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Debates of the Senate (Hansard)

2nd Session, 43rd Parliament
Volume 152, Issue 46

Tuesday, June 8, 2021
The Honourable George J. Furey, Speaker


Tuesday, June 8, 2021

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


Speaker’s Statement

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, let us take a moment to reflect upon the tragic attack that took place in London, Ontario, this past Sunday, and that claimed the lives of four individuals, and left a young nine-year old family member seriously injured.

I know all senators will join with me to stand together in solidarity with the Muslim community against such acts of hate. We offer our deepest condolences to the family and friends of those who have died, and we wish a swift recovery to the young boy injured in this atrocity.

I now invite all honourable senators to rise and observe one minute of silence in memory of the victims.

(Honourable senators then stood in silent tribute.)

Business of the Senate

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I understand that there have been discussions, and that there is an agreement for a representative from the government and each party and group to make a short statement at this time.

London, Ontario—Victims of Tragedy


Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Honourable senators, I’m so very sorry to have to rise today to speak to the murder of four people and the serious injury of a child — three generations of one family — that occurred in London Sunday evening.

As the Prime Minister stated earlier today in the other place, this was “a brutal, cowardly and brazen act of violence. . . . a terrorist attack, motivated by hatred . . . .”

This family was targeted because of their faith. I’m at a complete loss to establish what motivates a person to hate so much that ending the lives of complete strangers simply seems acceptable. It’s so difficult to find the right words without sounding predictable. We have to find the right words far too often. That, in and of itself, is incredibly sad.

We are Canadians. We are seen and we see ourselves as a welcoming and tolerant country, which is why acts like this strike us to our core. It should not be happening here. Violence in the name of hate is intolerable, and it must never be allowed to take root in this country.

There will be a vigil this evening in London, and I truly hope it will bring a small measure of comfort to the Muslim community in the city knowing that their fellow Londoners stand with them.

The hashtag of the Green Ribbon Against Islamophobia campaign is #Hatewillneverwin. I echo that sentiment.

I offer my deepest condolences to the family and friends of Salman Afzaal, 46; his wife Madiha Salman, 44; their 15-year-old daughter, Yumna Afzaal; and Salman Afzaal’s 74-year-old mother. I also offer our support to Muslim communities across this country. Our thoughts are also with Fayez Afzaal who is recovering and must now learn to live without his immediate family. It is heartbreaking. No person, however young or old, should ever fear for their safety simply because of their faith or their beliefs.

Honourable senators, we are each responsible, one for the other, for the treatment of our fellow citizens. Let us do all we can. Let us do our utmost to ensure that Canada will always be a welcoming and safe country. Thank you.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

Hon. Donald Neil Plett (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, I also rise to speak about the tragedy that occurred in London, Ontario, this Sunday evening.

A 74-year-old woman, a 46-year-old man, a 44-year-old woman, a 15-year-old girl and a 9-year-old boy were the victims of a driver who deliberately struck them down with his truck. All the family members died except for the young boy who remains in critical condition in a London hospital. This violent act of mass murder was motivated because of the family’s Muslim faith. It is a heartbreaking incident on every front.


This family deserved to be able to walk through their community in safety, in peace and without worry. Like all Canadians, they deserved freedom of conscience and religion. Their Muslim faith alone put targets on their backs for someone who wrongfully and shamefully believed this family did not deserve these freedoms.

As the Mayor of London, Ed Holder, said Sunday, it was certainly a dark day in Canada.

Colleagues, Islamophobia has no place in Canada. Violent acts of terror have no place in Canada. Racism has no place in Canada. Yet this incident reminds us that these dark evils persist in our society. Sometimes they persist under the surface, but on Sunday, they were expressed in a horrific act of violence that has surely left Muslim Canadians with increased fear for their own lives, doubt of their acceptance in their own country and deep grief.

The Conservative senators stand with the Muslim community in this time, and we express our deepest condolences to the loved ones of the victims. Our hearts go out to the family’s son, who remains in hospital, and we pray that he will fully recover and be surrounded by love as he begins to take in how his life has changed.

We reaffirm our commitment to build a country that is free from hatred, where Canadians of all faiths can live without fear of violence or persecution and where Canadians feel no fear to worship in the public sphere, no fear when entering a mosque, no fear when wearing the expressions of their faith and certainly no fear when going on a walk with one’s family.

As parliamentarians, let us mourn this tragic event and grieve with those who are grieving. As Erin O’Toole said in his speech this morning in the other place:

Our first duty as political leaders is to ensure the security of our citizens. To ensure that Canadians can be free to live, work and pray as they wish.

May we all recommit ourselves to standing for freedom of religion in Canada to ensure the security of all of our citizens.

Thank you.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.

Hon. Yuen Pau Woo: Honourable senators, this chamber is expressing yet again our shock and sorrow at another instance of horrific racism in our country. Even calling it “horrific” is an understatement, because what happened in London, Ontario, on Sunday was a brutal and seemingly deliberate murder of four Canadians for what appears to be no reason other than the fact that they were Muslims. Salman Afzaal and his wife, Madiha Salman, were killed along with their 15-year-old daughter, Yumna Afzaal, and Mr. Afzaal’s 74-year-old mother. Their 9‑year-old son, Fayez, is in serious condition. He will likely recover, but his life has been forever changed.

Even as I stand before you to condemn this blatant act of hate, I’m wondering how many more times we must replay this depressing tune before we can put an end to violence against minority groups.

The answer, my friends, is not blowing in the wind; it is staring us in the face. Racism and hate are always founded upon false narratives and half-truths, and they are often propagated, not necessarily by out-and-out racists but by establishment sources such as mainstream media, academics and the political class.

In the case of Islamophobia, it starts with the denial by many that there even is such a thing. And yet, we have seen a rise in anti-Islam sentiment since the advent of COVID-19. In Edmonton, six weeks into the lockdown, a man sat in his vehicle outside the oldest mosque in North America, the Al Rashid Mosque, running what he called a “Ramadan Bomb-a-thon,” which he broadcast on social media. A few months later, a Quebec man had charges brought against him in connection with hundreds of online posts he made calling for the deaths of all Muslims. Mosques have been increasingly vandalized as a means of spreading fear. The Muslim Association of Canada’s Masjid Toronto has seen six major incidents at both of its locations since the start of the pandemic.

Al Rashid Mosque in Edmonton was targeted with neo-Nazi graffiti, and four men were accused of public urination at the Islamic Society of Markham.

Is it any wonder, therefore, that a family of Muslims out for an evening walk in London, Ontario, would be mowed down because of who they are? If we happen to be bystanders at a hit-and-run, we would no doubt report the incident to the police. Senators, we are bystanders to persistent racist innuendo against Muslims and other minority groups in our country. It is well and good to call out these slurs in the echo chamber of our upper house, but we should be calling them out everywhere. Assalamu alaikum.

Hon. Scott Tannas: Honourable senators, on Sunday, here in our own peaceful and democratic country, a family out for a walk lost four members — three generations — murdered because of their Muslim faith. On behalf of our group, I would like to extend our sincerest condolences to those who knew and loved the victims, and who grieve with the lone survivor, a 9-year-old boy. Our hearts break for him.

Let us also take this moment to call this for what it is: a hate crime. It is Islamophobia.

We understand that London’s Muslim community is struggling right now, grappling with this sense of vulnerability. It’s also rallying around the family, which is one that any community would be proud of. Together as Canadians, we must confront hate and take action so that no Canadian, no fellow citizen, feels unsafe because of what they believe. Thank you.

Hon. Jane Cordy: Honourable senators, on behalf of the Progressive Senate Group, I would like to add our voice to those who are mourning this unconscionable loss.

The burden of grief is too high for too many. We cannot continue this way. When a family can no longer feel safe going for a walk in their own community — in their own neighbourhood — because of their faith and identity, that is a problem that must be addressed with immediate and concrete actions.

So many of us believe that violence fuelled by this kind of hate and cowardice has no place here in Canada. But the horrific events that unfolded on Sunday evening in London, Ontario, show us that we still have so much work to do to combat Islamophobia and the destruction it causes.

Three generations — three generations of a family — have been unfairly killed, and a 9-year-old boy has been left behind in hospital. This immense loss reflects upon us all.

Like the news last week about the 215 residential school children, we should be heartbroken but, sadly, not shocked. Members of religious and minority communities have been subjected to these kinds of targeted acts of violence for too long. If we do not want these events to define us as a nation, we must commit to change. We must call out hate and prejudice when we see it, and we must not let these attitudes go unchallenged.

Honourable senators, we must be at the forefront of fighting hate and discrimination.

On behalf of the Progressive Senate Group, I offer our condolences to the family, friends and neighbours of the Afzaal family. To the Muslim community, we would like to pledge our support and our promise that we will continue toward eliminating the hate and prejudice that has once again left you in mourning. We grieve with you, and we stand with you. Thank you.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.



Anti-Muslim Extremism

Hon. Salma Ataullahjan: Honourable senators, it’s hard to put into words the collective pain and grief Muslims in Canada feel having to mourn another loss in our community. This is the second act of mass murder against Muslims and the third Islamophobic attack resulting in death. The beautiful Afzaal family in London was murdered — a grandmother, mother, father and teenage child — simply because they were Muslim and because they went for a walk. A 9-year-old boy is hospitalized in serious condition, now an orphan, his entire family stolen from him by hate.

My family watched the horrific news of this premeditated terrorist act together in silence, as we learned the details of a Pakistani Muslim family so much like our own, out for a regular evening walk. Salman Afzaal was a doctor, known for his generosity and kindness; Madiha Salman, a civil engineer from my hometown of Peshawar, was days away from defending her PhD. They were described by friends as “the best people in the community.”

The nature of this attack is shocking, but unfortunately it is not surprising. This is not the first time I have spoken about the rise of Islamophobia, and I fear it will not be the last. As government leaders, we regularly condemn Islamophobia but this alone is not enough. We need concrete actions. CBC News has stated that there are 250 identified White supremacist groups currently active within Canada. What are we doing to dismantle these groups? What are we doing to combat the radicalization and extremism of White supremacists?

We must also combat Islamophobia before it reaches the point of physical violence. It is Islamophobic rhetoric that sows the seeds of these acts of hate. I’m sorry to say, I have been witness to many Canadians, the press, even some of my colleagues using language that is harmful to the perception of Muslims, such as identifying any Muslim majority country that is being condemned as an Islamic state, choosing only to identify an attacker by religion when they are Muslim, using terms like “Islamism.” Words matter and words have consequences.

I urge my colleagues to reach out to Muslim communities in their regions and work with them to take immediate action. I encourage you to consider the necessary changes we must make to end online hate and to combat hateful extremist ideologies. Our voices matter. It’s time we vocalize our unwavering dedication to the right and freedom of every Canadian to live a dignified life free of prejudice, and to follow our words with actions so that we too become part of the solution.

My community is struggling with their grief right now, but in that grief they are also forced to contend with the fear for their safety. I have had countless calls from Muslims in Canada and abroad saying, “Canada has always been perceived as a safe country for us. What happened?” It’s the question that I’m struggling to answer myself, and that I challenge my colleagues to consider: What happened? Thank you.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.

Mary Jane (Janie) Richards

Hon. David Richards: Honourable senators, I was going to deliver this statement on International Women’s Day but I didn’t get a chance, so I will do it now. Thank you.

She was left a widow with three children in 1923. She and her husband had a theatre business in the small town of Newcastle, New Brunswick, where they played piano and violin for the silent films. When her husband died, her competitors told her they would buy her out. She politely refused. The next month, her competition hired men to tear down her advertisement posters from the pole she had placed them on.

Leaving her two youngest children in the care of her 5-year-old son, she would go out at night with a large RCMP flashlight and charge those men, swinging the flashlight at their heads. She knocked more than a few men cold, not because she disliked men but because she needed to protect her signs.

Her competition got a bank manager who owed them a gambling debt to foreclose on her mortgage. She had no money to pay such a sum and, being a girl from the poorest section of town, had no one to ask for a loan. She went to a lumber baron and as she once stated, “It was the first Protestant door I ever knocked on.” He declared, “I’ll loan you the money; I never liked how those characters did business.”

She paid off the loan and when she left the bank manager that day, she said, “No one can take your personal integrity away, you have to give it away.” Thus began the start of a series of fires, of broken windows, of traumatized children who her oldest son tried to protect. No one was arrested over these fires and the only comment of the local papers at the time was that they were mysterious.

Then in 1929 she had an idea considered foolhardy by almost everyone. She clandestinely took a train to Montreal and bought a four-year monopoly on something called “Talking Pictures.” She put her competition out of business within a year. That was when they tried to blow her building up with dynamite attached to wood that her brother-in-law loaded in the large stove every evening. The dynamite was discovered and the building and the patrons saved.

Many nights she sat up in that building with a handmade club fashioned from the stick of wood the dynamite had been attached to. Finally, the attacks subsided and she was able to buy a new building called the Opera House in our little town of Newcastle, where she ran her business for many years.

In 1952, she was elected as a pioneer of the Canadian film industry, and sitting one day in her office upstairs in the Opera House, she got a call from a destitute woman in Chatham. The woman told her that her husband had died in the poorhouse. “You are the only business woman I know,” she said, “And I don’t have money to pay for my husband’s funeral.” The husband, the man who had died in the poorhouse in Chatham, was the bank manager who had foreclosed on her mortgage in 1924. “Bury your husband with dignity and send the bill to me,” she offered.

I do not know if she had a happy life, but she certainly had a heroic one. The little boy who tried to protect his siblings was my father. She was my grandmother. Her name was Janie. I have always loved that name.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.

The Region of Waterloo, Ontario

Hon. Marty Deacon: Honourable senators, today I wish to thank individuals and teams from my home community, the Region of Waterloo, with the response they have given to COVID-19, some at great personal sacrifice. I have spoken to all of these folks. Today, I wish to share this rescheduled message in the Senate.

To Steven Mai of Eclipse Automation who retooled to develop desperately needed N95 masks;

Rita Tuerk, Susan Butcher and Carol Miller, who continue to make gowns and masks; and Roman Hatashita, from Hatashita International, who designed and manufactured 10,000 three-layer masks for our Olympic and Paralympic Teams while they compete in Tokyo;

Peter Menary and his staff at Len’s Mill, who took thousands of bolts of fabric to make gown and mask kits for frontline workers. They made over 80,000 masks and 15,000 gowns;

To Mark Shaver, Caleb Ashley and Jeremy Hedge from The Canadian Shield, who retooled to make hundreds of thousands of face shields;

To Erin Moraghan, who shifted her work to provide free online workouts, including apps for our frontline workers. She also sold clothing to raise funds for the local women’s crisis centre;

To Rod Gimpel and Darryl Kuwabara, who shared their gifts of music and storytelling and produced many hours of virtual concerts;

To Carla Johnson, Darryl Fletcher, Jayne Herring, who worked together to provide the delicious Lunch Is On Us program feeding all frontline staff at the Cambridge Memorial Hospital;

Sam MacDonald and Jeff Lotz of Deep Trekker, who developed UV light robotic machines used to scrub, sanitize, and sterilize hospital rooms;

And to the Waterloo Region District and Waterloo Catholic District School Boards; the transition to distance education for over 100,000 students has been a challenge for educators, leaders, families and, most importantly, our young people. Of special note, the work of IT departments was 24-7. They are often forgotten but they moved heaven and earth to make virtual learning for students and staff work;

Hundreds of restaurants who shifted again and again to online ordering and delivery;

The House of Friendship, Nutrition for Learning, the food banks that found new ways to support our most vulnerable, especially in the winter. Of note, Dare Foods stepped up to donate 100,000 boxes of Bear Paw Cookies to Food Banks Canada;

ATS Automation produced filtering face respirators, ventilator components and COVID-19 test kits.

There are many more businesses and leaders that have stepped up.

The end of COVID is not here yet. Vaccination and other challenges continue. We can feel cautious hope moving in the right direction. Fatigue, connecting and the mental health of Canadians is always of great concern. Resilience and stamina are being challenged. Let us continue to support the efforts and great work of so many who continue to rise and even thrive during these times. Thank you. Meegwetch.


James Ross Hurley

Congratulations on Eightieth Birthday

Hon. Peter Harder: Honourable senators, in the fall of 1974, as a student at the University of Waterloo, I was invited to attend a reception for the executive of the Canadian Political Science Association held at the home of Professor John Wilson, our department head. I was a fourth-year student intending on going to grad school. It was at this reception that Professor Wilson introduced me to James Ross Hurley, the then-young founding executive director of the Canadian Parliamentary Internship Programme. I can still recall exactly where I was standing and the advice Hurley gave me: Take a year away from grad school, apply to the Parliamentary Internship Programme and, if successful, you will have an amazing opportunity to see the House of Commons up close.

He described how the intern would spend half the year with a member of the government and half the year with an opposition member of Parliament, that the interns would have an academic exchange with the United States congressional fellows, visit the U.K. Parliament and the French Parliament, as well as the Ontario and Quebec legislatures. I was intrigued, applied and was accepted. My life’s course was changed.

Honourable senators, I rise today to celebrate the upcoming eightieth birthday of James Ross Hurley, director of the Parliamentary Internship Programme, senior public servant and constitutional adviser to prime ministers. In 1969, Mr. Hurley, then a young academic at the University of Ottawa, worked with the Canadian Political Science Association and the late Alf Hales, the MP for Wellington, Ontario, to develop a new program that would allow recent university graduates to serve as assistants to members of Parliament and to study Parliament during a 10-month internship.

Originally launched with the assistance of the Donner Canadian Foundation, the Parliamentary Internship Programme continues to operate under the auspices of the Canadian Political Science Association with strong backing from the House of Commons. Financial support is provided by a broad range of more than 40 sponsors, representing corporations, industry groups, labour unions, farmer groups, embassies and other friends.

Thanks to Mr. Hurley’s dedication, more than 500 young Canadians have benefited from this unique, non-partisan program, which continues to this day. The current interns will finish their placement later this month. I, along with former senator Grant Mitchell, are proud to have been interns, and in the broader Senate community, several of our staff have been part of this program as well. Mr. Hurley eventually moved on to a distinguished career with the Privy Council Office, but he remains a dedicated supporter of the program, most recently helping to establish the Hales and Hurley Parliamentary Foundation to raise funds on its behalf. The community of interns congratulates Jim on this milestone, and we all thank him for his contribution to Parliament, to Canada and to the young lives he has nurtured and changed. Thank you.

Andy Theriault

Hon. Dennis Glen Patterson: Honourable senators, I rise with words of tribute to a very public spirited citizen, good friend and long-time Northerner Andy Theriault, to honour his recent passing. I knew him from his first day in our town.

As a District Manager for Northern Affairs, Andy once invited me to go with him as a guest on his one of his arduous Twin Otter patrols to various Arctic communities on Baffin Island. One dark and frigid winter night en route to Pond Inlet in the High Arctic, we touched down in Arctic Bay before landing in Pond Inlet a half an hour away. When we landed, we learned that a Twin Otter that had landed on our heels after we took off had tragically crashed on approach, killing all on board. I reminded Andy of that unsettling event when we talked during his final days in recent months. We had a close call then, my friend, we agreed.

Andy made a huge contribution in the north and in Iqaluit, where he was elected councillor and then mayor for two terms by the grateful citizens of Iqaluit. Before coming to Iqaluit, Andy had a 19-year military career, which took him all over the world and Canada and culminated in him assisting General Ramsey Withers to establish the first DND Northern Area Headquarters, Joint Task Force North, in Yellowknife. He then had a 19-year career as district manager in the Baffin Region in Iqaluit.

He was always very devoted to our community. He was active in establishing the first francophone centre, Franco-Centre, in Iqaluit, the first elder’s home, and was a pillar in the Royal Canadian Legion where he played pivotal roles on the building committees for both the expanded new Legion premises and the cadet hall. He also spearheaded the development of the city’s important Joamie School subdivision, which allowed for significant growth of the city as the new Nunavut capital on prime land overlooking the waters of Koojesse Inlet.

Andy was known for his devoted and tireless public service to his community. When there was a famine in Ethiopia, Andy stepped up to chair the local fundraising committee. He was given an RCMP award for improving police-community relations, and Andy and his beloved wife Eleanor were given honorary degrees from the Nunavut Arctic College social services program for community service. He was active in the Iqaluit Rotary Club, where the Andy Theriault Citizenship Award was created in his name. Very proud of his origins as a francophone Acadian, Andy was also devoted to the Inuit majority in our town and the territory.

