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Previous Sittings
Previous Sittings

Debates of the Senate (Hansard)

1st Session, 44th Parliament
Volume 153, Issue 87

Thursday, December 1, 2022
The Honourable George J. Furey, Speaker


Thursday, December 1, 2022

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


Business of the Senate

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, there have been consultations and there is an agreement to allow a photographer in the Senate Chamber to photograph the introduction of a new senator.

Is it agreed, honourable senators?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.


New Senator

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I have the honour to inform the Senate that the Clerk of the Senate has received a certificate from the Registrar General of Canada showing that Margo Greenwood has been summoned to the Senate.


The Hon. the Speaker having informed the Senate that there was a senator without waiting to be introduced:

The following honourable senator was introduced; presented His Majesty’s writ of summons; took the oath prescribed by law, which was administered by the Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel; and was seated:

Hon. Margo Greenwood, of Vernon, British Columbia, introduced between Hon. Marc Gold, P.C., and Hon. Yvonne Boyer.

The Hon. the Speaker informed the Senate that the honourable senator named above had made and subscribed the Declaration of Qualification required by the Constitution Act, 1867, in the presence of the Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel, the Commissioner appointed to receive and witness the said declaration.



Congratulations on Appointment

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Honourable senators, I rise today on behalf of my colleagues in the Government Representative Office to welcome Senator Margo Greenwood to the Senate of Canada.

Senator Greenwood has a lengthy record of achievement in leadership and in community service. As an Indigenous scholar of Cree ancestry, she has devoted much of her long career to the health and well-being of Indigenous children, families and communities.

Senator Greenwood was a professor in the education program at the University of Northern British Columbia, where her research included the historic and contemporary systemic and structural impacts on the development of early childhood programs and services in Canada and the social determinants of health, with particular emphasis on colonization and children’s rights. She also served as vice-president of Indigenous health for the Northern Health authority, where she provided executive leadership to the Indigenous Health portfolio.


Her accomplishments are many, and her expertise has informed legislation and government policy. She has sat on more than 75 national and provincial committees, including just recently the Expert Panel on Early Learning and Child Care Data created by Minister Duclos in 2019.


Senator Greenwood’s achievements have been recognized by both Indigenous and non-Indigenous groups in Canada. When appointed as an Officer of the Order of Canada, it was in part for her “transformational leadership in Indigenous health policy.”

Colleagues, we are truly lucky to be welcoming Senator Greenwood in our midst today.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.

Hon. Yonah Martin (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, on behalf of the opposition and the Senate Conservative caucus, I am pleased to rise in this chamber to welcome our newest colleague, the Honourable Margo Greenwood. Senator Greenwood, I wish to extend to you a very warm welcome to the Senate of Canada.

As a fellow senator from our beautiful province of British Columbia, I look forward to working with you to support and advocate for British Columbians. As former educators, we also share a love of teaching and mentoring bright, young minds who may one day themselves become senators or whatever they so choose.

Senator Greenwood is certainly a role model for many, as a respected Indigenous scholar of Cree ancestry with notable achievements and a stellar record of leadership and community service. There is much written about her professional achievements, including the following on the National Collaborating Centre for Indigenous Health site:

While her work crosses disciplines and sectors, Dr. Greenwood is particularly recognized — regionally, provincially, nationally and internationally — for her work in early childhood care and education, and in Indigenous public health.

Senator Greenwood, I am certain that your knowledge, expertise and passion for helping others will be useful and relevant in your work as a senator. As you embark on this new journey in the Senate of Canada, you will soon realize that you are not only making friends but that you have joined a new family — the Senate family. It is a family that has various opinions, perspectives and experiences but that together will serve a common purpose, which is to work for Canadians. We are here for them. We serve here, in the heart of Canadian democracy, in order to promote their best interests.

I speak not only for myself when I say we look forward to collaboratively working with you not only in this chamber but also at committee. Canadians are increasingly looking at the Senate to not only bring sober second thought and due diligence, but they are looking at the Senate for hope — hope that their voices are heard, that their concerns become ours and that together this chamber ensures the best path forward for everyone — especially minority groups — across our vast country. I trust that you will do just that.

On behalf of the opposition and the Conservative caucus, I welcome you once again to the Senate of Canada.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.

Hon. Raymonde Saint-Germain: Honourable senators, through my voice, all members of the Independent Senators Group are delighted to welcome today our new colleague, the Honourable Senator Margo Lainne Greenwood. Senator Greenwood, I would also like to welcome your family members and loved ones who are with you today to celebrate this unique occasion.

