livelihood fishery, as established by Peace and Friendship Treaties signed in 1760 and 1761, and as enshrined in section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982; and

That the Senate condemn the violent and criminal acts interfering with the exercise of these treaty rights and requests immediate respect for and enforcement of the criminal laws of Canada, including protection for Mi’kmaw fishers and communities.

Let me first commend Senator Francis on this initiative and for his and Senator Christmas’ work on this issue in furthering the cause of Indigenous fishers, not only in the Atlantic provinces but across Canada.

Much, of course, has transpired since Senator Francis introduced this motion. Today, we are looking at a completely different situation in Atlantic Canada regarding the fishery. However, what remains is the need to live in peace and respect for one another, something I know the vast majority of Canadians, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, agree with.

The events of this past October are unacceptable, and the acts of the few are as abhorrent to the vast majority of Nova Scotians as they are to members of this chamber of sober second thought. It is incumbent upon law enforcement to maintain the peace and safety of all citizens. Use of violence and intimidation should be condemned by all.

Colleagues, we must keep in mind the recent path taken to arrive where we are today. The Constitution Act of 1982, in section 35, recognized the treaty rights of First Nations, Inuit and Métis, as Senator Dupuis has outlined. It is important to note that Aboriginal rights were not part of the original discussions on the patriation of the Constitution. Consultations with First Nations had not taken place at the outset. It took demonstrations to impress upon legislators that First Nations must be included in the Constitution Act in order to protect treaty rights.

I mention this because what has transpired since 1982 has been a journey of litigation, much of which revolves around the right of Indigenous peoples to fish. This path of litigation has led to several landmark cases before the Supreme Court regarding the constitutional rights and the infringement of Indigenous rights, as Senator Dupuis has just stated, including the Sparrow case in 1990, the first case after the repatriation of our Constitution; and R. v. Van der Peet in 1996; R. v. Gladstone in 1996; and, of course, R. v. Marshall in 1999. The court has rendered decisions in each, which have attempted to interpret what is meant by section 35. It has also led to a patchwork quilt of treaty interpretations, which I think have muddied the waters in the absence of federal leadership and created a system based on species, traditions and conservation to name a few issues.

R. v. Marshall and its subsequent clarification upheld the treaty rights of the Mi’kmaq peoples to fish for a “moderate livelihood” subject to conservation oversight by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

Senators, when Donald Marshall decided to fish for eels he was doing so not just to provide a livelihood for his family, but for his people. What has transpired since 1999 has been unacceptable, and there has been a vacuum of leadership on the part of successive federal governments, which has contributed to the lack of trust between Indigenous and commercial fishers and DFO.

As Senator Cordy said in her speech to this motion:

. . . it has been 21 years since the Marshall decision upheld the Mi’kmaq treaty rights to a moderate livelihood fishery. Successive federal governments have avoided directly addressing these issues, and it is time for the federal government to step up and to take the lead.

I echo Senator Dupuis regarding the responsibility of the government to negotiate. Constructive negotiations between the Government of Canada and First Nations people, in my opinion, would be much more preferable to continued litigation because, as we have seen, litigation has not resulted in any satisfactory outcome on the waters. Indeed, it would be a truly important step of “reconciliACTION” in my view as we work towards solid reconciliation.

As Senator Francis stated in his speech:

The government has promised a nation-to-nation relationship based on the recognition of Indigenous rights, respect, cooperation and partnership. These words mean little if they are not soon followed by concrete action and results.

While I am certainly no expert on matters dealing with Canada’s fisheries, I do see a commonality of interest between Indigenous and commercial fishers. Our oceans contain a great bounty, which can be shared by all. True conservation of this bounty is also in the interests of all, and the future good health of the fishery can only be assured through all parties working together.

As we have heard, the Mi’kmaq have been fishing in the waters of the Atlantic Ocean for thousands of years, which, as Senator Francis explained:

. . . governs the sustainability of our harvest. It is based on having respect and gratitude for all the natural resources provided by the Creator. This code of conduct teaches Mi’kmaq to take only what is needed for the well-being of the individual and community. We do not seek to over-exploit or deplete natural resources. We are keepers of traditional knowledge and sacred protectors of the land and resources.

As part of Bill C-55, which I sponsored in the last Parliament, money was set aside to afford for Indigenous input into the management of marine protected areas. When discussing the bill with academics who study the Arctic, it was made quite clear that the use of traditional Indigenous knowledge was intrinsic to their Arctic research projects. Respecting this knowledge and the traditions which Indigenous peoples have developed for so many years can apply to the fisheries as well. The two go hand in hand.

Senators, from the friendship treaties of the 1760s to the myriad legal decisions over the past decades, including that of the Marshall case, we have seen the traditional rights of First Nations peoples upheld over and over again. It has been six years since the release of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s, Calls to Action. What remains is to honour our agreements and to do so in a respectful manner that allows for these treaty rights to be exercised without the fear of violence on the oceans.

It is time we moved forward in order to share the resources we have been blessed with in this country so that all can prosper. Remember my family mantra, which I have said before, “We are all better off when we are all better off.” That is certainly true in this instance. Thank you.

(On motion of Senator McCallum, debate adjourned.)

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Long-term Care System

Inquiry—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Seidman, calling the attention of the Senate to weaknesses within Canada’s long-term care system, which have been exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hon. Donald Neil Plett (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, I rise today to speak to Senator Seidman’s inquiry calling the attention of the Senate to weaknesses within Canada’s long-term care system, which have been exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. As you recall, before our one-week break, I did speak for a few minutes to this very important inquiry, and I want to continue.

I want to thank Senator Seidman for initiating this inquiry, and I want to also sincerely thank all senators who have participated in this very important discussion.

During the first wave of the pandemic, Canadians did not know what to expect. They were being given startling projections about possible scenarios, which included an alarming number of infections and deaths. Most of these did not materialize, but one number which uniformly troubled Canadians was when we learned in June that residents of long-term care facilities accounted for 81% of all COVID deaths. This horrific number has only improved marginally since then.

On November 24, the National Institute on Aging reported that long-term care and retirement homes in Canada now account for 75% of COVID deaths. The grim reality is that if you are a resident of a long-term care home in Canada, you are 226 times more likely to die of COVID-19 than anyone else. This is an alarming number because it demonstrates the scale of the threat against our loved ones who are in their senior years.

It has been painful to hear many stories of parents and grandparents whose departure was hastened by the virus, and in some cases, left unchecked by those charged with their care.

Our family faced our own scare a few weeks ago when my 92‑year-old mother, who is in long-term care in Manitoba, tested positive for COVID-19. No matter how much you prepare yourself, when that moment comes, your stomach goes into a knot.

I want to take a few minutes to relive the dates that led up to the call that we received. I am my mother’s legal caregiver. My wife and my sister are her practical caregivers, but legally I am the one.

I got the call from the care home telling me that they had tested the residents on the second floor of the care home that my mother is in, Rest Haven nursing home in Steinbach. Eleven of those residents had tested positive, my mother one of them. My mother is a remarkably strong woman, but she is in very failing health. She is in a wheelchair and she has crippling arthritis. She cannot really walk well, but she insists on trying when they don’t come and make her bed early enough in the morning for her liking. Then she is found trying to get out of her wheelchair and make it herself because she’s an impatient woman. I remember when I was growing up, when we had dinner at the house and wanted to have a second serving, we had to hang on to our plate because when the last bit of it came off the plate, my mother was cleaning up and washing the dishes. She is still that way today; she’s impatient.

Nevertheless, she has crippling arthritis. I used to call her a walking pharmacy, and now she is a rolling one with all the drugs she takes to keep her going.

Clearly, when we got the call we naturally assumed this was the death toll, if you will, and that there would not be much chance. The call we got from the home was on Friday, and our doctor called me on Saturday. He happens to be my doctor as well as my mother’s doctor, and he took time out Saturday at 8:30 in the evening to call me and explain the chances of my mother pulling through this. He suggested that we needed to talk about end-of-life decisions, and so of course we started that. He asked what questions I had and what my biggest concerns were. I said that we understand that COVID is definitely a respiratory issue, and so my biggest concern was would my mother choke to death. My second concern was would she, as so many seniors have had to do, die alone?

He assured me that my mother would probably slip into a coma and, with drugs, they could make sure she did not choke and would probably pass away very peacefully, but nevertheless, would probably pass away within the next little bit. He then called me a day later and said that he believed that one of the family members would probably be able to be at her side when she would pass away. Nevertheless, this was a conversation where, really, it was pretty much a done deal. My mother was going to pass away. I, of course, then had a conference call with my siblings, and we discussed how this would end.

As I said, 11 patients on that floor tested positive, the youngest one being 80 years old and the oldest 98 or 99 — I’m not sure of the age. The manager of the personal care home called me daily, and I’m sharing the whole thing because this is very relevant to the rest of my speech. She called me every morning to give me an update on how my mother was feeling. I should mention as well that we struggled with how we were going to tell Mom. I had asked them not to until we had determined how we were going to tell my mother, so we made arrangements that one the managers of the home would go into my mom’s apartment and would tell her that she had tested positive, and while they were in there, they would make a phone call to me so that I could talk to my mother.

They did that, and when they got me on the phone, my mother was in the background and I could hear her wailing and weeping and gnashing her teeth, and this was a horrible thing. My mother wanted to live. It is not that my mother was not ready to die, but my mother wanted to live, and she has the feeling that, “I’m going to spend eternity in heaven, but eternity is a long time, so let me have a few more years here because I don’t need to go to heaven that quickly because I will be there forever.”

They are adding 160 beds to her care home. It’s brand new. They have shown her a plan and which room will be hers in that new care home; she will be able to move. That’s what she is looking forward to: “I will be able to be in a brand new room for however long I will have.” She did not want to die. I then talked to her and convinced her that, in fact, she didn’t have symptoms. She had been diagnosed positive, but she didn’t have any symptoms, so I believed that she might be able to fight through this. I didn’t believe that at all, but nevertheless I managed to convince her. I settled her down, and indeed, she went through the next number of days, with Lorraine Friesen, the manager of the facility, calling me regularly, telling me, “Your mother is in fine shape; she still isn’t showing any symptoms.” Of course, this went on for about seven or eight days straight.

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I talked to the doctor. I said, “Are you sure that she tested positive?” Absolutely.

Since then, 8 more residents tested positive, for a total of 19 — again, the youngest being 80 and the oldest being right around 99. Out of those 19 residents, 4 have passed away. A 97-year-old just two doors down from my mother also made it through. They all had symptoms. My mother, I think, was the only one that didn’t have symptoms.

The 80-year-old passed away; they’d had a couple of strokes. One 99-year-old passed away. The manager said this individual would have passed away if he would have gotten the flu. So these people had very serious issues aside from their age.

But out of the 19 cases, there have been 4 deaths and 15 that didn’t pass away. I’m not sure if they have all gotten what they called a “green light,” but my mother has. My mother has gotten the green light. We’re tremendously thankful for that.

Now, of course, she’s afraid. She called me the other day and said, “They want to take me out of my room again to give me a bath,” and “Do you think it’s safe for me to go into that disease-infected hallway and have a bath?” I said, “Mother, you’ve made it through this. You’re going to make it through everything. You go ahead.” And they have done that.

These are difficult times. You all know that I have been known to not be as cautious as many of you would even like me to be, and as many of you are.

I told my wife, when we got that call, I’m going to have to go back to Ottawa, hat in hand and looking at my feet, saying, “Well now, we are one of the statistics.”

Then when mother got the green light, I said to Betty, “Now I’m going to have to be very careful that I don’t go to Ottawa, being a little too flippant and too arrogant, and say this really isn’t that big of an issue. If my mother can beat this, then surely we can all beat this.”

But we can’t all beat this. Thousands and thousands of families have been in the same situation since March. It is incredibly difficult and incredibly challenging.

Our family was blessed that my mother recovered without exhibiting any symptoms, not even a scratchy throat. As I said, her doctor recently gave her the all clear and she is doing fine. For this, we are very thankful. But at the same time, I am deeply aware that many, many families did not have the joy of hearing their doctor deliver to them that same message. Many sons, daughters, spouses and grandchildren received the most terrible news of all that their loved one had passed away due to the impact of the virus.

In many cases, they were on their own, without a loved one there. These are lonely, lonely people.

This has not been an easy time for anyone, but perhaps most of all for those who are residents of long-term care homes and their families. I know we were all moved when we listened to Senator Pate share her heart-wrenching story about her late mother. Such a lack of respect for the dignity of life is tragic, and the deficiencies that enable our most vulnerable to be treated in this manner need to be addressed.