Andy was ahead of his time in leading the official change of the city’s name from Frobisher Bay to its traditional name of Iqaluit. When it came to supporting the decades-long struggle to create the new territory of Nunavut, Andy was an ardent supporter who was very influential in getting support from the small but important non-Inuit minority in Nunavut. Andy always said Nunavut was a question of when, not if. He made a huge difference to our town in the North. He saw a vision for Nunavut. He understood that the Inuit were going to be in charge.

Andy Theriault, my public spirited Acadian friend, I salute you for your lifetime of distinguished service and your enduring achievements.


Criminal Code

Bill to Amend—Third Report of Banking, Trade and Commerce Committee Presented

Hon. Howard Wetston, Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce, presented the following report:

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

The Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce has the honour to present its


Your committee, to which was referred Bill C-218, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (sports betting), has, in obedience to the order of reference of May 25, 2021, examined the said bill and now reports the same without amendment but with certain observations, which are appended to this report.

Respectfully submitted,



(For text of observations, see today’s Journals of the Senate, p. 649.)

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

(On motion of Senator Wells, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for third reading at the next sitting of the Senate.)

Audit and Oversight

Fifth Report of Committee Presented

Hon. David M. Wells, Chair of the Standing Committee on Audit and Oversight, presented the following report:

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

The Standing Committee on Audit and Oversight has the honour to present its


Your committee, which is authorized to adopt a report to the Senate nominating two external members to the committee pursuant to rule 12-13(4), presents herewith its report which contains the said nominations.

Your committee also includes in this report recommendations relating to the remuneration, permissible expenses and terms and conditions of appointment for the external members.

Respectfully submitted,



(For text of report, see today’s Journals of the Senate, p. 665.)

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

I am sorry, Senator Wells, just a moment.


Honourable senators, there appears to be some technical difficulty not just with the translation but with the sound. We will suspend for a few minutes and, as soon as we have it fixed, we will recall the Senate with a five-minute bell.

(The sitting of the Senate was suspended.)

(The sitting of the Senate was resumed.)


The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, before calling on Senator Wells, the table has brought to my attention that Senator Batters did not wish to second the motion. Honourable senators will know that seconding a motion doesn’t mean you have to support it or speak to it. However, it is the right of every senator, if they wish to not have their name associated with a motion, to say so.

If you are opposed to me changing the seconder, please say “no.” Accordingly, it was moved by Senator Wells, seconded by Senator Martin and the record shall reflect that.

Senator Wells: Honourable senators, with leave of the Senate and notwithstanding rule 5-5(f), I move that the report be placed on the Orders of the Day for consideration later this day at the start of Orders of the Day.

The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted, honourable senators?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(On motion of Senator Wells, report placed on the Orders of the Day for consideration later this day at the start of Orders of the Day.)

The Senate

Motion to Resolve into Committee of the Whole to Consider the Subject Matter of Bill C-8 Adopted

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

That, notwithstanding any provisions of the Rules, usual practice or previous order, when the Senate sits on Thursday, June 10, 2021:

1.the Senate resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole at the start of Orders of the Day to consider the subject matter of Bill C-8, An Act to amend the Citizenship Act (Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s call to action number 94), as well as other matters related to the responsibilities of the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, with any proceedings then before the Senate being interrupted until the end of Committee of the Whole, which shall last a maximum of 95 minutes;

2.the Committee of the Whole on the subject matter of Bill C-8 and other matters receive the Honourable Marco Mendicino, P.C., M.P., Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, accompanied by at most four officials;

3.the witness’s introductory remarks last a maximum total of five minutes; and

4.if a senator does not use the entire period of 10 minutes for debate provided under rule 12-32(3)(d), including the responses of the witnesses, that senator may yield the balance of time to another senator.

The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted, honourable senators?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Motion agreed to.)



Canadian NATO Parliamentary Association

Parliamentary Transatlantic Forum, December 9-11, 2019—Report Tabled

Hon. Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian NATO Parliamentary Association concerning the Nineteenth Annual Parliamentary Transatlantic Forum, held in Washington, D.C., United States of America, from December 9 to 11, 2019.


Audit and Oversight

Motion to Appoint the Honourable Senator Klyne as A Member of the Committee Adopted

Hon. Jane Cordy: Honourable senators, with leave of the Senate and notwithstanding rule 5-5(j), I move, seconded by the Honourable Senators Gold, P.C., Plett, Tannas and Woo:

That, notwithstanding rule 12-3(2)(g), the Honourable Senator Klyne be appointed to serve on the Standing Committee on Audit and Oversight, in addition to the members already appointed or to be appointed.

The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted, honourable senators?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Motion agreed to.)



Consultations that Preceded and Followed the Tabling of Bill C-15

Hon. Dennis Glen Patterson: Honourable senators, my question is for Senator Gold. The Aboriginal Peoples Committee concluded its study of Bill C-15 yesterday, as we know. I thank you for your helpful participation at that meeting.

During our study, Ministers Bennett and Lametti emphasized their ongoing engagement on the topic of Bill C-15. Officials described that engagement as driven by Minister Lametti. The promised consultation list was finally received yesterday, a week and a day after the deadline for written responses, and long after it had first been requested. That is not acceptable. But of the 58 informal discussions listed, only 4 included those who have raised serious concerns with this bill.

So, Senator Gold, why would the minister not have directed that more time be given to address concerns raised by folks like the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador (AFNQL), the Mohawk Council of Kahnawá:ke, the Indigenous Bar Association, Chief David Monias, Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak, O’Chiese First Nation, Alexander First Nation, Treaty 6, 7 and 8 peoples, and others who were proposing amendments and raising concerns?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): I thank the honourable senator for his question and for his kind words.

Prior to Bill C-15’s introduction, the government conducted extensive engagement, including with modern treaty and self-governing First Nations, Inuit regions, other Indigenous rights holders, national and regional women’s organizations, youth, LGBTQ representatives, as well as non-Indigenous stakeholders.

The government is well aware that some partners have expressed concern about the length of time for consultation on Bill C-15, which is why engagement did not stop with the introduction of the bill. As you properly point out, a list has been provided to our Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples. Further extensive meetings with Indigenous partners, including Indigenous rights holders, were held between January and May, where further discussions took place.

I’ve been advised that a number of the meetings on that list refer to regional organizations, for example, British Columbia’s Assembly of First Nations Special Chiefs Assembly and meetings of chiefs and other representatives of rights holding bodies, where the government participated in engagement on the bill.

Honourable senators, I would also note that co-development of the action plan under Bill C-15 will be a further opportunity to work in close partnership with Indigenous rights holders and organizations on implementation. Finally, I would note that Budget 2021 provides $31.5 million over two years to support the co-development of the action plan.

Senator Patterson: Honourable senators, I hope it will be done better in the action plan than it was in the bill.

Senator Gold, one of the entries on the consultation list lists an engagement session with Treaty 6, 7 and 8 peoples on the very same date that they passed their resolution against the bill and the majority of entries. The first five months of consultations were primarily with national Indigenous organizations. So my supplementary question is this: Why does your government continue to place more emphasis and devote more time to engaging with national organizations like the Assembly of First Nations, or AFN, whose own Regional Chief for Alberta Marlene Poitras described it as a lobby group that lacks the legitimacy to negotiate and make decisions on behalf of First Nations?

Why does Canada take the easy route in consultation, walking down the street to Ottawa-headquartered national Indigenous organizations, instead of doing the hard work of engaging with grassroots, rights holding organizations?

Senator Gold: I thank the honourable senator for the question. It’s the position of this government that it needs to and has engaged, and will continue to engage with a broad variety of Indigenous organizations and non-Indigenous stakeholders on matters that affect not only Indigenous communities but the country as a whole. The government is committed to continuing that process in the implementation of the action plan.

Hon. Donald Neil Plett (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, this is a follow-up to questions I asked last week about the consultations of Bill C-15. The Trudeau government, finally, as Senator Patterson suggested, provided a list of consultations that took place since Bill C-15 was introduced, except the government says the list likely wasn’t complete or accurate, or that they weren’t considered official consultations or formal engagements at all, Senator Gold. So if they weren’t consultations, what were they? They were called discussions, and they mainly took place with groups that already said they liked the bill, and that they supported the bill.

Leader, how does this not-really-consultations process square with the new relationship the Trudeau government promised Indigenous peoples?

Senator Gold: I thank the honourable senator for the question. It’s the position of this government that it continues to work with Indigenous organizations and communities across this country, to all three coasts, to ensure that their views and their perspectives are respectfully taken into consideration as we develop our programs, and as we walk together on the path to reconciliation.

The government remains committed and is demonstrating its commitment through concrete actions, such as the tabling and, we expect, we hope, the passage of Bill C-15 — a major and historical step forward.

Senator Plett: Well, leader, the government has a history of over-promising and under-delivering for Indigenous peoples. Your government finally brought forward its response to the final report on the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls only last week. It was short on details, timelines and funding, and it was a year late, Senator Gold — a year late.

Minister Bennett said another implementation plan based on this plan will be brought forward at a later date. Another year. Not surprisingly, the Native Women’s Association called it and I quote, “a plan without implementation plan” and said it was “half a document.”

Leader, should Canadians expect something similar to take place if Bill C-15 passes and receives Royal Assent? Would your government bring forward a plan to make a plan to make another plan on Bill C-15?

Senator Gold: I thank the honourable senator for the question.

I’m choosing my words carefully because what we have before us in Bill C-15 is an historic step forward in terms of reconciliation with our First Nations — a commitment that this government made, an historic commitment, unlike commitments that were ever made previously in this country.

The government remains committed to that path, to developing its plans in close partnership with Indigenous stakeholders. Long behind us should be the days where we simply say “government do this” and “government do that” without taking into proper consideration and working closely and in partnership with the diverse and broad range of Indigenous rights holders across this country.


Crown-Indigenous Relations

Federal Pathway Report

Hon. Kim Pate: Honourable senators, my question is for the Government Representative in the Senate. The 2021 Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls National Action Plan released last week includes as one of its short-term priorities a guaranteed annual income. This is a direct income support accessible unconditionally to those with incomes below a certain level as a means of addressing the root causes of violence against Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ folks.

These short-term priorities were selected as ones that could be implemented within the next one to three years. We are pleased the federal government is committed to implementing guaranteed annual income within the next few years, as delineated in the National Action Plan and the Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

Senator Gold, what steps is the government taking to prepare for implementation of this measure? Does it include discussions with provinces and territories that have already expressed an interest in pursuing such initiatives, such as P.E.I. and the Yukon Territory?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you, senator, for the question. As the Government Representative in the Senate, I’m pleased to provide you the information to the extent that I can.

As you know, the National Action Plan, which was released by contributing partners from across Canada, is supported by Budget 2021 commitments of $2.2 billion over five years to implement concrete measures, which will truly keep Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people safe. Thanks to your advance notice, I was able to inquire with the government on the question of the guaranteed livable income. Unfortunately, I do not know the details on the implementation of specific measures.

I have been advised, however, that a lot of work is being done and is under way in various jurisdictions, and the government has said that it is open to listening to requests and to discussions on this matter.

Senator Pate: In terms of the specific request, the government of P.E.I. and the Yukon have already signalled their interest in commencing these discussions. Is there a plan to proceed?

Senator Gold: I have made inquiries, senator, but I don’t have the specific responses. I’ll report back to the chamber as soon as I get an answer.

Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission

Competitiveness of Canadian Telecommunications

Hon. Donna Dasko: Honourable senators, my question is for the Government Representative in the Senate. Senator Gold, on March 15, Rogers Communications announced its bid to take over Calgary-based Shaw Communications for $26 billion, creating Canada’s second-largest cellular and cable operator.

The possibility of a further reduction in telecom options from four to three immediately drew national attention. Canadians are keenly aware of the oligopoly that controls our telecommunications industry and the potentially unfavourable situation that we now face.

According to David Olive, a respected business journalist with the Toronto Star who has reviewed the research, Canadian broadband fees are 64% higher than the G7 average, and wireless fees are 157% higher.

I understand that the proposed merger will be reviewed by the Competition Bureau, the CRTC and the Department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development. We have heard from the Competition Bureau in the past that the best way to reduce consumer costs is to expand Canada’s telecom market to more entrants.

Senator Gold, I would like to hear from you what the government’s view of this is. Does the government think that this merger will benefit Canadians, or does it believe that the Canadian market — and the Canadians who rely on it — will suffer from increased concentration and decreased competition?

I will drill down just a little bit. In light of the upcoming review of this merger, does our current regulatory framework give adequate attention to competition factors? That is, does the framework adequately assess whether this deal lessens and prevents competition, or does the review framework allow efficiency arguments to trump competition considerations?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you for your question. It’s the position of the government that greater affordability, competition and innovation in the Canadian telecommunications sector are important for Canadians, all of whom are concerned about their cellphone bills and their connectivity. As you point out, senator, the proposed purchase by Rogers of Shaw’s cable, internet and wireless businesses will be independently reviewed by the instances that you mentioned. The government will not presuppose the outcomes of these processes. However, the government is committed to ensuring that consumers are protected and that the broader public interest is served as this proposed merger is evaluated.

Senator Dasko: Senator Gold, when it comes to our internet and cellphone bills, Canadians are paying high prices for mixed service. Many Canadians, including some senators in our chamber, still don’t even have access to basic reliable broadband and wireless service.

The CEO of Rogers Communications spoke at the House committee on March 29. Both he and Bradley Shaw of Shaw Communications spoke about the importance of a dynamic and competitive market for consumers.

With that in mind, senator, has the government considered opening our market to dynamic and competitive foreign players — foreign operators and firms — as a means to kick-start our lagging and overpriced domestic system?

Senator Gold: The government knows it’s not fair to ask Canadians to pay some of the highest prices in the world in order to stay connected. In keeping with its commitment to bring down prices by 25%, last July 2020 the government launched the affordability tracker, a web page entitled “Telecom quarterly report: Price collection data,” so that people can see for themselves where prices are going.

In terms of 5G infrastructure, the government wants to give regional providers the best possible chance to compete and succeed as Canada prepares for 5G.

Innovation, Science and Economic Development

Beneficial Ownership Registry

Hon. Percy E. Downe: Senator Gold, as you know, there has been absolutely wonderful news in the fight against overseas and corporate tax evasion because American President Biden has made it a top priority of his government.

In Canada, in the recent budget, we had the news that we were going to establish a beneficial ownership registry — a transparent public registry — which is excellent news as well. These are significant developments in the fight against overseas tax evasion.

In the budget, the government announced that they would be spending $2.1 million to establish that registry. Could you inquire and report back to the Senate how that money will be spent and what it will be used for?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you for your question. The answer is yes.

Senator Downe: My second question pertains to the same registry. The government announced that it would be established by 2025. Can you indicate why it would take that long and what steps could be undertaken to reduce that time period and report back to the Senate on that as well?

Senator Gold: I’ll make inquiries and report back. Thank you.


United Nations Principles for Older Persons

Hon. Patricia Bovey: Honourable senators, this question is for the Government Representative in the Senate.

Senator Gold, wellness and the quality of life for all Canadians are essential, and I recently spoke to a UN event regarding these concerns. In this chamber, I have spoken about issues regarding long-term care homes in the early waves of the pandemic. We have alarmingly seen Manitoba, alas, lead the COVID statistics per capita for several weeks in this third wave when infections affected all ages. More than 40 ICU patients were transferred out of province.


Manitobans are grateful for the assistance from the federal government and our neighbouring provinces. COVID has certainly provided a beacon for longer-term societal issues which must be dealt with. One long-term quality-of-life and safety issue can be addressed by the status of the UN convention for the human rights of older persons. This UN convention is moving forward and Canada has given support in principle.

Senator Gold, will Canada actively support this convention, and how will that support be implemented?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Senator, thank you for your question. Every senior in Canada deserves to live safely, in dignity and comfort. Thanks to your advance notice, I was able to make inquiries. It is a priority for this government to promote and protect human rights, both nationally and internationally. In that respect, the government is engaged with various international mechanisms focused on strengthening the human rights of older persons, including the United Nations Open-ended Working Group on Ageing.

I understand that there is no draft convention as yet, although there is much advocacy for producing such a convention and much work that the UN has done on the rights of older persons. The government is committed to working with various international partners and is certainly open to discussing the idea of a UN convention on the rights of older persons.

Senator Bovey: Thank you, Senator Gold. I really appreciate that. What is the government doing about seniors abuse — physical, family and, particularly, online abuse — and the many phishing calls regarding their computers, credit cards, CRA threats and other intrusive questions severely undermining the confidence of those living alone, too often emptying their bank accounts, threatening lawsuits and stealing their private, sensitive information?

Senator Gold: Thank you for your question. As the son of a 92-year-old mother who lives alone and receives far too many such calls and phishing expeditions, I can certainly appreciate the seriousness of this issue.

With regard to what the government at the federal level may be doing, I do not have the answer, senator. I’ll make inquiries and report back.

Senator Bovey: Thank you.


National Defence

Minister of National Defence

Hon. Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu: My question is for Senator Gold. On the issue of victims in the Canadian Armed Forces, the more reports are made public, the more we realize that there is one common denominator here, and his name is Harjit Sajjan.

First of all, it was the Liberal government that gave military tribunals jurisdiction to hear sexual assault cases in 1998.

Twenty-three years later, the report from former Supreme Court Justice Morris Fish revealed that that system was completely ineffective and called for the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights to be incorporated into military law so that victims could file their complaints in civilian courts.

In response to one of my questions two weeks ago, you told me that the government was redoing its homework from 2017.

The Fish report suggests a very simple solution that should have been implemented two years ago, in 2019, which never happened.

Don’t you think that the Minister of Defence, who has done nothing on this issue for a year now, should resign?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Esteemed colleague, it is incorrect to say that the minister has done nothing, on the contrary.

I can tell you that the government has accepted all 107 recommendations proposed by Justice Fish and, in the short term, the government has begun to implement 36 of those recommendations, always in consultation with survivors and stakeholders.

Senator Boisvenu: Allow me to contradict you. With respect to the enforcement of the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights and civilian courts for military members, the minister did not commit in any way to implementing this recommendation from Justice Fish.

If the government’s position is not to ask for the resignation of the Minister of National Defence, who has done nothing on this file for a year, don’t you think that with all due respect to the women in the Armed Forces watching us this afternoon, and to Canadian women who are at risk in similar situations, the message being sent to these women is that this file is not a priority for the government?

Senator Gold: Absolutely not. The Canadian government has a lot of respect for these women and it supports the women and men of the Armed Forces. The message the government is sending these women is simply that it is in the process of implementing not only the recommendations that I already mentioned, but also the mandate given to Justice Arbour to step up and continue to work on resolving this problem. Everyone agrees that it is an unacceptable problem.



Cruise Ships—Support for Tourism Sector

Hon. Yonah Martin (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): My question is also for the government leader in the Senate. Two weeks ago, U.S. President Biden signed into law the Alaska Tourism Restoration Act. This legislation temporarily allows cruise ships to sail from the State of Washington to Alaska without having to stop in Canada, specifically in my home province of B.C.

The Tourism Industry Association of B.C. has said that if this change is made permanent:

That would obviously be seriously detrimental to the cruise ship sector, and by extension the whole tourism industry.

Leader, the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority is asking your government to allow what is known as technical calls. Technical calls are stops where passengers and crew do not leave the ship. In February, the Trudeau government refused to give approval to these safe technical calls. Will your government reconsider this decision and instead work with the U.S. to allow technical calls?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you for your question and for bringing this matter to my attention. I’ll have to make inquiries and report back to the chamber.

Senator Martin: I would really appreciate that. I can see the impact of this decision already in B.C. and particularly on the West Coast.

Leader, in February I raised with you the challenges that are being faced by small business owners in Vancouver’s historic Chinatown, which is one of the areas that would benefit from the tourists that would come through the cruise industry. The loss of customers from cruise ships and tour groups has already devastated Chinatown businesses. Cruise ships are banned from Canada until the end of February 2022, and the possibility that some cruise ships could permanently bypass Canada as a result of this precedent-setting legislation is simply unacceptable.

Leader, have any members of the Trudeau government sought and received assurances from their American counterparts that this measure will only be temporary? If so, who gave those assurances to our Canadian politicians?

Senator Gold: Again, thank you, colleague. I’ll have to make inquiries and hope to have an answer as quickly as I can.

Foreign Affairs

Human Rights in Myanmar

Hon. Marilou McPhedran: Thank you, Your Honour. My question is to the Government Representative in the Senate.

As we all know, on February 1 of this year, the Tatmadaw, the Burmese military, staged a coup d’état taking control of the country of Myanmar just after a democratic election. Since then, thousands of protesters have taken to the streets to protest the military’s takeover day after day in the face of violent repression. Hundreds of protesters have been killed and thousands arrested.