Our new colleague is a full professor in the University of Northern British Columbia’s education program and the academic leader of the National Collaborating Centre for Indigenous Health. A recognized scholar of Cree ancestry, she has spent her career focusing on improving the health and well‑being of Indigenous children, families and communities through research and public and community services.

Senator Greenwood is far from being a novice in the study of legislation. Since 1992, she has been contributing to policy and legislation, both in her province of British Columbia and in the country as a whole. She has actively participated in the Expert Panel on Early Learning and Child Care Data and Research, held in 2019 by the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development at the time, as well as in the 2020 Public Health Working Group on Remote and Isolated Communities, to name only a few of her contributions to improving public policy.

The Senate has already had the privilege of benefiting from her expertise when she appeared as a witness in 2008 before the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology, which was followed by an informative report on early childhood and care. She has also been a strong ally of Senator Yvonne Boyer’s. They have worked together on issues related to reproductive justice and, notably, the fight against forced sterilization of Indigenous women. Now the Senate will have the opportunity to benefit from the contributions of this outstanding tandem on a regular basis.

Senator Greenwood, I could go on for hours listing the numerous and well-deserved awards and distinctions you have received throughout your career — but in three minutes, I can’t. However, I could not help but cite a passage from Places for the Good Care of Children, the doctoral thesis you successfully submitted for your PhD at the University of British Columbia. This excerpt resonates with me. Colleagues, the following words are hers:

The principles of respect, reciprocity, relevance and responsibility go beyond theory and practice to living life, to being in the world. A wise friend once told me that Indigenous ways of knowing and being in the world are not just for Indigenous peoples but are about humanity, about living with the world in a respectful and honouring way. . . .

Senator Greenwood, all members of the Independent Senators Group are looking forward to collaborating with you and benefiting from your passion and excellence in all areas of your expertise. Thank you. Meegwetch.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.

Hon. Jane Cordy: Honourable senators, on behalf of the Progressive Senate Group, I am once again delighted that we are welcoming another new senator into this chamber.


Senator Greenwood, your background, as has been well described already, is certainly impressive, and I have no doubt that your experience will be a great asset to the Senate Chamber.

Upon your appointment, the Prime Minister highlighted your “. . . academic expertise, commitment to health and education, and dedication to the well-being of Indigenous communities . . . .” Indeed, these attributes will not only serve you well in the Senate, but they will ensure that those from your home province of British Columbia are well served by your appointment.

Your arrival in this chamber at the beginning of December coincides with the start of one of our busiest times, when we often experience longer days amidst a crunch of legislation to be addressed before the year’s end. While it can be challenging, I’ve also found that it’s often a time when stronger relationships can be forged as we all work together. I know that I speak for all members of the Progressive Senate Group when I say that I look forward to working with you, even as we will be facing some hectic days.

As a former teacher, I would like to take a moment to express my appreciation in particular for all the work you have done with respect to children, and especially Indigenous children. Though we cannot change the past, we can set a new course for the future by the way we treat and raise the next generation. It is an important component in the work towards reconciliation, and I am very grateful for your efforts.

On behalf of the Progressive Senate Group, it is my pleasure to officially welcome you to the Senate of Canada.

Tawâw, Senator Greenwood. We look forward to working with you. Thank you.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.

Hon. Scott Tannas: Honourable senators, on behalf of my colleagues in the Canadian Senators Group, I welcome Senator Margo Greenwood to the Senate. Senator Greenwood is described as an internationally recognized and highly respected Indigenous scholar of Cree ancestry.

It was lovely to see you take your oath in Cree today.

She is a researcher and an author with over 30 years of experience examining the health and well-being of Indigenous communities, families and, as has been said, especially children, with over 130 publications. Senator Greenwood is a leader in her field and has chaired many research institutes in Canada. The Senate and all Canadians will benefit from her analytical skills and her input into public policy.

Senator Greenwood, in addition to your academic credentials as a distinguished professor, you have something else to contribute. In an interview you gave to, you spoke about changing what you called “lived realities”:

The ability to dream is so fundamentally important, because we can, in our own ways, see a different reality. To be able to dream is to be able to hope.

“Change requires the ability to dream with the courage to act,” you said. I believe that this can apply to all of us. I hope that with your interventions in this place, you will help us all to dream better and to have the courage to act.

Senator Greenwood, welcome to the Senate. My colleagues and I look forward to working with you.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.

Visitors in the Gallery

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I wish to draw your attention to the presence in the gallery of the Honourable Senator Greenwood’s three sons, Jacob Hanley, Reid Church and Aaron Neilson, as well as her granddaughter, Everly Church. They are accompanied by family and friends, including the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health.

