Previous Sittings
Previous Sittings

Debates of the Senate (Hansard)

1st Session, 44th Parliament
Volume 153, Issue 63

Tuesday, September 27, 2022
The Honourable George J. Furey, Speaker


THE SENATE

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

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

Prayers.

SENATORS’ STATEMENTS

Hurricane Fiona

Hon. David M. Wells: Honourable senators, this past weekend, Atlantic Canadians’ lives were immeasurably impacted by Hurricane Fiona. The massive storm left a path of devastation, washing away homes and livelihoods. At the peak of the storm, nearly 500,000 Atlantic Canadians were left without power. In its wake, over 280,000 are still without power as the Canadian Armed Forces, emergency crews, utility workers, first responders and citizen volunteers work to clear debris and rebuild.

The images from Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec’s North Shore and my province of Newfoundland and Labrador are a sombre reminder that things can quickly change and strong storms can have a devastating impact. This drives home the critical importance of the global consensus on the effects of climate change.

Not only have many Atlantic Canadians lost their homes — more than 100 homes were destroyed in southwest Newfoundland — at least three people lost their lives: an individual from Prince Edward Island, a 73-year-old woman from Port aux Basques and an 81-year-old gentleman from Lower Prospect, Nova Scotia. I am certain that all our colleagues and I give our deepest condolences to the families and friends who have tragically lost their loved ones.

I have reached out to Mayor Button of Channel-Port aux Basques, as well as other MHAs and local officials, and I will be in the region later this week. Crews are making progress restoring power and rebuilding. This will be a long, ongoing Canadian effort.

Although Hurricane Fiona is the most recent, Atlantic Canada has had a long history of storms. In 1954, Hurricane Hazel killed 81 Atlantic Canadians. In 1968, Hurricane Ginny had the highest sustained winds on record. In recent years, many of us remember Hurricane Igor, which devastated parts of Newfoundland in 2010. Hurricanes Juan and Dorian also had immense impacts on the rest of Eastern Canada.

Atlantic Canadians have proven resilient time and time again and, colleagues, this time will be no different.

Visitor in the Gallery

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I wish to draw your attention to the presence in the gallery of Chloé Tremblay‑Venneri, a childhood cancer survivor. She is the guest of the Honourable Senator Smith.

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

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Hon. Larry W. Smith: Honourable senators, I rise today to bring your attention to childhood cancer. The International Association of Pediatric Oncology has designated September as Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. This is an international initiative to raise support, funding and awareness of childhood cancers and the impact for sufferers and families. Let us have a thought for the children afflicted, recovering and who have sadly passed away from this horrific disease.

[Translation]

Dear colleagues, I am honoured to welcome Chloé here today. She is a fighter. She was diagnosed with cancer and beat it not once, but twice, and fought through all of the ups and downs throughout her illness.

[English]

Chloé is a warrior. She represents the courage, dignity and resilience of so many other children. She represents the dedication of thousands of scientists and doctors who work every day to advance treatments to improve the outcomes for the many children afflicted with cancer.

Colleagues, scientific research provides children with cancer a second chance at life and provides hope to families like Chloé’s. As parliamentarians, I would encourage us all to use our voices to continue to support the important work of scientific advancement. Thank you.

Good luck, Chloé.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.

Visitor in the Gallery

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I wish to draw your attention to the presence in the gallery of Jennifer May, Ambassador-Designate to the People’s Republic of China. She is the guest of the Honourable Senator Boehm.

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

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Hon. Brian Francis: Honourable senators, September 30 is National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, also known as Orange Shirt Day. This is not a time for celebration but rather a solemn occasion to remember, honour and mourn the lives lost and forever changed by residential schools and other forms of state violence that harmed and continue to harm Indigenous people.

The day also serves as an opportunity to meaningfully listen, learn and support survivors, as well as our families and communities.

It is not enough to wear an orange shirt. Canadians must gain a deeper understanding of our shared history and how they can contribute to a better future.

Yesterday, in advance of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, the Committee on Indigenous Peoples heard from five remarkable Indigenous youth: Dr. Meghan Beals, Gabrielle Fayant, Taylor Behn-Tsakoza, Jama Maxie and Tyrone Sock. If you were unable to participate in this meeting, I strongly encourage you to watch the recording later this week.

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The testimony we heard was profoundly moving and inspiring. If we want to make progress towards truth and reconciliation, Indigenous youth must remain at the forefront. As the fastest growing population in Canada, it is our responsibility and obligation to help them not just survive, but be healthy, safe and thriving. We have a lot of work to make this vision a reality and no more time to waste.

Honourable colleagues, before I conclude I want to take a moment to ask that you keep Epekwitnewaq, Islanders as well as the rest of Atlantic Canada and eastern Quebec in your thoughts and prayers. The devastation in the region due to Hurricane Fiona is simply indescribable. It will take weeks, if not months, to get back to a sense of normalcy. Wela’lin, thank you.

The Late Constable Andrew Hong

Hon. Gwen Boniface: Honourable senators, I rise today to commemorate the life of Constable Andrew Hong who was tragically killed in the line of duty on September 12. Constable Hong was 48 years old and a 22-year veteran of the Toronto Police Service. He was the victim of a senseless and targeted attack. Andrew had been taking a lunch break after spending the morning instructing a motorcycle operations course — a job that he loved and excelled at. He leaves behind a devastated family: his wife, Jenny, and his children, Mia and Alex.

Constable Hong’s fellow officers in the Motor Squad described him as a beloved colleague who was passionate about his work. Friends say Hong lived life to the fullest and loved helping others. Many have remarked that his towering physical stature did not match his gentle, kind and fun-loving nature.

The funeral service for Constable Hong was held last Wednesday and was attended by thousands of police officers from 89 police services across North America. Andrew’s widow, Jenny, and daughter, Mia, spoke about his love for his job, the Toronto Police Service and how devoted he was to their family.

This past Sunday, I attended the Canadian Police and Peace Officers’ National Memorial Day held on Parliament Hill. The memorial day provides an opportunity for Canadians to express their appreciation for the dedication of our peace and police officers who have paid the ultimate price for their service. This year, the names of six fallen officers were added to the Wall of Remembrance. We honour their service; their loss will not be forgotten.

Honourable senators, please join me in sending deepest condolences to Constable Hong’s family. I also invite you to reflect on the officers who have selflessly served our country, the loved ones who they have left behind and those who continue to serve and protect us.

Thank you, meegwetch.

The Late Edward Alvin Odishaw

Hon. Yonah Martin (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, I rise today to pay tribute to a distinguished Canadian, the late Ed Odishaw who passed away on June 3, 2022.

Ed Odishaw grew up in North Battleford, Saskatchewan, and attended the University of Saskatchewan. He studied law and became an accomplished lawyer, working in firms in Regina and later in Vancouver, B.C. He had a passion for law and helping others which allowed him to impact so many lives.

From a young age, Ed was interested in politics and learning about our parliamentary system. He was a dedicated and loyal member of the Conservative Party of Canada and a tireless volunteer, serving on his local electoral district association and active on many campaigns. He was proud to be Canadian and proud to be a Conservative.

He also served on the board of directors for the Canada Chinese Business Council, the Canada-Japan Society of British Columbia and the Sunny Hill Health Centre for children. Additionally, he was a member of the Vancouver Board of Trade, The Vancouver Club, The Sir John A. Macdonald Historical Society, the Law Society of British Columbia and the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club. Each of these groups represented a piece of him, his love for helping others, his hobbies, community and values. He was passionate, committed, loyal and genuine, and was a mentor, confidant and adviser to many.

Above all, he was a loving husband to his devoted wife of 40 years and life partner, Theresa. Together, they are doubly formidable and truly respected.

If— by Rudyard Kipling is a poem that encapsulates Ed Odishaw’s indomitable spirit perfectly. In fact, Theresa told me that he carried a laminated copy of it with him wherever he went. He had it in his pocket just in case someone needed a little help, motivation or reminder of life’s blessings.

It reads:

If you can keep your head when all about you

Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,

But make allowance for their doubting too;

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,

Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,

Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,

And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise . . .

If you can fill the unforgiving minute

With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,

Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,

And — which is more — you’ll be a Man, my son!

I would like to offer my deepest condolences to his wife, Theresa, and the entire Odishaw family. Although Ed is no longer with us, his legacy lives on in all those who were blessed to know him. He will be remembered as a kind man who lived his life with integrity, dignity and compassion.

Honourable senators, please join me in remembering and celebrating the life of the late Ed Odishaw. May he rest in peace.

The Late Benjamin Bruce Stelter

Hon. Paula Simons: Honourable senators, last April, when the Edmonton Oilers were on their first real Stanley Cup run in eons, Edmonton journalist Courtney Theriault tweeted out a photo of a small boy standing on the ice of Rogers Place holding hands with a big, tall hockey player. The tweet read:

One is the most dominant force in Edmonton #Oilers history.

The other is Connor McDavid.

For a few magical months, the little boy in the photo, Ben Stelter, really was the most dominant force in Oilers history and in the hearts of Edmontonians. Ben had been diagnosed with a brain tumour called a glioblastoma shortly before his fifth birthday. When Edmonton philanthropist Ashif Mawji learned about Ben and how much he loved Connor McDavid, he arranged for the two to meet. Ben Stelter’s parents say there was an instant, special bond between the Oilers’ captain and his young fan. The whole team began inviting Ben to come to the games as their guest, and that was when the magic started. When Ben Stelter was in the house, it seemed the Oilers could not lose. Indeed, they won 10 home games in a row with Ben in attendance.

For a city desperate for a return to hockey glory, Ben’s story and his capacity to inspire the team were irresistible. We all fell in love with the giggling kid who gave a gleeful press conference alongside Oilers star Zach Hyman. How could your heart not melt at the sight of the determined joyous boy who called out, “Play ‘La Bamba,’ baby!” every time his team won. Through March, April and May, he was there to cheer as the Oilers first defeated Los Angeles then Calgary.

It wasn’t easy for the Stelters to bring him to so many games, with COVID an ever-present risk. But knowing how short his son’s life would inevitably be, his dad, Mike, told me they didn’t want him to miss out on any possible experience.

“It was a beautiful distraction for us,” his mom, Lea, told me. “It was worth it. The whole city was so sweet and so kind and so generous. It helped lift us up, on the hard days.”

And there were hard days — too many hard days. Last month, Ben Stelter died. He was 6 years old. He leaves to mourn his dad, Mike; his mom, Lea; his sisters, Dylan and Emmy; and the entire city of Edmonton. The Stelter family now hopes to establish a foundation in his name to research glioblastoma and other pediatric cancers. I already know his memory will forever be a blessing in Edmonton and whenever they play “La Bamba,” baby.


ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

Study on Issues Relating to Human Rights Generally

Fourth Report of Human Rights Committee Deposited with Clerk During Adjournment of the Senate

Hon. Salma Ataullahjan: Honourable senators, I have the honour to inform the Senate that pursuant to the orders adopted by the Senate on March 3, 2022, and June 2, 2022, the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights deposited with the Clerk of the Senate on July 14, 2022, its fourth report (Interim) entitled The Scars that We Carry: Forced and Coerced Sterilization of Persons in Canada — Part II and I move that the report be placed on the Orders of the Day for consideration at the next sitting of the Senate.

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


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QUESTION PERIOD

Crown-Indigenous Relations

Indigenous Consultation

Hon. Donald Neil Plett (Leader of the Opposition): Government leader, last week during Question Period with Minister Miller, my colleague Senator Housakos and I asked a simple question, not once, not twice, but three times, and yet the minister helplessly tried to finesse his way out of answering the question. I do not believe he fooled anyone present with his bizarre attempt to portray that he didn’t understand the question posed to him three times.

On June 21, 2021, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act received Royal Assent, leader. That law was put forward by the Trudeau government as an important commitment. When it was debated in the chamber, many here will remember that I raised concerns about the legislation. Nevertheless, UNDRIP became law. It incorporates a constitutional duty to consult Indigenous people when considering measures that might potentially adversely impact established Aboriginal or treaty rights.

Senator Gold, did your government consult the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network before introducing Bill C-11?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you for the question. If I recall, I think the minister did undertake to provide information to the chamber in response to that question. I do not subscribe to your characterization of his understanding of it.

I will simply follow up and provide that information when it becomes available.

Senator Plett: If you check the record, I think the minister said that information may be available. He didn’t promise to make it available. I’m asking that it be made available.

Those unserious answers and empty promises are putting into question the authenticity and genuineness of the Trudeau government. It’s no wonder that Canadians are losing hope.

Senator Gold, will you commit to providing a detailed list of Indigenous organizations that your government consulted with before Bill C-11 was tabled? May I remind you, Senator Gold, that this is a bill that you want passed? We need answers. The Indigenous communities have not been consulted. If they have been, before this bill becomes law and before we are asked to vote on it, will you provide us with a list of the Indigenous organizations that were consulted as per UNDRIP?

Senator Gold: Again, without agreeing with your characterization of what UNDRIP does and does not require, I will undertake to make those inquiries and report back to the house.

Public Safety

Support for Victims of Hurricane Fiona

Hon. David M. Wells: Honourable senators, my question is for Senator Gold, the Government Representative in the Senate.

Over the weekend, the Atlantic provinces were hit by Hurricane Fiona. You heard my statement. Many homes have been washed away in Port aux Basques in Newfoundland and Labrador, and, after the storm battled through, the infrastructure in other outport towns has been devastated. Port aux Basques and other towns in the area are still under state of emergency orders.

With the storm now passed, what is the government doing to assist the rebuilding of both federal infrastructure and personal property? Senator Gold, I’m speaking specifically about farmers who have lost much of their crop and fish harvesters who have lost not just some of their gear but a lot of the infrastructure they rely upon to land their catch.

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you for your question. First and foremost, colleagues, our thoughts are with the people of Atlantic Canada and eastern Quebec who are still struggling with the devastating aftermath of the storm, including, of course, the families who have lost loved ones, homes and businesses.

The government has been clear from the beginning that it is present to provide all the help that is required. The Prime Minister is currently on-site, as we know.

I am advised that, following requests from provincial governments, the Canadian Armed Forces are there and have been deployed in Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and P.E.I. to assist. The government, as you know, is matching donations to the Canadian Red Cross and is in regular contact with its counterparts to make sure that all the help that is required will be provided.

Senator Wells: Thank you for that, Senator Gold. I have a follow-up question.

I know you don’t know what next year’s budget will be, but would you please endeavour to request that the departments with typical infrastructure-funding programs — like the Department of Fisheries and Oceans has small-craft harbours, and Transport Canada and others have other infrastructure budgets — ensure that the infrastructure is not just rebuilt but rebuilt better for the livelihoods of the people who depend upon it?

Senator Gold: I certainly will. This is going to be a priority for the country as a whole as we face what appears to be, clearly, the consequences of changing weather patterns and climate change. Our infrastructure has to become more resilient.

I will certainly make those inquiries with regard to your specific question.

Environment and Climate Change

National Adaptation Strategy

Hon. Mary Coyle: Honourable senators, my question is for the Government Representative in the Senate.

Senator Gold, over these past few months we have seen many catastrophic, climate-related extreme weather events in Canada and abroad: our recent devastating experience with Hurricane Fiona in my home region of Atlantic Canada; the heat waves across Europe, Asia and Africa; the highly destructive flooding in Pakistan — all while Canadians await the release of our national climate adaptation strategy this fall.

Climate Proof Canada, a coalition led by the Insurance Bureau of Canada and includes members such as the Canadian Red Cross, the Business Council of Canada and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, has called upon the government to ensure that the national adaptation strategy provides an immediate, five-year implementation plan for safeguarding homes and other buildings protecting vulnerable communities and strengthening public infrastructure. The coalition is concerned that the government may be getting bogged down in long-term aspirations rather than dealing with the immediate threats of flooding, wildfires, high winds and extreme heat.