While Myanmar’s elected leaders, including Aung San Suu Kyi, have been detained, the Tatmadaw is also targeting human rights defenders and freedom of expression. Journalists have been forced to flee out of fear for their lives. One journalist who did not flee is Thin Thin Aung, co-founder of Mizzima News, an independent media organization founded in exile in 1998; a founding sister of the Women’s League of Burma and the founder of Women for Justice.

To strengthen the struggling democracy, in 2014 Thin Thin Aung founded a new network working with gender justice and the peace process known as the Alliance for Gender Inclusion in the Peace Process.


Ms. Aung is well-known to civil society leaders in Winnipeg who are building an informal coalition to focus on her survival and release. She is widely respected inside and outside of her country and has contributed immeasurably to the realization of women’s human rights and peace-building in Myanmar and beyond.

On April 8, 2021, Thin Thin Aung was arrested by plain-clothed members of the military and taken to the military investigation centre. Her property, bank accounts and work-related computers and equipment were seized. The gross injustice of this unlawful detention is compounded by serious health issues. Ms. Aung is being detained at an undisclosed location on unknown charges, and evidence is emerging from Myanmar to suggest that she is likely at risk of torture while suffering the health consequences of medical deprivation.

Senator Gold, what is the government doing, and what can the government do to seek the release of Thin Thin Aung and other civil disobedience leaders like her?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you, senator, for your question and for bringing this situation to the attention of this chamber.

I do not have the answer to your question with regard to what the government is doing. This government remains committed to doing what it can to promote the cause of human rights throughout the world. I will make specific inquiries and report back to the chamber.


Audit and Oversight

Fifth Report of Committee Adopted

The Senate proceeded to consideration of the fifth report of the Standing Committee on Audit and Oversight, entitled Nomination of External Members, presented in the Senate on June 8, 2021.

Hon. David M. Wells moved the adoption of the report.

He said: Honourable senators, as you know, your Committee on Audit and Oversight began the selection process for external members of the Audit and Oversight Committee late last year, as soon as the committee was formed. We had discussions internally and with others engaged in audit and governance work on the type of candidates we hoped to choose, including meeting with previous members of the Audit Subcommittee of CIBA, Senator Marshall and Senator Moncion, and, of course, we’re fortunate to have Senator Dupuis and Senator Downe on our committee.

You’ll also recall I wrote to all senators to direct any interested individuals to make contact through a portal we established if they wanted to forward names of potential candidates. Your committee developed a candidate profile that would target individuals with experience in finance, audit, management and governance, and with specific competencies: integrity and partiality, strong communication skills and adaptability. We also developed terms and conditions of appointment to help clarify our expectations of the roles, responsibilities and duties for the external members. Colleagues, throughout this process, we worked closely on process with the Law Clerk’s Office, HR, Finance and Procurement, and, of course, our committee clerk, Shaila Anwar, and our expert analysts from the Library of Parliament.

We engaged an independent executive recruitment firm through a competitive process so that our process would be fair, open and transparent. The executive recruitment firm was directed to take our candidate profile and target various professional associations and organizations with similar board-level positions. We directed them to ensure that the search be balanced so that we were presented with an inclusive group of potential candidates that would be representative of the diversity, geography and linguistic profile of Canada.

The search for candidates was designed to be balanced with respect to gender, regional representation and minority groups. This included visible minorities, LGBTQ2+, people with disabilities and those with proficiency in both languages, but not limited to that. Several organizations were considered in this process. This included but was not limited to the Aboriginal Financial Officers Association of BC, Aboriginal Professional Association of Canada, Association of Quebec Women in Finance, Association of Women in Finance, Canadian Board Diversity Council, CPA Canada, Fédération des femmes du Québec, Institute of Corporate Directors, The Directors College, and Women’s Executive Network. Again, colleagues, it was not limited to those groups.

As a result of this rigorous search, over 200 profiles were reviewed, from which we narrowed the list to just over 20 senior-level, highly qualified individuals with the desired background and experience that aligned with the committee’s stated qualifications, competencies and attributes.

Colleagues, the terms and conditions were developed to address the unique relationship that these external members will have in the Senate. They are not senators; they are not employees. This is meant to clarify the roles, responsibilities, duties and obligations.

The terms and conditions are appended to the report, but a few key points to highlight are that we chose to propose that the nominees serve during pleasure — that is, at the discretion of the Senate — and that we are recommending that they be appointed for a period of four and five years initially, with all following terms to be five years to ensure that there is some continuity and stability in these two positions. Both proposed candidates are subject to the same ethics and conflict of interest requirements as senators are.

After this extensive outreach and review, we held several interviews with top candidates this spring, and we have selected two exceptional people for the Senate’s consideration.

The first, Robert Plamondon, is an experienced member of internal audit committees and has led operational and governance reviews at various levels of government. Mr. Plamondon was a member of the Audit Committee of the National Capital Commission. He was an instructor for members of federal Departmental Audit Committees offered through the University of Ottawa. He is a member of the Ontario Internal Audit Committee, providing oversight on all provincial spending and government activities, and he is a member of the Finance and Audit Committee of OPTrust, providing oversight over $23 billion in pension assets serving 100,000 unionized Ontario public servants. As the author of Ten Steps to a governance Checkup for the Boards of Crown Corporations and Government Agencies, Mr. Plamondon has an appreciation for the principles of good governance and an understanding of the functioning of our national institutions. He is also recognized as a fellow among Chartered Professional Accountants.

Our second candidate, Hélène Fortin, brings decades of experience in public accounting to the committee, if appointed, including as a board member, auditor and lecturer. As a member of CPA Quebec, Ms. Fortin was a member of the audit and finance committees of Hydro-Québec. She was on the board of the Canadian Institute of Chartered Professional Accountants, she has taught and lectured at the Quebec Order of Chartered Professional Accountants, and also lectured audit strategy and accounting theory and advanced financial accounting at the Université du Québec in Montreal.

Both of these candidates are members of the Institute of Corporate Directors and are fully bilingual.

Colleagues, if these candidates are approved, we will be fortunate to have these eminent Canadians serve the Standing Committee on Audit and Oversight, the Senate and, of course, all Canadians. Senator Downe, Senator Dupuis and I are pleased and proud to be tasked to undertake this effort on behalf of the Senate.

Colleagues, given this rigorous process and the unanimous recommendation from senators on your committee, I ask that this report be adopted now, and, if so, I would like to call the question.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Motion agreed to and report adopted.)

Citizenship Act

Bill to Amend—Second Reading

Hon. Margaret Dawn Anderson moved second reading of Bill C-8, An Act to amend the Citizenship Act (Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s call to action number 94).

She said: Honourable senators, I rise in the Senate today to speak to Bill C-8, An Act to amend the Citizenship Act (Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s call to action number 94).

I want to acknowledge I speak from my home community of Tuktoyaktuk, Northwest Territories, on the settled land claim territory of the Inuvialuit. It is my distinct honour to add my voice to the Indigenous voices who have brought us to this point in history.


On June 2, 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission released its 94 Calls to Action in its final report, Honouring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future: Summary of the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.

Over six years, from 2009 to 2015, the TRC held seven large national events in six provinces and one territory, with an estimated 155,000 visitors and over 9,000 residential school survivors registered to attend them. The TRC also held 238 days of local hearings in 77 communities across Canada. In addition, the commission received over 6,750 statements from survivors of residential schools, members of their families and other individuals who shared their knowledge of the residential school system and its legacy. It is this work and the words, resilience, strength, perseverance and determination of the survivors, families and communities that shape and support the 94 Calls to Action.

In its interim report entitled They Came for the Children, released in 2012, the TRC emphasized the significance of the legacy of residential schools to all Canadians:

In talking about residential schools and their legacy, we are not talking about an Aboriginal problem, but a Canadian problem. It is not simply a dark chapter from our past. It was integral to the making of Canada.

In its final report, the TRC noted:

Getting to the truth was hard, but getting to reconciliation will be harder. It requires that the paternalistic and racist foundations of the residential school system be rejected as the basis for an ongoing relationship. Reconciliation requires that a new vision, based on a commitment to mutual respect, be developed. It also requires an understanding that the most harmful impacts of residential schools have been the loss of pride and self-respect of Aboriginal people, and the lack of respect that non-Aboriginal people have been raised to have for their Aboriginal neighbours. Reconciliation is not an Aboriginal problem; it is a Canadian one. Virtually all aspects of Canadian society may need to be reconsidered.

Before the TRC, there was the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, or RCAP. Between 1991 and 1996, the Royal Commission’s five commissioners visited 96 First Nation communities and held 178 days of public hearings. Their mandate was to investigate the evolution of the relationship between Indigenous peoples, the Government of Canada and Canadian society broadly.

Further, they were to propose specific solutions to the problems facing Indigenous peoples as a direct result of experiences stemming from national and international relations. RCAP’s report, submitted in October 1996, consisted of 4,000 pages, five volumes, 440 recommendations and a 20-year agenda to implement the recommendations arising out of the report. Despite their call for sweeping changes, many of the recommendations were not implemented, due in part to a change in government.

RCAP noted:

Until the story of life in Canada, as Aboriginal people know it, finds a place in all Canadians’ knowledge of their past, the wounds from historical violence and neglect will continue to fester — denied by Canadians at large and, perversely, generating shame in Aboriginal people because they cannot shake off the sense of powerlessness that made them vulnerable to injury in the first place. Violations of solemn promises in the treaties, inhumane conditions in residential schools, the uprooting of whole communities, the denial of rights and respect to patriotic Aboriginal veterans of two world wars, and the great injustices and small indignities inflicted by administration of the Indian Act — all take on mythic power to symbolize present experiences of unrelenting injustice.

Colleagues, normally in June we celebrate National Indigenous History Month. Instead, this month, we are mourning the discovery of 215 Indigenous children at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School. It weighs heavily on all of us, especially on those directly and indirectly impacted by personal experience and intergenerational trauma. The silenced voices of 215 Indigenous children now speak louder than any words. For many Canadians, this may be the first tangible encounter with the truth of residential schools and the violence, abuse and lasting harm inflicted on Indigenous children, families and communities. But for Indigenous people, this pain is not new. It is palpable, triggering, exhausting and daunting. It is an inescapable part of our collective history that continues to shape and define us today. Resistant, resolute, resilient, we stand as one in our collective grief and sorrow more determined to ensure that we find and bring home all the Indigenous children.

My heart goes out to all the residential school survivors, their families, the communities and to those who never made it home and whose voices we have yet to hear. You are not alone. We share in your collective grief and outrage.

In the Inuvialuit Settlement Region, the first residential school was located at Shingle Point, Northwest Territories, from 1929 to 1936. It was replaced by the All Saints Anglican residential school in Aklavik from 1936 to 1959. In 1959, the new community of Inuvik was established and became the location of Sir Alexander Mackenzie School, or SAMS, a federal Indian day school. It was one of the first buildings constructed in Inuvik. Children continued to be taken from their parents and families and brought from across the N.W.T. to Inuvik to attend SAMS. While attending the school, children as young as five years old were forced to live in either Stringer Hall or Grollier Hall. Although control of both residences was transferred to the territorial government in the late 1960s, Stringer Hall was run by the Anglican Church from 1959 to 1975, and Grollier Hall by the Catholic Church from 1959 to 1997, making it one of the last residential schools to close in Canada.

We had 68 years of residential schooling in the Beaufort Delta. At least three generations of children were torn away from the love and safety of their parents, families, communities, culture and language.

As with most residential schools, there are horrific stories of physical, emotional and sexual abuse in both residences. Grollier Hall was particularly notorious. An RCMP task force struck to investigate Grollier Hall sex abuse allegations interviewed 432 people. Four supervisors were convicted of sexually abusing children and youth at the residence between 1959 and 1979.

We have our own stories about lost Indigenous children. One of those stories belongs to three boys from my community. On June 23, 1972 — 49 years ago this month — Bernard Andreason and his friends Dennis Dick and Lawrence Jack Elanik ran away from Stringer Hall. Bernard and Jack were 11; Dennis was 13. The boys tried to make their way on foot back home to Tuktoyaktuk, on the shores of the Arctic Ocean. The sun doesn’t set in June. The land between Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk begins as brush and opens into vast tundra filled with lakes, hills and rivers. There was no road and no path. The boys followed the line of telephone poles leading northward.

After two weeks, and despite an extensive search, on July 8, 1972, only Bernard was located alive, eight miles from Tuktoyaktuk. Jack was found deceased and Dennis Dick was missing.

In an interview dated September 21, 2017, Mr. Andreason noted that they ran away as they were scared to go back. He added that the supervisors were not nice people and were mean — so mean that they were afraid of them.

It is these stories we must remember. Our lost children have not been forgotten, and they are dearly missed. Sir Alexander Mackenzie School is gone now, as is the old high school, Samuel Hearne Secondary School. Both were closed in 2012 and torn down in the two years that followed. They have been replaced by East Three, which houses both an elementary and secondary school. Both residential schools have also been torn down and the lots remain empty. Nearby is Chief Jim Koe Park and a couple of baseball diamonds. The old Grollier Hall Arena has been transformed into a community greenhouse. If you were to arrive in Inuvik today, you would have no notion of the history of the residential schools unless you took the time to get to know the Inuvialuit and Gwich’in histories of the region.


Colleagues, it is critical that Canada ensure that the work and recommendations of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, or RCAP, and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, or TRC, are not forgotten, that our history as Indigenous peoples on this land known as Canada is documented and acknowledged and that Canada continues to work with and forage an honourable relationship with Indigenous peoples, as promised in our treaties and Aboriginal rights.

Further, all Canadians should commit to educating themselves, not just about the legacy of residential schools, but of our country’s colonial history, which is seeped in erasure, assimilation, disenfranchisement, racism and acts of genocide of our people, culture and language, affecting every aspect of our lives. This work is part of our collective responsibility in the pursuit of reconciliation, equality and equity for all. We are all responsible for participating in the forging of a new relationship that recognizes the inherent rights of Indigenous peoples.

The history of Canada’s treaties with Indigenous peoples goes back to the earliest Indigenous-newcomer interactions. Indigenous people regularly made political and military alliances with New France and with the British. With the Royal Proclamation of 1763, the British government committed to signing treaties with Indigenous peoples prior to occupying their land.

Following the War of 1812, however, the British no longer saw Indigenous people as valuable partners and allies. Instead, we were seen as childlike and ill-prepared for the modern world. With this shift in attitudes, our treaties began to be ignored. The Indian Act of 1876 codified these attitudes and the Government of Canada’s self-assigned responsibility for Indigenous people. Here officially begins Canada’s systemic project of assimilation, segregation and erasure of Indigenous peoples.

Between 1871 and 1921, as Canada expanded westward, the government negotiated 11 numbered treaties, removing Indigenous people from the best agricultural lands and attempting to bring us into the farming economy. Between 1923 and 1971, no new treaties were negotiated. In fact, from 1927 to 1951, it was made illegal for Indigenous people to raise money or retain counsel in order to pursue land claim actions.

In 1969, in response to public pressure over the course of that decade to address the socio-economic and living conditions of Indigenous peoples, the government tabled the white paper of 1969. The white paper reiterated Canada’s objectives to assimilate First Nations into Canadian society. It proposed the transfer of responsibility of First Nations peoples to provincial governments and called for the extinguishment of the Indian Act.

Indigenous people actively resisted the policies proposed in the white paper and it was withdrawn in 1971. In the 1973 Calder decision, the Supreme Court of Canada confirmed that Indigenous peoples do have title to their ancestral lands. That same year, the government announced a new comprehensive land claims policy, initiating an era of negotiations of comprehensive land claim agreements and, beginning in 1995, of self-government agreements.

Since 1975, 25 modern treaties have been negotiated.

Bearing all of this in mind, I sponsor Bill C-8, An Act to amend the Citizenship Act (Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s call to action number 94), which proposes to amend the oath of citizenship.

The text of the current oath of citizenship reads:

I swear (or affirm) that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Canada, Her Heirs and Successors, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Canada, and fulfil my duties as a Canadian citizen.

In contrast, the proposed new text reads:

I swear (or affirm) that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Canada, Her Heirs and Successors, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Canada, including the Constitution, which recognizes and affirms the Aboriginal and treaty rights of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples, and fulfil my duties as a Canadian citizen.

In doing so, Canada is taking measurable action on a further call to action that ensures that new Canadians are educated and acknowledge the historical truth of their new country, beginning not with Confederation but with the presence of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples.

Indigenous partners, including the Assembly of First Nations, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and the Métis National Council, expressed that the oath originally proposed by the TRC’s call to action, which referenced “treaties with Indigenous peoples” and no reference to Aboriginal rights, was not relevant to all Indigenous peoples.

Although many First Nations are party to formal treaties, Métis and Inuit agreements with the Crown are not always characterized as such. Through collaboration with Indigenous groups and organizations, the government believes that the wording of the oath put forth in Bill C-8 is more inclusive and representative of First Nations, Inuit and Métis people’s experiences.

Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, or ITK, has advised that the current wording of Bill C-8 is an improvement over what was initially set out in the TRC’s Call to Action 94. Although it was not the preferred wording that ITK submitted during the consultation period and resubmitted during committee study in the House of Commons, they urge the swift passage of Bill C-8. ITK stated that “this legislation is interconnected with, and essential to, our ongoing work toward reconciliation.”

Further, a background note submitted by ITK to my office continues:

Inuit share the priorities of the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Canadian Citizenship, as set out in his ministerial mandate letter, to implement the TRC calls to action. We believe that all Canadians, and all governments, organizations and business in Canada, share a responsibility to uphold and achieve the ambitions of these agreements which set the terms with our relationship with Canada. We also eagerly await the release of a revised version of the Citizenship Guide that serves as a valuable tool for education about our land claims agreements, our homeland, our language and critically, what connects Inuit as a people, distinct from First Nations and Métis.

Through communications with my office, the Assembly of First Nations, or AFN, has urged senators to support Bill C-8 in its current form, stating:

The AFN supports the passage of Bill C-8 and has previously worked with INAN Committee members to pass a number of amendments suggested by the AFN. We are happy with the amended bill. We urge the Senate to pass this at the earliest available opportunity and we look forward to Royal Assent!

The wording proposed in Bill C-8 is a deeply meaningful change as it recognizes the fact that Indigenous rights are constitutionally protected under section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982. These rights are built upon the historic occupation and use of this land by Indigenous peoples. The revised oath would underscore the need for new Canadians to demonstrate an understanding of Indigenous peoples and their constitutional rights.

The Congress of Aboriginal Peoples has highlighted this in a statement submitted to my office:

We support the draft of this bill in its current form. It accurately reflects the legal language in the constitution of Canada, recognizing the aboriginal peoples of Canada, including the Indian, Inuit and Métis peoples, both status and non-Status, on and off-reserve. The Congress of Aboriginal Peoples represents self-governing communities belonging to all of these categories, who continue to be rights-holders within Canada. We approve of this language which acknowledges their rights and identities and will help to inform new Canadians of their obligations and relationship to Indigenous peoples.

My honourable colleagues may recall that along with its proposal to revise the oath, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission also called upon the government to revise the information kit for newcomers to Canada and the citizen test under Call to Action 93.

The Native Women’s Association of Canada has emphasized the importance of the study guide and the need for considerable revisions of the current version. They stated:

[I]t is not enough to simply amend the oath in the Citizenship Act. For this amendment to make any meaningful and substantive difference in our community there needs to be a commitment to amend the “Discover Canada — Canada’s History” study guide. The study guide as it reads now is wholly inadequate to acknowledge the history and continued atrocities faced by Indigenous peoples, and specifically Indigenous women, girls and gender diverse peoples.

The Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada study guide is an integral component to Call to Action 94. It is a booklet given to immigrants seeking citizenship in Canada and is one of the key tools to prepare for the citizenship test. It was last updated in 2012 and is currently undergoing revisions and updates to support Call to Action 93 and 94. The new Discover Canada – The Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship is a work-in-progress. To update the citizenship guide, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada has consulted citizenship stakeholders, academics, community organizations and numerous interest groups. They have worked with national Indigenous organizations to develop content for the guide that will help new Canadians understand changes in the oath or affirmation that reflect the Aboriginal and treaty rights of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples.


The new citizenship guide will include questions about Indigenous peoples and their rights. The ministry is working on supporting educational tools to include more information on Indigenous history and treaties and fulfill the TRC’s Call to Action 93 with the recognition that education is a key component for new immigrants to Canada. In addition, educational resources will be provided to classrooms across Canada so all students can learn these critical lessons.