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

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!


Visitors in the Gallery

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I wish to draw your attention to the presence in the gallery of Her Excellency Anahit Harutyunyan, Ambassador of Armenia to Canada; Ms. Jamila Afghani; Mr. Fazal Ghani Kakar; and Honorary Consul Levon Afeyan. They are the guests of the Honourable Senator Housakos.

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

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

Aurora Humanitarian Initiative

Hon. Leo Housakos: Honourable senators, I wish to take this opportunity to shine a light on the humanitarian success story known as the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative, which has rendered the world a better place since its establishment. The Aurora Humanitarian Initiative finds its roots in Armenian history and carries out its mission on behalf of the survivors of the Armenian genocide and in gratitude to their saviours.

The philanthropic vision of three great Armenians carries on this example of connecting a community of humanitarians from across the globe looking to serve the most destitute. At the core of the Aurora initiative lies a very simple but often forgotten principle — gratitude or, as they call it, gratitude in action. Through their work, they seek to recognize and support those who put themselves at risk to save the lives of those who are suffering as a result of violent conflicts, atrocities, crimes or other human rights violations.

To do this, they have established the Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity, which every year awards $1 million to an exceptional humanitarian in recognition of their work and as an opportunity for them to carry the cycle of gratitude and giving forward.

Since it was launched, the Aurora Prize has changed the lives of over 1.1 million people around the world affected by war, conflict, displacement or persecution. I want to recognize this year’s Aurora Prize laureate Ms. Jamila Afghani, who is here with us today. Jamila has dedicated over 25 years of her life in defence of human rights and in the fight for access to education for women in Afghanistan.

I would also like to recognize Mr. Levon Afeyan, Honorary Consul of the Republic of Armenia in Quebec and board member of the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative, whose devotion to the Armenian community in Montreal and around the globe has inspired many of their accomplishments.

I share the honour with my Senate colleagues in welcoming this truly remarkable person, Ms. Jamila Afghani, in the company of the Ambassador of Armenia to Canada, and to highlight the incredible work that they carry out every day to extend a helping hand to those who need it the most. They are deserving of that and so much more. Congratulations and thank you for being here.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.

Visitors in the Gallery

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I wish to draw your attention to the presence in the gallery of His Excellency Ambassador Ariunbold, MP Saranchimeg, MP Ganbold and MP Naranbaatar from the Parliament of Mongolia. They are the guests of the Honourable Senator Clement.

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

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

Business of the Senate

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I regret I have to interrupt proceedings, but it is time is for Question Period. We will suspend for a minute while Minister Hutchings takes her seat, and then we will continue with Question Period.

(The sitting of the Senate was suspended.)

(The sitting of the Senate was resumed.)


(Pursuant to the order adopted by the Senate on December 7, 2021, to receive a Minister of the Crown, the Honourable Gudie Hutchings, P.C., M.P., Minister of Rural Economic Development, appeared before honourable senators during Question Period.)

Business of the Senate

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, we welcome today the Honourable Gudie Hutchings, P.C., M.P., Minister of Rural Economic Development, to ask questions relating to her ministerial responsibilities.

Ministry of Rural Economic Development

Access to High-Speed Broadband Networks

Hon. Donald Neil Plett (Leader of the Opposition): Welcome, minister.


Minister, part of your mandate is to accelerate the delivery of broadband service across Canada to ensure that all Canadians, no matter where they live, have access to high-speed internet. Yet I must note that this is another area in which your Liberal-NDP government has promised a lot of funding, but for which tangible results remain obscure. According to the Canadian Radio‑television and Telecommunications Commission, or CRTC, over 50% of rural households still do not have access to high-speed internet.

Minister, how much longer will these households need to wait?

Hon. Gudie Hutchings, P.C., M.P., Minister of Rural Economic Development: Thank you.

I would first like to acknowledge the new senator in the room, and welcome her to her seat. It is a pleasure to be working with you, Senator Greenwood. Welcome to the Red Chamber. It is also my pleasure to be here today.

With regard to your question, since 2015 we have supported projects that will bring improved connectivity to over 1.7 million people. In 2014, when we formed government, only 79% of Canadians were connected to affordable, reliable internet. Today, over 93% are connected. We have made $7.6 billion available to improve connectivity across the country.

I have made a promise to connect 98% of Canada by 2026. We are well under way to do that, and we will have the rest of the country connected by 2030.

Senator Plett: Minister, I’m aware that your government made another funding announcement in November — this time of $475 million for rural high-speed internet access. That does not negate what I mentioned earlier: Aside from your promises, the fact remains that over 50% of rural households are still without reliable internet access, despite billions of dollars being announced for funding.