Senator Gold, could you tell us if the anticipated national adaptation plan will heed these concerns about Canada’s immediate climate adaptation need?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Senator, the government takes this issue very seriously. It has spent over $27 billion on adaptation programs already. I’m advised that the government will be releasing Canada’s first-ever national adaptation strategy very soon. I am further assured that the strategy is going to consider building what we might call 21st-century homes and infrastructure, and to use climate data in its analysis for everyday businesses. That will help us build a more resilient and climate-ready Canada.

Senator Coyle: Senator Gold, this month the Federation of Canadian Municipalities also released its own recommendations for that national adaptation strategy. They have called for a scaling-up investment in resilient public infrastructure and a focus on nature-based solutions to climate change. They suggested investing in mechanisms such as the Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund, the National Infrastructure Fund and the Green Municipal Fund.

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Senator Gold, could you tell us if the government is considering these recommendations and, if so, how will the government be incorporating these into the national adaptation strategy?

Senator Gold: Thank you for the question. My understanding, senator, is that the government is considering these general themes, and that these are informing the development of the national adaptation strategy. The government looks forward to announcing its strategy in due course.

[Translation]

Employment and Social Development

Employment Insurance—Seasonal Workers

Hon. Éric Forest: My question is for the Government Representative in the Senate. First, I want to thank my colleague, Senator Amina Gerba, for her generosity in allowing us to meaningfully commemorate the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

Over the weekend, the temporary EI measures implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic came to an end. For seasonal workers in the lower St. Lawrence and north shore regions, this change means that they will have to work 700 hours instead of 400 hours to qualify for the same 14 weeks of benefits. What this really means is that some families will soon be without income for several weeks, in what’s referred to as the black hole, the period between the time EI benefits run out and the active season starts again in sectors such as tourism and fisheries. We’ve known for decades that the EI system does not reflect the needs of seasonal workers. The government acknowledged this fact when it announced it would reform the system, but it has yet to take action.

Why doesn’t the government extend the temporary EI measures for workers in the lower St. Lawrence and north shore regions until the system is reformed?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you for the question. The government understands full well that EI benefits must be fairer and better reflect the needs of the Canadian labour force, which is constantly changing. For that reason, it has made a commitment to overhaul Canada’s EI system. Although the temporary support measures implemented under the COVID-19 pandemic assistance program are drawing to a close, workers can continue to receive regular EI benefits, as was the case during the pandemic. The government is looking forward to launching its long-term plan to improve Canada’s EI system.

Senator Forest: Despite the low unemployment rate and the labour shortage in some sectors, the fact remains that certain regions and industries are known for the seasonal nature of their activities. For example, according to Action-Chômage Côte-Nord, 50% of jobs available on the upper and lower north shores are seasonal because of the nature of local economic activity. Does the government understand that by returning to the old EI rules, some seasonal workers, many of whom are mothers and fathers with children, will have no income for two months? What is it going to do to save these families from the EI black hole?

Senator Gold: Thank you for the question, and thank you for noting how important this program is for the well-being of workers and their families. The government is aware of the issue. As I just said, it is working on modernizing the EI system to ensure that it is not only available to those who need it, but equitable for all sectors of our economy.

[English]

Canadian Heritage

Repatriation of Indigenous Artifacts

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

Senator Gold, approaching the September 30 National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, Canadians are increasingly aware of the many actions needed to reach a state of reconciliation. Today I ask about the funding and policies to assist in repatriation of Indigenous artifacts and spiritual pieces from Canada and other nations to their home Indigenous communities.

Some museums have done this for several years. Some have transparent policies, and others have removed their policies from their websites. Years ago, the federal government provided funding to Alert Bay’s U’mista Cultural Centre and repatriated many magnificent large coppers that had been taken by the federal government during potlatches. That centre opened in 1980 and is amazing.

What programs does the Department of Canadian Heritage and/or the various Indigenous portfolios currently have to assist in ensuring policies and funding for temperature-controlled and secure facilities for repatriating Indigenous cultural treasures?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you, senator, for your question and for your continued advocacy on this important issue. I’m advised that programs within the department that can financially support the repatriation of Indigenous cultural property include the Movable Cultural Property Grants program and the Museums Assistance Program.

For example, in 2019, a Movable Cultural Property Grant was awarded to the Royal Ontario Museum to assist with the purchase of a Bond Head pipe, circa 1836, and related objects and documents on behalf of the Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory.

I also understand that the Museums Assistance Program provided funding for a national review of museum policies and practices, which was one of the Calls to Action resulting from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report.

A national repatriation framework for Indigenous cultural property and ancestral remains has the potential, in the government’s opinion, to advance reconciliation and build a new relationship with Indigenous peoples while contributing to the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, or UNDRIP.

Senator Bovey: Thank you, Senator Gold. I really appreciate that response. We all know that Senator Sinclair often said, in words I have quoted many times, that art validates culture.

Does the government support this view, and will these actions taken thus far be increased in order to bring culture to this core aspect of reconciliation?

Senator Gold: Thank you again for the question. The government understands that we all have a responsibility in this journey toward reconciliation, and that includes repatriation by Indigenous peoples of their culture, history, languages and artifacts. These artifacts belong in Indigenous communities. The government fully supports Indigenous partners in this process. For example, I understand that Beothuk remains were successfully returned to Newfoundland after 191 years in Scotland.

There is still work to be done and progress to be made. The government is determined to be on that track with its Indigenous citizens.

Privy Council Office

Federal Public Service Jobs

Hon. Scott Tannas: Honourable senators, my question is for Senator Gold.

In August, the Clerk of the Privy Council released the Twenty‑Ninth Annual Report to the Prime Minister on the Public Service of Canada. The report includes updated demographics of the federal public service, including gender and race statistics, as well as a breakdown of the number of public servants in each province. Notably, 42.2% of public servants live in the National Capital Region. This percentage is relatively unchanged over the last number of years.

My question for you, Senator Gold, is this: With the rise of more remote working — and we have heard that the government is working on a strategy for more remote working — does the government intend to have more public service jobs outside the National Capital Region?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you for the question. I’ll have to make inquiries as to what the implications are of the government’s approach to the public service and whether there are plans along those lines. I’ll certainly make inquiries and report back.

Senator Tannas: Is the government satisfied with having 42.2% of its workforce located here in Ottawa?

Senator Gold: I’m not in a position to answer that, but I’ll make inquiries.

Public Safety

Response of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Hon. Denise Batters: Senator Gold, last week many of us stood in this place to pay tribute to the victims of the horrible murders in James Smith Cree Nation and Weldon in my home province of Saskatchewan. However, the victims of this terrible attack deserve action, not just words.

Last weekend, Global News produced a lengthy and alarming article in which we learned that Skye Sanderson, the wife of one of the perpetrators, called 911 to report her husband, Damien, and his brother Myles 24 hours before the murders began. According to the article, Skye believed “the only way to stop them from doing something ’stupid’ was to get them both locked up.”

The article further reads:

. . . her pleas fell on deaf ears. RCMP members arrived and returned her car to her but didn’t do enough to locate Damien and Myles — despite the pair’s outstanding arrest warrants.

Twenty-four hours later . . . 10 people were dead, 18 people were injured, and the Sanderson brothers were prime suspects in one of the worst mass killings in Canada’s history.

The RCMP refuses to answer questions about this shocking new information. Senator Gold, will the Trudeau government demand that the RCMP provide the answers that these victims, their families, the people of Saskatchewan and the whole country deserve?

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Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): I’ll have to make inquiries in response to your question, but I would say, senator, first of all, that one can never express their condolences and sympathy too often to the families and communities who are still grieving. I know that’s shared by everyone here.

Policing in Indigenous communities is critical. It can mean the difference between prevention and tragedy, and that’s why the government is co-developing legislation to recognize First Nations and Indigenous policing as an essential service.

The government is scaling up its efforts. It is providing over $181 million for Indigenous policing services in 426 Indigenous communities across Canada. This is all part of its effort. Nothing can take away the loss of life or the tragedy that occurred. One hopes that this is a step in the right direction.