I note, honourable senators, that these efforts complement other Calls to Action, specifically Calls to Action 62 through 65 in the TRC report pertaining to education and curriculum development for schools. Such efforts will help Canadian students learn about the complete and often difficult history of Indigenous peoples, shedding light on the history that continues to resonate in the lives of Indigenous people and forge new relationships based on fact and understanding.

Honourable senators, whether someone is born a Canadian or whether they choose to become Canadian comes with a responsibility of learning, sharing, coexisting and understanding the history of Indigenous people on this land, a land that we have lived on since time immemorial. Canada has systematically severed our connection to the land, to each other, to our culture and to our languages. We have been regulated in all aspects of our lives and relegated to strangers on our own lands.

When it comes to this country’s relationship with Indigenous people, actions speak louder than words. The passing of Bill C-8 is a concrete step toward reconciliation that goes beyond just spoken and written words. It is an observable and measurable action that helps to rebuild the relationship between Canada and Indigenous peoples, basing it on honour and trust.

This government has promised to work better with Indigenous peoples and has reiterated that the most important relationship to the Prime Minister and to Canada is one with the Indigenous people. I, as an Indigenous person, will hold you to that promise. We deserve nothing less. We expect justice and action on systemic issues that continue to plague us in health, education, housing, food, security, water, child and family services, and missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

I note that between the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, there is 13 years’ worth of evidence, collected over 438 days of hearings from more than 8,886 witnesses, resulting in a total of 766 recommendations for change in the relationship between Canada and Indigenous peoples. It is disgraceful that the Government of Canada, regardless of party, has not committed to act fully on these reports dating back 20 years.

The time for words, promises, symbolic gestures and more reports are past. We have at our disposal copious, thorough and extensive reports on the history and current situation of Indigenous people in this country. It is high time as elected and appointed parliamentarians that we honour this collective work with concrete actions.

I urge you all to support this legislation. With much respect, I leave the final words to former Grand Chief Wilton Littlechild:

As a former TRC Commissioner, since this was one of our Calls to Action (94), I fully support the adoption of Bill C-8. It is very important for new Canadians to be informed about a reality which all previous immigrants were not required to be aware of — our existence. This new Oath or Affirmation will develop new relations in a positive way and build a better, stronger and more inclusive Canada.

Quyanainni, Quana, Mahsì. Thank you.

Hon. Ratna Omidvar: Will Senator Anderson take a question?

Senator Anderson: Yes, I will.

Senator Omidvar: Thank you, Senator Anderson.

I really appreciate your words and your comments. I learn something new about Indigenous history every day in the chamber. You have certainly done that for me today. It is remarkable how little new Canadians know about the history. I want to thank you for contributing to my ongoing education.

This bill touches on new Canadians as well, because in the end they are, in the main, the people who will consume the oath, who will use it and its words. But nowhere in the documents leading up to this moment in the Senate, nowhere in the legislative briefings, nowhere in the House of Commons committee did I note that new Canadian communities were consulted. As the sponsor, can you help me understand this?

Senator Anderson: Thank you for the question. I unfortunately do not have an answer in regard to whether or not new Canadians were consulted. That might be best left for the Committee of the Whole. I do concur with you that all voices are important and all persons impacted or affected by legislation should be part and party to consultation.

Senator Omidvar: Thank you, senator. I will take that up with the Committee of the Whole.

Honourable senators, I rise to speak on Bill C-8, An Act to amend the Citizenship Act, which reflects Call to Action 94 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.

Honourable senators, you have heard me note before that there are only two segments of our Canadian population that are growing: one is the Indigenous peoples of Canada through a growth in their birth rate; the other is the immigrant population through the sustained arrival of immigrant communities. Yet, and you have heard me say this before, the space between these two communities is huge in every sense of the word — emotionally, culturally, socially and spatially. As a result, immigrants and Indigenous peoples of Canada do not talk to each other, or at least not as much as they should.

Sadly, there is too much that keeps us apart. I have always known that Canada has different histories. It is a complex nation made up of many constituent and sometimes moving parts. This history is told back to us differently — the first peoples’ history, the history of colonization, the history of the coming together of Canada and the history of the immigrant peoples of Canada. But nowhere do all of these histories come together. They especially do not come together in the history classrooms in our schools.

There are other factors: the way we have constructed our nation as being anglophone, francophone, Indigenous and multicultural all existing in different silos, in different policy frameworks, with different apparatuses of government attached to them. This has prevented us from finding common ground through natural or even engineered linkages.


Further, immigrants — which must include the early colonists as well as recent immigrants, refugees and others — view Canada as a land of opportunity, a safe haven, without acknowledging that the land already belonged to others. I am therefore not entirely off the mark when I sense an air of distance between newcomers and Indigenous communities, regardless of when they came, because they have remained sorely unaware of Indigenous history, rights and contributions to our country’s development.

Canada’s newest people fail to understand why and how Canada’s First Peoples — who should by all rights be the ones with the greatest power and most central to the nation’s identity because they were here first — are often missing from the national picture. When we become citizens and we swear our loyalty to the Queen — and that is a subject for a whole different discussion — we fail to understand that Canada’s history with the Indigenous peoples becomes our history too. As former governor general Adrienne Clarkson put it so well:

When you become a member of a family, you become a member of all parts of that family, not select parts of it.

New Canadians cannot simply say that this did not happen on our watch, so we are absolved of responsibility.

Add to this the fact that, notwithstanding the initial challenges faced by immigrants and the challenges of displacement and dislocation, by and large, over time, they do well. This is celebrated in Canada in many ways, and much is made of it. In comparison, the overrepresentation of Indigenous people in prison and the conditions on reserves, where we haven’t even dealt with all the boil-water advisories, show that so much more work is needed. All this, I believe, contributes to the divisions between us; a kind of awkwardness. Being in the same room, but perhaps preferring to stand in different corners of it.

Yet I know that there is a lot that binds us. The Indigenous peoples are the first people of Canada whereas we are the newest, but there are similarities in the exclusion that we may well have faced. There is a shared history of displacement. There is possibly a shared history of experiencing colonialism, institutional racism, and surviving and living outside the mainstream. The history of the Japanese internment, the head tax levied on the Chinese railroad workers, the casualness of the inquiry into the Air India tragedy; they found their counterparts in the history of Indigenous peoples, too.

To build a common future, we must close this emotional, cultural, socio-economic and spacial space. Passing this bill and actualizing the TRC’s Call to Action 94 is just one action, but it is an important first step. When Bill C-8 passes, every new citizen will be exposed to Indigenous history and confirm in the oath the words of recognition of Indigenous rights and treaties. That is a really important step.

I believe more is needed than simply an added phrase to the oath, which may be said once and then forgotten. We must be more fulsome and more creative in weaving the history of the Indigenous peoples of Canada into the first stages of arrival, settlement and citizenship ceremonies, so that our two fastest-growing populations do not stay in separate corners.

We also need, as Senator Anderson has pointed out, a new and more muscular citizenship guide, which we know the Minister of Immigration is working on. This new guide should have much more information on Indigenous peoples, their rights and their history so that newcomers can bring more understanding and more knowledge before they are sworn in as citizens. This will lead to more connections, more appreciation and, hopefully, shared action to right the wrongs of the past, the present and the future.

I also believe that learning about Canada’s Indigenous history should not start at citizenship time, which is normally anywhere between three or four years. The first time that I came face to face with the history of the First Peoples of Canada was when I took my citizenship exam in 1985, a full five years after my arrival. That was at a time when there were real life, in-person citizenship classes. Even then, it was a superficial engagement at best, and I believe that this truth is still prevalent today.

Citizenship time is far too late. The education should start when immigrants land in the language classes, and the settlement programs which stitch together integration. Integration itself must have a new definition, not just about economic and social inclusion, but about understanding and learning about history and about the horrific past in the residential schools. I believe that citizenship ceremonies themselves must become an opportunity, not to hear from the elites of Canada — which is what I think currently happens — but from residential school survivors. Nothing will bring this horror closer to immigrants than the horrors inflicted on the children of Indigenous peoples.

Finally, I believe we have a responsibility to be each other’s champions. We are all reconciliation actors. We are all integration actors. We need to do more. The health of our nation, the health of our communities and the health and welfare of Indigenous peoples depend on it. I welcome this change to the oath and look forward to its swift passage into law, but I believe we need to go beyond mere symbolism to real understanding, so that we can finally talk to each other, cook with each other, sing and dance with each other and tell each other our stories. Thank you.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Motion agreed to and bill read second time.)

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

(On motion of Senator Anderson, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for third reading at the next sitting of the Senate.)

Canada Revenue Agency Act

Bill to Amend—Third Reading

Hon. Leo Housakos moved third reading of Bill C-210, An Act to amend the Canada Revenue Agency Act (organ and tissue donors).

He said: Honourable senators, I have nothing further to add to this bill. I just want to reiterate my gratitude to the critic of the bill, Senator Kutcher, and all members who have worked in cooperation to expeditiously move the bill along. I thank everyone for their cooperation. I look forward to hearing from Senator Mercer and Senator Gold. Thank you, honourable senators.


Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Honourable senators, today I rise in support of Bill C-210, An Act to amend the Canada Revenue Agency Act (organ and tissue donors), which was introduced in the other place by MP Len Webber and passed with the support of all parties.

The bill would authorize the Canada Revenue Agency to enter into agreements with the provinces and territories regarding the collection and disclosure of information required for establishing or maintaining organ and tissue donor registries in those provinces or territories.



Colleagues, many of us have had our lives touched by a family member or loved one in the position of needing an organ transplant. These patients and their families wait and suffer, and in far too many cases, they mourn.

While education and publicity on the value of designating oneself an organ donor seems to have had some effect, more steps must be taken to broaden the opportunities to improve quality of life and, in some cases, save the lives of Canadians by expanding the pool of those willing to donate. Bill C-210 does just that.

Should an individual consent to becoming an organ donor, this information would be collected by the Canada Revenue Agency, or CRA, and, with the authorization of the individual, shared with their province or territory of residence. With this system in place, the provinces and territories could establish and maintain an organ and tissue donor registry.

As a sponsor of the bill, Member of Parliament Len Webber, who testified at the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology last week, noted a full 90% of Canadians support organ donation. However, only 20% make that known through their driver’s licences.

The simple premise of his bill is to include an organ donor consent box as part of the annual tax forms. This would work in much the same way as the consent box allowing the CRA to communicate an individual’s information to Elections Canada so that electoral rolls can be updated. This annual tax filing form is the one document that reaches the most Canadians, and the data compiled on the CRA form is extremely secure. Additionally, collecting this information would not result in any extra costs as it would simply add one more data field to the existing form. It’s a very simple way of obtaining much-needed information.

Colleagues, five Canadians die each week waiting for a transplant. According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, or CIHI, in 2018, a total of 2,782 transplants were performed in Canada. There were 4,351 patients on organ transplant wait-lists and 223 patients died while waiting for a transplant.

Kidneys are at the core of the organ donation and transplantation system. In 2018, 59% of all organs transplanted were kidneys. At the end of 2018, there were 40,289 Canadians living with end-stage kidney disease. That does not include individuals in Quebec.

The government recognizes the value of organ and tissue donation. Budget 2019 committed $36.5 million over five years to improve the consistency and quality of data so that Canadians had timely and effective access to care for organ transplants.

Since 2018, the government has led a joint initiative, the Organ Donation and Transplantation Collaborative, in partnership with the provinces and territories, Canadian Blood Services and other stakeholders to identify opportunities to improve the organ donation and transplantation system.

Transplant Québec participates as an observer.


The collection of information on organ donors by the Canada Revenue Agency under Bill C-210 constitutes another way of obtaining vital information, which would help the provinces and territories identify potential donors and add them to their registry. It is therefore another step forward, and it will help save lives. By working together, we can find ways to continue to improve the organ and tissue donation and transplantation system.

Bill C-210 provides a simple and direct way to collect information that could be vital, and this will help strengthen the provincial and territorial tissue and organ transplantation registries. The government supports this bill, and so do I. I am asking my honourable colleagues to do the same and I hope that we can pass the bill today. Thank you.


Hon. Terry M. Mercer: Honourable senators, I rise today to briefly speak about Bill C-210, which authorizes the Canada Revenue Agency to enter into an agreement with provinces and territories regarding the collection and disclosure of information required for the establishment and maintaining of an organ and tissue donor registry.

This may sound like a simple bill, but its effect is far from it.

As you know, I was the first executive director of the Kidney Foundation of Canada in Nova Scotia and, indeed, in Atlantic Canada. That was in my previous life, and I thank Senator Kutcher for his kind words about my work there.

Anything we can do to increase organ and tissue donations, we should.

Working with donors and recipients can be challenging when there are so few organs available. You most often cry with the future recipients who are struggling while they wait for transplants, but then you can celebrate with them when they receive one. We should be celebrating more with more recipients, and this bill should help with that.

Let us not forget that we must also honour the donors and their families for making such an important choice to donate their organs and tissues. Their legacy, that of the gift of life, lives on with recipients.

As was mentioned, Nova Scotia became the first place in North America to switch to the opt-out organ and tissue donation law. This is an important step to help save lives, and I am very proud of my province for taking it. I hope, as that the new rules are implemented in Nova Scotia, that we’ll get some data to tell us that this is something worthwhile that other jurisdictions should do.

This bill is also a step forward that could help save lives, so I encourage you all to support it. Thank you, honourable senators.

Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Motion agreed to and bill read third time and passed.)

Assisted Human Reproduction Act

Bill to Amend—Second Reading—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Moncion, seconded by the Honourable Senator Woo, for the second reading of Bill S-202, An Act to amend the Assisted Human Reproduction Act.

Hon. Judith G. Seidman: Honourable senators, I rise today to speak to Bill S-202, An Act to amend the Assisted Human Reproduction Act. I would like to thank my colleague Senator Moncion for her leadership in this important debate.

The objective of Bill S-202 is to amend the Assisted Human Reproduction Act to decriminalize payment for sperm and ova donation, as well as for surrogacy in certain circumstances.

For decades, advocates have called for the legalization of payment for sperm and ova donation and for surrogacy, arguing that the current law creates significant barriers for prospective parents, donors and surrogates.

Canada’s assisted human reproduction system is wholly altruistic. The current law prohibits both payments to a surrogate mother and the purchase of sperm and ova from a donor. The current law does, however, permit compensation for certain expenditures incurred by the donor or surrogate given that there are receipts for them.

To understand Canada’s long-standing approach to reproduction, specifically its non-commercialization, one must begin with a brief historic overview of the law.

The conversation about assisted human reproduction in Canada began in 1978 when the first child was conceived through in vitro fertilization, or IVF, in Britain, which coined the phrase “test tube baby.” The concept that a child could be conceived through non-traditional means and with the help of assisted reproductive technology captured the minds and interest of Canadians.

Many argued that these new technologies presented ethical dilemmas that warranted careful consideration. As a result, the federal government appointed the Royal Commission on New Reproductive Technologies in the fall of 1989.


The extensive mandate of the royal commission was to inquire into and report upon “current and potential medical and scientific developments related to new reproductive technologies . . .”considering in particular their “social, ethical, health, research, legal and economic implications . . . .”

Over the four years the royal commission consulted widely; more than 40,000 people were involved in their work. In 1993, the royal commission released its two-volume final report entitled Proceed With Care, which laid out the foundation for a legislative framework on assisted human reproduction.

The royal commission identified eight overarching principles, which guided their decision making: individual autonomy, equality, respect for human life and dignity, protection of the vulnerable, non-commercialization of reproduction, appropriate use of resources, accountability, and balancing of individual and collective interests.

To explain the principle of non-commercialization of reproduction, they wrote:

Commissioners believe it is fundamentally wrong for decisions about human reproduction to be determined by a profit motive — introducing a profit motive to the sphere of reproduction is contrary to basic values and disregards the importance of the role of reproduction and its significance in our lives as human beings. Commodifying human beings and their bodies for commercial gain is unacceptable because this instrumentalization is injurious to human dignity and ultimately dehumanizing.

They emphasized the need to uphold Canadian values, the most important of which is the preservation of human dignity through the non-commercialization of human life.

A by-product of the royal commission’s work, the Assisted Human Reproduction Act, became law in 2004. The law enshrines the aforementioned guiding principles and codifies the parameters for assisted human reproduction that were first identified by the royal commission. It also criminalizes certain activities, while regulating others.

Honourable colleagues, the reason for this historic overview is to contextualize the conversation we are having today. A first analysis of Bill S-202, now before us, raises some questions. The first is in the repeal of one of the seven declaration statements found under section 2(f) of the Assisted Human Reproduction Act, which states:

trade in the reproductive capabilities of women and men and the exploitation of children, women and men for commercial ends raise health and ethical concerns that justify their prohibition;

While it can be argued that health and ethical concerns do not, on their own, justify the prohibition of the commercialization of reproduction, one cannot dismiss the risks associated with sperm and ova donation, IVF and surrogacy. For example, there are a range of risks associated with surrogacy, which can be physical, social, legal and psychological in nature. Some women experience adverse health effects, like migraines, high blood pressure and diabetes. Others can develop serious complications, which can lead to permanent infertility. Emotional risks include attachment to a child that must be relinquished and postpartum depression.

Ethical risks fall on a continuum; how to respect an individual’s autonomy while also ensuring their protection from exploitation. A complete removal of this crucial principle from the Assisted Human Reproduction Act would negate the serious risks associated with assisted human reproduction — ones that must be considered carefully by those who plan for surrogacy and gamete donation.

Another question pertains to the proposed replacement of section 6 of the Assisted Human Reproduction Act with eligibility requirements for prospective surrogate mothers. Section 6 of the act prohibits several actions, namely payment for surrogacy, payment for intermediaries and purchase of gametes. By removing these sections, the law would decriminalize these activities, essentially rendering them as legal without explicitly saying so.

Professor Jenni Millbank, from the University of Technology Sydney, argued in her 2015 paper Rethinking “Commercial” Surrogacy in Australia, that.

. . . the body of empirical studies does provide compelling evidence for surrogacy as an elected practice that has provided satisfaction to the great majority of women who have undertaken it in the domestic national context. These studies taken together demonstrate that the presence or absence of payment to the surrogate mother is not the defining feature of the experience for her.

While one can focus on the debate of the ethics of commercialization and commodification of assisted human reproduction, perhaps what should demand some of our attention is the plethora of deep-rooted issues entrenched in our current system, which Bill S-202 does not adequately address.

We should first consider the timeline of the regulations of the Assisted Human Reproduction Act. While the act became law in 2004, several of its provisions remained dormant for over a decade. As an example, the federal government released regulations related to reimbursement only in June 2019, 15 years after the law was passed.

In her second reading speech, Senator Moncion informed us that Bill S-202 would come into force 180 days after Royal Assent, which would allow, “the federal government and provincial legislatures a reasonable amount of time to exercise their regulatory powers, if necessary.”

Well, I ask, however, given the federal government’s record, the question remains: Will 180 days be sufficient for the drafting of new regulations or will important aspects wait another 15 years to be written?

Surely, the changes proposed by Bill S-202 will result in repeated calls for greater clarity, given the newfound questions that will be dealt with only through regulatory clarity. Unlike in the United States, surrogacy and gamete donation programs in Canada lack oversight and are unregulated and unlicensed. Data collection is inconsistent and fragmented. Collected data is mostly anecdotal in nature.

A study published in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology Canada in June 2020 found that information regarding surrogacy in Canada was lacking. The author notes that available information is “mostly related to the United States” and that “participants were unsure how to assess and evaluate the authenticity of such processes.” The study concludes that “the absence of official Canadian guidelines impeded provision of comprehensive and trustworthy data.”

Last year, CBC News conducted a thorough, three-month investigation into surrogacy in Canada. They interviewed dozens of people, including parents, surrogates and lawyers. They raised an abundance of concerns. In one instance, surrogates said that they were encouraged by Canadian Fertility Consulting, a surrogacy agency based in Cobourg, Ontario, to “collect as many receipts as possible to ensure they hit their monthly maximum allowance.”

In another case, multiple surrogates admitted that their agencies sent them new profiles of intended parents within days of their due date. Some women expressed that they felt “hounded” to commit to a new couple right away.

It is evident that the lack of standards and oversight of surrogacy in Canada fails to protect prospective parents, surrogates and donors — a serious issue that this proposed legislation does not correct. It should be noted that the original Assisted Human Reproduction Act established a regulatory agency; Assisted Human Reproduction Canada. The act, however, was challenged by the Government of Quebec, and in 2010 a decision from the Supreme Court of Canada overturned several provisions, including the establishment of the agency, which was inevitably shut down in 2013.