Can you tell us specifically what mechanisms are being put in place to ensure this funding is implemented for the benefit of those communities, aside from just throwing more money at the problem?

Ms. Hutchings: Thank you, senator.

You might have noted that, over the last few years, since we started the Universal Broadband Fund, we have had many programs out there: We have Connect to Innovate, and funding available through the Canada Infrastructure Bank. I’m very proud that we have also signed six memoranda of understanding with Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia, Alberta, Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island. That has proven to work exceptionally well, because it is actually getting out, working with the provinces and getting communities connected.

A third of the money of the Rapid Response Stream, one of the components of the Universal Broadband Fund, went to Indigenous communities. Another third of the Rapid Response Stream went to small internet-service providers, or ISPs, that were focused in rural and remote communities. The final third went to the larger ISPs.

It is a daunting task, but I can say that we have put more of a concerted effort into connecting Canada than any other previous governments combined, and we are getting it done.

Carbon Tax

Hon. Elizabeth Marshall: Minister, welcome to the Senate of Canada.

Minister, on November 22, your government announced its intention to impose an expensive carbon tax on the people of Nova Scotia, P.E.I. and our mutual home province of Newfoundland and Labrador. In Atlantic Canada, more than 300,000 homes’ sole option for heating is oil. Our premier in Newfoundland and Labrador wanted a carbon tax exemption on home heating fuels. He said that a carbon tax would place “undue economic burdens on the people of this province,” and he indicated the impacts it would have, especially on the elderly, rural and low-income residents who rely on burning oil to heat their homes. The increased cost of this tax, on average, means an extra $900 per year per household by 2030.

As minister, you have a responsibility to pursue and advance initiatives that recognize the unique realities and challenges faced by our communities. As a member of Parliament from Newfoundland and Labrador, how can you justify supporting these measures that will hurt our fellow Newfoundlanders and Labradorians?

Hon. Gudie Hutchings, P.C., M.P., Minister of Rural Economic Development: Thank you, Senator Marshall. It is wonderful to be here today. I am a true and proud Newfoundlander and Labradorian.

I will agree to disagree with the province on the price on pollution, because I saw first-hand the cost of not acting on pollution when we all saw Hurricane Fiona hit Atlantic Canada and Îles de la Madeleine. As you know, my riding is the southern part of the province that was devastated by that.

When you talk to people about the price of not acting on pollution and the carbon footprint, people in my riding will say, “Please, we have to do more.”

The price on pollution that we will put through now will see the average Newfoundlander and Labradorian family of four receive over $1,300, and they will pay in about $700, so they will be better off in the long run.

We have had many other programs, as well: We have increased the Guaranteed Income Supplement, or GIS, and we have the Oil to Heat Pump Affordability Grant for people wanting to transition off of oil heat. We have now come out with $10-a-day daycare. We are doing so much to help people in these challenging times.

I will not sugar-coat it: These are challenging times for folks. We have come out of a pandemic that has been devastating to people, and that has affected supply chains. We’re impacted by the war in Ukraine.

Again, though, people look at their day-to-day lives, and it is having an impact, but I can tell you that Canada’s foundation is strong. We will get through this together.

Support for Tourism Sector

Hon. Karen Sorensen: Welcome, minister.

Canada’s unparalleled natural beauty and pristine wildlife make us a top destination for visitors from around the world — which I saw first-hand when I worked in the tourism and hospitality industry in Banff, and as I have travelled throughout our nation, including to your fantastic province of Newfoundland and Labrador this past summer.

Ecotourism and outdoor experiences generate revenues and create jobs in many rural and remote communities across the country, including Indigenous communities that use authentic experiences as a vehicle for cultural revitalization. Many of the communities that rely upon income from tourists struggled mightily throughout the pandemic, and are working hard to recover.

Could you expand on how the government is supporting tourism development in rural and remote communities?

Hon. Gudie Hutchings, P.C., M.P., Minister of Rural Economic Development: Thank you for that question, Senator Sorensen.

Many of you in the room may know that I have a deep passion for the tourism industry — it was my life for about 25 years.

As I noted, the pandemic was terrible, and no industry was hit harder than the tourism sector. We were there to help industry, employers and employees through the terrible pandemic to get back on their feet. I know the incredible work that Destination Canada is doing to showcase our provinces and the country, and the incredible products that we have, especially Indigenous products. I was in British Columbia last week; I went through Vancouver, and met with the president of Indigenous Tourism BC. The work they are doing is phenomenal.