Senator Batters: Senator Gold, there is no way that these victims should have to wait for months, and potentially years, for answers to these questions. Myles and Damien Sanderson are dead, and they won’t be judged in a public criminal trial. Some questions about this case will require a more detailed response and process, but there are other questions that need to be answered now. The entire province of Saskatchewan was terrorized for days by these killings. The public needs reassurance and peace, and the RCMP has a responsibility to give Canadians confidence in their own safety.

When will we get these critical answers, and what immediate steps is the Minister of Public Safety taking with the RCMP to ensure that this never happens again?

Senator Gold: I will make inquiries with the minister and the department, and I will report back with answers when I receive them.

Finance

Canada’s Inflation Rate

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

Senator Gold, as Canadians are looking at yet another hike in interest rates between now and the end of October, in an attempt to get skyrocketing “JustinFlation” under some sort of control, your government continues to defend the Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem, despite his abysmal performance.

I’m sure you are going to give me the talking points about how we need to respect our institutions and the independence of the Bank of Canada. But considering that we have a Prime Minister who has acknowledged that he doesn’t spend his time thinking about monetary policy, and we have a Minister of Finance who — in this chamber less than a year ago — said, in response to my question, that inflation isn’t a real concern, and considering that the Bank of Canada also recently weighed in on social media in support for the partisan agenda of this current Trudeau government, don’t you think, government leader, that if you don’t fire the Governor of the Bank of Canada, at the bare minimum you should ask for his resignation?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): I’m not going to give you talking points, honourable senator. It’s an important question about how any government and, indeed, this institution relates to its independent institutions. It is hard not to resist the observation that all of the premises buried in your question sounded very much like talking points that we have heard in the other place.

The fact remains that for more than three decades, the Bank of Canada has pursued an independent monetary policy, and that’s the appropriate way in which this should be handled in a democratic society. It is also the case, as every credible economist and every credible observer knows, that the inflation that we are suffering in Canada — and we are suffering, people are suffering, there is no question about that — is not created simply by Justin Trudeau and this government. It is a complicated function of worldwide phenomena.

If we are to be a serious chamber of sober second thought, as opposed to simply a place for snappy — the alliteration now escapes me. If we are going to be serious, as we are supposed to be serious, then I will continue to answer factually, as I am endeavouring to do in this case.

Senator Housakos: Senator Gold, how far is your government willing to go to continue to allow “JustinFlation” and soaring interest rates to skyrocket? Government leader, these are not talking points. Your talking points might be talking points, but I’m talking on behalf of Canadians who are actually out there dealing with egg prices, milk prices, grocery store prices and trying to feed their families.

At the end of the day, the question I have for you is a very simple one: When are we going to take our responsibility very seriously and hold somebody in this Parliament to account for this dismal performance? If it is not the Governor of the Bank of Canada, maybe it’s the Prime Minister, or maybe it’s the Minister of Finance. Whom do you hold responsible for this mess?

Senator Gold: Thank you for your question. In law, we had an expression called res ipsa loquitur. That is probably the best answer that I could give to your question.

This government is very engaged in helping Canadians get through this very difficult time. It is taking real, tangible and concrete steps grounded in real-world people’s needs and in real-world approaches to issues that in many cases transcend our borders.

We have enhanced the Canada workers benefit at a cost of $1.7 billion in new support for workers this year. It puts up to $2,400 into the pockets of low-income families. That’s real help for Canadians, and that’s the government acting responsibly.

There was a 10% increase in Old Age Security for seniors over 75; a $500 payment this year for nearly 1 million Canadian households that are struggling with the cost of housing; child care costs cut by 50%; dental care for Canadians who are earning less than $90,000; the indexation of benefits for the Canada Child Benefit, GST credit, Canada Pension Plan, Old Age Security and the Guaranteed Income Supplement; and the federal minimum wage increased to $15 an hour.

These are concrete examples of this government acting responsibly — not looking for scapegoats for political purposes.

[Translation]

Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Illegal Production of Cannabis

Hon. Claude Carignan: My question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate.

Leader, on Monday, La Presse published an excellent investigative report on cannabis production. It quoted a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police as saying that, far from having declined since legalization, illegal cannabis production is in fact on the rise. The article also reported that in 2021, U.S. customs seized immense quantities of cannabis, more than 40,000 pounds. In 2018, they seized only 1,600 pounds.

You will surely recall an historic trip that Senator Batters, Senator Boisvenu and I took to the United States in April 2018, during which the U.S. Attorney General raised concerns about the legalization of cannabis and the increase in illegal cannabis production.

One of the methods criminals are using to grow or possess cannabis is to obtain a medical certificate. There are 12,000 medical certificates, but no inspections have been done. Large plants are being subdivided into smaller sites through the use of fake addresses by simply tacking on letters of the alphabet: 30a, 30b, 30c, 30d.

What is the government doing to ensure maximum control over the illegal production of cannabis by organized crime?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you for the question. I read the La Presse+ coverage with interest.

As you mentioned, the origin of the problem is the right that Canadians have been granted by our courts to access cannabis for medical purposes. The government has been informed of the situation and is seized with this matter. As for details regarding research conducted by police or other stakeholders, I am not in a position to answer you.

Senator Carignan: Leader, would you be able to tell us the number of Health Canada inspectors responsible for inspecting licences and facilities for certificates or production certificates in 2018, as well as the number today, in 2022?

Senator Gold: I will do my best to get that information and provide it to the chamber.

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Canada Border Services Agency

Hon. Donald Neil Plett (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, over the weekend a report from Global News indicated that an ArriveCAN-related issue caused power crews from Maine to be held up at the border on their way to help the people of Nova Scotia in the aftermath of Hurricane Fiona. It is said that the U.S. crews were concerned they would not be able to get across the border at all. Following these reports, a spokesperson for Minister of Public Safety, Marco Mendicino, denied that there had been any such issue at the border. However, the Nova Scotia premier’s office stood by the allegation that there was indeed an issue and a delay. This was also confirmed by Nova Scotia Power. Even so, later, in an evening press conference, the Minister of Emergency Preparedness, Bill Blair, dismissed any delay as being inconsequential.

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Honourable senators, tens of thousands of people in Atlantic Canada have been left without power and entire communities have suffered unimaginable devastation. There is nothing inconsequential about that. So, which one is it, leader? Can you confirm that there was an issue with ArriveCAN that caused the delay of crucial aid to the people of Nova Scotia? If so, do you agree with your colleague Minister Blair’s characterization of the delay as being inconsequential?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Honourable senators, I have made inquiries since becoming aware of that report. The CBSA has confirmed that all emergency crews were allowed to pass through the border to support in the effort. The reports that suggest otherwise, honourable colleague, are simply misinformed.

Answers to Order Paper Questions Tabled

National Defence—COVID-19 Research

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate) tabled the reply to Question No. 31, dated November 23, 2021, appearing on the Order Paper and Notice Paper in the name of the Honourable Senator Plett, regarding COVID-19 research — National Defence.

Innovation, Science and Economic Development—COVID-19 Research

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate) tabled the reply to Question No. 31, dated November 23, 2021, appearing on the Order Paper and Notice Paper in the name of the Honourable Senator Plett, regarding COVID-19 research — Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada.

Public Safety—COVID-19 Research

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate) tabled the reply to Question No. 31, dated November 23, 2021, appearing on the Order Paper and Notice Paper in the name of the Honourable Senator Plett, regarding COVID-19 research — Public Safety Canada.

Justice and Attorney General of Canada—Litigation

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate) tabled the reply to Question No. 64, dated November 23, 2021, appearing on the Order Paper and Notice Paper in the name of the Honourable Senator Plett, regarding litigation.

Justice and Attorney General of Canada—Court Cases Involving Veterans

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate) tabled the reply to Question No. 101, dated November 23, 2021, appearing on the Order Paper and Notice Paper in the name of the Honourable Senator Plett, regarding court cases involving veterans.