We have all heard stories of long-term care residents who caught COVID because they did not receive the proper care, because the proper safety measures were not in place or because someone was careless.

We all know about the report of the Canadian Armed Forces on the condition of five long-term care homes in Ontario. The conditions were appalling, and the lack of proper treatment received by some seniors is unacceptable. I am deeply supportive of every effort to address these inadequacies.

But, colleagues, today I want to spend some time drawing our attention to the fact that there is another side to this sad story. While there have been too many horror stories of care homes where the staff were irresponsible in how they handled this virus, there are other stories that must be told and other statistics that underscore our victories, our successes and the phenomenal work that so many health care providers and personal care workers have been providing to our seniors.

My mother’s home care is one of those, where the manager calls me on a regular basis, where my doctor takes the time on a Saturday night at 8:30 to call me and discuss the entire situation.

The uncomfortable truth is that our elderly population who live in care homes are a high-risk population for this deadly virus.

When it comes to this virus, the odds are against you if you are elderly. They move against you even more if you have an underlying condition that already compromises your health, and the odds are really stacked against you if you are also a resident of a long-term care home.

Dr. Nathan Stall, a geriatrician at Toronto’s Mount Sinai Hospital, put it this way in an interview with CTV news:

You’re taking the frailest adults, frailest individuals who are in society — they live in congregate settings and the settings they live in are often outdated and crowded with many homes having three- or four-person rooms — and then you’re introducing a highly-transmissible virus that is highly lethal . . . a perfect storm for a disaster.

But it doesn’t end there. Statistics Canada recently reported:

There is now clear evidence that people with pre-existing chronic conditions or compromised immune systems are at higher risk of dying of COVID-19, especially among those over the age of 80.

These conditions include dementia, Alzheimer’s, pneumonia, hypertensive diseases, heart disease, respiratory failure, renal failure, diabetes, chronic lower respiratory diseases, nervous system disorders and cancer.

The Statistics Canada report noted that:

Many of these conditions are significantly more prevalent among Canadians aged 65 or older, who accounted for 94% of all COVID-involved deaths in the first wave.

Colleagues, it is imperative that we do everything in our power to protect our elderly and those who are residents in long-term care homes, because COVID-19 represents a very real danger to them. However, I urge you to not take these statistics and generalize what is happening by casting a shadow over all long-term care homes and the caregivers who have worked themselves to exhaustion trying to protect our elderly.

Without question, there have been many failures in the system. We need to identify those and address them in order to safeguard the health and dignity of our senior citizens. However, we also need to realize that while the alarming COVID death count in long-term care homes illustrates the vulnerability of this cohort, the impact of COVID on long-term care homes has varied significantly.

An article published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal on November 23 noted:

People living in long-term care (LTC) homes in Canada have been far more likely to die of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) than the rest of the population. However, the effect of COVID-19 on residents in LTC has varied across provinces and territories.

Colleagues, you wouldn’t know from the media coverage that there are many good news stories when it comes to COVID and long-term care in Canada. Let me illustrate this by using my home province of Manitoba.

Manitoba has been in the news lately because of its rising cases of COVID-19. We have been left with the impression that the situation in care homes across the province is uniformly disastrous.

When our friend Senator Bovey spoke on this inquiry, she lumped Manitoba in with the terrible track record of Ontario and Quebec when she said:

The situation is deepening in Manitoba, becoming darker every day. We are failing to provide for our seniors in long-term care homes and they are dying because of it. . . .

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She noted that, “By November 17, 36 care homes . . . had experienced outbreaks . . . .”

She said that, “Steinbach is another concerning centre,” and asked, “Did Manitoba have no option but to follow the sad steps of negligence seen in the homes in Ontario and Quebec?”

Listening to this, colleagues, you might fear for your life to go to our province, especially Manitoba’s Southern Health region, which is where I am from.

But let’s take a step back and consider the facts. While 75% of all COVID-19 deaths in Canada have been residents of long-term care homes, the number in Manitoba is much lower, at 44%. This number is still unacceptably high, but it is important to note that it is not only well below the Canadian average, it also falls below the global average. The International Long-term care Policy Network reported in October:

Despite the difficulties arising from differences in definitions, in almost all countries where there have been deaths linked to COVID-19, a substantial proportion of those deaths were among care home residents. Based on the data gathered for this report, the current average of the share of all COVID-19 deaths that were care home residents is 46%. . . .

Those are the numbers. The global average of COVID-19 deaths in long-term care homes is 46%. The Canadian average is 75%. The Manitoba average is lower than both of them, at 44%.

In the Manitoba Southern Health region, which Steinbach is part of, the death rate is even lower. Deaths in long-term care homes due to COVID-19 are not 75% of the total, nor are they 44% of the total. They are 17% — less than one quarter of the national average.

Colleagues, a single death is one too many. But we need to acknowledge that those who are working in our long-term care homes are playing defence, fighting a formidable enemy with the odds stacked heavily against them. Despite this, many long-term care residences in southern Manitoba are mounting an incredible effort and crushing the odds.

As I said earlier, if you live in a long-term care residence, your chances of dying from COVID-19 are 226 times higher than everyone else. In southern Manitoba, however, the chance of a long-term care resident dying from COVID is only 30 times higher. That’s still a lot, but it is 88% lower than the national average.

Furthermore, after eight months of a global pandemic in which 378,139 Canadians have been infected with the virus, and 12,130 people have died, almost three quarters of long-term care homes in southern Manitoba have not had a single case of COVID-19 to date, and 85% have not had a single death.

When you consider the incredible vulnerability of the long-term care cohort to this virus, those figures are astounding. They tell us that most long-term care residences in southern Manitoba are winning the battle against COVID-19.

I think that Dr. Roussin, our public health officer, should ask southern Manitoba how to deal with this virus instead of telling them how to deal with this.

I want to read from a document citing personal care home outbreaks in Manitoba to illustrate some of the numbers. Out of 64 personal care homes in Manitoba, there have been a total of 1,108 cases and 153 deaths. Of those 153 deaths, 49 were in one personal care home — one third of them.

So the outlook in Manitoba isn’t as bad as we have been told. Colleagues, I am in no way minimizing the very real impact that COVID is having in Manitoba and across our country. But I do want to put it into perspective for you so you realize that Manitoba, and especially southern Manitoba, is doing a much better job of protecting their long-term care residents than is sometimes being portrayed.

In fact, at last count, 20 long-term care residences in Manitoba had reported staff infections and yet continued to maintain zero infections among the seniors who live in those residences. When you consider how easily and stealthily this virus moves, those numbers are evidence of a vigorous and vigilant effort to both detect the virus and prevent it from reaching our most vulnerable citizens. I think it is time to not only thank our health care providers and personal care workers but to acknowledge that in many, many cases their efforts have been beyond commendable — they have been heroic.

However, colleagues, there are some things that trouble me about how we are handling this pandemic — namely, the inconsistencies in our efforts and the tendency to allow policy to be dictated by emotion rather than science in our efforts to prevent the spread of COVID.

Let me speak to a few inconsistencies, again because Steinbach has been on the map.

Last weekend, a church just south of Steinbach wanted to have a service. They had been in the news for having a service in their church building the week before, and they decided they would do it right this time. They put up a large screen in their yard and decided they would have a drive-in service. People would stay in their cars.

The RCMP came along and allowed five cars onto the yard, and then blocked it. This is a large yard, and about 100 cars wanted to get on. People were all going to stay in their vehicles and watch the service on a large screen. They were blocked from going onto the yard, to sit in their cars and watch a church service.

I wasn’t there, but I did happen to drive around the city of Winnipeg that day. I drove by Costco, Walmart, Home Depot and a few other shopping centres. I saw hundreds of cars on their yards. They were not limited as to how many cars they had on the yard. They were limited in terms of how many people could go into the store, but not in terms of how many cars there were or even how far apart the cars had to park.

So that is okay, but going to a church service isn’t.

There are many in this chamber who know how I feel about drug issues, marijuana being one of them. Yet, the marijuana store — and I walk by it when I go for a walk on a Sunday afternoon — is open. People can go and buy their recreational marijuana — and their medicinal marijuana, for sure.

The liquor store is open. I do frequent that. On Saturday, when I walked into the liquor store, there were 35 to 40 people in the liquor store. That is allowed, but church services aren’t.

My wife went out and bought me a pair of winter boots while I was on Zoom calls. She went to Sport Chek to buy me a pair of winter boots so we could go on our walks. That was fine; she could buy them, and she got them on the Black Friday discount.

While she was doing that, she decided to stop at Shoppers Drug Mart and buy a birthday card for one of our granddaughters. That was not allowed. She could not buy a birthday card.

However, there were toys out for pets, dogs and cats, and she was allowed, if she had wanted to — we don’t have a pet — to buy a toy for a pet. That somehow was an essential service. But to buy a toy, or even a birthday card, for our grandchildren wasn’t right.

We have a school division that the public health officer has shut down again because it’s southern Manitoba. The Hanover School Division has been shut down. It’s a large school division whose catchment includes many towns, Steinbach being the largest. The towns of Niverville and Blumenort and the village of Landmark are all 15 to 20 miles away from Steinbach, but they are part of the Hanover School Division, so they all had to be closed down. The Seine River School Division, under the control of the same public health officer, was open. The towns of La Broquerie and Ste. Anne border the city of Steinbach. They are in the Seine River School Division. They are four miles away and they could be open. But Landmark, 20 miles away, couldn’t because Hanover had had a breakout. No consistency.

We’ve talked about visitations to long-term care facilities, and we’ve shared that. We all know the stories; we aren’t allowed to go in and visit our parents. They have a rule at the facility my mother is in, and we certainly respect that. They have been trying to be very accommodating, but, again, my wife and my sister are the two people designated to visit my mother. Only they can go and visit her, but during this time of the COVID outbreak, even they aren’t allowed to visit.

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I’m wondering, why would we not allow someone who is willing — and my wife was — to go there and be tested? This isn’t a speech where I want to rail on the government, but if we had rapid testing, where people could get tested for COVID, put on the gowns that health care workers have to put on, put on the masks — do everything they have to — these people could then be allowed to visit their loved ones. Loneliness is the worst thing for these people. Loneliness is worse for them than death.

Colleagues, when this pandemic started at the beginning of 2020, we heard from our provincial and federal leaders. They said, “We are all in this together.”

In the province of Manitoba, we have a “snitch” line. If you see your neighbour doing something wrong, we have a quick service. We can call a number and say, “My neighbour is not wearing a mask when he or she is walking down the hall,” or, “I know that they had one of their grandchildren visiting. Can you send the squad over?” We also have a special squad hired specifically to deal with COVID, to drive around the province, knock on someone’s door and see if there are more than five people in that household. If there are, it is a $1,200 ticket.

The RCMP doesn’t want to do this, so we’ve formed a squad of some kind, and we now have a snitch line so we can snitch on our neighbours and enforcement officers will hunt down the offenders. How, colleagues, is that being in this together? I fail to see that.

There was a post on Facebook that captured the idiocy of this quite accurately. Here’s what it said:

Friendly reminder! So, the government is encouraging you to report your neighbours if they don’t follow the new rules. Before following this advice, you should really consider the fact the government won’t be there to help you jump start your car or lend you tools or a cup of sugar if you needed it. They won’t be an extra set of eyes to watch over your property if you are away. They won’t keep an eye on your kids if they are playing in the street and someone strange is hanging around. We need each other, it’s how we get by and live in peace.

I could not agree more. Encouraging neighbours to turn on neighbours is not how we get through COVID. Instead, we will weather this storm by encouraging one another, standing by each other and pulling together.

In closing, I want to acknowledge all of those who have lost a loved one due to COVID-19. You may have lost them directly because of COVID as the virus attacked their body, or you may have lost them because they were suffering from another illness and were unable to access the health care they needed due to the increased strain that the virus has placed on our health care system. Whatever the reason, our hearts and prayers go out to you.

I also want to take a moment to once again thank all of our health care workers and long-term care staff members who have put their own health at risk as they served in their places of employment. Your service is exemplary of the Canadian spirit which built this great country and never lets hardship or difficulty prevent us from taking care of those around us.

There is no question that these are challenging times, and the winter ahead could be a long one. But when things are at their darkest, even a little light is a lot of light. It’s at times like these that a small act of kindness can make a big difference. A word of encouragement can lighten the load for someone.

I pray that along the road we find ourselves travelling together, we will continue to bring out the best in all of us. I pray that, as we endure the winter ahead and move into spring, we all find fresh hope and new strength for tomorrow.

Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.

[Translation]

Hon. Éric Forest: Would the senator take a question?