You’re right; Canada has what the world wants. We all now have to work hard to get the industry back on its feet.

In my home province, at Gros Morne National Park, which I know you visited this past summer, tourism was up 30% this year. Now we all have to do our part and work together on accessibility, marketing and product development, as well as getting workers and immigration working to help workers into the tourism sector, especially in rural Canada.

I can tell you the world wants what Canada has, and I cannot wait to welcome the world to our country.

Rural Transportation

Hon. Jane Cordy: Thank you very much for being here with us today, minister.

My question has to do with the increasingly limited transportation options for rural Canadians. Commuter air routes, regional bus lines and even national bus companies are reducing services or stopping altogether, and rail services are limited or non-existent in rural areas. The pandemic has accelerated the shrinking of these services, but the fact is that these services were disappearing long before the pandemic.

Minister, what are you doing to ensure that rural Canadians have convenient, affordable and reliable access to what are essential services?

Hon. Gudie Hutchings, P.C., M.P., Minister of Rural Economic Development: Thank you, senator. Trust me, I get it. I used to say, when I first came to Ottawa, you could fit six Prince Edward Islands in my riding, and then I realized that people didn’t have a clue how big Prince Edward Island is. Now I say that my riding is bigger than Switzerland. I have over 200 communities, and 5 of those are accessible by boat only. Of course, our island of Newfoundland is only accessible by ferry service.

Since I have been minister, I have done over 70 round tables — with people from coast to coast to coast — focused on many things. One of them was on rural transit. We had a deep discussion of how things have changed since the pandemic. Yes, you are correct: Transit was an issue in rural Canada long before the pandemic, but I think that the pandemic has ripped off the Band-Aid because we’re now seeing more and more people wanting to move to rural areas.

I have regular discussions with my colleagues Minister Alghabra for Transport and Minister LeBlanc for Infrastructure and Communities. We work with the provinces and territories on how we can create a rural transit plan for the country. Mr. LeBlanc has a Rural Transit Solutions Fund that he announced last year, and the applications are being reviewed now.

But we have to make sure that it works for all rural Canadians — not just those closer to a large centre.


Access to Diagnostic Clinics

Hon. Mohamed-Iqbal Ravalia: A pleasure to see you, minister, and thank you for being here today.

My question today is regarding health in general and fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, or FASD, which is a diagnostic term used to describe the broad spectrum of presentations and disabilities resulting from exposure to alcohol in utero.

There are little or no FASD multidisciplinary diagnostic teams in rural regions of Canada. Families often have difficulty accessing their services, and, because of the lack of clinics available and the distance rural residents have to travel, it is often a huge burden to them.

As outlined in Canada’s Rural Economic Development Strategy, since 2015 the federal government has made investments in rural communities, including efforts to improve connectivity through affordable high-speed internet and enhanced infrastructure to improve education and health facilities.

Would you please speak to what measures are being taken to improve access to health diagnostic clinics in general but, in particular, for support for individuals with FASD and other more complex health issues?

Hon. Gudie Hutchings, P.C., M.P., Minister of Rural Economic Development: Thank you, Senator Ravalia. Earlier I alluded to the round tables I have done. Trust me, I have done quite a few on rural health care. It is interesting how people say it is not just money that will fix the problem. We need to encourage people, be it doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners, specialists or mental health specialists, to get into rural communities. Everyone says that we need a hub system because you cannot have one person go to a remote area — look, it will be burnout in no time. We have to work with the provinces and territories to get the hub system in these rural parts of the country.

The digital equation that we are delivering on high-speed broadband to the rural communities is going to help to a certain extent. But there is no better than face-to-face access to health care.

On your specific issue of fetal alcohol syndrome, we have a raging problem throughout Canada, and it is in rural Canada with alcohol and substance abuse.

I know my colleague was in the room here, Minister Bennett. I know that she is focused on what we can do with mental health and addictions, and I will work with her every step of the way and I’ll be watching what you do on this important file as well, senator.

Mental Health Services

Hon. Robert Black: Minister Hutchings, thank you for appearing in the Red Chamber today. We know that mental health challenges affect people of all ages, education, income levels and culture. In any given year, one in five Canadians will personally experience a mental health problem or illness.

We also know that rural communities often have issues accessing many services, including health care. In many cases, mental health-related services and supports in rural communities are less comprehensive, less available and less accessible than in urban areas.

Certainly, I look at issues through an agricultural and rural lens. I would like to take the opportunity to highlight the fact that according to statistics from the Ontario branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association, 68% of farmers are more susceptible than the general population to chronic stress, which can lead to physical and mental illnesses; 58% of farmers meet the classifications for anxiety; and 45% of farmers report high stress.