Public Safety—Canadian Offices and Embassies Abroad

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate) tabled the reply to Question No. 143, dated March 30, 2022, appearing on the Order Paper and Notice Paper in the name of the Honourable Senator Housakos, regarding Canadian offices and embassies abroad.

Public Safety—Counterfeit Products

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate) tabled the reply to Question No. 149, dated April 26, 2022, appearing on the Order Paper and Notice Paper in the name of the Honourable Senator Plett, regarding counterfeit products.

Public Safety—Record Suspensions for Cannabis Possession Offences

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate) tabled the reply to Question No. 163, dated May 19, 2022, appearing on the Order Paper and Notice Paper in the name of the Honourable Senator Francis, regarding record suspensions for cannabis possession offences.

Public Safety—Medical Assistance in Dying Investigations

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate) tabled the reply to Question No. 167, dated June 2, 2022, appearing on the Order Paper and Notice Paper in the name of the Honourable Senator Plett, regarding medical assistance in dying.

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Delayed Answers to Oral Questions

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Honourable senators, I have the honour to table the answers to the following oral questions:

Response to the oral question asked in the Senate on December 9, 2021, by the Honourable Senator Carignan, P.C., concerning court fees.

Response to the oral question asked in the Senate on March 22, 2022, by the Honourable Senator Bernard, concerning the Anti-Racism Secretariat.

Response to the oral question asked in the Senate on March 31, 2022, by the Honourable Senator Carignan, P.C., concerning transparency of trials.

Response to the oral question asked in the Senate on March 31, 2022, by the Honourable Senator Carignan, P.C., concerning transparency of trials.

Response to the oral question asked in the Senate on April 26, 2022, by the Honourable Senator Housakos, concerning ArriveCAN.

Response to the oral question asked in the Senate on June 1, 2022, by the Honourable Senator Boisvenu, concerning the public inquiry into the Portapique shooting.

Response to the oral question asked in the Senate on June 7, 2022, by the Honourable Senator Plett, concerning missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

Justice

Cost of Legal Proceedings

(Response to question raised by the Honourable Claude Carignan on December 9, 2021)

Department of Justice

The Parole Board of Canada is aware of the concern with respect to costs in the Federal Court. These costs have not been collected, and the Parole Board of Canada is considering its position.

The litigation in this matter is ongoing in the Federal Court of Appeal and the Parole Board of Canada is not seeking its costs in the related appeals.

Canadian Heritage

Anti-Racism Secretariat

(Response to question raised by the Honourable Wanda Thomas Bernard on March 22, 2022)

The Black Entrepreneurship Program is a total investment of $265M over four years (starting in 2020-21), of which $130M is an investment from the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and the remaining $135M is the Government’s contribution.

Of the government’s $135 million contribution, $30 million has been earmarked to initiate the Black Entrepreneurship Loan Fund (BELF). As of March 25, 2022, $20M (of the $30M earmarked for BELF) has been disbursed to the Federation of African Canadian Economics (FACE), and more than $10 million of that has been loaned to black-owned businesses across Canada. FACE are the administrators of BELF in partnership with BDC. FACE has autonomy over the management of the loan fund and any questions about the BELF’s beneficiaries should be directed to them.

On December 13, 2021, the Government awarded $5M to Carleton University Sprott School of Business and Dream Legacy Foundation to establish the Black Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub (BEKH). The governance structure of BEKH includes a Lead Hub and Regional Hubs ensuring coverage across Canada.

The National Ecosystem Fund, delivered by the regional development agencies, have awarded funding to 40 organizations across the country which represents nearly $95M. The List of Ecosystem Fund Recipients identifies recipients by province.

Justice

Transparency of Trials

(Response to question raised by the Honourable Claude Carignan on March 31, 2022)

Public Prosecution Service of Canada

The Public Prosecution Service of Canada cannot comment further given the Court of Appeal of Quebec’s decision ordering the redaction of any information that may tend to identify a confidential informer. The Court of Appeal is currently being asked to reconsider its decision on that question. As such, it would be inappropriate and premature at this time to provide any further comments about this case.

(Response to question raised by the Honourable Claude Carignan on March 31, 2022)

Public Prosecution Service of Canada

The Court of Appeal of Quebec has issued an order preventing the public disclosure of certain information that would tend to identify confidential police sources. In doing so, the Court attempted to balance well-established legal principles concerning open court and those applying to the protection of that kind of confidential information. Several applications have already been filed at the Court of Appeal of Quebec to reconsider its decision concerning what information can be publicly disclosed. We will follow these proceedings. In the meanwhile, we will respect the Court’s current order.

Public Safety

Canada Border Services Agency

(Response to question raised by the Honourable Leo Housakos on April 26, 2022)

Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA)

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) is responsible for ArriveCAN compliance decisions while the CBSA works to implement and operationalize the measures put in place by PHAC.

ArriveCAN collects contact, health and travel information to protect the health and safety of Canadians and to expedite processing at the border. It significantly reduces the time Border Services Officers (BSO) spend questioning travellers about public health obligations and decreases processing time at ports of entry by identifying vaccination status, which would otherwise have to be done manually.

Travellers without smartphones or mobile data can submit their information online through any computing device. Travellers can ask another person for assistance (a friend or relative) to submit their information if they are unable to use ArriveCAN. They do not need to be travelling together. Once they have submitted the travellers’ information, they should print the receipt page or take a screenshot and provide it to the traveller to show the BSO. If necessary and operationally feasible, BSOs facilitate the process of travellers’ digital ArriveCAN submissions by providing the option to complete upon arrival.

Canadian citizens, permanent residents and those registered under the Indian Act cannot be refused entry for failing to complete ArriveCAN.

Public Inquiry into Portapique Shooting

(Response to question raised by the Honourable Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu on June 1, 2022)

Public Safety Canada (PS)

Canada does not direct the Mass Casualty Commission (Commission). Decisions related to witness accommodation requests lie solely with the Commission.

On May 24, 2022, the Commission issued decisions related to six requests, from the National Police Federation and Attorney General of Canada, for accommodations for subpoenaed witnesses. Witness accommodation requests are almost always based on physical or psychological health needs. One request was not granted, two witnesses participated on a panel, one witness participated via Zoom, and two witnesses participated via closed Zoom sessions with Participant questions posed by Commission counsel. Therefore, participants, including victims’ families, had the opportunity to have their questions answered. Further questions on accommodations should be directed to the Commission.

The Commission is making mental health services available to individuals who may need access to counselling or other services, including by establishing a mental health unit to ensure support is available. Additionally, Nova Scotia has a Victim Services Unit, for which costs related to the inquiry are shared between the province and Canada. The Commission will continue to proceed with a trauma-informed response.

Questions on the application of the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights to the inquiry should be directed to the Commission.

Indigenous Services

Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls

(Response to question raised by the Honourable Donald Neil Plett on June 7, 2022)

The Government of Canada is committed to working with other jurisdictions to explore collaborative methods for strengthening investigations and sharing best practices. Following the release of the National Inquiry’s Interim Report, the federal government invested $9.6 million over five years to create the National Office of Investigative Standards and Practices (NOISP) within the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). The NOISP acts as an internal centre of expertise, coordination and national oversight for high profile and major case investigations. A significant proportion of the NOISP’s work focuses on cases involving Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people and other vulnerable populations who are overrepresented as victims of crime in RCMP jurisdictions. In particular, the NOISP has funded two positions dedicated to reviewing historical and new investigations. These members are also building partnerships with Indigenous communities to improve communication in the case of homicide investigations and are informing Major Crime Unit members on positive practices when working in Indigenous communities.

The RCMP has taken measures to improve policies and procedures for missing person and sudden death investigations to improve quality, oversight and communication with families. Further policy changes affecting investigative practices include developing training on trauma-informed approaches and expanding training on human trafficking to include Indigenous awareness.


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ORDERS OF THE DAY

Online Streaming Bill

Bill to Amend—Second Reading—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Dawson, seconded by the Honourable Senator Bovey, for the second reading of Bill C-11, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts.