[English]

Senator Plett: Absolutely.

[Translation]

Senator Forest: I will not ask the senator what sort of boots his wife bought him.

I would like to better understand the spirit of your intervention. Do you believe that we must standardize all the rules? From what I gather from your intervention, these rules might vary, even within a province.

[English]

Senator Plett: Senator, let me say that I do believe in provincial autonomy. We have to accept some provincial autonomy. Cases are different from one province to another, and I certainly want to recognize that.

I want to respect the Province of Manitoba and the leadership there, but let me say that I believe all decisions should be based on science. From the inconsistencies that I see in many of the decisions that are made, they are not based on science.

When an entire school division is closed, or we put in rules for an entire health region that, in fact, has done very well, and we do that based on science when, in fact, in that school division we allow schools that are much closer than other schools to be open, that’s not based on science. When my wife isn’t allowed to buy a birthday card, but she can buy a gift for her dog, that’s not based on science.

Decisions need to be based on science, and then I want to follow them. As a matter of fact, I do follow them. I faithfully put my mask on when I walk into the hallway of my condominium building because it’s the rule and the law.

We have a notice of motion in front of us today that will deal, maybe later this week or next, with masks in the Senate. I do not support that. If that were the rule, I would deal with it. Even though I don’t agree with it, I would follow the rules. I try to follow the rules. I believe I need to follow the rules, but I also believe that I can be outspoken when I believe that they don’t make sense and are not scientific.

[Translation]

Senator Forest: So we need to base our decisions on science?

[English]

Senator Plett: That is correct. That is how I feel, yes.

Senator Forest: Thank you.

(On motion of Senator Dasko, debate adjourned.)

The Hon. the Acting Speaker: Honourable senators, it is now six o’clock, and pursuant to rule 3-3(1) and the order adopted on October 27, 2020, I am obliged to leave the chair until seven o’clock unless there is leave that the sitting continue.

If you wish the sitting to be suspended please say “suspend.”

Hon. Senators: Suspend.

(The sitting of the Senate was suspended.)

(The sitting of the Senate was resumed.)

(1900)

[Translation]

Social Affairs, Science and Technology

Motion to Authorize Committee to Study Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Needs Among Canadian Boys and Men—Debate Adjourned

Hon. Patrick Brazeau, pursuant to notice of November 3, 2020, moved:

That the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology be authorized to examine and report on suicide prevention and mental health needs among Canadian boys and men, and the overrepresentation of Indigenous peoples in suicide statistics, when and if the committee is formed; and

That the committee submit its final report no later than December 31, 2021.

He said: Honourable senators, I rise today for the same reasons I did on February 4, 2020, in the last Parliament.

Colleagues, I will not repeat that speech, but I would like to add a few words to the original motion, to urge the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology to study the issues of mental health and suicide prevention with a specific focus on young boys, men, and Indigenous peoples.

[English]

I would also invite you to read an op-ed published in the Hill Times on November 18 by Rob Whitley, associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry at McGill University entitled, Worrying statistics on men’s mental health signal it’s time for an inquiry. I was expecting to speak to this motion on International Men’s Day, which was about 12 days ago, but I believe my comments are relevant, regardless of what day it is.

When dealing with these issues, we cannot forget people who are dealing with substance abuse issues. From experience, I had a problem with abusing substances. For years, I turned to alcohol to give me a quick hit, to ease the pain I was living through. It simply began with social drinking. Drinking made me feel good, to the point I did not believe, see or even fathom that I had a problem or that I was harming myself. Everything and everyone else was the problem. In a span of approximately three years, my life completely and without notice turned upside down.

After a while, I started realizing the pain was still there, so I needed, in my mind at that time, more alcohol and sometimes other substances to bury that pain. Soon, I would drink myself to sleep or until I couldn’t anymore.

Once I would wake up, I would feel so much shame. It’s not a great feeling to wake up hurting and feeling I had nothing to live for. I felt I had nowhere to go, no one to talk to, so my solution was to start my day like I ended my previous ones: bottoms up and cheers to me.

It was a sad and very twisted, vicious circle, and I simply didn’t have the tools to rise above what I was going through. It was Groundhog Day every day, for a very long time, but without the comedy.

I know many people struggle with alcohol and other substances. Opioids in particular are ravaging our country. In my case, I was in denial for years. As you are very well aware, alcohol abuse almost contributed to my death. There were other contributing factors, but those don’t fall under the purview of this motion.

All my life, I have seen alcohol destroy lives, destroy families, and I have seen what alcohol can do to people both physically and mentally. Some are lucky to handle moderate amounts, and some are lucky and don’t have problems at all. Many Canadians have alcohol use disorder. Many Indigenous peoples also have alcohol use disorder.

Imagine my situation for a second. I had professional and personal problems in the span of a couple of years, and turned to alcohol for help. Now imagine the generational trauma suffered by Indigenous peoples because of the poor, unfair and oftentimes inhumane conditions to which they were subjected throughout the years and to this very day. Are we to have harsh, strict and stereotypical thoughts, beliefs and comments toward Indigenous peoples or anyone else struggling for that matter?

My fellow Canadians, alcohol use disorder is a serious mental health issue, and the correct response to my rhetorical question is a resounding no. No one should be ridiculed if they have a problem. We should be doing our best to help. We know all the negative impacts alcohol has on people who are struggling, and I would suggest to you it may be time to have a discussion on alcohol and other substances, and on the negative impacts on individuals, communities, families, the health system, the legal system and the high cost associated with turning a blind eye to human beings who are struggling.

To anyone who is having a problem with substance abuse issues, I understand you and I feel for you. It is not easy to quit. It is not easy to get rid of the problem, and it doesn’t go away overnight. I overcame it because I tried and failed several times. I sought help several times because it could happen that the person with expertise, sitting in front of you, may or may not be the right fit for you. It takes strength, courage and personal will. It’s not the easiest thing to find or see clearly when one is in the dark. Most of all, it takes patience; patience to heal. That means to take the time needed. Sometimes, it may take one person who cares, who reaches out. This can change a life ,and the last time I checked, kindness is free and it’s very fulfilling.

We’re in the middle of a pandemic. We are under a minority government, but I firmly believe this study needs to take place as quickly as possible, to hopefully get this important work underway, and especially in light of these difficult times.

Colleagues, I was the hardest-headed person I knew. I didn’t believe I had a problem. I thought my problems would simply go away. I was wrong. I was in denial and I was not myself. Today, after years of personal work, intense reflection and the support of family and friends, I have been clean and sober for a while. I feel I have found myself again, or at least I’m proud of the Algonquin person I am today, and I am serving Canadians to the best of my capabilities.

I was tired of the pain and sadness I was feeling. I finally made the decision that I wanted to be happy again. I took the baby steps I needed to get where I am today. It’s a fight I will likely have for the rest of my life, but this time I’m not underestimating my opponent. I’m standing toe to toe with it, and by my actions, hopefully this time my opponent will be the one who will run out of gas.

If not, I plan to still be standing when the final bell rings. This time, I will win the hardest battle I have ever fought in my life. Let me tell you, I have fought quite a few. This one; I’m ready for it, but one day at a time.

Honourable senators, it is my firm belief that it’s our role and responsibility to look out for the most vulnerable. Many people are hurting, but collectively we can bring the hope that people need and deserve. We are talking about men and young boys here. We’re talking about our brothers, our fathers, our uncles, our neighbours. It’s time that men in particular, and young boys, get the help that they need to be able to cope. With that, thank you for listening and for your precious time. Thank you. Meegwetch.

(On motion of Senator Martin, debate adjourned.)

(1910)

[Translation]

The Senate

Motion to Call Upon the Government to Evaluate the Cost of Implementing its Five-year Action Plan on Sexually Transmitted and Blood-borne Infections Adopted

Hon. René Cormier, pursuant to notice of November 5, 2020, moved:

That, given the year 2020 is the deadline to achieve the 90-90-90 treatment target of UNAIDS, the Senate of Canada call upon the Government of Canada to evaluate the cost of implementing the Government of Canada five-year action plan on sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections, to establish national targets in the fight against HIV/AIDS and to increase funding for the Federal Initiative to Address HIV/AIDS in Canada pursuant to the 20th recommendation of the 28th report of the Standing Committee on Health, tabled in the House of Commons during the First Session of the Forty-second Parliament.

He said: Dear colleagues, I rise today to move that the Senate call upon the Government of Canada to evaluate the cost of implementing its five-year action plan on sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections, to establish national targets in the fight against HIV/AIDS and to increase funding for the Federal Initiative to Address HIV/AIDS in Canada pursuant to the 20th recommendation of the 28th report of the Standing Committee on Health, tabled in the House of Commons during the First Session of the Forty-second Parliament.

Why make such a request in the middle of COVID-19, you might ask? Why address this chronic illness which, in the eyes of some, now affects a small portion of the population and, moreover, has practically been eradicated, since we now have treatments that let those living with the disease lead an almost normal life?

[English]

Colleagues, there are many answers to these questions. Here are some facts. Since the beginning of the epidemic in the early 1980s, about 75.7 million people have become infected with HIV, and 32.7 million people have died of AIDS-related illnesses. In 2019, 38 million people were still living with HIV.

Obviously, there are still too many people infected annually and globally, too many people are likely to die from contracting this virus.

[Translation]

In Canada, the latest data published in the Public Health Agency of Canada’s HIV in Canada Surveillance Report are very worrisome. In 2018 alone, 2,561 new positive diagnoses were reported across the country. That’s an increase of 8.2% compared with 2017.

By way of comparison, in 2015, there were 2,078 positive diagnoses, or about 500 fewer cases. Between 2014 and 2018, the number of new infections in Canada rose by 25.3%.

Most disturbingly, in 2016, the Public Health Agency of Canada estimated that 14% of people living with HIV/AIDS didn’t know they were infected. That means that 8,835 people could have unwittingly spread HIV/AIDS in Canada.

[English]

Did you know that the age groups with the highest rate of new HIV/AIDS cases in Canada are those between the ages of 30 and 39, followed by those 40 to 49 and those 20 to 29? It is disturbing to know that so many people, especially young adults at the peak of their working lives, are still contracting the virus, at a time when they can contribute the most to our society. These numbers are not just statistics, colleagues; behind every positive diagnosis, there is a human being, often a young person, whose life is turned upside down and whose future is compromised.

In Canada, key populations from all age groups include migrant populations, particularly those from countries with higher HIV prevalence; Indigenous people; drug users; sex workers and their partners; men who have sex with other men; and people who have experienced life in prison. Rates of HIV/AIDS are 15 times higher in federal prison than in the community.

These key populations all face challenges that are both unique and common to them: discrimination, stigmatization, access to appropriate care, treatment and follow-up. COVID-19 has only multiplied these obstacles.

[Translation]

The coronavirus has had a huge impact on prevention and on patients’ access to treatment and ongoing care. The current public health crisis is making it harder to manufacture and distribute drugs and is creating some serious challenges with respect to the supply of treatments here and around the world. This could lead to an increased number of deaths connected to HIV/AIDS.

According to recent modelling by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, a six-month disruption of HIV/AIDS treatment as a result of COVID-19 could lead to more than 500,000 extra deaths next year in sub-Saharan Africa alone.

Canada is no exception. I recently spoke with Dr. Réjean Thomas, the founder of the renowned Clinique médicale l’Actuel in Montreal. He painted an alarming picture of the pandemic’s impact on services to people with HIV/AIDS in Canada.

Although this clinic has managed to remain open during the strict lockdowns of late, other clinics have had to temporarily close to comply with the well-warranted public health rules.

Some examples include supervised injection sites, medical clinics at which telephone appointments have become the norm, reduced access to certain types of psychological services, and the closure of a number of community organizations dedicated to promoting awareness of and supporting people with HIV/AIDS.

Another effect of the pandemic is that, like many people, a lot of HIV patients were affected by job losses, which meant a loss of income and the possible loss of the private insurance that covered some of their treatments.

Unfortunately, an inability to access services and a drop in income all too often result in an interruption in treatments that are essential to the patient’s survival. In some cases, those who had access to PrEP, a preventive treatment that can be up to 99% effective, interrupted their treatment because it was getting too hard to renew their prescription or get follow-up care.

[English]

It is also obvious that the pandemic greatly affects the mental health of many patients and individuals who suffer from addiction, notably sex or drug addictions. Colleagues, it is false to believe that because of the pandemic, these individuals have stopped having unprotected sex, using drugs or engaging in transactional sex. As a result, some clinics have observed an increase in the rates of sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections compared to last year, particularly syphilis and gonorrhea, which might be the result of multiple factors. Since HIV/AIDS is also an STBBI, it is possible we could observe an increase in prevalence across Canada once the data is available.