Many Canadians work in rural and agriculture-adjacent sectors. Minister, can you highlight what steps your government has taken to address the lack of access to mental health services in rural Canada?

Hon. Gudie Hutchings, P.C., M.P., Minister of Rural Economic Development: Senator Black, that is an amazing question and it follows on your colleague’s question as well.

It is interesting, too. One of the round tables that I have done was with the agricultural sector, and they brought that specific thing up. It has been challenging times. They have seen floods, and they have seen droughts. Interestingly, with the hurricane that hit in my riding, mental health supports were needed there at that time to get people through the shock of seeing 100-foot waves. The province did a great job of transporting people from major centres to the rural centres. But that was an awakening, too, that this needs to be addressed in rural Canada. Sadly, often it takes a disaster or catastrophe for us to work on these issues. I talk regularly with Minister Bennett on how we address this.

I had a great chat when I was in rural Manitoba earlier this year. I sat down with a group of kids whose specialty in their high school and their post-secondary school is how we address the rural issues of mental care.

It is on my radar, sir. I will continue to work with Minister Bennett and keep you posted as to our progress and support you in any way I can.

Newfoundland and Labrador Fixed Link

Hon. Yonah Martin (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): According to your mandate letter from the Prime Minister, you must contribute to the development of infrastructure, “in line with the Government’s broader infrastructure strategy.” One goal of your government’s infrastructure strategy is:

Support major nation-building projects that will benefit people across various regions, connect our country and improve quality of life, including the Newfoundland-Labrador fixed transportation link.

Minister, could you tell Canadians and, in particular, the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, where this project is? Do you have any idea of the level of expenses involved in this project and how much the federal government will be called upon to finance it?

Hon. Gudie Hutchings, P.C., M.P., Minister of Rural Economic Development: That is a wonderful question. It is dear to my heart, senator, because it would be in the northern part of my riding and connected to mainland Canada.

This conversation has been going on for many years in our province of Newfoundland and Labrador. What is interesting is that technologies have changed over the years. My counterpart and friend Minister O’Regan was in Norway a few months ago and visited a subsea tunnel that was built at a quarter of the price that was estimated 20 years ago. So the prices are coming down.

On your question about the costs of this, as Newfoundland and Labrador MPs, we’ve had reach-out from people in the business sector, asking, “Would the Canada Infrastructure Bank please do a request for interest, because we are interested in doing this?”

I think that that is the best way to do it. It will not be money from the provincial government. It will be a loan, as you know, from the Canada Infrastructure Bank. But there is interest from the private sector to get this done. They see it as looking after our oceans with the whales issue. We are looking at how we get the transit, we’re doing transborder traffic and we’re doing traffic of goods and services from all over the world.

I think you are going to see this fixed link come, and it will be a public-private partnership and it will be through business driving this. At the end of the day, senator, if business is not supporting this, it cannot be a wish of the federal government. It has to be business supporting it, and they are telling us that this is what they need to see the movement of goods from Europe, especially now with the Northwest Passage opening up.

Mental Health Services

Hon. Judith G. Seidman: Minister, thank you for being with us today. I would like to pursue the mental health issue, if I might.

The University of Guelph recently released a study indicating that the mental health of Canadian farmers is worse than it was five years ago and worse than that of the general population in every way. Stress, anxiety, depression, emotional exhaustion and suicide ideation are all higher among farmers than the national average and highest among women farmers.

Your mandate letter from the Prime Minister states:

Support the Minister of Mental Health and Addictions to explore pathways to increase the accessibility of mental health services in rural areas.

Minister, might you tell us about your government’s plan to improve the mental health of our farmers and, specifically, any concrete actions taken since your appointment as minister?

Hon. Gudie Hutchings, P.C., M.P., Minister of Rural Economic Development: Thank you for that question, senator. It seems to be a theme here. Look, I agree 100%.

I think when we do see the increased access to high-speed affordable broadband, you are seeing the increase of telehealth and mental health in rural communities. That’s working in many areas. I know it’s working well in parts of rural Newfoundland and Labrador, where I have seen it used first-hand.

But that is not all that we have to do. As I said earlier, I’m working with Minister Bennett on what we can actually do. How can we target farmers and get into the areas that really need help? As I said, one of the round tables I did was with agricultural farmers, and this came up at that round table.

I worked with the minister, and I will continue to work with her so that we can come up with specific solutions for this field.