While it was argued by Senator Moncion that the repeal of section 6 would allow provinces to regulate the assisted human reproduction industry, I fear that this proposed change will not incentivize action. If we simply remove prohibitions from the current law, what will guarantee that the provinces will take measures to regulate the industry?

Honourable senators, as part of this discussion, allow me to present two international examples as case studies. India has been the epicentre for reproductive tourism for years, operating a commercial surrogacy system since 2002. Due to the accumulation of reported incidents involving exploitation, the Government of India introduced legislation in 2019 banning all forms of commercial surrogacy.

In the final report of the Select Committee on the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2019, it is explained that this bill seeks to regulate surrogacy to “. . . stop exploitation of poor vulnerable women; to ensure protection of rights of the child born out of surrogacy . . . .” This legislation became law last year, extinguishing a multi-billion-dollar industry.

On the other hand, Israel was the first country to institutionalize state-controlled surrogacy. In Israel, surrogacy is not only legal but remunerated and government supervised. The law, which was passed in 1996, creates a system wherein every surrogate contract must be approved by the Board for Approval of Surrogacy Agreements. The members of the board are appointed by the Minister of Health and include physicians, a clinical psychologist, a social worker, a public representative who is a jurist and a clergyman. This system allows for contracts to be monitored and payments to surrogates to be capped. It also encourages robust data collection.

Honourable senators, a national conversation about Canada’s assisted human reproduction laws is long overdue. We must draw on the expertise of nations such as the United States, United Kingdom, India and others, who have studied assisted human reproduction and best practices for years. We are not short of sound evidence.

Like Senator Moncion, I, too, agree that this is an opportune time to carefully study and review this subject matter, so that we can modernize our policies to reflect the current day.

However, I question whether a private member’s bill is the right approach at this stage. A debate on this proposed piece of legislation would restrict our hearings to only the scope of the bill, with broader questions necessitating fulsome evidence collection on assisted human reproduction beyond our reach.

We would benefit more from a comprehensive study of the subject matter — a blank slate — with no preconceived ideas, to allow us to understand the unintended consequences of changing the current framework, as well as options for other frameworks which can ultimately be addressed in a piece of legislation.

It is without doubt that Bill S-202 is well intentioned, but are we not putting the cart before the horse?

According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, roughly one in six couples in Canada experience infertility — a number that has doubled since the 1980s. We owe it to these couples and also same-sex couples and individuals to expand our knowledge and create a system that not only protects their rights and agency but also the rights and agency of their surrogates and gamete donors.

As is written in the title of the final report of the Royal Commission on New Reproductive Technologies, we should “Proceed with Care.” Thank you.


Hon. Lucie Moncion: Will Senator Seidman take a question?

Senator Seidman: Of course.

Senator Moncion: I would like to thank you for sharing your comments on Bill S-202. I really appreciate the work that you have done as the critic on this bill and I had hoped to one day hear your position on it.

You talked about doing a comprehensive study. I completely agree with you. I also agree with you that this bill should come from the federal government and should not be a private member’s bill. However, I would like to hear your thoughts on the fact that it was introduced as a private member’s bill. Perhaps that was the first step so that the bill could be brought to committee for an in-depth analysis. We know that this government’s term will come to an end and the bill probably won’t make it to the House of Commons. However, this work could prompt the federal government to ponder and discuss this issue. I would like to hear your thoughts on that. Thank you again.


Senator Seidman: Thank you very much, Senator Moncion. I agree with you right off the top that this should be a government bill because it would require the kind of research that I proposed in my presentation today — research that we all know can’t really happen in a private member’s bill. So, on that, I agree with you.

As I said in my presentation, I fear that proceeding with a private member’s bill to bring forward the issue and bring it visibility is not the right approach in this case. Doing so would limit the scope of the discussion at committee. Discussion would be limited to the essence of the bill, as opposed to sending the subject matter for discussion, for study, for witness testimony, to look at international examples and really review it, as I suggested, with a clean slate and without any predetermined concepts of the direction we should go. That would allow committee members to hear the appropriate testimony. Then, perhaps, we could propose a private member’s bill. Of course, we could also bring the attention of the government of the day to the report of this committee. Frankly, that would be far more valuable than presenting the government with a private member’s bill.


Senator Moncion: I completely agree with what Senator Seidman said. I hope that it will not take another 15 years before we can talk about this situation again. I would like to know what you think, Senator Seidman.


Senator Seidman: Senator Moncion, I fully agree with you. As I said in my presentation, this is long overdue. We need to have the discussion. I believe the commission’s report even said that we need to pay attention to Canadians and update our regulations on this; we need to update our legislation on this.

I fully agree with you, and I hope it doesn’t take another 15 years. Maybe we can make a concerted effort to formulate some kind of study proposal to a committee.

(On motion of Senator Martin, debate adjourned.)

Bill to Amend the Canada Elections Act and the Regulation Adapting the Canada Elections Act for the Purposes of a Referendum (voting age)

Second Reading—Motion in Amendment—Debate

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator McPhedran, seconded by the Honourable Senator Loffreda, for the second reading of Bill S-209, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act and the Regulation Adapting the Canada Elections Act for the Purposes of a Referendum (voting age).

And on the motion in amendment of the Honourable Senator Wells, seconded by the Honourable Senator Plett:

That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word “That” and substituting the following therefor:

“Bill S-209, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act and the Regulation Adapting the Canada Elections Act for the Purposes of a Referendum (voting age), be not now read a second time because a proposal which so fundamentally impacts the conduct of elections in this country, specifically the qualifications of electors, should more properly be introduced first in the elected chamber, namely the House of Commons.”

Hon. Marilou McPhedran: Honourable senators, I rise to speak to Senator Wells’s amendment to Bill S-209, which is designed to kill this bill.


First and foremost and most sincerely, I wish to thank him for taking on the added responsibility of being the critic of this bill to lower the federal voting age to 16. I also want to express appreciation to Senator Wells and to all senators who have spoken thus far for making their views known on the record.

I disagree with his conclusions, but I thank Senator Wells nonetheless for bringing them forward. There is no need to hide from hard questions. No bill is perfect. Rigorous study will either improve it or prove it too flawed to proceed. That is exactly the type of scrutiny we, as senators, do well. This makes for a fuller, richer debate, which is a primary purpose of this chamber.

Colleagues, let’s remember why each house has three readings. We are at the point where second reading could be completed, keeping open speaking opportunities at third reading, and we could open up our process to hear from non-parliamentarians at committee. It is ironic and unfortunate, then, that this amendment would effectively silence further debate in this chamber and silence the growing list of potential witnesses, including young people who very much want to speak to senators in their own voices for a deeper examination of this pressing issue — and I do mean pressing.

We ask a tremendous amount of our youth, and, by and large, they responded incredibly well. This is a real issue. As every speaker on this bill has noted, including Senator Wells, young leaders are well educated, eager, involved and vocal. This is the chance to listen to the youth of Canada. It doesn’t happen very often at Senate committees.

I intend to respond to Senator Wells’s amendment with emphasis on two of his assertions that the voting age of 18 years is an immutable constant and that the Senate is not the forum for this bill at this time. Senator Wells referred to an article on a global consensus on voting age. That 2003 article does indeed indicate that a global consensus then existed of an average of 18 years voting age in a majority of liberal democratic countries. With all due respect, his allusion to North Korea, although perhaps an amusing digression, is a specious comparison.

However, in the very next paragraph after what Senator Wells quoted, the authors asked, “But is there really a consensus? If so, it is of a relatively recent date” and “ . . . is fragile.” The authors described the accepted threshold age of 18 years as a societal construct — just as Senator Dalphond so aptly identified in his response to this amendment — therefore, subject to change. Moreover, these authors explain that such a consensus of 18 years is only one step in an evolution that has been a century in the making, shifting over time from 25 years to 23 to 21 and now 18 years. But in Canada, that was in 1970, 50 years ago. They note the consensus age of 18:

. . . has been the subject of renewed debate in recent years in a variety of countries, and in some places the cracks are already visible . . . .

Remember, colleagues, that this article was published long before the research available to us now that refutes most of the stereotypes of youth as voters used to argue against lowering the age, again, this time to 16.

In the spirit of inquiry, Senator Wells and other senators may be interested to know that the same esteemed research he cited continued their study in this field and published a subsequent report only five years later entitled, very plainly, “Governments Should Lower the Voting Age to 16 to Expand Voting Rights.”

Senator Wells also referenced the Lortie Commission of 1991 and indicated he believes this analysis and the recommendation of the Lortie Commission is still valid today. It is helpful to consider the entire Lortie recommendation, not just the excerpt Senator Wells shared.

From page 57 of the report:

Since Confederation, the franchise has undergone regular change to include an ever-increasing number of Canadians. As our society continues to evolve, it is possible that a lower voting age will become the focus of stronger demands by those concerned and greater support on the part of Canadians, particularly if the law is changed to eliminate the need for parental consent on certain important decisions. The voting age is not specified in the constitution and is therefore relatively easy to change. We therefore conclude that the voting age should be set at 18 years of age but that Parliament should revisit the issue periodically.

Accepting the full recommendation of this royal commission includes the imperative to revisit the issue periodically. Sadly, the amendment to Bill S-209 before you now purposely seeks to extinguish this effort, in other words, to kill the bill. Why now? Why this particular bill focused on Canadian youth?

Senator Wells shared an example of the high level of youth engagement that he has maintained throughout his life. He is a fine example, and I sincerely commend him. But I am confused by his assertion that engaging youth and lowering the voting age needs to be mutually exclusive, because they are, in fact, mutually reinforcing.

In the past 20 years, significant studies attest to the corollary effect of education and formation on voting habits and electoral confidence. Lowering the voting age from 21 to 18 or 18 to 16 triggers a parallel increase in civic education and support for those new potential electors, something that Elections Canada has been doing for more than 100 years.

Time allows for just one recent example illustrating this point. In 2014, Scotland lowered the voting age to 16 for the Scottish independence referendum. Based on the positives of such enhanced voter engagement, resistant parliamentarians shifted, and 16 and 17-year-olds can now vote in all Scottish elections. A study of 2015 voting patterns demonstrated that Scottish youth were more engaged in politics and showed greater confidence in their ability to understand politics and make political decisions than their peers in the rest of the U.K., which at the time had a voting age of 18.

Never before have we had such high-quality research on countries like Austria, Scotland and Wales, which have lowered their voting age to 16 within the last 15 years. With this recent evidence, we can map out the services and supports necessary to ensure success, should Canada adopt this move.

By blocking Bill S-209 from going to committee, we lose the valuable opportunity to hear from a wide range of experts, including young people themselves.

At the core of his amendment, Senator Wells told us, “Bills that significantly impact the working of one chamber should be introduced and first debated in that chamber.” To do otherwise would be both an anomaly and a rupture of precedent.

Colleagues, after hearing me, I hope you will not accept his premise for a number of reasons. First, and to be absolutely clear, the Senate has every right to introduce, debate, advance and study any type of legislation. Indeed, the Constitution Act, 1982, grants as much legislative power to the Senate as to the House of Commons, with the exceptions that the House of Commons has the exclusive power to originate appropriation and tax bills.

Furthermore, this so-called precedent has been so inconsistently applied as to lose status as a precedent. How do we account for Bill S-239, Senator Frum’s proposed legislation that also sought to open up the Elections Act? That bill went to committee. Or there was Bill S-215, a bill to amend the Elections Act, introduced by Senator Dawson in the Forty-first Parliament. Senator Gerstein, as Conservative critic, argued ferociously against it but did not block it from going to committee.

Similarly, Senator Lowell Murray in the Fortieth Parliament introduced Bill S-202, a bill to repeal fixed elections. Senator Moore in the Thirty-ninth Parliament introduced Senate Bill S-224, which sought to amend the Canada Elections Act by setting time limits for federal by-elections. That passed the Senate and made it to the House of Commons.

Any of these bills would surely, as Senator Wells states in his amendment, impact the conduct of elections in this country, but none of them were subjected to a reasoned amendment. None of them were obstructed in this manner, as the application of this precedent is so inconsistent as not to be a precedent.

Why there is a particular objection to this bill at this time is a puzzle. Why the effort to deny Bill S-209 the same legislated process that was afforded all those other Elections Act-related bills that started in the Senate, just as highly engaged young people and international experts are eager to speak to senators in committee on Bill S-209? The answer to me — and I hope to you, colleagues — is that this argument put forward by Senator Wells is, in fact, unreasoned and should not be allowed to block debate and public participation on this bill.

Second, I would posit that the Senate is an ideal place to consider the federal voting age in Canada. By its very design, the Senate is meant to engage in the legislative process in a fashion that is removed from the pressures of the electoral cycle and the partisan politics of the day.


As Senator Harder argued in an article published in the National Journal of Constitutional Law:

Because senators are appointed for a long tenure, it is expected that they would not place the interests and fate of political parties at the heart of deliberations; rather, senators would take an independent and dispassionate approach to the task of legislative scrutiny and debate.

Freed as we are from pressures, constraints and imperatives of the election cycle, senators may be able to apply a level of nuance and dispassionate distance to voting age reform.

Third, and perhaps most importantly, the Senate serves an invaluable purpose as a body that can lead substantive, in-depth study and move forward debates and policy considerations that might inform future government legislation and public policy. One of the unique and phenomenal strengths of the Senate is its ability to leverage its soft power and influence the furtherance of giving voice to the marginalized, the small and the minorities.

I believe Senator Wells is painting a false dichotomy. The Senate is a complementing, not a competing, actor in the legislative process — with value to Canadians. Senate public bills can significantly influence public policy by simply being proposed and debated.

There are presently two bills on lowering the voting age before the House of Commons. In fact, over most of the past 20 years, there has been such a bill in play, but none reached the committee stage. The members in the other place will eventually have the opportunity to weigh the merits of this bill, as they see fit, should it reach them. But to kill it preemptively via this recent amendment serves no purpose and serves no one.

Therefore, I urge the Senate to reject this amendment, and I move that the question be called immediately. Thank you. Meegwetch.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Senator Martin, do you have a question?

Senator Martin: No, I wish to adjourn the debate.

Some Hon. Senators: No.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senators, it is moved by Honourable Senator Martin, seconded by the Honourable Senator Plett, that further debate be adjourned until the next sitting of the Senate.

If you oppose adjourning debate, say “no.”

Some Hon. Senators: No.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: This is on the adjournment.

Those in favour of the motion and who are in the Senate Chamber, please say “yea.”

Some Hon. Senators: Yea.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Those opposed to the motion and who are in the Senate Chamber, please say “nay.”

Hon. Senators: Nay.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: I believe the “nays” have it.

And two honourable senators having risen:

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: We will have a standing vote on the adjournment. How long for the bell?

Senator Seidman: A one-hour bell.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: It will be a one-hour bell. We shall vote at 6:03.

Call in the senators.


Motion negatived on the following division:

The Honourable Senators

Anderson Mockler
Ataullahjan Ngo
Batters Oh
Boisvenu Patterson
Carignan Plett
Frum Richards
Housakos Seidman
MacDonald Smith
Manning Stewart Olsen
Marshall Wallin
Martin Wells—22

The Honourable Senators

Bellemare Jaffer
Bernard Klyne
Black (Ontario) Kutcher
Boniface LaBoucane-Benson
Bovey Loffreda
Brazeau Marwah
Busson Massicotte
Cordy McCallum
Cormier McPhedran
Cotter Mégie
Coyle Mercer
Dasko Miville-Dechêne
Dawson Moncion
Deacon (Nova Scotia) Moodie
Deacon (Ontario) Munson
Dean Omidvar
Downe Pate
Duncan Petitclerc
Forest Ringuette
Forest-Niesing Saint-Germain
Francis Simons
Gagné Tannas
Galvez Wetston
Gold White
Griffin Woo—51

The Honourable Senators

Dagenais Dupuis—2


The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, it’s now after six o’clock. Pursuant to rule 3-3(1) in the order adopted on October 27, 2020, I’m 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.”

Some Hon. Senators: Suspend.

The Hon. the Speaker: The sitting is suspended until 7 p.m.

(The sitting of the Senate was suspended.)

(The sitting of the Senate was resumed.)


Second Reading—Motion in Amendment—Vote Deferred

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator McPhedran, seconded by the Honourable Senator Loffreda, for the second reading of Bill S-209, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act and the Regulation Adapting the Canada Elections Act for the Purposes of a Referendum (voting age).

And on the motion in amendment of the Honourable Senator Wells, seconded by the Honourable Senator Plett:

That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word “That” and substituting the following therefor:

“Bill S-209, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act and the Regulation Adapting the Canada Elections Act for the Purposes of a Referendum (voting age), be not now read a second time because a proposal which so fundamentally impacts the conduct of elections in this country, specifically the qualifications of electors, should more properly be introduced first in the elected chamber, namely the House of Commons.”

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

Hon. Senators: Question.

The Hon. the Speaker: In amendment, it is moved by the Honourable Senator Wells, seconded by the Honourable Senator Plett, that Bill S-209 be not now be read a second time. May I dispense?

Some Hon. Senators: Dispense.

The Hon. the Speaker: If you are opposed to the motion, please say “no.”

Some Hon. Senators: No.

The Hon. the Speaker: I hear a no. Those in favour of the motion who are in the Senate Chamber will please say “yea.”

Some Hon. Senators: Yea.

The Hon. the Speaker: Those opposed will please say “nay.” Sorry, Senator Plett?

Senator Plett: Could you repeat the question, please?

The Hon. the Speaker: In amendment, it was moved by the Honourable Senator Wells, seconded by the Honourable Senator Plett, that Bill S-209 be not read a second time but that it be amended by deleting all the — may I dispense?

Some Hon. Senators: Dispense.

The Hon. the Speaker: If you are opposed to the motion, please say “nay.”

Some Hon. Senators: Nay.

The Hon. the Speaker: The “nays” have it.

And two honourable senators having risen:

The Hon. the Speaker: I see two senators rising. Do we have agreement on a bell?

Some Hon. Senators: Now.

Senator Seidman: We’d like to defer to the next sitting of the Senate.

The Hon. the Speaker: Pursuant to rule 9-10, the vote is deferred to 3:30 p.m. on the next day the Senate sits, with the bells to ring at 3:15.

Commissioner for Children and Youth in Canada Bill

Second Reading—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Moodie, seconded by the Honourable Senator Mégie, for the second reading of Bill S-210, An Act to establish the Office of the Commissioner for Children and Youth in Canada.

Hon. Mary Jane McCallum: Honourable senators, I rise today to speak at second reading of Bill S-210, An Act to establish the Office of the Commissioner for Children and Youth in Canada. I would like to thank Senator Moodie for the work that she has put forward with this bill.

I approached this bill through the lens of decolonization, as I do with all bills that impact Indigenous peoples. As is stated in the Calls for Justice in the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls’ final report, the decolonizing approach:

. . . is a way of doing things differently that challenges the colonial influence we live under by making space for marginalized Indigenous perspectives . . .

Those perspectives are often cast aside. In describing decolonizing approaches, the report states that they:

. . . involve recognizing inherent rights through the principle that Indigenous Peoples have the right to govern themselves in relation to matters that are internal to their communities; integral to their unique cultures, identities, traditions, languages, and institutions . . . and with respect to their special relationship to . . .

Those approaches also recognize Indigenous peoples’ special relationship to the land.

Our approach honours and respects Indigenous values, philosophies, and knowledge systems. It is a strengths-based approach, focusing on the resilience and expertise of individuals and communities themselves.

It goes on to say:

We demand a world within which First Nations, Inuit, and Métis families can raise their children with the same safety, security, and human rights that non-Indigenous families do, along with full respect for the Indigenous and human rights of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis families.

Colleagues, the following information largely comes from several meetings I held with Senator Moodie, officials from the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs and senators from Manitoba. These meetings took place on April 22, October 5 and October 15, 2020.

One of the biggest problems surrounding this bill is the ever-present issue of jurisdictional divisions of power. Children’s Rights: International and National Laws and Practices, published by the Law Library of Congress Canada in 2007, states:

Since Canada’s various Constitution Acts do not assign the subject of children to either level of government, it is essentially split, with each level covering children as part of the jurisdictions conferred upon them.

The author continues:

Since Canadian constitutional law does not generally permit the federal government to legislate over matters that fall under provincial jurisdiction even for the purpose of implementing an international agreement, Canada makes reservations to this effect if implementation would require provincial cooperation.