Hon. Percy E. Downe: Honourable senators, the online streaming act currently before the Senate provides a useful and rare opportunity for us to look at the Broadcasting Act as a whole to see what improvements can be made. To that end, I have three major concerns that we can fix as we take this opportunity to review the Broadcasting Act.

My first issue of concern relates to the requirement in the Broadcasting Act that the CBC should “reflect Canada and its regions to national and regional audiences, while serving the special needs of those regions.”

Honourable senators, you have heard me speak in the past about the actions of the CBC in the early days of the COVID pandemic when it failed to serve the needs of the regions. On March 18, 2020, which, as you will recall, was a time of no small uncertainty and worry, the broadcaster announced the suspension of local evening news programs.

Now, I have already described the circumstances of Prince Edward Island that made this decision particularly unfortunate: the lack of any alternate source of local television news, as CBC’s “Compass” is the only television news program produced in the province; the fact that Prince Edward Island has some of the slowest internet and worst coverage in the country; and the large proportion of people who identify as seniors. But there is a broader issue at play. The public has a right to expect that their public broadcaster will keep them informed at all times, but especially during an emergency like the COVID pandemic.

Honourable senators, in a time of crisis, Prince Edward Islanders were abandoned by CBC Television as a direct result of a decision made at CBC headquarters in Toronto. To be clear, CBC local radio and television broadcasts form an essential service in Prince Edward Island that must continue to receive the support and funding necessary for it to perform its vital function.

In spite of that, once the CBC had decided to cut local news service, there was no formal mechanism to compel them to reverse their decision. They eventually backed down in the face of public outrage, but there was no governmental or regulatory authority that could have either prevented the cuts in the first place or forced the reinstatement of local newscasts. This, even though the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission — the body that regulates the CBC — acknowledged that in cancelling local broadcasts without prior CRTC approval, the broadcaster was in violation of its licence agreement, which committed the CBC to broadcast “at least seven hours of Canadian local programming per week.” The only exceptions are special sporting events or statutory holidays. Moreover, the CRTC noted that “the CBC cannot reduce the level of local programming under seven hours without Commission approval following a public process.”

None of that happened: no public process, no approval.

The current provisions of the Broadcasting Act afford the CRTC very little in the way of powers when it comes to enforcing its agreements and regulations on the CBC. For example, under section 25(1), if the CRTC determines that the CBC has acted in contravention of its licence agreement, the CRTC’s course of action is limited:

. . . the Commission shall forward to the Minister a report setting out the circumstances of the alleged contravention or failure, the findings of the Commission and any observations or recommendations of the Commission in connection therewith.

Elsewhere, in section 24(2), the Broadcasting Act states that the commission may not suspend or revoke the CBC’s broadcast licence, “except on application of or with the consent of the Corporation.”

Think about that for a moment: A penalty can only be imposed with the consent or, better yet, at the request of the CBC. This casts into doubt any concept of enforcement. If the CRTC is to act as a true regulatory body vis-à-vis the CBC, there must be some teeth behind the licence agreement.

Part 3 of the Broadcasting Act deals with the establishment and operations of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, including its finances and revenues. This relates to the second issue I wish to raise: that of the use of so-called branded or sponsored content by the CBC. Put simply, this is advertising that tries not to look like advertising but rather appears to be news. I noticed a print example of this a few years ago as part of my work on overseas tax evasion. In February and March of 2017, a number of very positive articles appeared in newspapers and online across Canada bearing titles like “Federal programs in place to address offshore tax avoidance and evasion” and “How Canada is cracking down on offshore tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance.” It is likely the best press the Canada Revenue Agency, or CRA, ever received.

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However, as it turned out, the CRA didn’t so much receive that press as produced and paid for it themselves. The Canada Revenue Agency later admitted that it paid almost $300,000 to place these so-called articles in six print and digital newspapers. This sponsored content did not come from reporters but was instead produced by writers hired by a company paid by CRA to produce stories favourable to the agency.

Unable to earn any positive media for their well-known incompetence in fighting overseas tax evasion, they decided to buy some positive media coverage and try to pass it off as legitimate news, which is the problem inherent in sponsored content. It is why I object to the CBC, through its marketing arm Tandem, attempting to incorporate such content into its digital news platform. That initiative has proven controversial with over 500 current and former employees urging the broadcaster to uphold what it once described as the absolute church-and-state separation of advertising and editorial content.

If a private broadcaster and newspaper want to conduct business in that way, that’s their decision. But the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is a different entity with a mandate that goes beyond the bottom line, and it should act accordingly.

The third issue relates to CBC staff. Section 44 of the Broadcasting Act grants the CBC the right to employ such officers and employees as it considers necessary for the conduct of its business and pay them at such rates of remuneration as the board of directors deem fit. I have no quarrel with any of that, but I do have a concern about transparency. As a public broadcaster largely funded by taxpayers, the CBC has a greater obligation than private broadcasters to be open about how it spends that money.

One area in which the broadcaster could improve is that of salaries for senior management and on-air personnel. The CBC provides some information about what salaries it pays, but very little and only in the most general terms. Perhaps the best way to demonstrate this is to compare the CBC with its British counterpart, the British Broadcasting Corporation, or BBC. Since 2017 — and I’ll come back to that in a moment — the British Broadcasting Corporation has released the names and salaries of its highest-paid on-air talent, including news readers. Currently, they provide the employee’s name, the program they appear on and the individual salaries to within £5,000 — about C$7,000.

By contrast, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation rarely provides an average salary for all employees within a C$50,000 salary band. So, for example, while we know that Nick Robinson at the BBC earns between £295,000 and £300,000 to host the BBC “Today” show, we only know that five CBC staff earn between C$250,000 and C$300,000 with an average salary of C$342,000 — no names, no programs and, more importantly, no information on gender. That last part is significant.

You will recall I said that the BBC only instituted this policy in 2017, and even then it did so with great reluctance. Their key objection was that if other broadcasters knew what they were paying their talent, they would lure them away with better offers. The BBC operates in a competitive market, and the BBC said at the time that this will not make it easier for them to retain the talent the public loves. That was the decision of their director general in 2016.

But what the release of salary information in the U.K. uncovered was not so much a discrepancy between the BBC and private broadcasters as the sizable gap between what the BBC was paying its male and female talent. Does anyone care to guess who was making more? The BBC has made strides to remedy that in the intervening years. One on-air personality was immediately called into the office and given a significant raise just before the information went public, having been there for 12 years only to find out her co-host was making almost double. I’m not saying the same gap exists within the CBC but, without knowing the facts, who is to say?

For these reasons, and because the concerns I have raised are not covered by the legislation before us, I shall be proposing amendments to this bill that would achieve the following.

The first is that the CRTC should impose a penalty of $2 million per day in the event of the cancellation of any local TV newscast by the CBC without meeting the conditions of their broadcasting licence, which, among others, include public hearings and approval from the CRTC. The amount of that penalty would be paid to local libraries in the area where the CBC newscast was cancelled.

Second is that the CBC should not be allowed to compete with privately owned media corporations by running sponsored or branded content disguised as journalism on any of their platforms.

The third is that the name and total compensation, including salary, of all staff at the CBC receiving compensation greater than that of a Canadian senator should be made public. After all, a senator’s taxpayer-funded compensation is disclosed and, in the spirit of transparency, so should those employees of the CBC.

Colleagues, I believe the amendments I am proposing will lead to a more open, responsive and accountable national broadcaster, which would be to the benefit of all Canadians. Thank you.

Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.

(On motion of Senator Martin, debate adjourned.)

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The Estimates, 2022-23

Supplementary Estimates (A)—Fifth Report of National Finance Committee Withdrawn

On Government Business, Reports of Committees, Other, Order No. 6, by the Honourable Raymonde Gagné:

Consideration of the fifth report of the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance, entitled Supplementary Estimates (A) for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2023, tabled in the Senate on June 20, 2022.

Hon. Raymonde Gagné (Legislative Deputy to the Government Representative in the Senate): Honourable senators, pursuant to rule 5-7(k), I move that the item concerning the Supplementary Estimates (A) for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2023, be discharged from the Order Paper.