They have been through a trying time. By golly, the world is in an upheaval, as I said earlier. Farmers have been experiencing drought, flood, temperature changes and then farmers also feel the desire to produce the grains, produce and products that we need as Canadians and that we export to the world.

So I will be there to work with Minister Bennett every step of the way.


Financial Cooperatives

Hon. Lucie Moncion: Welcome to the Senate, minister.

In your mandate letter, the Prime Minister asks you to do the following:

 . . . continue to implement the Rural Economic Development Strategy to build on existing investments . . . and identify improvements that could be made to programs, policies and future investments to benefit rural communities.

We know that financial cooperatives are generally the last to be consulted when it comes to program and policy development. I am thinking in particular of the Canada Emergency Business Account, or CEBA, during COVID-19. The government eventually made members of these institutions eligible, but they had to work hard to make themselves heard.

Nevertheless, these financial institutions represent nearly one quarter, or 21%, of the Canadian SME market share. Their belated inclusion in critical discussions is hampering rural economic development.

In keeping with the spirit of the objectives set out in your mandate letter, can you tell us how your government intends to consult financial cooperatives systematically rather than belatedly?



Hon. Gudie Hutchings, P.C., M.P., Minister of Rural Economic Development: Thank you, senator. That is a great question. One thing that I did as soon as I was appointed minister with this portfolio — there is a Centre for Rural Economic Development already established. I sat down with the team and I asked, “Who do we have on the ground? Who do we have actually out working with businesses, banking institutes, not‑for‑profits, communities and Indigenous communities?” I am pleased to say that now we have 22 people in that department, and there are some on the ground in rural Canada from coast to coast to coast. We also work with regional developments associations, with BDC and, of course, with all of the other ministries in this field.

The reality is that banking is different in rural Canada. We have to work with the Canadian Bankers Association, or CBA, and all aspects to make sure that we develop and deliver to rural Canadians. I have tasked my team in the Centre for Rural Economic Development to make sure that they get out to every field because if we are not delivering the services that rural Canadians need to grow the economy, to help farmers, to help fishers and to help the tourism sector and the mining industry, we are not going to get there. They are a vital part of working with all of the groups on the ground to make a difference in rural and economic development from coast to coast to coast.

Open Banking

Hon. Colin Deacon: Welcome to the Senate, minister. You know that 40% of Canadians live in places with fewer than 100,000 people, and rural communities are too often underserved by our financial system. I will build on Senator Moncion’s question.

This is an especially alarming problem because banks continue to close branches in small and remote communities, restricting the ability of people to continue to live and operate their businesses. Finance Canada is in the process of designing and implementing an open banking regime. I have to believe that this can provide hope to our underserved rural communities. To what extent is open banking being considered as a complimentary tool to help address this worrying problem that is undermining livelihoods and economic potential in rural Canada?

Hon. Gudie Hutchings, P.C., M.P., Minister of Rural Economic Development: Thank you so much for that question, my friend. You know just as well as I do that the financial sector is becoming increasingly digitalized, and we have to make sure that the standards are modernized to ensure that every part of Canada enjoys a strong, stable and innovative financial sector.

We also have to make sure and realize that for every Canadian, no matter where they live, the financial sector is globally competitive, promotes consumer choice and contributes to economic growth. That is why I was delighted when our government launched the Advisory Committee on Open Banking. I am sure that you know that the lead on that is Abraham Tachjian, who has done phenomenal work with stakeholders, consumer organizations and regulators. The four pillars of the committee’s report is on accreditation, liability, privacy and security.

The government is reviewing the committee’s recommendations and developing the next steps to move forward. I know that you will play an active role in that along the way, sir.


Canada Post—Seizure of Items

Hon. Pierre J. Dalphond: Welcome to the Senate, minister.


In your mandate letter, you were invited to support the Minister of Public Services in ensuring that Canada Post better reach Canadians in rural and remote areas. As you may know, it is reported that, for fentanyl sellers, Canada Post is the shipping method of choice, and often the only one available to ship these illegal products into rural and remote communities.

Minister, are you ready to consider proposals such as Bill S-256 to remove from the Canada Post Corporation Act restrictions that impede the police from seizing illegal drugs and other illegal items shipped through mailed envelopes?

Hon. Gudie Hutchings, P.C., M.P., Minister of Rural Economic Development: Thank you, senator. That is an incredible question because it alludes to what I mentioned earlier about the terrible drug problem that we have in rural Canada. As you know, Canada Post is a Crown corporation, but I will be following that bill’s progress to the detail. I know that is exactly how some of the drugs are getting into these rural communities.