[Translation]

There is also another disconcerting reality to consider: If it was hard to get access to health care in rural regions before the pandemic, imagine the current situation under lockdown.

That is what Daniel Robichaud, who lives in a rural area of southwestern Nova Scotia, is going through. He has already spoken publicly about how his life was turned upside down when he found out that he was HIV positive a few years ago.

Although the treatments that he gets radically reduce the viral load in his blood, today, the effects of the disease are permanent and require constant care.

Although his viral load is under control, Daniel needs a lot of surgery and follow-up care because of his comorbidities. He says the pandemic has had a major impact on access to services. The number of medical appointments or support meetings he had access to before the pandemic dropped from two to practically none. He had to wait seven months before he started getting regular follow-ups again.

What’s more, the cost of certain life-saving medications increased substantially. For someone who lives on government assistance because of his health, you can imagine the stress and anxiety that this increase in the cost of his medication caused.

Honourable senators, this story alone shows the reason for such a motion and makes it clear that urgent action is needed.

[English]

December 1 marks World AIDS Day, and this year, it has a very special significance. Not only are we dealing with a pandemic, but December 2020 marks the deadline for achieving the UNAIDS 90-90-90 targets to which Canada has signed on.

[Translation]

What that commitment means is that, if we meet the targets by the end of the year, 90% of the people living with HIV will know their HIV status, meaning they have had access to a test.

Next, 90% of the people with diagnosed HIV infection will be receiving antiretroviral therapy. That means they have access to treatment. Last, 90% of the people on antiretroviral therapy will have a permanently suppressed viral load.

[English]

This last objective is crucial, since an undetectable viral load means that the virus is untransmittable. Although the person is not cured, her viral load in the blood is so low that it cannot be detected by testing and the virus can no longer be transmitted sexually.

(1920)

Achieving these targets by 2020 should enable the global community to halt the AIDS epidemic by 2030, which will generate significant health and economic benefits for all of us.

[Translation]

Canada committed to achieving those targets, but, unfortunately, it will not do so in 2020, unlike a number of other countries that have achieved and even exceeded them, such as Australia, the Netherlands, Namibia, Switzerland, Zambia and Eswatini.

Data collection is one of our challenges. In Canada, the provinces and territories collect information about HIV/AIDS cases using their own criteria and then transmit that information to the federal government. As a result, there are disparities in the available data.

Saskatchewan, for example, distinguishes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous patients. Quebec provides no information about the ethnicity of diagnosed cases or the exposure category. British Columbia does not share information about the ethnicity of new cases.

[English]

In recent years, the Government of Canada has developed a pan-Canadian sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections, or STBBI, framework for action followed by a five-year action plan on STBBI.

Although welcomed by many, this action plan is neither costed nor has clear targets, yet specific investments in the HIV/AIDS response has long been called for by the many organizations consulted in the preparation of this motion.

[Translation]

According to the HIV Legal Network, when the federal government launched the Federal Initiative to Address HIV/AIDS in Canada in 2004, it committed to increasing funding specifically for this disease to $85 million. That promise was not kept, however, and Canada has yet to meet that funding target.

In June 2019, the Standing Committee on Health in the other place recommended that the government make a firm commitment to provide $100 million annually specifically for combatting HIV/SIDA in Canada. The committee did not get a response to its report. The government released its action plan the following month, but it did not contain a funding commitment.

Colleagues, HIV/AIDS is costly for Canada. According to information from the Canadian AIDS Society, each new infection represents $1.3 million in direct and indirect costs.

[English]

For people of my generation, the Coronavirus brings us back to the tragedy of the early 1980s when this terrible, invisible enemy, HIV/AIDS, was claiming its first victims in Canada.

Personally, I had to mourn too many dear friends who died during this period; too many young people who suffered discrimination, isolation and stigma, some of whom had to die without the support of their family and community.

[Translation]

Colleagues, I am also speaking today in memory of my best friend, Bernard, a renowned set designer, author and actor, whose career was cut short far too soon. It is also in memory of my former colleague, Pierre LeBlanc, a talented producer at Radio-Canada Acadie who left us too soon.

I am also speaking for my fellow Acadian, Daniel, who is fighting tenaciously for his survival today. I am thinking of a single mother I knew who died too young, leaving her young children parentless.

Lastly, I am speaking for the health care workers and the many volunteers who have been caring for HIV/AIDS patients for more than four decades, and who need better support.

Honourable colleagues, there may be people around you today who carry the virus and still don’t know it. There may also be people around you who are HIV positive and know it but don’t dare talk about it, for fear of rejection.

Even today, in 2020, living with HIV/AIDS means living with the fear of rejection and discrimination. Despite treatment, living with HIV in 2020 also sometimes means living with a time bomb inside you. That’s how many people who are living with HIV/AIDS feel.

We have to acknowledge that Canada has made a lot of progress in the past 40 years. It’s true. The advent of treatment has extended the lives of many patients. We must admit that no vaccine has been found yet —

The Hon. the Speaker: I’m sorry, Senator Cormier. Your time has expired. Are you asking for five more minutes?

Senator Cormier: Two minutes?

The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted?

Hon. Senators: Yes.

The Hon. the Speaker: Senator Cormier, you may continue with your speech.

Senator Cormier: We have to acknowledge that Canada has made significant progress, as I was saying. We must admit that no vaccine has been found yet and that far too many young Canadians continue to be infected by this terrible virus.

[English]

This is partially due to the lack of prevention and education on the dangers of this virus. The shortcomings of sex education in our schools and the taboos that still exist about this disease delay the eradication of HIV/AIDS.

More than ever, colleagues, we realize that health is our most precious gift. Canada must continue its commitment to achieve the 90-90-90 targets and aim for the eradication of this disease by 2030. That is why I am asking for your support to adopt this motion today on World AIDS Day 2020, calling for concrete action by the Government of Canada.

Thank you, meegwetch.

Hon. Mary Coyle: I rise today, World AIDS Day, December 1, 2020, to support Senator Cormier’s Motion No. 44 calling on the Government of Canada to act and meet its 90-90-90 goals. The idea is that by 2020 — only 30 more days — 90% of people who are HIV infected will be diagnosed, 90% of infected people will be receiving antiretroviral treatments and, as a result of that treatment, 90% of those people will achieve viral suppression bringing the amount of virus in the blood to an undetectable level and thus preventing the further spread of the HIV virus.

I’m sorry to say that the fast-track targets will not be achieved in most countries.

Senator Cormier has spoken at length and in detail about the status of HIV/AIDS in Canada and the need for a strong and funded federal strategy to address HIV/AIDS in Canada. I couldn’t agree more with him, and I want to underline his points about protecting our most vulnerable populations who are disproportionately impacted by this long-lasting and catastrophic global pandemic. My intention is to speak briefly in support of this motion to encourage us to also look at our international commitments, and the impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having on the AIDS pandemic worldwide.

Colleagues, in the early, dark hours of the morning of April 8, 1982, by the light of a kerosene lantern, in the Kanye Adventist Hospital, in Kanye, Botswana, assisted by very skilled midwives, I gave birth to a beautiful healthy baby girl, my third daughter, Lindelwa Naledi. Naledi means star and Lindelwa means the one we were waiting for. At that same time, many other mothers across the sub-Saharan African nation and its surrounding countries were also giving birth to their precious daughters. Little did we or they know what was in store for them and for their health.

Our family moved back to Canada when our Lindi was just a babe in arms, and other than the common childhood and adult ailments, Lindi has enjoyed good health. Those other girls who were born that rare, rainy April night in the desert nation of Botswana unfortunately fall into one of the world’s worst AIDS statistics categories. In 2019, 26.3% of all women between the ages of 15 and 49 in Botswana were infected with HIV.

Could you imagine if more than one quarter of our collective children were infected with HIV?

In the year 2000, a 15-year-old in Botswana had a more than 50% chance of dying from an AIDS-related illness. Between 1999 and 2005 Botswana lost close to 17% of its health care workforce due to AIDS.

(1930)

In the UNAIDS report Prevailing Against Pandemics by Putting People at the Centre released last week, it was reported that 38 million people are currently living with HIV worldwide, with more than 12 million people waiting for life-saving treatment. In 2019, 1.7 million people were newly infected with HIV and 690,000 people died from AIDS-related illnesses worldwide.

In a recent conversation and subsequent correspondence I had with Stephen Lewis, Canada’s former ambassador to the UN, former UN Special Envoy on HIV/AIDS in Africa, founder of the Stephen Lewis Foundation and co-founder and co-director of AIDS-Free World, Stephen said the following:

The consequences of COVID-19 really have to be stressed. It’s not just an horrific number of additional deaths through disruption of services, it’s also the fact that the world was behind on the 90-90-90 targets even before the virus burst upon the scene. Now it’s way behind. Infectious diseases like HIV and TB have become collateral damage in the face of the COVID pandemic. The challenge, as always, will be funding. More and more international finance is going to COVID; the diversion of funds leaves HIV gasping. It’s especially hard on community-based services on the ground.

Investments in HIV and the lessons from how communities have responded to HIV have actually strengthened the fight against COVID. HIV activists and communities have mobilized to defend the gains in the AIDS response to protect people with HIV and other vulnerable groups and to push back against the coronavirus.

The recent UNAIDS report further suggests that to get the global HIV response back on track, we should adopt a new set of targets for 2025 and that, if those are achieved, we will make possible the Sustainable Development Goal 3.3 of ending the AIDS pandemic by 2030.

These targets are holistic and address the inequalities on which HIV, COVID-19 and other pandemics thrive and put people most at risk and marginalized at the centre: young women and girls, young women like those born the night our Lindi was born in Sub-Saharan Africa, adolescents, sex workers, transgender people, people who inject drugs and gay men and other men who have sex with men.

Colleagues, on November 25, people around the world marked the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, which launched the 16 days of activism against gender-based violence.

There is a significant but not often discussed link between gender-based violence — and sexual violence in particular — and HIV/AIDS.

During the 2008 elections in Zimbabwe, countless numbers of women who were associated with the opposition parties were raped by thugs enlisted by then-President Robert Mugabe as part of his show of power.

We know that sexual violence aids and abets the spread of HIV. During the 1994 Rwandan genocide, the Interahamwe, the Hutu militia group, brutally and intentionally targeted and subjected Tutsi women to sexual violence on a massive scale. A 2001 study revealed that 70% of the rape survivors from the genocide were HIV positive. I visited some of these women as they were trying to rebuild their lives and those of their children in Rwanda. These examples of the weaponization of rape and intentional HIV transmission are very concerning and require particular attention.

Now back to Botswana, for some hopeful developments after these very painful and horrific examples of HIV transmission.

Starting in 2002, Botswana was the first country in Africa to provide free antiretroviral treatment to people with HIV.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, both Botswana and eSwatini — the country formerly known as Swaziland — have achieved the 90-90-90 targets, with Botswana currently covering nearly two thirds of the related expenditures from its own domestic resources.

Zimbabwe, Cambodia, Thailand, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Australia, the U.K. and Denmark also are well on their way or have already met the 90-90-90 targets. Of course, many countries are falling behind.

As Senator Cormier mentioned, this shockingly includes Canada, where we saw a significant increase in new infections over the last four years for which we have statistics, and where an estimated 14% of individuals living with HIV are not even aware of their status. Indigenous people account for 9.6% of all people with HIV in Canada and people in our prisons also have a disproportionately high infection rate.

While I am completely in agreement with and wholeheartedly support Senator Cormier’s motion urging the Government of Canada to evaluate the cost of implementing its five-year action plan on sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections, to establish specific objectives for Canada to achieve in the fight against HIV/AIDS and to increase funding for the federal initiative to address HIV/AIDS in Canada, I am asking us to expand our horizons and also remember our commitments to our international neighbours.

As Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of UNAIDS, said in a recent report:

No country can defeat the colliding pandemics of HIV and COVID-19 on its own. Such global challenges can only be defeated through global solidarity and shared responsibility.

When the United Nations General Assembly holds its high-level meeting in June 2021, there will be a golden opportunity for Canada and other member nations to recommit and remobilize toward ending the AIDS pandemic.

A final quote from my recent communications with Stephen Lewis regarding motion No. 44:

Yes, the focus of your debate will be on AIDS in Canada. That is understood. But Canada could emerge as an international humanitarian champion if it could take the lead in targeted support for low-income countries struggling with HIV.