(Order withdrawn.)

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Economic and Fiscal Update 2021

Inquiry Withdrawn

On Government Business, Inquiries, Order No. 1, by the Honourable Marc Gold:

That he will call the attention of the Senate to the Economic and Fiscal Update 2021, tabled in the House of Commons on December 14, 2021, by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, the Honourable Chrystia Freeland, P.C., M.P., and in the Senate on December 15, 2021.

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Honourable senators, pursuant to rule 5-10(2) I ask that government notice of Inquiry No. 1 be withdrawn.

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

Hon Senators: Agreed.

(Inquiry withdrawn.)

Declaration on the Essential Role of Artists and Creative Expression in Canada Bill

Ninth Report of Social Affairs, Science and Technology Committee Adopted

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Omidvar, seconded by the Honourable Senator Dean, for the adoption of the ninth report of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology (Bill S-208, An Act respecting the Declaration on the Essential Role of Artists and Creative Expression in Canada, with amendments and observations), presented in the Senate on June 20, 2022.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Motion agreed to and report adopted.)

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

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

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Employment Insurance Act
Employment Insurance Regulations

Bill to Amend—Fifth Report of Agriculture and Forestry Committee Adopted

The Senate proceeded to consideration of the fifth report of the Standing Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry (Bill S-236, An Act to amend the Employment Insurance Act and the Employment Insurance Regulations (Prince Edward Island), with an amendment and observations), presented in the Senate on June 23, 2022.

Hon. Robert Black moved the adoption of the report.

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

Hon. Senators: Question.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Motion agreed to and report adopted.)

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

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

National Framework for a Guaranteed Livable Basic Income Bill

Second Reading—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Pate, seconded by the Honourable Senator Dean, for the second reading of Bill S-233, An Act to develop a national framework for a guaranteed livable basic income.

Hon. Yuen Pau Woo: Honourable senators, I would like to offer a modest intervention on Bill S-233. I support sending Bill S-233 to committee as soon as possible so we can have an informed discussion about the complex issues around basic income. Whether you support a basic income or not, I think it is fair to say that there is growing interest in the idea. Earlier this month, the Union of British Columbia Municipalities voted in favour of a resolution calling on the federal government to implement a guaranteed livable basic income.

However, the problem with the public debate — and here I am setting aside the conspiratorial end of basic income critics — is that advocates and opponents are often debating different versions of basic income and hence talking past each other. If a Senate committee can clarify the issues and shed light on the varieties of basic income proposals, that will be a positive contribution on an important public policy issue regardless of whether this bill is adopted. To this extent, my speech is about what I think the most important issues are and what I would suggest are some of the questions that a committee should be asking.

The fundamental question is this: What is a basic income for? Most advocates of basic income, including many senators, argue that it is to eliminate poverty. Poverty is an income-based measure and as such can be solved, in theory, by augmenting the incomes of those who fall below a defined cut-off level. That is why so many anti-poverty activists support basic income. The question is how to identify people whose incomes are below the poverty line and to ensure that the income supplemented to those individuals is provided on a timely basis.

There are basically two approaches. The first is to provide a basic income to everyone and then claw back a percentage when reported incomes exceed the cut-off. The second is to target income supplements to vulnerable groups with varying conditions attached. The former is what might be called a classical approach to basic income, since it is provided to everyone, whereas the latter might be called targeted basic income, or social assistance, and it’s roughly the way the system currently works.

If our goal is poverty alleviation, which approach works better? Well, for any given level of poverty reduction, the answer is the latter — the targeted approach — for the obvious reason that it is directed at only the people who are below the poverty line and not “wasted,” if you will, on those who are not poor. This is not to say that targeted social assistance, which is the status quo, has eliminated poverty; it hasn’t. But if we are to pour substantial new resources into poverty alleviation and have a choice between the two approaches, based on the criteria of efficiency, the targeted social assistance approach wins, hands down. That is the conclusion reached by the expert panel commissioned by the B.C. government in 2018, which released its study in 2020. They rejected basic income in favour of expanding targeted income supplements and social programs.

Basic income advocates will counter that the solution to the wastefulness of a basic income is to claw back any income earned above the cut-off. This is technically known as the benefit reduction rate. The higher the benefit reduction rate, the more efficient the basic income in targeting people under the poverty line. A very high benefit reduction rate, however, runs counter to one of the key principles behind the basic income, which is to not disincentivize people from earning additional income. There is a trade-off between the efficiency of a basic income program and the disincentive effects of clawbacks.

To underscore the point of how inefficient a basic income program would be as a remedy for poverty per se, the B.C. panel authors created an online interactive table where you can choose your preferred basic income amount and your preferred benefit reduction rate to generate a scenario showing the cost of the program and its impact on poverty reduction. Colleagues, if you like spreadsheets, you can have hours of fun on this one. What you will find is that the lower the benefit reduction rate, the more expensive the program and the less efficient it will be in reducing poverty. For example, a basic income of $20,000 for an individual in B.C. with zero benefit reduction would cost $51 billion and would reduce poverty incidence by about 7,000 people per billion dollars. Compare that with the cost of $11 billion for a reduction of 32,000 people in poverty per billion dollars at the benefit reduction rate of 75%.

Opponents of a basic income, the B.C. panel included, argue that a maximalist approach to basic income, one with little or no benefit reduction, is too costly, especially if a province were to attempt basic income on its own. This objection, however, is addressed in a new study from the School of Public Policy at the University of Calgary, which concludes that a federally funded basic income could be both effective and affordable, which is a finding that was already foreshadowed by the Parliamentary Budget Officer in a report a couple of years ago. According to the Calgary authors, a federal program could create more fiscal capacity for the provinces to provide other cash and in-kind social supports, allowing for greater provincial benefit targeting.

I support the principle that proposed solutions to policy problems should be cost-effective. That is different from saying that they should not be costly. Solving poverty could well be a very costly public investment, but if our goal is the eradication of poverty, and it is costly to do so, so be it. But we should make every effort to find the most cost-efficient solution for the problem at hand.

This is why I think the case for basic income cannot be based solely on poverty alleviation. If near-term poverty eradication is the only objective, I agree with the B.C. number crunchers that targeted programs focused, for example, on youth aging out of care, the disabled, or single parents with or without children are likely a better approach. But if the policy objective is broader, and it includes social and economic indicators such as health care, human capital, the criminal justice system, volunteering, creative activities and entrepreneurship, the calculus of a basic income program could be much more favourable.

The B.C. panel ruled out these second-order benefits because they focused their study narrowly on poverty alleviation. They did not give any serious consideration to the broader benefits of basic income and whether these benefits might offset the considerable cost of a basic income program with a low benefit reduction rate.

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The B.C. panel also offers a philosophical argument against basic income, which our colleague Senator Bellemare has also advanced. It is premised on the primal importance — even duty — of paid work and on a strict view of reciprocity in social relations. This normative framework is associated with the writings of John Rawls and Elizabeth Anderson on the meaning of a just society. It is a view of the world which values what might be called “participation income” over “basic income,” and it assumes the economy offers dignified participation opportunities along the lines of what politicians like to call “decent, middle-class jobs.”

The reality is that there are a lot of non-decent jobs in our market economy that challenge the assumption of a just society. The idea of participation income also values formal paid jobs over non-formal, unpaid forms of work that may, in fact, offer greater personal reward and social good, which contribute to a more just society.

The blinkers used in the B.C. report effectively turned a study that was supposed to be about the feasibility of a basic income in B.C. into one that was about designing a better income transfer scheme without using basic income.

Insofar as the framework chosen for their study is concerned, the report is correct in its conclusion that an untargeted poverty reduction program, such as basic income, would be less efficient than a targeted program. That is why I fear that any campaign for basic income that is focused solely on poverty alleviation will be ruled out on efficiency grounds and will not make much headway intellectually or politically.

When I last spoke about basic income in this chamber, it was on a motion introduced by former senator Art Eggleton, in which he proposed basic income pilot projects led by the federal government working with the provinces. I argued at the time that the foundational case for basic income is personal autonomy and the expansion of collective freedoms.