It goes on:

Federal law does not generally supersede provincial law. Instead, each level of government regulates employment in fields within its jurisdiction.

Colleagues, children’s issues include child health and social welfare, education, child labour and exploitation, child abuse and trafficking, juvenile justice and children in care, which fall under provincial jurisdiction. Children and youth who have treaty rights continuously fall into the provincial-federal jurisdictional gap, which resulted in the death of Jordan Anderson, a young child who had treaty status but passed away during an ongoing dispute over his care between the province and Canada. Only after his death did they settle on a process, Jordan’s Principle, but most senators know this.

You certainly understand my reservation on any federal bill that attempts to address issues under provincial jurisdiction, yet there is no mention of the role and relationship between Canada and the provinces and territories in this bill.

While the wording puts obligation on the commissioner to work with First Nations, there is no such obligation of the commissioner to work with provinces and territories to address some of the systemic issues that prevent the well-being of children. If Canada wants to improve the living standard of children and youth, both levels of government need to be committed to upholding the rights of the child.

Moreover, the bill looks like it reinforces the provincial status quo. Clause 11(1)(j) states that:

The mandate of the Commissioner is . . . to collaborate and cooperate with authorities across Canada that promote, advocate for or serve children and youth in order to foster common policies and practices and to avoid conflicts in the handling of matters in cases of shared jurisdiction . . . .

These authorities rest with the province. If the province has been historically unwilling to shift their way of being on this issue, the avoiding of conflict, as stated above, will simply ensure First Nations children remain under threat.

In this vein, under clause 17(5)(a), it stipulates that:

The Commissioner may . . . enter any place of detention or residence for children and youth under control or operation of the Government of Canada . . . .

Many youth centres or group homes are operated under provincial jurisdiction. How would the commissioner then deal with these residences operated by provinces?

Colleagues, within this jurisdictional friction, another area that requires clarification is which children would benefit from this bill. It is also unclear how the commissioner would work with the children that fall outside federal jurisdiction. This bill references First Nations, Métis and Inuit in 7 of the 11 paragraphs in the preamble, and under clause 17(1) it states:

The Commissioner may . . . conduct an inquiry into any matter . . . under federal jurisdiction that affects the rights of children and youth.

First Nations are the only people who have been intentionally targeted by Canadian and provincial laws and made to live under oppression by both the federal and provincial systems. These multiple jurisdictions in child and family services have never worked well with First Nations children and youth.

Since this is a federal bill, it will therefore only have influence on federal lands and jurisdictions. The children that fall into this category include First Nations on reserve and immigrants and refugees under the Canada Border Services Agency, yet the immigrant and refugee children are not mentioned in this bill.


Honourable senators, as I have said, there are multiple areas of this bill that mention First Nations, Inuit and Métis children and youth, including under the subclauses in “Reports” and “Review,” 21(b) and 29(5), and most interestingly, under clause 16, titled “Focus,” it says a potential assistant commissioner would “focus on matters related, in particular, to First Nations, Inuit and Métis children and youth.”

When asked if the main commissioner, instead of the assistant commissioner, could take the role, no answer was forthcoming. It is my perception that issues surrounding First Nations, Métis and Inuit children and youth are largely being used as the rationale to establish a commissioner.

As a child advocate with the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, Cora Morgan stated:

This would dilute issues for First Nations. Canada has a history of children stolen from First Nations, so we need our own commissioner. The issues and realities of First Nations children are unique and complex; they cannot be adequately addressed by a pan-Canadian commissioner. Without prior and proper consultation, we again find ourselves in a position where others are speaking on behalf of our children.

She continues:

The AMC has always advocated for unique solutions to issues that are led by First Nations. For over 150 years, Canada developed specific legislation for First Nations without consultation with First Nations. General legislation, policies, and practices led by Canada do not work for First Nations. The standards unilaterally determined by the government do not reflect the needs and/or realities of our Nations.

The issue of inadequate consultation on this bill flows directly to the appointment process, as subclause 5(1) requires that a commissioner only be named after consultation with the leader or facilitator of every recognized party. However, this intentionally leaves out First Nations leadership from having a seat at this table.

Honourable senators, another serious issue I have with this bill is that there is no funding attached to it by virtue of it being a Senate private bill. I understand there is hope if it gets enough support that the government may feel pressure to provide funding in the future, but there is no such guarantee. As stated by AMC, without the funding to establish this office, the purpose of the bill becomes null and void.

Honourable senators, the work to decolonize the approach Canada has undertaken with regard to First Nations is overdue but onerous. The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls calls for a child advocate in every province as well as nationally. The introduction states:

The steps to end and redress this genocide must be no less monumental than the combination of systems and actions that have worked to maintain colonial violence for generations.

Under “Principles for Change” it states:

. . . all actions and remediation to address root causes of violence must be human and Indigenous rights-based with a focus on substantive equality for Indigenous Peoples.

“Substantive equality” is a legal principle that refers to the achievement of true equality in outcomes. It is required in order to address the historical disadvantages, intergenerational trauma, and discrimination experienced by a person to narrow the gap of inequality that they are experiencing in order to improve their overall well-being.

Honourable senators, another area of the bill I would like to consider is the definition of children and youth. Within the definitions section, this bill defines them as “. . . persons who are under the age of 18 years.” However, this definition differs within provinces and territories. In British Columbia, the Child, Family and Community Service Act defines a child as a person under 19 years of age and a youth as a person 16 years of age or over but is under 19 years of age. Therefore, youth 18 years of age or older in care may be unable to benefit from the work of the commissioner.

Further, the definition of children and youth in Bill S-210 does not include children and youth aging out of care. Youth aging out of care is a massive issue in Canada, especially in Manitoba, as these youth face many challenges with little or no support. Research shows that provincial child welfare systems do not adequately prepare youth for life after care. Children in care are less likely to graduate from high school and are more likely to be involved in the youth criminal justice system.

Within this cohort, it is important to note that Indigenous girls and 2SLGBTQQIA youth face particular challenges concerning their personal safety in the child welfare system. Witnesses shared stories in the inquiry of Indigenous and 2SLGBTQQIA youth and young adults whose death or disappearance took place while they were displaced from or living in the foster-care system.

There is limited data available on the number of Canadians who identify as part of the 2SLGBTQQIA. Statistics Canada surveys have not yet asked questions about gender identity. There is also no data on the disabled community.

Another critical issue with this bill is there is no highlighted process, procedure or expectation for the collection of disaggregated data. This information would be of the utmost importance in aiding and directing the commissioner as well as establishing patterns in whom the commissioner would serve.

Honourable senators, based on our previous meetings on this bill, the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs gave the following recommendations: one, remove all references of First Nations from the bill; two, collaborate with other First Nations across Canada to advocate for a specific national First Nations commissioner that addresses the inequalities of First Nations children and improves the standard of living for First Nations children and youth; three, ensure both levels of government, federal and provincial, have a role and responsibility to support the well-being of First Nations children and youth.

Honourable senators, I hope that these and many more questions can be answered when this bill goes to committee. Thank you.

(On motion of Senator Duncan, debate adjourned.)

National Ribbon Skirt Day Bill

Second Reading—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator McCallum, seconded by the Honourable Senator Galvez, for the second reading of Bill S-227, An Act respecting a National Ribbon Skirt Day.

Hon. Carolyn Stewart Olsen: Honourable senators, today I want to speak to the second reading of Bill S-227, an Act respecting a National Ribbon Skirt Day.

Bill S-227 designates January 4 of each and every year as a federally recognized day that would celebrate the resiliency of Indigenous women as life givers, entrusted with traditional knowledge to care for their families, their communities and the environment. This day would be called national ribbon skirt day in recognition of Indigenous womanhood, identity, adaptation and survival.


The ribbon skirt or ribbon dress is a centuries-old Indigenous symbol. A ribbon skirt can be a simple affair made from a single ribbon sewn to another fabric or it can be an ornate garment made from many ribbons and many materials. There are examples of ribbon skirts that are for daily casual wearing and others that form part of formal tribal regalia.

In Indigenous traditions, the ribbon skirt or ribbon dress can represent many things. The meaning differs depending on the community of origin. For example, in some communities, the skirts are traditionally made by men. In others, women make them. In some groups, the ribbon skirt symbolizes home for the family. In others, it represents a sacred space for women. One thing that seems to be a common element among the many traditions is the connection that the skirt or dress demonstrates between Mother Earth and the spirits that drive the forces around us.

The objective of the bill is to create a space for Indigenous people to express their heritage, and to better help Canadians to educate themselves about — and to understand — Indigenous culture. Ribbon skirt day is itself a grassroots Indigenous initiative rising out of an unfortunate incident that occurred at a school in Kamsack, Saskatchewan.

Last year, just before Christmas, a 10-year-old Indigenous girl named Isabella Kulak wore a ribbon skirt to school on formal day and was, sadly, shamed into later removing it by an educational assistant who was unaware of the greater significance of the skirt. As the incident went viral, the resulting backlash drew responses from people around the world, and activists soon began advocating for a national day of recognition. Our colleague, Senator McCallum, heeded this call by introducing this bill in 2021.

When I agreed to respond to the bill, I realized I had to educate myself. I learned more about the background of the ribbon skirt and what it means to Indigenous communities.

It seems that at first glance, the ribbon skirt or ribbon dress, as we know them today, dates back to the 18th century, when Indigenous clothing makers in the Prairie and Great Lakes regions began to incorporate the colourful silk ribbons into their work, but there is evidence for the use of ribbons in Indigenous artwork that exists from much earlier. In the East, 17th century Mi’kmaq women began replacing the hides and furs that made up their garments with cloth they occasionally decorated with glass beads and silk ribbon appliqué.

The practice of incorporating ribbons into Indigenous clothing seems to have become widespread after silk fell out of fashion in France following the French Revolution. With mass uprisings and the overturning of the old regime, the bright and colourful pieces of fabric became associated with the excesses of the aristocracy and were shunned. Many of these no longer fashionable ribbons were exported to French markets overseas, particularly to North America, where they could be exchanged for valuable furs with Indigenous trappers.

In more modern times, the ribbon skirt or ribbon dress has taken on a greater significance. As red skirts and dresses have become associated with the Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women movement, so too have ribbon skirts become associated with the resiliency of Indigenous women.

In responding to this bill, I’ve taken on the role that our institution defines as critic, but to be a critic does not always mean I oppose.

The events of recent weeks have shown us, now more than ever, how important it is for Canadians to work toward reconciliation with our Indigenous partners. Any act that can further help our mutual understanding and education should be applauded, and a day like this will help give a platform to Indigenous groups for spreading awareness of important elements of their culture and their heritage. As such, I note that June is National Indigenous History Month.

I support this bill, and I encourage my colleagues to do the same. Thank you, senators.

(On motion of Senator Duncan, for Senator Forest-Niesing, debate adjourned.)

Health-Centred Approach to Substance Use Bill

Bill to Amend—Second Reading—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Boniface, seconded by the Honourable Senator Woo, for the second reading of Bill S-229, An Act respecting the development of a national strategy for the decriminalization of illegal substances, to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts.

Hon. Vernon White: Honourable senators, I rise today to speak to Bill S-229, An Act respecting the development of a national strategy for the decriminalization of illegal substances, to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts. I will start by thanking the sponsor of the bill, Senator Boniface, and those who have intervened to date.

We, as has been noted by previous speakers, are in the eye of the storm of addiction. We have been here for quite some time. We have supported law enforcement in developing their capacity and capability in relation to combating drug trafficking and other illegal acts relating to illicit and illegal drugs in Canada, but I would argue we have not done the same when looking at the impact drug addiction is having on Canadians. The reality is that we can support agencies to fight illegal drugs, but must as well have the compassion to work with those facing addictions.

The impact illegal and illicit drugs are having on Canadians is obvious. We can read about overdoses and deaths every hour of every day. Medavie Health Services in Saskatoon identified that in one week — last week, in fact — they administered Narcan or Naloxone to 21 patients in an attempt to save their lives from an overdose. Two years ago, that would have been a two-month total, now seen in a week in a small city in Saskatchewan.

British Columbia is seeing six overdose deaths daily, resulting in a near doubling of overdose deaths since 2016. In fact, April was the fourteenth straight month where the death toll exceeded 100 people in British Columbia.

In 2017, the Senate made an amendment to Bill C-37, An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and to make related amendments to other Acts, which would have made an addition to a piece of legislation in the Senate relating to the opening of further supervised consumption sites. In that amendment, it identified that all sites must provide alternative drug therapy as a replacement for those addicted to opioids. This was an effort to reduce the impact, the deadly impact, illegal opioids were having on those afflicted with this addiction. The government rejected that amendment, as they had a better plan, apparently.

Now here we are with growing overdose death rates; a failing health care system in the management of drug addiction; five-, six- and even seven-month wait-lists for addicts to attain a spot in a treatment centre; and no clear plan.

This bill will not solve all of the problems we have with drug use and addictions. It will, however, force a dialogue and the development of a national strategy relating specifically to reducing the criminalization of drug users. We are continuing to criminalize a health problem.

For clarity, decriminalization will not remove the responsibility from those who possess illegal drugs. What it will do is force an engagement that focuses instead on the harm of those drugs. It will also not reduce the responsibility of addicts who may be involved in other criminal activity. This is not a free pass, but rather a strategy that treats addiction as a health issue first and foremost, and hopefully the strategy will put the responsibility for addiction where it should be — in our health care system.

This will bring the complexity of addictions to the forefront. Maybe start looking at key performance indicators that are something other than arrests, charges and convictions, and more toward health interventions, drug treatment beds and lives saved.

In essence, we need a dialogue, and that starts with treating addicts who use illegal drugs as we do others who have addictions — from within our health care system as much as possible. Criminalization of a health problem will not improve the problem and instead perpetuates an already bad situation, as we have seen.

Clearly, we have all known someone who is addicted to drugs, often illegal drugs. I have worked with people who are addicted to drugs. I know we have had people elected to office at every possible level who are drug addicts. There is no socio-economic level, no culture, no race, no language or occupation that is immune to addiction. However, the people who are often most criminalized are those who are often battling poverty and other issues. It cannot continue to be a system that sees the rich going to treatment and the poor going to jail, which is what we have occurring now.

Bill S-229 provides us with an opportunity to look for change, focus on the health of the addict and redefine how we manage addictions in Canada. I hope you support it as well. Thank you.

(On motion of Senator Martin, debate adjourned.)


Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999

Bill to Amend—Second Reading—Debate Adjourned

Hon. Linda Frum moved second reading of Bill C-204, An Act to amend the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (final disposal of plastic waste).

She said: Honourable senators, I was pleased to read in a tweet last week after Bill C-204 had passed through the House that Canada had banned plastic waste exports. The person who tweeted was reminded that she was getting a bit ahead of herself; it still had to get through the Senate and be proclaimed. But I rise today as the sponsor of Bill C-204 in the Senate in the hopes of making that happen.

The bill did get through the other place, where it was adopted by a vote of 179 to 151. It had support from the Conservatives, the Bloc, the NDP and the Greens, whose combined numbers constitute a majority in that place. This is important to keep in mind as we shepherd this bill through the Senate.

Honourable senators, this bill, with its focus on curbing the environmental damage caused by plastic waste, is straightforward and uncontroversial. Those who chose not to support it in the other place could only have done so for partisan motivations, not policy motivations, for whom among us does not wish for a cleaner planet?

In summary, Bill C-204 amends the Canadian Environmental Protection Act to prohibit the export of plastic waste for final disposal from Canada to foreign countries. In effect, Canada would no longer send any of its plastic waste to a foreign country unless it will be recycled or otherwise reused.

Importantly, the list of plastics is outlined in Schedule 7 and has been structured so that it can be modified through the Governor-in-Council as necessary. Additionally, the existing penalties in the legislation would be applied in instances where individuals or corporations contravene the act.

What this bill addresses is the problem of offshoring our plastic waste management systems. High-income countries like Canada have effective waste management systems so that little, if any, of our waste ends up in the oceans. In fact, according to Our World in Data, only 0.03% of our plastic waste is mismanaged in this country. Mismanaged plastic waste being the sum of littered or inadequately disposed of waste. That is a minuscule number.

Middle- and low-income countries such as Turkey, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia and India — countries to which we export our plastic waste — have very poor waste management systems and are the primary source of our global ocean plastic pollution.

Turkey, for instance, accounts for 1.53% of mismanaged plastic waste; Vietnam, 5.76%; Malaysia, 2.95%; Thailand, 3.23%; India, 1.88%. These are small percentages individually, yes, but they add up to a significant percentage, and in each case are all orders of magnitude higher than Canada.

As the sponsor of the bill in the House pointed out, between 2015 and 2018 almost 400,000 tonnes of Canada’s plastic waste was sent to Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, India, Hong Kong, China and the United States. If we go back to Our World in Data figures, while the U.S. figure for mismanaged waste is only 0.86%, China’s is a whopping 27.7%.

These figures, I should say, are from 2010, which is the latest year for which comprehensive data is available, but as Our World in Data points out, the global trends project to the year 2025, and they show a very similar distribution.

I would also be remiss if I failed to point out that as of 2018, China no longer accepts imports of plastic waste, and that is good news. The bad news is that Canada is looking at other countries in Southeast Asia and elsewhere in the developing world to handle our waste — countries that simply don’t have the capability or the regulatory standards needed to manage that waste properly. The result is that this plastic waste will either be landfilled, dumped in the ocean or incinerated, thereby contributing to the pollution of our oceans and our air.

By continuing to export our plastic waste, we are failing in our duty for environmental stewardship. No amount of virtue signalling and pious words can fix this problem — but legislation can.

Honourable senators, if we enact this legislation prohibiting plastic waste exports, we’ll be joining countries including Australia, New Zealand and the European Union. The United Kingdom has committed to do likewise, and it will be shameful if Canada fails to follow their lead.

Bill C-204 responds to a serious environmental problem with a serious and substantive solution. Indeed, in their June 2019 report on plastic pollution, the Liberal-dominated House Environment Committee recommended that “. . . the federal government prohibit the export of plastic waste to be landfilled in a foreign country.”

In August that same year, then Minister of the Environment Catherine McKenna indicated a willingness to “. . . look at what else Canada can do to reduce the amount of Canadian garbage that is ending up overseas.” Her department, however, ruled out an outright ban on plastic waste exports as, in their words, it would be “. . . economically harmful to countries with recycling industries that rely on the material.” That’s an argument, I’m sure you will agree, that does not hold much water.

Honourable senators, I don’t deny there are some considerations regarding this bill. Some say it doesn’t go far enough since it focuses only on plastic waste headed for final disposal rather than recycling, or that perhaps it should focus only on prohibiting plastic waste exports to developing countries. These are legitimate issues worth discussing. So I hope you will join me in sending it to committee where these issues can be given an airing.

In closing, I want to remind you of what I said at the beginning. This bill had wide support by the elected members of the House — the Bloc, the NDP and the Conservatives — who, if anything, would have liked to have seen it strengthened. However, they were also satisfied that, as it is, it still addresses a serious environmental issue that the Liberal government has overlooked. Bill C-204 will make a real, substantive contribution to addressing the problem of plastics in our oceans, and for this reason I urge you to support it. Thank you.

Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.

(On motion of Senator Galvez, debate adjourned.)


National Framework for Diabetes Bill

Second Reading

Hon. Marie-Françoise Mégie moved second reading of Bill C-237, An Act to establish a national framework for diabetes.

She said: Honourable senators, I am delighted to sponsor Bill C-237, An Act to establish a national framework for diabetes in Canada.

I would like to briefly review some general concepts, so we all understand what we’re talking about. There are three main types of diabetes. The first is Type 1 diabetes, also called juvenile diabetes. People with this condition cannot produce insulin because their immune system destroys pancreatic cells. The disease accounts for between 5% and 10% of diabetes cases. It often occurs in childhood or adolescence, and more rarely in adulthood.

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or the body does not absorb insulin properly, resulting in high blood sugar levels. This type of diabetes usually occurs in adulthood, but it’s becoming increasingly common in teenagers who don’t have healthy lifestyle habits or are obese. I would encourage you to take a look at a major obesity study tabled in the Senate in March 2016 that emphasized its negative health effects. There’s also gestational diabetes, a temporary form of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy because of hormonal changes. Women with gestational diabetes are at greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes later on.


There is also a condition called prediabetes. People with prediabetes have blood sugar levels that are higher than normal but not high enough for them to be diagnosed as diabetic. Nearly half of all people with prediabetes develop type 2 diabetes later in life. Unfortunately, most people are not aware they have this problem.