Honourable colleagues, let’s show our solidarity with those living with HIV/AIDS in Canada and elsewhere, let’s demonstrate our commitment to those most at risk of contracting HIV/AIDS everywhere and let’s honour the memory of the 26,000 Canadians who have died of HIV/AIDS, more than half the number of Canadian lives lost in the Second World War. Also, let’s honour the memory of the 32 million people worldwide who have lost their lives to this viral scourge by passing this motion and committing to do so much more and so much better on this World AIDS Day 2020. Thank you, wela’lioq.

Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

Hon. Larry W. Campbell: Honourable senators, I rise today in support of Senator Cormier’s motion with regard to federal funding of its five-year action plan on sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections.

Senator Cormier has laid out the facts and figures surrounding the present status of HIV/AIDS in Canada. Senator Coyle has shared with us the heartbreaking facts of what was going on in Africa.

With the current pandemic, this is an opportune time to ask for answers from the government. While deaths in Canada from HIV/AIDS and in the developed world have dropped over the past 40 years, we should not ignore that this disease is still a deadly illness with no known cure.

Forty years ago, I became the Vancouver coroner. I vividly remember the panic in the Coroners Service, the medical profession and among first responders — young, seemingly healthy men wasting away, suffering from complications of an unknown disease, dying in large numbers, in some cases horribly disfigured. Panic, fear, harassment of gay men, and discrimination were all common. Some funeral homes would not come and pick up the bodies from my morgue. We, as investigators, would historically wear gloves and nothing else. We had no idea — none — of what we were dealing with, and society reacted in a way that we should be ashamed of. Continually going into rooming houses and finding single men laying there alone with no one was a daily occurrence; and some days, many times.

(1940)

While we now have retroviral treatment that has lowered the death rate, the disease remains incurable. Forty years ago — such a short time — we had no idea; none. And the gay community in Vancouver stepped up. They stepped up and started finding out what was going on, where this was coming from and how it was spreading. They stepped up so that people would not be alone. They were there when people died.

At one point, the newspaper phoned me and said that they had information that a person involved in the AIDS community was assisting deaths. I went down and saw that person. I walked out and I said to him, “No matter what you tell me, you did not do this.” This is the situation that we were in. It was that drastic.

We can take comfort in the fact that the death rate has dropped, but we must remain vigilant in research and treatment. Canada led the world in retrovirus, but we are far behind other G7 countries in eliminating new infections. As Senator Coyle said, other countries in Africa, without the resources that we have, have taken it upon themselves to address this scourge on their citizens and the citizens of the world.

While the medication has allowed many of the sick to lead relatively normal lives, it’s not without risk and complications. The idea that HIV/AIDS is not a deadly disease anymore because of the retrovirus is simply false. Nothing has changed except that we’ve been able to find a medication that will keep people alive. But the disease did not go away and the complications do not go away.

Now is not the time to back off. I realize that we are in the middle of another deadly pandemic, but I believe we are close to a vaccine for COVID. Forty years after the fact, we still have no cure for this and no vaccine.

Honourable senators, this is not an “and/or” situation. We are better than that. We have to step forward and demand — not ask anymore — that our government implement the five-year action plan. If we don’t do this, COVID will be gone but we’ll still be dealing with HIV/AIDS.

I urge all senators to support this motion. Thank you.

Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.

The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?

Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.

An Hon. Senator: On division.

(Motion agreed to, on division.)

Notice of Motion to Authorize Committees to Hold Hybrid and Virtual Meetings Withdrawn

On Motion No. 46 by the Honourable Terry M. Mercer:

That, until the end of the day on December 18, 2020, notwithstanding any provision of the Rules or usual practice and taking into account the exceptional circumstances of the current pandemic of COVID-19, all standing Senate committees have the power:

1.to hold hybrid committee meetings with senators able to participate from a meeting room or by videoconference; and

2.to hold committee meetings entirely by videoconference or teleconference;

That hybrid committee meetings dealing with Government Business be prioritized over other hybrid meetings and other videoconference or teleconference meetings when technically feasible;

That senators participating by videoconference or teleconference be allowed to participate from a designated office or designated residence within Canada;

That hybrid committee meetings or meetings by videoconference or teleconference be considered, for all purposes, to be meetings of the committee in question, and senators taking part in such meetings be considered, for all purposes, to be present at the meeting;

That, for greater certainty, and without limiting the general authority granted by this order, when a committee holds a hybrid meeting or meets by videoconference or teleconference:

1.all members of the committee participating count towards quorum;

2.such meetings be considered to be occurring in the parliamentary precinct, irrespective of where participants may be; and

3.the committee be directed to approach in camera meetings with all necessary precaution, taking account of the risks to confidentiality inherent in such technologies;

That, subject to variations that may be required by the circumstances, to participate in a meeting by videoconference or teleconference senators must:

1.use a desktop or laptop computer and headphones with integrated microphone provided by the Senate for videoconferences; and

2.not use other devices such as personal tablets or smartphones, unless for participation by teleconference; and

That, when a committee holds a hybrid meeting or meets by videoconference or teleconference, the provisions of rule 14-7(2) be applied so as to allow recording or broadcasting through any facilities arranged by the Clerk of the Senate, and, if a meeting being broadcast or recorded cannot be broadcast live, the committee be considered to have fulfilled the requirement that a meeting be public by making any available recording publicly available as soon as possible thereafter.

Hon. Terry M. Mercer: Honourable senators, pursuant to rule 5-10(2), I ask that Notice of Motion No. 46 be now withdrawn.

(Notice of motion withdrawn.)

Manitoba’s One Hundred and Fiftieth Anniversary

Inquiry—Debate Adjourned

Hon. Donald Neil Plett (Leader of the Opposition) rose pursuant to notice of September 30, 2020:

That he will call the attention of the Senate to the Province of Manitoba’s one hundred and fiftieth anniversary.

He said: Honourable senators, it is a pleasure for me to rise today to call the attention of the Senate to the province of Manitoba’s one hundred and fiftieth anniversary. Manitoba became Canada’s fifth province and the only province to enter Confederation under Indigenous leadership, 150 years ago. At the time, Manitoba was known as the postage stamp province because it was a small square; 1/18 of its current size. It wasn’t until 1881 that its borders were changed to what they are today. As they say, you should never underestimate small beginnings. Over the next 150 years, Manitobans would prove to be resilient in the face of difficulties, resourceful in overcoming challenges and renowned for its leadership and performance in many areas.

This year we invite all Canadians to not only explore our province’s history, but to also discover our beauty, meet our people and experience our culture. In my view, Manitoba is a tremendous illustration of the diversity and the unity upon which Canada was founded and upon which our future depends.

For a province which was birthed in hardship and persevered to become the beacon it is today, it is somewhat ironic that the celebrations of our one hundred and fiftieth year have been interrupted by the greatest health challenge in the last century, the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to COVID-19, the province announced that all Manitoba 150 events are paused until 2021. But while the events will wait for the pandemic to pass, the pride of Manitobans over all that we have achieved in our province continues uninterrupted.

Honourable senators, it is all too easy to focus on the shortcomings of the past and ignore the many accomplishments that built the society we have today, and the many sacrifices that were made so that all Canadians could have a better life and a brighter future. Manitobans, and indeed all Canadians, have much to celebrate.

Fundamentally, I believe that Manitoba’s history and achievements should be celebrated because of the opportunities that have been created for the people who live there. Those opportunities were not created without a struggle and conflict, because people sometimes had different perspectives on how that should be achieved. But out of these struggles and conflicts, which were often very painful, greater opportunity emerged.

In the very first efforts that were made to establish a province in the Red River Valley, a fundamental goal was to establish a foundation of opportunity for the people who lived there. The movement that Manitoba’s founder Louis Riel led from 1869 to 1870, sought to give the Metis people of Red River, and indeed all the people of Red River, control over their own future. We know that the historic events surrounding Manitoba’s entry into Confederation had many misunderstandings and very painful components. It was not an easy time. However, looking back over the experience of the past 150 years, Manitobans today celebrate Riel’s pivotal place in our history. Today, Louis Riel is recognized as the founder of Manitoba and Louis Riel Day is celebrated as a statutory holiday in my province.

Just as Manitoba’s founding involved conflict and strong differences of opinion, the evolution of Manitoba since that time has also not been free of political struggles and intense debates. The Manitoba Schools Question was one such pivotal event that had a lasting impact. It was provoked when the provincial Liberal government, elected in 1888, abolished the dual education system that had existed since the province’s founding and instead set up a non-denominational school system. Funding for Catholic schools was eliminated and the law mandated that schools had to be conducted in English only. That action — which, by the way, was opposed by the Conservatives — created immense divisions within Manitoba and indeed the entire country.

(1950)

It was not just the francophone minority that was impacted, but other minorities as well, including my own Mennonite community. Communities that had educational independence up to that point lost those rights. This created immense divisions and the so-called compromise — belatedly negotiated between the provincial Liberal government and the federal Liberal government in Ottawa after 1896 — which did not resolve that matter.

But what is perhaps more important is the resilience that existed, enabling the province to continue forward. The communities negatively and unjustly impacted by the Manitoba Schools Act survived. Ultimately, they would prosper and rebound. Ultimately, those same communities contributed to building opportunity, not only for themselves but for the entire province.

The experience of the Winnipeg General Strike of 1919 illustrates a similar resilience. That strike too left a bitter legacy, but here as well, the events ultimately served to unite workers and help galvanize the labour movement, not only in Manitoba but throughout Canada. The Winnipeg General Strike was linked to the global events of the time. It is not surprising that many responded to that strike because of fear related to those global events.

But the lesson that was ultimately learned was about how to balance and protect workers’ rights within a free economy. How that happened and the nature of the balance that was struck shaped my province and its character. These major events, along with smaller everyday struggles and debates, built a political culture that has enabled Manitobans of all groups, all ethnicities and of all political perspectives to learn to work together in the great task of building their province and their country. Perhaps that is why Manitobans have never shirked from rendering service to their country.

The scope of the sacrifice that Manitobans made for their country is illustrated by the fact that more than 4,200 of Manitoba’s lakes are now named after the province’s fallen: individuals who fell during the First World War, the Second World War, Korea, and most recently, Afghanistan. That tradition of naming Manitoba’s lakes after its many fallen began in July 1947, when 25 lakes in the northwest of the province were named for 26 soldiers and airmen who were decorated and died serving their country. The scope of that sacrifice is evident in individual stories. One of the lakes, Two Tod Lake, also known as Tod Lake, is named for twin brothers who died during the Second World War.

There are other reminders of the sacrifices Manitobans have made. In Winnipeg, there is now Valour Road, so named because three recipients of the Victoria Cross lived on that street prior to the First World War. Extraordinarily, Robert Shankland, Leo Clarke and Frederick Hall were all awarded the Victoria Cross during the First World War. They all lived on Pine Street in Winnipeg, the street then renamed Valour Road.

Just 99 Canadians have won the Victoria Cross since it was instituted in the mid-19th century. Of those 99 holders of the Victoria Cross seventeen, nearly one in five, have come from Manitoba. These are stories of the sacrifice that Manitobans have made for their country.

Another story of sacrifice is the story of Thomas George Prince, an Ojibwe from Manitoba, who volunteered to serve his country during the Second World War. He earned the Military Medal in Italy and the American Silver Star. He was decorated by King George VI at Buckingham Palace. I thought that he would have been a great person to be recognized on Canada’s five-dollar bill, and many of us started a campaign to that effect. Unfortunately, he did not make the short list, but his valiant sacrifice will never be forgotten by Manitobans.

Manitobans have always persevered in the face of both manmade and natural challenges. The year I was born, Manitoba experienced the great flood of 1950. The flood reached its highest level in Winnipeg on May 14 — the day that I was born. One hundred thousand Winnipeg residents had to be evacuated from their homes; the largest mass evacuation in Canadian history. Even the hospital my mother and I were in was threatened, forcing us to be evacuated to another hospital. According to some accounts, my mother and I were sent down the river by boat to the other hospital, which resulted in some discussion about whether I should be named Don or Moses.

Approximately 10,500 homes were destroyed in Winnipeg alone, and 5,000 buildings were damaged. But through it all, Manitobans pulled together, both to fight the flood and then to rebuild, and finally to prevent future damage possibly reoccurring on that scale.

It was Premier Duff Roblin who spearheaded the development of the Red River Floodway. The excavation of the floodway channel became known as Duff’s Ditch, and it was the second largest earth-moving project in the world, second only to the Panama Canal and larger than the Suez Canal excavation. Since its opening in 1968, it has prevented similar flood damage in Winnipeg from ever reoccurring. After the 1997 Manitoba flood, the floodway was expanded even further, with its capacity now able to accommodate nearly 4,000 cubic metres of water per second.