I believe that freedom is not so much about the right to do as one chooses, but more about having the capability to do so. Freedom is an end in itself and therefore an important social value, but it is also a means for individuals to work toward other ends, such as a fulfilling career, acquiring goods and services or artistic pursuits.

A guaranteed basic income can be an important plank in advancing an individual’s freedom in both a constitutive as well as an instrumental sense. Providing the means for individuals to address their basic needs is a way of giving them the freedom to develop and expand their capabilities for even greater freedom.

At heart, basic income represents an evolution of the social safety net that values the rights of individuals to exercise their freedoms without stigma. This may sound a bit like a libertarian creed, but the idea is also rooted in egalitarianism and in the belief that there is a collective responsibility for empowering individuals to exercise their freedoms.

One obvious way in which to test basic income is to conduct pilot projects and to measure not just the impact on poverty alleviation, but also on other social indicators such as health care, educational attainment, crime and volunteering. A pilot project could provide answers to these very worldly questions as well as to broader philosophical objections that have led some to rule out basic income.

For example, the hypothesis that society would reject unconditional transfers because they violate the work obligations and social reciprocity necessary for a just society is just that — it’s a hypothesis. The B.C. panel ruled out the need for a pilot project in part because they took the hypothesis as a given. My own preference is to look to the empirics rather than relying on political theory. That is why I support more research on basic income and especially pilot projects along the lines of what has been proposed for Prince Edward Island. In fact, I would support a flowering of pilot projects across the country, including in my home province of British Columbia, that could be used to compare with each other.

Colleagues, there are still many unanswered questions about basic income and its efficacy as a new form of social safety net for Canadians, but I think we would do well to study the issue further and this bill allows us an opportunity to do so. Let’s send it to committee. Thank you.

Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.

[Translation]

Hon. Diane Bellemare: I have a question for you.

You support a pilot project like the one proposed by Senator Eggleton, which I voted for at the time. It was very focused.

I would like your thoughts on this. Bill S-233 is about developing a framework to implement basic income for all Canadians 18 and over. Don’t you think that has financial implications? Does this kind of bill not necessarily push us to really study the issue? The indirect financial implications alone may disallow this bill because, in law, you can’t do indirectly what you can’t do directly, and this bill is about developing a framework.

[English]

The Hon. the Speaker: Senator Woo, you will run out of time in 10 seconds. Will you be asking for more time to answer the question?

Senator Woo: If you allow me a minute, I can answer the question.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Senator Woo: I support sending the bill to committee precisely to ask some of those questions in light of the growing interest publicly in the concept and in the hope that it will clarify a pathway for experiments in basic income that might, in fact, be fiscally feasible.

I don’t know that I support the bill as law. In any case, my understanding of the bill is not that it seeks to implement basic income, but to simply develop a national framework for basic income. It’s not clear to me that violates the prohibitions on the Senate proposing certain bills, but that is a question that we will all be faced with, I hope, at the end of a study that examines all of the questions that we should consider in deciding if it should go forward.

(On motion of Senator Martin, debate adjourned.)

Study on the Federal Government’s Responsibilities to First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples

Sixth Report of Indigenous Peoples Committee and Request for Government Response Adopted

On the Order:

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

That the sixth report of the Standing Senate Committee on Indigenous Peoples, tabled in the Senate on Wednesday, June 22, 2022, be adopted and that, pursuant to rule 12-24(1), the Senate request a complete and detailed response from the government, with the Minister of Crown‑Indigenous Relations being identified as minister responsible for responding to the report.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Motion agreed to and report adopted.)

(1530)

Study on the Implementation of Indigenous Rights-based Fisheries Across Canada

Fourth Report of Fisheries and Oceans Committee and Request for Government Response Adopted

The Senate proceeded to consideration of the fourth report of the Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, entitled Peace on the Water (Advancing the Full Implementation of Mi’kmaq, Wolastoqiyik and Peskotomuhkati Rights-Based Fisheries), deposited with the Clerk of the Senate on July 12, 2022.

Hon. Fabian Manning moved:

That the fourth report of the Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, entitled Peace on the Water (Advancing the Full Implementation of Mi’kmaq, Wolastoqiyik and Peskotomuhkati Rights-Based Fisheries), deposited with the Clerk of the Senate on Tuesday, July 12, 2022, be adopted and that, pursuant to rule 12-24(1), the Senate request a complete and detailed response from the government, with the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Coast Guard being identified as the minister responsible for responding to the report.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Motion agreed to and report adopted.)

Study on the Federal Government’s Responsibilities to First Nations, Inuit
and Métis Peoples

Seventh Report of Indigenous Peoples Committee and Request for Government Response Adopted

On the Order:

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

That the seventh report of the Standing Senate Committee on Indigenous Peoples, tabled with the Clerk of the Senate on Monday, June 27, 2022, be adopted and that, pursuant to rule 12-24(1), the Senate request a complete and detailed response from the government, with the Minister of Indigenous Services Canada being identified as minister responsible for responding to the report, in consultation with the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Motion agreed to and report adopted.)

National Security, Defence and Veterans Affairs

Motion to Authorize Committee to Meet During Adjournment of the Senate—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Dean, seconded by the Honourable Senator Saint-Germain:

That, pursuant to rule 12-18(2), for the remainder of this session, the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence be authorized to meet at their approved meeting time as determined by the third report of the Committee of Selection, adopted by the Senate on December 7, 2021, on any Monday which immediately precedes a Tuesday when the Senate is scheduled to sit, even though the Senate may then be adjourned for a period exceeding a week.

(On motion of Senator Martin, debate adjourned.)

Official Languages

Motion to Authorize Committee to Meet During Adjournment of the Senate—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Cormier, seconded by the Honourable Senator Kutcher:

That, pursuant to rule 12-18(2), for the remainder of this session, the Standing Senate Committee on Official Languages be authorized to meet at their approved meeting time on any Monday which immediately precedes a Tuesday when the Senate is scheduled to sit, even though the Senate may then be adjourned for a period exceeding a week.

(On motion of Senator Martin, debate adjourned.)

Federal Public Service Jobs

Inquiry—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Downe, calling the attention of the Senate to:

(a)The importance of the federal government as Canada’s largest single employer, with over 230,000 civilian employees;

(b)The fact that, although everyone understands that a significant portion of federal employees would be based in the nation’s capital, in recent years a trend has developed whereby the distribution of jobs between Ottawa and the regions has become more and more disproportionate in favour of the National Capital Region; and

(c)The role of the Senate in examining and discussing the opportunities for decentralizing federal government jobs and services, and urging the Government of Canada to restore the historical distribution of employment to one third of jobs in the National Capital Region and two thirds in the rest of the country, thereby contributing to the economic growth and stability of the regions of Canada.

(On motion of Senator Duncan, debate adjourned.)

Agriculture and Forestry

Committee Authorized to Deposit Report on Study of Issues Relating to Agriculture and Forestry Generally with Clerk During Adjournment of the Senate

Hon. Robert Black, pursuant to notice of September 22, 2022, moved:

That the Standing Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry be permitted, notwithstanding usual practices, to deposit with the Clerk of the Senate, no later than November 10, 2022, an interim report relating to its study on issues relating to agriculture and forestry generally, if the Senate is not then sitting, and that the report be deemed to have been tabled in the Senate.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Motion agreed to.)

[Translation]

Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration

Study on Long Term Vision and Plan—Motion to Refer Papers and Evidence from Previous Sessions Adopted

Hon. Lucie Moncion, pursuant to notice of September 22, 2022, moved:

That the papers and evidence received and taken and the work accomplished by the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration relating to the study of the Long Term Vision and Plan from previous parliamentary sessions, be referred to the Committee so that it may then authorize the disclosure of certain presentations prepared for the committee to Public Services and Procurement Canada and the Office of the Auditor General of Canada.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Motion agreed to.)

(At 3:34 p.m., the Senate was continued until tomorrow at 2 p.m.)

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