Now that I have set the scene, let’s talk about research and treatment, which go hand in hand. As you may recall, in my speech last week, I talked about the history of Sir Frederick Banting and Charles Best, who, along with their colleagues James Collip and John Macleod, discovered insulin in a University of Toronto lab in 1921. That discovery revolutionized the treatment of diabetes around the world and remains one of the most famous medical discoveries in Canada’s history.

Dr. Banting sold the rights to his discovery to the University of Toronto so that diabetics around the world could have access to this life-saving medication at an affordable price. On January 11, 1922, the first injections of pancreatic extracts saved the life of a 14-year-old boy who was in a diabetic coma.

The treatment of diabetes has changed considerably over the past 100 years. As Diabetes Québec said, and I quote:

Before the discovery of insulin, diabetics were doomed. Even on a strict diet, they could last no more than three or four years. However, now they can expect to live a long and healthy life.

In the 1950s, the method a person used to control his blood glucose levels was to drop a reagent tablet into a small test tube containing a few drops of urine mixed with water. The resulting colour — from dark blue to orange — indicated the amount of sugar in the urine. I’m sure some of us had to take that little test.

Belgian doctor Jean Pirart, a pioneer in diabetes treatment, discovered the link between good glucose control, sugar in the blood, and the prevention of complications for the first time around 1947.

In 1955, British biochemist Frederick Sanger described the chemical structure of insulin. That made it possible to understand the differences between human insulin and the animal insulin that had been used to treat diabetes up to that point. It was also during that period that the first oral hypoglycemic agents appeared.

The 1970s and 1980s marked a turning point in the treatment of diabetes. Such innovations as blood glucose monitors and blood glucose test strips gave people with diabetes and their doctors tools that would become indispensable.

Many types of insulin and the first oral hypoglycemic agents soon reached the market. Despite all of that, in some cases, managing blood sugar levels was still an imprecise science in those days.

In 1980, with the arrival on the market of insulin pumps and the creation of genetically engineered insulin, intensive insulin therapy — multiple injections mimicking normal pancreatic function — revolutionized the treatment of type 1 diabetes, and has now become an increasingly common treatment for type 2 diabetes.

In 1999, a procedure involving the transplantation of islet cells into people with diabetes was developed in Canada. Dr. Ray Rajotte and Dr. James Shapiro were the first to perform the procedure, which would become known as the Edmonton Protocol for people with diabetes. People who received this transplant would no longer need insulin injections, even after three years.

Diabetes research also contributes to other advances in health. Several retrospective epidemiological studies and experimental studies have shown that metformin, a drug used for diabetes, could have an antitumor effect in certain types of cancer. You can see how this research branched into other areas.

However, the many monitoring and injection devices are still very expensive. Depending on the province or territory they live in, many Canadians with diabetes cannot afford the drugs, devices and supplies they need or do not have access to the appropriate professional resources.

As you can understand, in addition to drugs, interdisciplinary follow-up is needed for patients to self-manage their diabetes. This requires the resources of several health professionals, including doctors, nurses, pharmacists, nutritionists and others.

According to a report produced by the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions, more than half of all diabetics in Canada, 57% to be exact, do not follow to the letter the treatment they are prescribed because they can’t afford the drugs they need and may not have access to certain resources, depending on where they live. Unfortunately, that is a reality that many First Nations, Inuit and Métis people know all too well.

In fact, the sponsor of this bill at the other place, MP Sonia Sidhu, noted the following, and rightly so:

Diabetes rates are three to four times higher among first nations than among the general Canadian population. . . . Furthermore, indigenous individuals are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes at a younger age than other individuals. Those living in a first nation community who are in their twenties have an 80% chance of developing the disease during their lifetimes, compared with 50% among the rest of the population of the same age.

Moreover, through my medical practice and my expertise with diabetic foot, I have seen first-hand the health complications of diabetes. If it is not diagnosed early or if blood sugar levels are not managed, diabetes can trigger a series of serious complications. If diabetes is poorly managed for 10 to 15 years, all the organs can be affected: the heart, causing a heart attack; the blood vessels, causing a stroke; the kidneys, requiring dialysis if it reaches an advanced stage; the eyes, leading to blindness; the nervous system, causing neuropathy in the feet that can lead to ulcers and amputation; erectile issues; and I could go on.

More than a dozen people undergo amputation as a result of diabetes complications every day. That is around 5,000 amputations a year.

Diabetes weakens the body and increases the risk of infection, which can sometimes be difficult to treat successfully. That explains why contracting COVID-19 results in more serious symptoms and complications among certain people with diabetes, as well as among seniors and people with other chronic health conditions.

In Canada, nearly one person dies every hour as a result of diabetes-related complications. I am sorry to have listed all these complications, colleagues. I will stop there. I just wanted you to understand the crucial importance of this national framework. As Diabetes Canada points out, treating diabetes currently costs the health care system $30 billion, and those costs will rise to almost $40 billion within eight years unless something is done.

By investing just $150 million, we would save $20 billion and prevent more than 770,000 new cases of diabetes in Canada over seven years.

With all this information, colleagues, I am sure you will agree that this is the right time to study this bill promptly in committee to support the millions of people in Canada who are affected by this disease.

The government could be guided by the Diabetes 360° strategy, a framework developed by and for the diabetes community. This framework was developed in collaboration with 120 stakeholders, with strong support from the Canadian Cancer Society and the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada.


This framework has four objectives, which are to ensure that 90% of Canadians live in an environment that preserves wellness and prevents the development of diabetes; 90% of Canadians are aware of their diabetes status; 90% of Canadians living with diabetes are engaged in appropriate interventions to prevent complications; and 90% of Canadians engaged in interventions are achieving improved health outcomes.

We should not be reinventing the wheel. The Diabetes 360o strategy should form the foundation of our national strategy. The latest budget shows that our government understands the urgent need for action, as follows:

Budget 2021 proposes to provide $25 million over five years, starting in 2021-22, to Health Canada for additional investments for research on diabetes (including in juvenile diabetes), surveillance, and prevention, and to work towards the development of a national framework for diabetes. This framework will be developed in consultation with provinces and territories, Indigenous groups, and stakeholders, and will help to support improved access to prevention and treatment, and better health outcomes for Canadians.

Budget 2021 proposes to provide $10 million over five years, starting in 2021-22, to the Public Health Agency of Canada for a new Diabetes Challenge Prize. This initiative will help surface novel approaches to diabetes prevention and promote the development and testing of new interventions to reduce the risks associated with Type 2 diabetes.

In addition to fulfilling these budget promises, this bill will be very useful as it will ensure the development of a national diabetes framework no matter the government in power.

I thank the members in the other place for their unanimous support of this bill. Passing the bill in the Senate would be an excellent way to mark the 100th anniversary of the discovery of insulin in Canada. We should vote in favour of this bill not just for monetary considerations, but also for social, family and human considerations.

After nearly overwhelming you with my list of complications, I will not go into the stories of families with a member dealing with this disease. You have surely heard many such stories from your friends and family.

Diabetes Canada has produced analyses of the impact of diabetes on groups that may be marginalized by medical research. You will find documents on the Diabetes Canada website that explain how diabetes affects seniors, different ethnic groups, including Indigenous peoples, and lower-income earners differently.

The Canadian Indigenous Nurses Association identified several factors as to why this is the case. Geographical isolation, lack of health care services, poor Internet connectivity to facilitate distance care and reduced access to nutritious food all contribute to the prevalence of diabetes in indigenous communities.

I want to get back to basic research, which is essential to finding a cure. In 2003, a team led by Dr. Bhatia, from McMaster University, managed to cure diabetes in a mouse. There is a glimmer of hope at the end of the tunnel.

Honourable senators, I hope I can count on your cooperation to pass this important bill on a terrible disease that affects millions of Canadians before we adjourn for the summer.

I know that some of you want to speak on this issue. However, if I may, I would truly appreciate it if you agreed to wait until third reading to do so.

Esteemed colleagues from all groups in the Senate, I have one request for you. I hope we can all decide together, today, to pass this important bill at second reading and send it to the Standing Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology. In doing so, we would help save lives and protect our health care system and our society from a heavy financial and human burden. Thank you.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!


Hon. Yonah Martin (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, I, too, wanted to just call for the question after Senator Mégie’s very compelling speech, but I have some brief remarks. I would like to put this on record, and then I would be prepared to call the question if the chamber is ready. I see lots of nodding heads. That’s a very good sign.

Honourable senators, I rise today to speak to Bill C-237, An Act to establish a national framework for diabetes. This bill requires that the Minister of Health act in consultation with the representatives of the provincial governments, with Indigenous groups and with other relevant stakeholders, to develop a national framework to support improved access to diabetes prevention and treatment. The ultimate objective is to ensure better health outcomes for all Canadians. This is a very noble and important objective. The preamble to the bill explains this well.

One in four Canadians lives with prediabetes or diabetes. We know from research that both diabetes awareness and education can help identify early signs of diabetes and thus prevent or delay its onset.

This is so important, and it really illustrates the importance of awareness and education when it comes to this disease. The bill before us requires the Minister of Health to develop a national framework that will specifically include several components. They were very clearly explained by Senator Mégie, so I will not repeat some of those important items. All of these components are spelled out in the legislation as well, of course.

The last provision in the bill, that of ensuring that Canada Revenue Agency is administering the disability tax credit in a manner that helps as many people with diabetes as possible, was actually a provision added to the bill during the committee discussions in the other place. I believe this amendment certainly improves the bill.

Colleagues, we know that coordination among different orders of government is critically important in tackling key health challenges. As we all know, the delivery of health care is a provincial responsibility, though the federal government assists by playing a coordinating role in national efforts. That is precisely what this bill aims to strengthen in relation to diabetes.

The pandemic through which we are currently living has probably reinforced for all of us the importance of ensuring effective, national coordination when we face overarching problems that affect us all. This is no less the case when it comes to challenging illnesses such as diabetes.

Honourable senators, you will not be surprised when I tell you that this bill received strong support, as mentioned by Senator Mégie, in the other place. In that respect, it is truly a cross-party effort. The sponsor of the bill is Member of Parliament Sonia Sidhu. Speaking to her bill at second reading, Ms. Sidhu stated that, when she was first elected in 2015, it was her goal to bring the issues of Canadians living with diabetes to our Parliament and to elevate the issue on a national agenda. She has served as chair of the All Party Diabetes Caucus and, since 2017, has travelled extensively to consult with medical professionals and stakeholders about how best to meet the needs of those suffering from diabetes.

I was quite taken by Ms. Sidhu’s second reading statement as she spoke about her family. The quote read:

In my family, there are 35 diabetics and we don’t talk about it. I have to do my blood sugar under the table when I visit my mother. We don’t discuss it, and they don’t treat.

Last year, I lost my uncle to it because they just won’t treat. They won’t admit to it. They don’t want to deal with it because the stigma is so bad.

On a personal level, I can relate in terms of being diagnosed with prediabetes or diabetes itself. I actually was in that category. For two and a half years, I had to undergo various tests. I can assure the chamber and I can confirm what Senator Mégie was saying is true. It can be quite a daunting task when you have to really navigate your way through a complex system and specialists who do not always necessarily fully communicate. Getting treatment, which isn’t one-size-fits-all, can be very challenging. I have gone through that.

There is a stigma or a label. I know for myself, when I was going through airport security, sometimes I would just say, “I’m a diabetic,” and I’d have all this food in my bag. They would just say, “Oh, yes, yes. Go ahead.” I was treated as if I had to be given special consideration because of my illness. It felt like this label and, in essence, the stigma that we’re used to when someone is living with diabetes.


“I’m a diabetic” versus “I’m living with diabetes” or “I’m working on my health.” These are different ways to speak about it. However, as Ms. Sidhu mentioned, in her family they didn’t talk about it. I think many families may be in the same position.

I want to say I admire her dedication to a cause that we hope will ultimately help improve the lives of so many Canadians. As she pointed out, a new case of diabetes is diagnosed every three minutes and 90% of these cases are Type 2, which means they can be prevented through better awareness, education and lifestyle changes. If this bill and the framework it establishes can help in that effort, it will have been well worth it.

I’m living proof that you can improve your eating habits, stay active and be conscious, aware and educated in order to take charge of your health. For that reason, this is a personal bill for me as well. I want to applaud MP Sidhu and, of course, the work of Senator Mégie. I know we are all in agreement that we want to help as many Canadians as possible.

I also want to reference what Member of Parliament Chris d’Entremont said about this bill in the other place. He was the Conservative critic on this bill. Mr. d’Entremont mentioned his own son was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of 17. He spoke about how his family, like so many Canadian families, had to adapt to the disease together with their family member. The family became involved in many organizations that support patients with diabetes. They came to recognize some of the problems that remain to be addressed, particularly around the coordination and pooling of resources.

A 2013 report from the Auditor General specifically referenced these coordination challenges. One of the gaps we know exists is the absence of a true national strategy. When she testified to the bill at the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health, Ms. Kimberley Hanson, Executive Director of Federal Affairs at Diabetes Canada, referenced the key role that Bill C-237 might play in building on work that Diabetes Canada and its partner organizations have already undertaken. She said:

Bill C-237 will improve diabetes prevention and treatment, promote essential diabetes research, improve data collection and address health inequalities. . . .

Bill C-237 is strongly aligned with Diabetes Canada’s diabetes 360° strategic framework, which was developed in collaboration with more than 120 stakeholders and has strong support not only from the entire diabetes community but also from other key health stakeholders, including the Canadian Cancer Society and the Heart and Stroke Foundation. Diabetes Canada encourages that, when Bill C-237 becomes law, the minister refer closely to the diabetes 360° strategy in preparing Canada’s new national diabetes framework.

Honourable senators, important progress has been made over many years, making life better for people who have diabetes, but what we need to continue to strive for is a cure. Ms. Juliette Benoît, a 17-year-old diagnosed with diabetes when she was 11, told the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health that successful research work has enabled her to have an insulin pump that permits her to administer insulin without injection and provides a continuous blood glucose reader, allowing her to know her sugar levels faster and, again, without injections. She noted, however, this is not a cure. She said this was part of the reason that Bill C-237 was so important to her personally. Through the framework it fosters, it will promote the conditions that will lead us to the cure everyone is hoping for.

Honourable colleagues, as many of you know, Bill C-237 is particularly symbolic this year: 2021 marks the one-hundredth anniversary of the discovery of insulin by Canadian researcher Sir Frederick Banting. I note Dr. Charles Best also played a significant role. In fact, the last school in which I taught was Banting Middle School and Dr. Charles Best Secondary School was just down the road. It seems quite fitting, does it not, standing here today as someone diagnosed with prediabetes, to be able to take control of my health and stand in support of a national framework?

The discovery of insulin was what earned Sir Frederick Banting and his fellow researcher John Macleod a Nobel Prize for Medicine, as well as a knighthood. That discovery has been a life-saving one for millions of people through the generations. That should inspire us to continue to strive, in our own small ways, to build on the work of Sir Frederick Banting.

I’m pleased to lend my support as the friendly critic of this bill. I want to thank Ms. Sidhu for the work she has undertaken on behalf of so many people who are impacted by this disease and acknowledge the passionate work of the bill’s sponsor in the Senate, our colleague the Honourable Dr. Marie-Francoise Mégie.

I believe that we should adopt this bill at second reading today, refer it to committee for further study this week and ask the committee to report back to the chamber so we can take one final step and complete the legislative process to enact Bill C-237 into law. Perhaps, in doing so, we will make a small contribution to one day eradicating this disease once and for all. Thank you.


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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Motion agreed to and bill read second time.)

Referred to Committee

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

(On motion of Senator Mégie, bill referred to the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology.)

Audit and Oversight

Fourth Report of Committee Adopted

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Wells, seconded by the Honourable Senator Martin, for the adoption of the fourth report (interim) of the Standing Committee on Audit and Oversight, entitled Intersessional Authority, presented in the Senate on June 1, 2021.

Hon. Lucie Moncion: Honourable senators, today I rise to speak to the fourth report of the Standing Senate Committee on Audit and Oversight, which has to do with the delegation of audit responsibilities for the Senate’s financial statements by the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration and the Senate’s approval for granting intersessional authority to the Standing Senate Committee on Audit and Oversight.

Although I agree with the recommendations in the report, I asked to adjourn debate last Thursday so I could be better prepared to share my comments and concerns with you today.

At the moment, the Standing Senate Committee on Audit and Oversight has a lot of work to do as it gets organized and gets to the point where it will be capable of discharging the whole of its mandate. One of the pressing duties that the committee must address is the audit of the Senate’s financial statements, which is usually done over the summer while the Senate is adjourned.

To ensure that it can complete the task, the committee is asking us for intersessional authority through the end of the Forty-third Parliament, which is perfectly legitimate. The committee is just getting up and running, and it has important work to do so it can lay a solid foundation for its operations going forward.

The report’s second recommendation proposes that once the external members of the Audit and Oversight Committee have been appointed, which happened today, the Senate direct the Committee on Internal Economy to delegate, by a recorded decision, the audit and oversight functions as an interim measure for the intersessional period following the end of the Second Session of the Forty-third Parliament. Once again, that is an entirely legitimate request.

I therefore support the recommendations of the fourth report of the Standing Senate Committee on Audit and Oversight, and I urge you to vote to adopt the report.

I’d like to quickly address two issues that have been on my mind since we began the work to create the Audit and Oversight Committee, which is why I took adjournment of the debate last Thursday.



The first issue concerns the intersessional authority of the Audit and Oversight Committee, and the second concerns the determination of the governance body responsible for the financial results of the Senate.

My first point, intersessional authority, remains a concern. As the Audit and Oversight Committee gets up and running, I believe that it needs this authority to establish the foundation for its future work. Once the work of this committee is well established, I believe the committee will no longer need this authority, since it will be able to do its work during the regular sessions of the Senate.

A decision will have to be made as to whether this authority should be temporary or permanent.

My second point, the clarification of responsibilities between CIBA and the Audit and Oversight Committee, also remains a concern. These responsibilities have not yet been clearly defined when we speak of financial results. Which of the two committees, CIBA or Audit and Oversight, is ultimately responsible for answering on behalf of the Senate for the financial results of the institution? Long before the Audit and Oversight Committee was created, I commented on this issue. I have asked for clarification of this element, as it is critical to the proper functioning of the Senate.


Dividing the tasks between the two committees is one thing, but the task that involves exercising the powers and functions attributed under the Parliament of Canada Act is another.

Subsection 19.6(1) of the Parliament of Canada Act has this to say about the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration:

The Committee has the exclusive authority to determine whether any . . . use by a senator of any funds, goods, services or premises made available to that senator for the carrying out of parliamentary functions is or was proper . . . including whether any such use is or was proper having regard to the intent and purpose of the regulations made under subsection 19.5(1).

I do not see any problem with the Standing Committee on Audit and Oversight doing its job independently and reporting to the Senate, like all of the other Senate committees. However, when it comes to exercising its statutory functions and powers, it’s important that we question the overlap in the mandates and the responsibilities of each of the committees, since we know that the Internal Economy Committee is one of only two recognized committees that can answer for the financial results of the Senate.

There’s still an important step to take, that of clearly identifying how the governance responsibilities and functions will be shared, responsibilities and functions that must also be clearly defined. By clearly defining them, we’ll mitigate the risks associated with the distortion of roles between these two committees and we’ll resolve the issue of intersessional authority.

Thank you for your attention.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Motion agreed to and report adopted.)


The Senate

Motion to Condemn the Philippine Government’s Unjust and Arbitrary Detention of Senator Leila M. de Lima—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator McPhedran, seconded by the Honourable Senator Woo:

That, in relation to Senator Leila M. de Lima, an incumbent senator of the Republic of the Philippines, who was arrested and has been arbitrarily detained since February 24, 2017, on politically motivated illegal drug trading charges filed against her by the Duterte government, and who continues to be detained without bail, despite the lack of any material evidence presented by the Philippine government prosecutors, the Senate:

(a)condemn the Philippine government’s unjust and arbitrary detention of Senator Leila M. de Lima;

(b)urge the Philippine government to immediately release Senator de Lima, drop all charges against her, remove restrictions on her personal and work conditions and allow her to fully discharge her legislative mandate;

(c)call on the government of Canada to invoke sanctions pursuant to the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act (Sergei Magnitsky Law) against all Philippine government officials complicit in the jailing of Senator de Lima;

(d)call on the Philippine government to recognize the primacy of human rights and the rule of law, as well as the importance of human rights defenders and their work and allow them to operate freely without fear of reprisal; and

(e)urge other parliamentarians and governments globally to likewise pressure the Duterte government to protect, promote and uphold human rights and the rule of law as essential pillars of a free and functioning democratic society in the Philippines.