Manitobans have proven themselves to be tough and resilient people. We have had to be in order to make a life in what is certainly a beautiful land, but one which can also be harsh and unforgiving.

Of course, Indigenous people have known that for the thousands of years they have lived in this region. The presence of Indigenous peoples in Canada can be traced back to approximately 10,000 years ago, shortly after the last ice glaciers retreated. Over time, there were settlements of Ojibwe, Cree, Dene, Sioux, Mandan and Assiniboine. These First Peoples were resilient and resourceful, surviving bitter winters and trading amongst themselves to create a better life for their communities. It is thought that the Whiteshell Provincial Park region in Manitoba may have been a trading centre where Indigenous peoples from the four corners of Turtle Mountain would come to trade, learn and share knowledge.

When the Europeans began to arrive in the 1600s and the fur trade began to expand further west in the 1700s, Lake Winnipeg became a major junction for the trade routes. Indigenous peoples were a key part of this trade, which brought both economic opportunity and violent confrontations.

When the province was formed in 1870, its name was drawn from its Indigenous heritage. The word “Manitoba” is believed to have come from several Indigenous languages, including the Cree word manitou-wapow, the Ojibwe word manidoobaa or the Assiniboine word minnetoba.

For a land that can be harsh, Manitoba has attracted one of the most diverse populations that exist anywhere in the world. The 2006 Canadian Census found that more than 200 ethnic groups now make up Manitoba’s diverse population. Manitobans celebrate that diversity every year through festivals like Folklorama and through many individual celebrations put on in individual communities. The diversity is a testimony to the opportunity that so many have seen and continue to see in my province. It’s a testimony both to the strength of Manitoba and to the strength of Canada.

I also believe that the energy that this diversity has generated helps to explain the multifaceted talent that Manitoba has generated over the decades. Neil Young, Burton Cummings and the Guess Who, Randy Bachman and Tom Cochrane. These are just a few of so many great artists who have come out of and contributed to Manitoba’s vibrant cultural scene.

Manitoba has built world-renowned cultural institutions. The Royal Winnipeg Ballet is known the world over, while the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre has become a model for regional theatres throughout Canada and the United States.

The Winnipeg Art Gallery has the world’s largest collection of contemporary Inuit art, while Winnipeg’s French theatre — and I’m going to mess this up — Théâtre Cercle Molière — am I close, Senator Gagné? Close. Thank you! It is Canada’s oldest continuously operating French theatre.

(2000)

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights is the world’s first museum dedicated to human rights and the first new national museum ever to be located outside of the National Capital Region.

Manitobans have also excelled in athletics. The world knows speed skaters Susan Auch, Clara Hughes and Cindy Klassen. Curling’s Jennifer Jones won the gold medal for Canada in 2014 and is acclaimed in her sport. She made 15 appearances at the national Scotties Tournament of Hearts, winning and representing Canada at the World Championships six times.

Jeff Stoughton is a three-time Canadian curling champion and a two-time world champion.

I do not believe that anyone can go to a Winnipeg Jets game and not be swept away by the enthusiasm and love that the Manitobans have for their team.

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers have made the most Grey Cup appearances — more than Saskatchewan — having played for the coveted trophy 25 times and winning 11 of those.

So many individual Manitobans have also made major contributions to the world. Baldur Stefansson — known as the “father of canola” — is said to have changed the face of the prairies.

Arthur DeFehr, the founder of Palliser Furniture, made a company founded on Christian ethics and one of Canada’s largest furniture manufacturers.

Monty Hall, from the North End of Winnipeg, who everyone in North America came to know as the host of “Let’s Make a Deal.”

Sir William Stephenson ran the spy war against Nazi Germany during World War II and became the inspiration for James Bond.

Our own Murray Sinclair from Selkirk, Manitoba, has been an inspiration to his people, to Manitobans and to Canadians.

There are literally too many to mention. The contributions that Manitobans have made have enabled their province, their country and the world to become a better place.

Manitobans have always been a people to look forward rather than backward. Right now, Manitobans, like the rest of Canada and the rest of the world, are facing a new challenge as the result of a global pandemic that is testing our collective capacity to cope and persevere. But like the Spanish flu of a century ago, this new challenge too will be beaten. Manitoba’s communities, like communities all across Canada, work together to move forward as they always have. This is, after all, the essence of Canada.

The Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples stated 25 years ago:

Canada is a test case for a grand notion — the notion that dissimilar peoples can share lands, resources, power and dreams while respecting and sustaining their differences. The story of Canada is the story of many such peoples, trying and failing and trying again, to live together in peace and harmony.

That is, indeed, the story of Canada and the story of my province, Manitoba.

When my own people, the Mennonites, came to Manitoba in the 1870s, they left everything behind, clinging to that hope. Mennonites who came to Manitoba in a later migration during the 1920s had seen family members murdered before their very eyes and had seen everything taken away from them — their land and all their possessions. But in Canada and in Manitoba, they found freedom and they found peace. They also found opportunity and prosperity. That is why they came, and that is why they have stayed. Canada and Manitoba remain attractive to the world because they still carry that same hope for the peoples of the world.

Today, colleagues, I invite you to join me in celebrating Manitoba’s one hundred and fiftieth anniversary. It is an opportunity to remember what has been accomplished and to work hard for an even better future in the next 150 years. Thank you.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.

Hon. Raymonde Gagné (Legislative Deputy to the Government Representative in the Senate): Honourable Senators, I rise today to speak to Senator Plett’s inquiry on recognizing Manitoba’s one hundred and fiftieth anniversary. I want to thank Senator Plett for taking the initiative in putting forward this inquiry and so giving the chamber an opportunity to recognize Manitoba’s history.

Manitoba became the fifth province to join Confederation 150 years ago. However, we cannot honour Manitoba’s past without acknowledging her long history prior to Confederation. Before first contact with European settlers, the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples conservatively estimated that over half a million Indigenous peoples inhabited Turtle Island.

Manitoba, a Cree word meaning “the narrows of the Great Spirit,” was Cree, Dakota, Dene, Ojibwa and Oji-Cree country, and eventually the country of the Métis Nation. At times in isolation, at times through interactions, peoples of different cultures and social organizations inhabited Manitoban lands from time immemorial. Let us not forget this fact, this too long neglected part of our history.

[Translation]

As we celebrate the Manitoba Act of 1870, we must not overlook the long, proud history of the Métis Nation and its active contributions to building Canada and the Province of Manitoba. The Métis people were born in the 1700s when French and Scottish fur traders married Indigenous women.

Europeans began travelling further and further into the northwest, primarily seeking a route to the Pacific Ocean, but also seeking Castor canadensis, or more precisely the second layer of its fur, which was so well suited to making felt and the felt hats that were so fashionable in Europe at the time. La Vérendrye, for instance, who was encouraged to navigate the waters from Lake Superior to Lake Winnipeg by the Cree and Assiniboine in trade negotiations, settled at the confluence of the Red River and the Assiniboine, where the cities of Winnipeg and St. Boniface and their French heritage would emerge.

The Métis are one of the Indigenous peoples of Canada within the meaning of subsection 35(2) of the Constitution Act, 1982. However, we must not lose sight of the fact that the Métis nation became a people of the northwest even before that territory was part of Canada. Thanks to the determination of the francophone Métis, their leader Louis Riel, and his provisional government, including Father Joseph-Noël Ritchot, Manitoba secured its provincial status, bilingual institutions and separate schools upon entering Confederation.

Like the various First Nations and later the Métis, the French Canadians living in this area fought to be treated fairly in this expanding federation. That was the case for my great-grandparents on the Gagné side, who moved to the area near the Rat River in 1877. By 1872, just two years after Manitoba entered Confederation, it was already evident that it would not be easy to ensure that the rights obtained by the Métis were upheld. Father Ritchot, who had been one of three people sent to Ottawa by Louis Riel in 1870 to ensure respect for property rights on Métis land on the Red River and to promote Manitoba’s entry into Confederation, strongly encouraged some Métis people to settle quickly on the good land along the Rat River.

In 1877, 20 families were living in the mission established on the Rat River, known as the Saint-Pierre mission. Father Jean-Marie Jolys took over and had a chapel and the first schools built. A lot of effort was made to recruit new French Canadian settlers from Quebec and the United States, where they had emigrated. They were all francophone. Here I stand, the descendant of immigrants who left France in 1644 to settle in Quebec before moving on to Massachusetts and finally Manitoba. Thanks to the resilience of these valiant pioneers, I have the privilege of addressing you this evening as a francophone senator from Manitoba.

(2010)

Manitoba is one of three Canadian provinces with constitutionally protected language rights, putting it at the forefront of the fight for language rights. That said, the government’s support of language rights for Franco-Manitobans has fluctuated greatly over time, as guarantees were negotiated and rights were denied, for example with the Thornton Act. Fiercely fought battles were waged all the way to the highest court in the land to restore these rights, thanks in part to Georges Forest and Roger Bilodeau.

The resistance of Franco-Manitobans, especially with respect to education, inspired other battles across French Canada and helped pave the way for the adoption of the federal Official Languages Act in 1969 and its 1988 overhaul.

The legal battles fought by Franco-Manitobans had an effect across the country. These battles helped delineate the language rights guaranteed to all official language minority communities and led to amendments to the regulations under Part IV of the act, requiring that federal services be offered in both official languages.

[English]

In looking back on the province’s history, we cannot help but observe how the diversity of relations and struggles in Manitoba are a microcosm of those that characterize Canada’s history as a whole and of the many important issues we continue to navigate today as a federation. I would like to conclude my speech by addressing three of these issues: first, the issue of recognizing language rights; second, the recognition of the rights of Indigenous peoples and their history; and third, our tradition of welcoming immigrants.

In recognizing and maintaining language rights at the federal level, this is a task that we have before us in modernizing the Official Languages Act. The landscape has evolved considerably since Lester Pearson commissioned André Laurendeau and Davidson Dunton to undertake their study. At the level of the provinces, my colleagues from Quebec know all too well the declining rates of the use of French in its metropolis Montreal. Today, the province debates how to rehabilitate Bill 101.

In New Brunswick, the province’s bilingual constitutional status is being questioned, most notably by a new provincial political party that opposes elements of the province’s official bilingualism. In Ontario, just over two years ago in this very chamber, we deplored the abolishment of the province’s language commissioner and how funding for the French-language university was cut. In British Columbia, this past June, the Supreme Court of Canada found the provincial government violated section 23 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in systematically underfunding the French-language school board.

In other words, in reflecting on the history of minority language rights in Manitoba, we have a lesson for all Canadians: remain vigilant. The homogenizing forces of globalization are too often unkind to linguistic minorities, as they have been to Indigenous peoples.

Only in 2016 did the Supreme Court recognize the Métis and non-status Indians under section 91 of the 1867 Constitution Act. The Daniels decision affirmed the federal government’s fiduciary duty, and the right of Métis to be consulted in good faith. This breakthrough came over 150 years after Louis Riel started on the quest for constitutional recognition.

Politics in Manitoba, as elsewhere, has not been a cakewalk. There have been hard-fought battles, and there have been calamities, including natural disasters, but from the fertile soils of the south, up through the rocky Canadian Shield and the freshwater lakes that the Hudson Bay nourishes, Manitoba is a place of living together — a place of friendships, a place like the giant prairie sky of openness. There is no better place to appreciate this than by looking at Manitoba’s rich tradition of welcoming newcomers.

The Cree, Dakota, Dene, Ojibway and Oji-Cree were the first to welcome Europeans to their lands. Through the different waves over the centuries, Manitobans have welcomed people from all four corners of the globe. All found a home in Manitoba, including the Vietnamese boat people who arrived in the late 1970s, the Rwandan families of the 1990s and, more recently, the families fleeing civil war in Syria.

Despite its difficulties, over the last 150 years Manitoba has demonstrated resilience and political wisdom in building a society where diversity and common values are held together. In the next 150 years, I hope future generations will renew and strengthen this legacy because democracy depends upon diversity. Thank you. Meegwetch.

Hon. Patricia Bovey: Honourable senators, I start by saying happy one hundred fiftieth to all my fellow Manitobans and congratulations on the many accomplishments in so many fields, from medicine to agriculture, education to business, engineering to architecture, aeronautics to athletics and so many more. I have certainly had an eventful, rewarding career in the arts and academia in Manitoba, the province of my birth and where I have returned twice over the decades to be part of our boomerang club. I thank Senator Plett for initiating this inquiry and for his and Senator Gagné’s excellent historical summary of our strong and resilient Manitobans.

You’re not going to be surprised that tonight I will pick up on the creative side of Manitobans and focus on the exciting and important arts hub that my province has been for hundreds of years — far more than the 150 we are celebrating this year. You all know I call my office “mini-Manitoba,” and you all have the publication Celebrating Manitoban Art about the work I have installed in my office.

First, let me say how proud I am to be the first Canadian-born member of my family and how lucky I am that Manitoba was that place. My family, like so many, has lived and worked in the province with dedication and pride. My father was a fur trade historian and edited the 1770s journals of Samuel Hearne, which included the explorer’s time in Churchill, the gathering point for the Inuit, Cree and Dene peoples.

Both my deceased husbands are on the roster of Memorable Manitobans and served the province with pride and love of place. One, John Bovey, was a provincial archivist who brought the Hudson’s Bay Archives from the U.K. to Winnipeg, a significant historical holding that became the first UNESCO-designated archival collection globally. The other, John Harvard, after his award-winning journalism career, served Manitoba in the House of Commons for four terms and then as Manitoba Lieutenant-Governor. He always championed ordinary Manitobans from every corner of the province, celebrating their many strengths and faces.

In 1970, Manitoba’s centennial, I returned to Manitoba as a very young, inexperienced curator at the Winnipeg Art Gallery to work with a major centennial exhibition, heralding visual expressions by itinerant, early-resident and, later, long-time professional artists. From the early work of Indigenous peoples, including the exemplary beadwork of the Métis and the intricate birch bark biting of First Nations creators, to the arrival of the first explorers who witnessed a landscape, light and customs they have never seen before and the 1821 arrival in Hudson’s Bay of the first trained artist to be resident in Western Canada, Peter Rindisbacher, a 15-year-old Swiss boy. His family and that group thought they were arriving in New Orleans — what a surprise!

(2020)

They moved to Red River where they lived until 1826, and Rindisbacher’s new surroundings and its fauna fascinated him, and his work changed in response. He painted many portraits of Indigenous people engaged in traditional activities and ceremonial treaty signings, the interior of Hudson’s Bay buildings, and he also recorded Europeans in the region. The respect, sensitivity and ability with which he portrayed his subjects is captivating, as are his landscapes, such fresh depictions of the light in Manitoba’s vast spaces.

Early depictions by European artists included an engraving after a sketch by Samuel Hearne, Fort Prince of Wales, dated 1769; a watercolour by H.J. Robertson at Fort Gibraltar in 1804; and an 1817 engraving after a sketch by Lord Selkirk at Fort Douglas. Most early itinerant artists passed through the region as members of various exploration parties.

Our province has been a Canadian creative hub ever since, and the many leading innovative accomplishments were, I believe, enabled in part by our geographic isolation and severe winter climates. The rich discussions, cross-disciplinary experiments and the lively evenings in studios and galleries made it Winnipeg. Bruce Head, R.C.A., who spent his entire career in Winnipeg never felt isolated, and he stated about the scene:

Here you can find out what is happening in the art world. You can get active but you can also be left alone if you want.

In 1870, when the province joined Confederation, it was dubbed the “Gateway to the West,” and Winnipeg was seen as “Chicago of the North.” We’ve talked about the derivation of the name of Manitoba and that one of its Indigenous meanings was the “place where God lives,” the title Sandy Bay-born artist Robert Houle named one of his major paintings.

The name “Winnipeg” comes from the Cree, meaning “murky or muddy water,” an apt description, I fear, of the colour of the river waters. I love skating the rivers and taking children out to the junction of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers where the ice is of different colours, and I point out that this is the place where the economy of Western Canada was born. The 1905 painting, The Dakota Boat, by W. Frank Lynn, depicts with clarity that early trade and contemporary life, the forts, the Hudson’s Bay Upper Fort Garry, the Indigenous and Hudson’s Bay Company leaders in the centre of the work, and it shows the river and the evocative sunset.

Manitoba is a cradle of so many firsts in Canadian arts and culture. Red River, for instance, was the site of the first oil paintings done outdoors in Canada by William Hind in 1862, more than 40 years before the founding of the Group of Seven, and eight years before we joined Confederation.

Artistic hubs require a number of factors to succeed, including political leadership, as we have heard, economic stability, a population of sufficient size and artists who are keen to push boundaries. Manitoba had all these convergences.

The influential Winnipeg branch of the Women’s Art Association of Canada was founded in 1894 by a group of determined and dedicated women, and their innovations and goals spelled the solid foundations the arts of the province still build on. The Winnipeg Women’s Art Association and the Virden AgriculturalFair both contributed substantially to the young province’s flowering art scene, and their leadership spawned a number of organizations in Winnipeg and across the province. Indeed, the 1893 Virden fair’s fine arts section was so successful, subsequent agricultural fairs in the province became the major visual arts exhibition venues.

The first civic art gallery in Canada was the Winnipeg Art Gallery, which opened in December 1912. Following the lead of the Winnipeg Women’s Art Association in the 1890s, the gallery presented Indigenous art of the region at its inception, and now its new Inuit arts centre will be opening in February as part of the province’s one hundred and fiftieth anniversary celebrations. The Winnipeg Art Gallery will be pioneering education and awareness programs to the Arctic, sharing their important Inuit collections and research virtually — programs which will, however, be dependent on increased bandwidth in the North.

The first abstract painter in Canada, Bertram Brooker, had worked in the theatre in Neepawa before doing his 1927-28 abstractions. The photo engraving firm Brigdens of Winnipeg, founded in the provincial capital in 1914, became the largest employer of artists in the West for years. They had the contract to produce Eaton’s mail-order catalogue.

The “Painter of The Prairie,” Winnipeg’s Lionel LeMoine FitzGerald, was the only western member of the Group of Seven in the early 1930s, and three decades later, in 1968, the grand Western Canadian Screen Shop was founded in Winnipeg. They connected with print-making studios in Quebec and Newfoundland. Their gatherings poured out into the street and were legendary.

The organization’s fiftieth anniversary had shared celebrations in Regina and Winnipeg, and we are anticipating the catalogue shortly. It is clear that from 1950 forward, individual artists, organizations, the Winnipeg School of Art, arts collectives and more, together created the phenomenon dubbed “the Winnipeg effect” — an impact felt across Canada.

Not surprisingly, new media brought new revolutions in art-making — computer generated work, digital imaging, memes of participatory audience engagement in work, sound, and interdisciplinary creation proliferated.

Reva Stone, recipient of the Governor General’s award in visual arts is one who pushed those boundaries substantially, with works like Carnevale, a groundbreaking piece that uses new media to engage viewers. It is a life-sized double aluminum cut-out of a young girl who moves robotically around the gallery space, interacting with visitors, taking their pictures and then displaying them on the wall. It’s compelling.

In her work, Reva Stone is now exploring artificial intelligence, surveillance studies and privacy concerns. That connection between arts and science and the studios and labs in our province are significant and extend internationally with the work of people like Aganetha Dyck with her decades of long, visual studies of bees. She shared concerns with global scientists and worked with them on international residencies on many occasions as they all tried to save the bee species.

I spoke last week in this chamber of some of our arts organizations and several marked Canadian firsts. For instance, the first English-speaking regional theatre in Canada was the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, founded in 1958 by John Hirsch and Tom Hendry. It was an amalgamation of the Winnipeg Little Theatre and Theatre 77. Early theatre in Winnipeg was born in Winnipeg’s living rooms, like that of Claude Sinclair and his wife’s, which I got to know well, decades later.

The spirit of collaboration between writers, dancers, actors, composers, musicians and visual artists in the early performances was inspiring as is evident from biographies and programs, and it is still obvious when attending performances today, and John Hirsch’s Winnipeg role is legendary.

Manitoba also spawned the country’s first contemporary dance company and Canada’s largest continuously running modern dance company, Winnipeg’s Contemporary Dancers, founded in 1964 by Rachel Browne. They have presented works across Canada and the United States. Dance is key in Winnipeg’s arts constellation. The Royal Winnipeg Ballet is Canada’s oldest ballet company, founded as a club in 1938 and company in 1941, and is the longest continuously operating ballet company in North America. Their commissioned choreography is groundbreaking and stunning, whether Going Home Star — Truth and Reconciliation or the more traditional Nutcracker, that has a unique Winnipeg twist and setting. For almost 80 years, their ballet school has been a fixture, and how I remember my unsuccessful foray as a ballet student.

I could go on about the productions and work of all our organizations, but time precludes that. Let me turn to the richness, creativity, inspiration and energy of individual creators of whom we are so proud.

Of course, Manitoba’s writers have been and are very strong. Miriam Toews, known as the novelist extraordinaire; Carol Shields, dubbed Winnipeg’s fiction queen; Gabrielle Roy, a franco-Canadian star scribe; and, of course, Margaret Laurence, who was and is the pride of Neepawa; poet Dorothy Livesay was celebrated from coast to coast; and there are many more.

Our performers, musicians and filmmakers are also wonderful, and if you think I am bragging, I am. The world famous violinist Brandon-born and trained James Ehnes, the Guess Who, the Weakerthans, composers Glenn Buhr, Sid Robinovitch, Sierra Noble, Rémi Bouchard and jazz musician Ron Paley, filmmakers like Guy Maddin and visual artists and ceramists. Their work is collected, seen, published and toured globally. Indigenous artists too are more than worthy of celebration. Composer Andrew Balfour, writer Ian Ross and visual artist KC Adams are only three.

(2030)

Manitoba’s creativity and traditions have spread far and wide. For instance, our National Arts Centre long-time director Peter Herrndorf is Manitoban. He grew up not far from my childhood home.

The first university in Western Canada, the Manitoba Agricultural College, founded in 1877, is now the University of Manitoba and celebrated its one hundred and fortieth anniversary in 2017.

The Winnipeg School of Art, founded in 1913, formally joined the university in 1951 and it is still going strong in training artists in a variety of disciplines with conviction and substance.

So too is the music faculty. Arts students have been recipients of the Sobey Art Award, and a number of their professors and other senior artists have received the Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts.

At the first hospital in Western Canada, l’Hôpital St-Boniface, the arts have played an important role in healing for decades — actually, since its inception.

I could go on. But you get the sense of the hive of creative activity Manitoba has witnessed. It is truly a pioneering province and one that has welcomed immigrants from the outset — the Icelanders making it a larger Icelandic population than Iceland itself; the Scots, who founded the Red River Settlement; the Filipinos, who have contributed immeasurably to the fabric of our province. Indeed, I believe there is no country in the world that is not represented in Manitoba’s citizenry.

Colleagues, I’m obviously a proud Manitoban. I invite you all to come and take part in any of our festivals, concerts, indoor or outdoor theatre, exhibitions or studio tours. It would be my honour to host you in our special and dynamic creative hub. Thank you.

(On motion of Senator McCallum, debate adjourned.)

The Honourable Landon Pearson

Inquiry—Debate Adjourned

Hon. Rosemary Moodie rose pursuant to notice of November 5, 2020:

That she will call the attention of the Senate to the career of former senator the Honourable Landon Pearson.

She said: Honourable senators, I rise today to honour a remarkable Canadian, former senator Landon Pearson, who recently celebrated her ninetieth birthday.

Former senator Landon Pearson dedicated over 65 years to working for the betterment of children’s lives, both in Canada and internationally. Her distinguished career has also included being a published writer, public speaker, volunteer, school trustee, Foreign Service spouse and mother. Today, her voice remains strong, clear and as commanding as ever as she continues her life’s work.

Former Senator Pearson’s contribution to the lives of children has been immeasurable. She has been a leader and advocate for the development of children’s rights, even before they were officially recognized by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Hers is the power of a life dedicated to children. She has proven the value of dedicating one’s life to the most vulnerable and, in doing so, demonstrated that through one’s passion and dedication, a whole society can be enriched.

Former Senator Pearson has helped to change the discourse on children’s rights in Canada. She has helped to bring children’s voices to the table. She took an approach that had children and adults working together to find solutions, a paradigm shift from the approach that had adults working to identify the challenges faced by children without their input.

Born in Toronto on November 16, 1930, Landon Pearson grew up in a small town in southwestern Ontario in a loving family setting. She was always encouraged to chart her own course. She attributes her sense of fairness to her upbringing.

She once said, “Many people come to human rights advocacy from an experience of oppression. I come from the other direction.” This sensitivity to injustice has informed both her career and her personal life. As a mother, she tried to instill in her children the same fundamental sense of fairness that she grew up with.

Landon Pearson graduated from the University of Toronto in 1951 with a B.A. in Philosophy and English. She met Geoffrey Pearson, one of the five sons of Lester B. Pearson, while attending university and married him immediately upon graduation. She accompanied her husband to Oxford, where he completed his master’s degree.