Hon. Leo Housakos: Honourable senators, I’m pleased to rise today to speak on Motion No. 75.

I want to thank the Honourable Senator McPhedran for tabling this motion and bringing this issue to the attention of the Senate. It’s an issue that has to do with human rights. It’s an issue specific to Senator Leila de Lima, a well-known person and human rights activist, who, unfortunately over the last few years, has been facing the wrath of an authoritarian regime — a regime that is not respectful of the rule of law.

We have here again another case of a parliamentarian who is being stomped on with a boot to the throat when she’s simply trying to stand up for justice, trying to fight corruption in her country, trying to fight a drug cartel and trying to fight an insidious group of individuals that are trying to profit for themselves at the expense of society.

Of course, we’ve now seen too many cases over the last few years, instances where democracy and freedom is ignored, where parliamentarians who stand up to authoritarian regimes that are always in pursuit of more power, and the saying is that power corrupts, but ultimate and complete power corrupts completely. We’ve seen instances, in some cases even in modern Western democracies, where governments become too ambitious in their pursuits of power, and the executive branch oversteps their bounds.

Senator de Lima is a lawyer and a staunch human rights activist. She has served as a human rights commissioner, and in a previous administration of her country, as justice minister. Senator de Lima has been highly visible and a harsh critic of her current government, which all parliamentarians should have the right to be without fear of repercussion. She stood up, when she was a minister, against drug trafficking and against a drug cartel. She stood up against corruption. And of course, the price she has paid is to have the Duterte administration in the Philippines press trumped-up charges against her. The injustice in this particular case has been well documented and beautifully highlighted in the speech of Senator McPhedran. It has been such an egregious injustice that we’ve seen Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International speak out against this.


We’ve seen a number of parliaments around the world, including, of course, a joint resolution passed by the Foreign Affairs Committee of the United States Senate, calling for her release. We’ve seen all opposition parties in the Philippines calling for her release. We’ve seen, as recently as 2019 at the Paris World Human Rights Conference, that conference calling for her release. In 2018, she was honoured by Amnesty International as the human rights activist of the year.

I don’t want to go on. Senator McPhedran more than appropriately highlighted the importance of this motion. I believe we have to speak as one voice and that it is incumbent on Canada, which I believe is one of those great democracies. Of course, we’ve seen over the last little while that even Canada isn’t perfect, but at least in our democracy we accept the atrocities of our past, we accept mistakes that are done and we try to correct them. That is imperative. However, we should never, ever turn a blind eye to egregious behaviour toward minorities. We should never turn a blind eye when a government anywhere in the world, here in Canada or around the world, tramples on democracy and freedoms, ignores the rule of law, ignores justice and, more fundamentally, ignores fundamental human rights to which all human beings are entitled.

Colleagues, I think this motion is worthy of our support. On behalf of our caucus, I would like to call the question and I hope this will get the consideration and unanimous support that it deserves. Thank you, colleagues.

Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.

Hon. Yuen Pau Woo: Honourable senators, I sense a clamour for a vote on this motion, and so I have written a speech in a hurry to add my voice before we get to the decision point.

This motion draws on a bill that we passed in April 2017, which became law a few months later. I supported that bill, but I don’t support this motion. In fact, colleagues, I don’t support any motion in this chamber that seeks to call on the government to impose Magnitsky sanctions on any foreign national. We passed one such motion last week and, in addition to this one, there are a few more Magnitsky motions still on our Order Paper.

How is it, colleagues, that I support the Magnitsky bill but do not support motions to impose Magnitsky sanctions on specific targets? Well, the answer is that the original bill was adopted on the understanding that we give the responsibility and the power of ascertaining when to impose Magnitsky sanctions, and on whom, to the executive.

As I said in my question to the sponsor of the bill, former Senator Andreychuk, after her third reading speech, the Magnitsky Act was designed to be, “not too blunt an instrument and not too sharp a tool as to bind the hands of the minister” in applying sanctions.

At the time, former Senator Andreychuk responded to me and said in her third reading speech a number of things that confirmed my suggestion to her that this tool not be too blunt or too sharp, and that it should be used at the discretion of the government. She said:

. . . Bill S-226 would place a discretionary tool immediately at the Canadian government’s disposal in the pursuit of its foreign policy goals. This tool would become readily available, giving our government the means to respond to evolving international crises in a timely manner.

She goes on to say:

It will be controlled under Article 4 to determine what internationally recognized violations of human rights are. It is discretionary for them, to be available for them immediately, but not necessarily used if, in fact, other issues of foreign policy deem it to be more important. The discretion remains in the hands of the government. It is meant to be a tool. . . . it allows the government the flexibility and the discretion to use it when and how it deems appropriate in the best interests of Canada.

I’ve been quoting former Senator Andreychuk and you will have noticed her extensive use of the words “discretion” and “discretionary.”

Colleagues, this motion and all other Magnitsky motions do not give discretion. This motion does not say, look at all the factors pertaining to the issue, weigh the pros and cons of Magnitsky sanctions in the context of Canada’s foreign relations with the affected country. This motion doesn’t say any of this because that is already what the bill says. And to repeat, these same injunctions would defeat the purpose of a motion that is intended to direct the government to impose sanctions on the targeted individual or individuals rather than to recognize the need for — here’s the word again — discretionary action.

Colleagues, Magnitsky sanctions are a tool in a toolbox of many implements, in a government’s foreign policy workshop. We should encourage the government to consider the use of all of its tools for the job at hand, rather than insisting that the government pull out a hacksaw to shave an uneven log or a sledgehammer to mount a picture frame.

What’s more, colleagues, this tool of Magnitsky sanctions belongs to the government. It does not belong to individual parliamentarians. The point is, on matters of foreign policy, we have only this tool. We, as parliamentarians, have only this tool and do not have access to the larger toolbox of diplomacy and foreign policy to which the government has access. That is why we should almost never use this tool.

Now, colleagues, I have not commented on the reason for this particular motion because it is not germane to my argument. Again, I stress that I’m against this and all other motions of this sort. I do not know much about Senator Leila de Lima and I doubt many of you did either prior to the introduction of this motion. I have no reason, however, to doubt the information which Senator McPhedran has provided to us, and I agree with her that the situation which Senator de Lima is facing seems very dire indeed, but that is not enough for me to support this motion or any motion directing the government to impose Magnitsky sanctions.

Colleagues, I hope you will join me in voting against this motion, not as a rejection of the Magnitsky sanctions bill that we were instrumental in this chamber in creating, but as a validation of and in respect for the intent of that bill. Thank you.

The Hon. the Speaker: Senator McPhedran, did you have a question?

Hon. Marilou McPhedran: I do, Your Honour. I wonder if Senator Woo would take a question?

Senator Woo: Yes, of course.

Senator McPhedran: Senator Woo, I noticed you substituted the word “direct” for what is actually in the motion. Subsection (c) of the motion that I put to the chamber was to call on the Government of Canada to invoke sanctions.


My question to you is whether you then think that the Senate should never call on the Government of Canada to interpret and implement a certain law, because that is the wording in my motion.

Senator Woo: I think it has the same intent — the call and the direction. The more general point, of course, is that any motion calling on or directing Magnitsky sanctions on a particular individual or set of individuals is very narrow in its scope. That is, by definition, the type of motion that comes to this chamber. The nature of Magnitsky sanctions, as we recognized throughout the study of the Magnitsky Act and in the debate around it, is that these issues are always embedded in a much broader and more complicated context, which the government has the ability to assess, because it has all the tools that I talked about in its toolbox in the foreign policy workshop it occupies.

We have passed a bill allowing them, empowering them and encouraging them to use all tools, including Magnitsky. We should therefore stand back and let them use the tools at their disposal.

Senator McPhedran: Senator Woo, I really do need to ask for greater clarification of part of my earlier question. That is, are you saying that as parliamentarians and senators, we should never be calling on our government to interpret and implement an existing law of this nature?

Senator Woo: To respond to your follow-up question, there is a big difference — I think as we all recognize — between calling on our government to implement laws that pertain to domestic issues and calling on the government to do things that are in the domain of foreign policy. We have had many senators here before, reminding us about the Royal Prerogative in matters of foreign policy, which belongs to the executive. It’s a well-known tradition, one which unfortunately we seem to be traversing with much more frequency.

I think there is a fair distinction to be made between domestic and foreign policy issues. Particularly in a case where we already have a bill that gives the government the ability to impose Magnitsky sanctions as part of a suite of measures, we should be doubly careful about giving them direction.

The Hon. the Speaker: Senator Housakos, you wish to ask a question?

Senator Housakos: Yes, Mr. Speaker.

The Hon. the Speaker: Senator Woo, would you take a question?

Senator Woo: Yes, of course.

Senator Housakos: Senator Woo, I very much appreciate your perspective, but I do have to highlight that in the Westminster model of Parliament, parliamentarians have the right to speak on behalf of their constituents and the people of Canada. I think you have gone to a painstaking degree to point out that we shouldn’t infringe on the territorial rights of the executive branch, but as we all know, in our system of government, the executive has more than enough tools in order to take unilateral action against egregious behaviour of human rights violators. Also, Parliament has the right to express itself and manifest itself on behalf of Canadians.

The question for you, Senator Woo is: If the Magnitsky Act shouldn’t be implemented right now against the Philippine officials, would you agree it should be implemented against the Chinese regime when it comes to the trampling of the democracy movement in Hong Kong, and their egregious behaviour in interning Muslim minorities right now in concentration camps in China? Would you agree that in these two instances the Magnitsky Act should be called upon by Parliament for implementation by our government?

Senator Woo: On your first question about whether or not parliamentarians have the right to express themselves, the answer is bien sûr, you do have the right to express yourself. That’s why we have a motion like this one on our Order Paper. That’s why we have three or four other motions calling for Magnitsky sanctions.

What I’m calling for is judicious judgment. I’m calling for discretion. I’m calling for curbing one’s enthusiasm in the context of the bigger picture of foreign policy and in the context of the Magnitsky Act that already exists, which gives the government that very power.

Senator Housakos, I’m not curbing anyone’s rights. If anyone wants to continue to put forward Magnitsky sanctions motions, that is entirely within their rights. You can, of course, also express yourself through statements and inquiries. This is all within your purview. However, I’m expressing my view that this is an inappropriate use of that tool precisely because of the bill we created here and passed into law.

On your other questions, if you wait a few minutes after the vote or adjournment, I will be happy to answer them in a longer speech.

Senator Housakos: Senator Woo, my question to you is simple. You seem to want us to curb our enthusiasm for defending human rights. At which point do you think you should encourage some enthusiasm in pursuit of defending human rights in the Philippines, China, Hong Kong, Iran and so many other places around the world?

Senator Woo: Honourable senators, I was very clear that this intervention of mine has nothing to do with the specific content of the motion. I mentioned that I’m against all Magnitsky motions because of the principle that they not only infringe on the Royal Prerogative for the executive, they are, in a way, redundant and self-contradictory because of the act that we actually passed leading up to these kinds of motions. There is no need to comment on any specific case, but as I say, if you give me the chance to move on to the next motion, I may be able to answer some of the other questions.

Hon. Pierre J. Dalphond: I would like to move the adjournment of the debate.

The Hon. the Speaker: Moved by Senator Dalphond, seconded by the Honourable Senator Duncan, that further debate be adjourned to the next sitting of the Senate. If you’re opposed to the motion, please say no.

Senator Plett: No.

The Hon. the Speaker: Those in favour of the motion who are in the Senate Chamber will please say yea.

Some Hon. Senators: Yea.

The Hon. the Speaker: Those opposed to the motion will please say nay.

Some Hon. Senators: Nay.

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

And two honourable senators having risen:

The Hon. the Speaker: I see two senators rising. Do we have an agreement on a bell?

Senator Plett: Now.

Senator LaBoucane-Benson: We’re okay with the vote right now.

The Hon. the Speaker: Is there leave from the senators in the chamber for the agreed length of bell; in other words, for the vote to take place now?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.


Motion agreed to on the following division:

The Honourable Senators

Bellemare Gold
Bernard Griffin
Black (Ontario) Harder
Boniface Klyne
Bovey Kutcher
Busson LaBoucane-Benson
Cordy Loffreda
Cormier Massicotte
Cotter Mégie
Coyle Mercer
Dagenais Moncion
Dalphond Petitclerc
Deacon (Nova Scotia) Ravalia
Dean Ringuette
Duncan Saint-Germain
Dupuis Wetston
Forest White
Francis Woo—37

The Honourable Senators

Batters Miville-Dechêne
Boisvenu Mockler
Carignan Omidvar
Downe Pate
Forest-Niesing Patterson
Frum Plett
Housakos Seidman
MacDonald Simons
Manning Smith
Martin Stewart Olsen
McPhedran Tannas—22

The Honourable Senators

Dawson McCallum—3


Hon. Donald Neil Plett (Leader of the Opposition): Again, not that it makes any difference to the vote, but I’m simply going to say this as a point of order.

I saw Senator Dawson with his photograph on the screen and not him. I don’t think that is the way we’re supposed to be conducting ourselves when we’re on Zoom calls. I think we are supposed to be visible and we’re supposed to be holding up our cards.

I guess the right thing would be not to register his vote, even though it makes absolutely no difference to the outcome of the vote. That is not the way we’re supposed to conduct ourselves.

Hon. Dennis Dawson: I agree with Senator Plett. That is why I abstained. I was having technical difficulties, so I decided to abstain.


It wasn’t because I wanted to vote without permission. My camera wasn’t on, so I abstained.


The Hon. the Speaker: I think in this case, Senator Plett, Senator Dawson just explained that he had a technical difficulty with his camera. We could hear his voice and subsequently we saw his face, so I think his vote will count in these circumstances.

Motion Concerning Genocide of Uyghurs and Other Turkic Muslims by the People’s Republic of China—Debate Continued

On the Order:

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


(a)in the opinion of the Senate, the People’s Republic of China has engaged in actions consistent with the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 260, commonly known as the “Genocide Convention”, including detention camps and measures intended to prevent births as it pertains to Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims; and

(b)given that (i) where possible, it has been the policy of the Government of Canada to act in concert with its allies when it comes to the recognition of a genocide, (ii) there is a bipartisan consensus in the United States where it has been the position of two consecutive administrations that Uyghur and other Turkic Muslims are being subjected to a genocide by the Government of the People’s Republic of China, the Senate, therefore, recognize that a genocide is currently being carried out by the People’s Republic of China against Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims, call upon the International Olympic Committee to move the 2022 Olympic Games if the Chinese government continues this genocide and call on the government to officially adopt this position; and

That a message be sent to the House of Commons to acquaint that house with the above.

Hon. Yuen Pau Woo: I hate to be a tease, but with only seven minutes left, I would like to take the adjournment for the balance of my time.

The Hon. the Speaker: It is moved by the Honourable Senator Woo, seconded by the Honourable Senator Saint-Germain, that further debate be adjourned to the next sitting of the Senate. If you’re opposed to the motion, please say no.

Senator Plett: No.

The Hon. the Speaker: All those in favour of the motion will please say “yea.”

Some Hon. Senators: Yea.

The Hon. the Speaker: All those opposed will please say “nay.”

Some Hon. Senators: Nay.

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

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


Motion Concerning the Closure of Programs at Laurentian University—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Forest-Niesing, seconded by the Honourable Senator Woo:

That the Senate: its concern about the closure at Laurentian University in Sudbury, of 58 undergraduate programs and 11 graduate programs, including 28 French-language programs, representing 58% of its French-language programs, and the dismissal of 110 professors, nearly half of whom are French speaking;

2.reiterate its solidarity with the Franco-Ontarian community;

3.recall the essential role of higher education in French for the vitality of the Franco-Canadian and Acadian communities and the responsibility to defend and promote linguistic rights, as expressed in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Official Languages Act; and

4.urge the government of Canada to take all necessary steps, in accordance with its jurisdiction, to ensure the vitality and development of official language minority communities.

Hon. Jean-Guy Dagenais: Honourable senators, I have six minutes left, so I would like to take the adjournment for the balance of my time, as I did last time.

(On motion of Senator Dagenais, debate adjourned.)


Motion Pertaining to Minimums for Government Bills—Debate Adjourned

Hon. Scott Tannas, pursuant to notice of October 1, 2020, moved:

That, notwithstanding any provision of the Rules, previous order or usual practice:

1.except as provided in this order, the question not be put on the motion for third reading of a government bill unless the orders for resuming debate at second and third reading have, together, been called at least three times, in addition to the sittings at which the motions for second and third readings were moved;

2.when a government bill has been read a first time, and before a motion is moved to set the date for second reading, the Leader of the Government in the Senate or the Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate may, without notice, move that the bill be deemed an urgent matter, and that the provisions of paragraph 1 of this order not apply to proceedings on the bill;

3.when a motion has been moved pursuant to paragraph 2 of this order, the following provisions apply:

(a)the debate shall only deal with whether the bill should be deemed an urgent matter or not;

(b)the debate shall not be adjourned;

(c)the debate shall last a maximum of 20 minutes;

(d)no senator shall speak for more than 5 minutes;

(e)no senators shall speak more than once;

(f)the debate shall not be interrupted for any purpose, except for the reading of a message from the Crown or an event announced in such a message;

(g)the debate may continue beyond the ordinary time of adjournment, if necessary, until the conclusion of the debate and consequential business;

(h)the time taken in debate and for any vote shall not count as part of Routine Proceedings;

(i)no amendment or other motion shall be received, except a motion that a certain senator be now heard or do now speak;

(j)when debate concludes or the time for debate expires, the Speaker shall put the question; and

(k)any standing vote requested shall not be deferred, and the bells shall ring for only 15 minutes.

He said: I move the motion standing in my name.

(On motion of Senator Tannas, debate adjourned.)


Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources

Notice of Motion to Authorize Committee to Study Emerging Issues Related to its Mandate Withdrawn

On Motion No. 81 by the Honourable Paul J. Massicotte:

That the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources be authorized to examine and report on emerging issues related to its mandate:

(a) The current state and future direction of production, distribution, consumption, trade, security and sustainability of Canada’s energy resources;

(b) Environmental challenges facing Canada including responses to global climate change, air pollution, biodiversity and ecological integrity;

(c) Sustainable development and management of renewable and non-renewable natural resources including but not limited to water, minerals, soils, flora and fauna; and

(d) Canada’s international treaty obligations affecting energy, the environment and natural resources and their influence on Canada’s economic and social development; and

That the committee submit its final report no later than December 30, 2022, and that the committee retain all powers necessary to publicize its findings until 180 days after the tabling of the final report.

Hon. Paul J. Massicotte: Honourable senators, pursuant to rule 5-10(2), I ask that Notice of Motion No. 81 be now withdrawn.

The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted, honourable senators?

Hon Senators: Agreed.

(Notice of motion withdrawn.)


The Senate

Motion to Designate August 1 of Every Year as “Emancipation Day”—Debate

Hon. Wanda Elaine Thomas Bernard, pursuant to notice of March 30, 2021, moved:

That the Senate recognize:

(a)that the British Parliament abolished slavery in the British Empire as of August 1, 1834;

(b)that slavery existed in British North America prior to its abolition in 1834;

(c)that abolitionists and others who struggled against slavery, including those who arrived in Upper and Lower Canada by the Underground Railroad, have historically celebrated August 1 as Emancipation Day;

(d)that the Government of Canada announced on January 30, 2018, that it would officially recognize the United Nations International Decade for People of African Descent to highlight the important contributions that people of African descent have made to Canadian society, and to provide a platform for confronting anti-Black racism; and

(e)the heritage of Canada’s people of African descent and the contributions they have made and continue to make to Canada; and

That, in the opinion of the Senate, the government should designate August 1 of every year as “Emancipation Day” in Canada.

She said: In the interest of time, Your Honour, I will not debate the motion. I rise simply to say, with regard to Motion No. 83, recognizing emancipation day, that fully recognizing emancipation day is part of systemic change. Honourable colleagues, let us choose to be change leaders by formally recognizing the historical context of slavery in Canada. Let us show Canadians that Black history matters. I call for the movement of this motion.


The Hon. the Speaker: I’m sorry, Senator Bernard, but we do not have time to move the motion now. It now being 9 p.m., we must adjourn, so it will be left on the Order Paper. When we return to this matter, you will be given the balance of your time to move it.

Senator Bernard: Thank you.

(At 9 p.m., pursuant to the orders adopted by the Senate on October 27, 2020 and December 17, 2020, the Senate adjourned until 2 p.m., tomorrow.)

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