With her husband now a diplomat, her once sheltered life rapidly expanded as she travelled with their growing family to France, Mexico, India and the former Soviet Union. With each new relocation, her eyes and her heart were opened to the challenges and diversity of the larger world. She often cites this experience — watching her children adapt to their new surroundings and helping them to learn from what they encountered as they settled in — as being instrumental in informing her own understanding of children’s needs. She cites the importance of children having strong family support and the tools they need as key enablers for how much they are able to accomplish themselves.

In the 1980s, Senator Pearson was a leader in Canada’s work for the International Year of the Child and edited the commission’s report. In this role, she travelled throughout Canada to gather opinions directly from children and to understand their problems first-hand. It was then, as she stated in her maiden speech in the Senate, that she became aware of “how much children are affected, sometimes inadvertently, by legislation and government action.”

From 1984 to 1990, she was president, then chairperson, of the Canadian Council on Children and Youth. She has been involved in numerous community-based organizations and was instrumental in conceptualizing and implementing the program Children Learning for Living. She was also a founding member and chairperson of the Canadian Coalition for the Rights of Children from 1989 to 1994, when she was summoned to the Senate.

Former Senator Pearson has been referred to as “the senator for children” or “the children’s senator” by Prime Minister Chrétien when he appointed her in order to speak on behalf of the millions of Canadians who are under 18 years of age and disfranchised due to their lack of the right to vote.

As a senator, she did not speak for children; rather, she enabled them to speak for themselves by including them in meetings and even bringing them to the UN headquarters in 1991 for Canada’s ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Senator Pearson was a strong advocate for ensuring that all government policies affecting children be considered from the perspective of their impact on children’s lives. She believed in constantly honing one’s perspective and having an individual approach as opposed to one-size-fits-all policies. She focused on the issues of child labour, youth criminal justice, child protection, children’s health and women’s prenatal health.

In 1996, due to her reputation as a child advocate, she was appointed as adviser to the Minister of Foreign Affairs on children’s rights and to three succeeding ministers. This enabled her to promote Canada’s reputation as a supporter of children’s rights. She regularly advised the minister on children’s issues in foreign and domestic policy.

She was appointed in 1999 as the personal representative of Prime Minister Jean Chrétien to the 2002 Special Session on Children of the United Nations General Assembly.

Senator Pearson retired from the Senate on November 16, 2005, upon reaching the mandatory retirement age. Her final act in the Senate was a study on Canada’s implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, concluding that Canada had been too slow to implement the measures needed to ensure the best outcomes for our children.

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She has founded the Landon Pearson Resource Centre for the Study of Childhood and Children’s Rights at Carleton University since then, donating all her collected resources to the development of children’s rights. She retired from the directorship in 2010, but continues to work alongside it.

Colleagues, what are the lessons that we can learn from such a woman? From a life well spent? I think there are many. We can learn from her that the best response to being gifted with a happy and healthy life is to dedicate it to those less fortunate.

We can learn from her that the best use of a voice is to lend it to those who do not have one. We can see, in her work, meaningful and real progress. But we can also see the work she has left for us to do; the work to make our democracy a more child-friendly democracy, and that it’s not yet complete.

We must consider the impact of legislation on children and youth. Children and youth do not have a strong voice within our democracy. And, colleagues, the rights of children and youth are still up for debate.

Former senator Landon Pearson had a vision of Canada where our children would have every opportunity to grow and thrive, regardless of their postal code, their gender, their race or other factors.

This is a vision shared by countless Canadians who believe children should be a priority for our institutions. It is why so many have joined with Senator McPhedran to say that more Canadians should have the right to vote.

I join with those voices, with many of the voices in this chamber and with Landon Pearson, to say that children must be a priority and that that is the greatest part of her legacy.

She showed us that considering children in every aspect of our work, and making sure that they are a priority, is the right thing to do. History will surely smile on her for teaching us this lesson.

Please join me in thanking former Senator Pearson for her dedicated work and legacy, and to wish her a happy ninetieth birthday. Thank you.

Hon. Kim Pate: Honourable senators, last month, as you’ve already heard, was the ninetieth birthday of the indomitable “Senator for Children,” Landon Pearson.

In addition to learning about children by having five of her own, Landon has devoted her life’s waged and unpaid work to promoting the rights and amplifying the voices of children and youth.

In the 1970s and 1980s, she worked with and founded numerous groups and services focused on promoting the rights of children. These ranged, as you’ve heard, from setting up a preventive program for children’s mental health for the Ottawa board of education to serving as vice-chair of the Canadian Commission for the International Year of the Child and editor of the commission’s report.

In 1990, as part of the Canadian delegation to the United Nations World Summit for Children, then the largest gathering of world leaders, Landon spearheaded efforts that resulted in Canada playing an essential role in building support for the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Landon Pearson was summoned to this place in 1994, and left it 11 years later. In the intervening years, she continued her life’s work to create international awareness of the importance of children’s rights and the need to provide a voice for children at all levels: local, regional, national and international. She is well recognized for consistently and persistently providing opportunities for children to be integrally involved in the development of policies and decisions that directly affect them.

In addition to her 1996 designation as the first Advisor on Children’s Rights to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, in 1998, Landon co-chaired Out from the Shadows, an International Summit of Sexually Exploited Youth, with Cherry Kingsley, a young Indigenous woman who was in care, and who worked and lived with me for several years before she and Landon met. Cherry introduced us, and described us as her tormentors, and we both called on her to gather youth and assist us in breathing life into their rightful demands for seats at the table, and not merely tokenistic or nominal youth representation at federal and international policy and legislative development fora.

In 1999, as you heard, Jean Chrétien asked then-Senator Pearson to become his personal representative to the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on Children. She agreed, and then selected young Canadians as delegation members to attend the first substantive session of the Preparatory Committee. Landon’s work commenced a Canadian initiative that other countries subsequently adopted.

As deputy chair of the Senate Standing Committee on Human Rights, Landon shepherded a report on Canada’s international obligations in respect of the rights and freedoms of children. When she retired from the Senate, Landon Pearson moved to Carleton University, where she established her resource centre on children and children’s rights.

Former Senator Pearson continues to be an incredible advocate for the human rights of children. Her work has earned wide acclaim in the international arenas and led to a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005.

War-affected children, physically and sexually abused children, child victims of pornography and Indigenous children have all found a staunch ally and advocate in Landon Pearson. Cindy Blackstock of the Caring Society calls her a child-rights advocate extraordinaire. Indeed, as many have witnessed over the years, Landon Pearson is not someone who can rest easy when there is work to be done. She simply digs in and gets it done.

Appointed as an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2008, her vital work and lifelong commitment to promoting the rights of children in Canada and throughout the world were recognized, as was her tenacious, tireless and truly inspirational leadership.

Testimonials gathered by Dr. Virginia Caputo in the hot-off-the-press book The Children’s Senator chronicle many accounts of invaluable mentorship, inspirational advocacy, research and writing. So many aspire to demonstrate even a modicum of her skills, perseverance and grace as they continue in her footsteps to address the egregious inequalities that persist for far too many children and youth.

At 90 years and counting, former senator, the Honourable Landon Pearson continues to be a strong and abiding force with and for children and young people throughout Canada.

Thank you, Senator Moodie, for launching this exploration of the remarkable and indomitable Landon Pearson. Thank you.

Hon. Jim Munson: Honourable senators, Landon Pearson is a living proof that there is life after the Senate.

(On motion of Senator Munson, debate adjourned.)

Link between Prosperity and Immigration

Inquiry—Debate Adjourned

Hon. Ratna Omidvar rose pursuant to notice of November 18, 2020:

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

She said: I realize, being the last speaker on the Order Paper, I have a responsibility because I stand between my colleagues and their well-earned rest. I promise to be both brief and engaging.

On February 4 of this year, I rose in this chamber to launch an inquiry on the link between prosperity and immigration. As I think back to that time, how much has changed in these short 10 months: how we live, how we behave, how we travel and also how we think. I come to this retabled inquiry with some fresh eyes and experiences. I want to link it, not just to our prosperity but now more and more to our health and safety.

The last time I spoke about this, I spoke to you about Canada’s long history of immigration, our robust immigration system and the contributions immigrants make to our economy. I also outlined some of the challenges that Canada faces, including racism and the barriers that immigrants face in working in their field of training, as well as in making sure that immigrants are spread across this vast country and not just in a few multicultural cities.

The pandemic, though, has brought a new question that deserves to be discussed, and that is the question of essential workers. Essential workers are everywhere. They work in long-term care homes as personal support workers, as grocery retail clerks and shelvers, as truck drivers, in meat-packing plants and on farms.

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Every day they put their lives at risk so that our lives can carry on. Many of them we know are new Canadians, temporary foreign workers or asylum seekers. Too often, their status equates to unsafe working conditions, low pay and limited rights.

According to Statistics Canada, approximately 36% of nurse aides, orderlies and patient service associates are immigrants. The agriculture sector is also, as we now well know, highly dependent on temporary foreign workers, who account for 20% of total employment in the sector. Workers in these occupations, especially those working in long-term care facilities in Quebec and Ontario, have been at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19. We also know that seasonal agricultural workers have been particularly hard hit, with hundreds becoming infected over the summer.

Over the last three decades, Canada has focused on prioritizing high-skilled workers. They and their families make up the single largest cohort in our annual immigration plans. Over time, I believe we have developed an addiction to filling our labour market needs with those we believe have the fastest and best way to create wealth for themselves and for Canada. But it has proven to be tunnel vision of a kind, because it has prevented us from thinking of the labour market and its needs as a whole. Any economy will need workers at all ends of the scale, but we have left our unfilled low-skilled jobs to the vagaries of temporariness.

As we build back better or stronger, whatever the new language is, we would do well to scope out a multi-dimensional look and accept that any economy needs workers and talent at all ends of the scale. Canada will certainly need those with the education to compete in a knowledge economy as well as workers for the service industry, semi-professional health care and agriculture.

If we do indeed need essential workers, then let’s agree to treat them in an essential manner, with essential rights and essential pay. Let’s consider pathways to permanency for those who have long been denied this simply because they are low-skilled. I think we now accept the fact that low-skilled does not equate to low value.

There have, of course, been other unintended victims of this crisis. The high dependency of our post-secondary educational institutions on international foreign students has led to a financial crunch for our universities and colleges. The economies of whole towns rely on these students who contribute $22 billion to our economy and create 170,000 jobs. The Trump bump that we experienced in the last four years in terms of foreign students may well wane now because of the change in the system to the south of us, but we need to continue to put our best foot forward to ensure that international foreign students choose Canada not just for studies, but possibly for permanence. They are the veritable low-hanging fruit in this constellation.

The pandemic has also had a devastating impact on annual immigration landings. In my earlier speech, I laid out the reasons why it is critical for Canada to sustain and grow our numbers of landings for two reasons, which I believe are worth repeating.

First, as a stabilizer of our population and our economy, we need more people who will create more economic activity and, therefore, provide greater prosperity for all Canadians.

Second, the Canadian population is aging. This is a fact. The average age of the population is moving up as life expectancy increases, birth rates decline and the baby boomer generation ages. This also means that the number of workers supporting seniors is shrinking.

The delays in landings will result in a low number of 200,000 permanent residents landing in 2020 as opposed to the plan for 341,000. Again, this will contribute to other stresses in our economic stability and growth. As a result, the government has announced that Canada will increase its targets and welcome more than 1.2 million new immigrants over the next three years. Demographic modelling suggests that our population could reach 100 million at the turn of the century if Canada indeed meets these new immigration targets and then increases annual immigration by 20,000 from 2024 to 2026 and holds immigration levels at an average of 1.22% of the population from 2027 onwards.

But I am unsure whether we will meet these immigration targets in the short term unless we put some sacred cows out to pasture, such as aggressively landing those who are already in Canada: temporary visa holders, foreign students and, yes, maybe even asylum seekers.

Which brings me to my last point. In all this doom and gloom, there is a ray of light. Canadians have never been more open to and more appreciative of immigrants than now. They are less likely to think of asylum seekers and refugees as simply queue jumpers. The majority of Canadians continue to see immigrants as critical to the Canadian economy and do not feel that they take jobs away from other Canadians. So if ever there was a time to retool, reimagine and remake immigration, the time is now. It cannot be business as usual or business as it was before the pandemic.

I invite my colleagues to add their views to this inquiry so that we can indeed build back stronger. Thank you, colleagues.

Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.

(On motion of Senator Loffreda, debate adjourned.)

(At 8:57 p.m., the Senate was continued until tomorrow at 2 p.m.)