The other thing that I am delighted to see is that Canada Post is now looking at a different way to do business. They’ve started Canada Post hubs. They are piloting these new projects. There are four — one in Membertou, Nova Scotia, one in Alberta, one in Saskatchewan and one in Ontario — where they are looking at being more service-centred. There could be electric vehicle charging stations, money services, maybe rentable meeting rooms, having access to local businesses and community information and secure access to postal and parcel boxes. I think that as we see these hubs grow, you will see more people in these areas, and hopefully, we can get that under control.

As you know, it would be a policing issue. Again, I’m sure that we’re going to have a talk about policing in rural areas as well because that is totally different. But I will be watching the progress of that bill, and I’ll be watching you watch it with me, sir.

Rural Transportation

Hon. Robert Black: In the last Parliament, I met with representatives for the former minister of infrastructure and communities to discuss the fact that rural communities do not have the same access to public transit as their urban counterparts. In that meeting, I highlighted several initiatives in my home province of Ontario, including Wellington County’s RIDE WELL and Simcoe County’s LINX.

Minister, I think that you will agree that the lack of viable transportation options makes it difficult for youth and adults alike to take advantage of many opportunities. Transportation services are not only imperative for rural communities to thrive, but they also support the mobile labour force. Through your ministerial mandate letter, the Prime Minister asks that you contribute to the development of rural transit solutions.

With that in mind, could you please advise what this government has done and will do to ensure that Canadians living in rural communities have access to reliable and affordable transportation options?

Hon. Gudie Hutchings, P.C., M.P., Minister of Rural Economic Development: Senator Black, thank you for that. This is a passion for me. As you know by now, my riding is bigger than Switzerland. There is one town that has two small buses about the size of the parliamentary buses, and I have three communities that have a taxi service. There is no Uber in Newfoundland and Labrador. There are a couple of what I would call “mom and pop” van services running from a small rural community to a bigger community to help seniors, to help the underserved and to deliver parcels. But we need to do a better job.

Even though we have money under rural transit under Minister LeBlanc, I’m a firm advocate that we need to have money for planning. There is no point in you doing something in your area and someone else doing another transit project in another area if it doesn’t all link together. It has to be a hub-and-wheel-spoke system for transit if it is going to be effective and work in rural areas.

We also have to think outside of the box. Maybe it’s ride‑sharing, maybe it is working with communities that have a coach or bus service now and asking if we can supplement getting a bus to take seniors or those who are underserved to the grocery store that is an hour away once a week. I also think that, in rural Canada, we have to understand that public transit is different. If you grew up in Europe, you built your life around the bus or train schedule. As we get into the conversation of rural transit, we have to know that we have to build our lives around that transit, and that there is nothing wrong with using it.

Rural Immigration

Hon. Paula Simons: As you know, minister, Canada has set ambitious immigration goals for the coming years — an immigration target of 500,000 people by 2025. But rural communities that are often keen to attract immigrants find it difficult to recruit and retain them because of a lack of support services for new Canadians in rural Canada.

I am wondering what you can tell us, beyond the rural and northern immigration pilot program, what your department is doing to assist with the challenge of settling newcomers to Canada in rural communities that are desperate for that infusion.

Hon. Gudie Hutchings, P.C., M.P., Minister of Rural Economic Development: Senator Simons, I have my colleague and friend Minister Fraser on speed dial. He and I chat regularly about this. It is in how we address immigration in rural areas. You will hear me talk about the round tables that I have done because they have certainly given me the information that I need to help my colleagues develop better policy. One thing that we have heard loud and clear is that if immigration is going to be successful in rural Canada, you have to bring in the family unit.

There is a wonderful story from northern Ontario of a gentleman whom I have spoken with two or three times now because I get so excited when I speak with him. His is a Syrian family that came here. He opened up a pharmacy, and he now has five pharmacies. He has helped to bring in and sponsor over 20 pharmacists from Egypt, Syria and from friends that he had in Afghanistan. His secret is that the family unit has to come. It is the same as the story in Nova Scotia, with Peace By Chocolate. He is here with his family. The family unit will stay.


Also, what I hear, sadly, as we talk about immigration, is that the communities have to be welcoming. The communities have to be welcoming and invite immigrant families in. It’s not about you coming as an immigrant family and learning about my community. It’s how my community that I live in can learn about your traditions and culture and how we can all work together. When that happens together, it’s a success story. That’s what we need to do to promote immigrant families coming in.

Most immigrant families are coming with incredible skill sets. They want to work. They want to put down roots and build their families here. We all need to welcome them into rural Canada. That’s one of the reasons how we grow.

Digital Readiness

Hon. Marty Klyne: Minister, my question focuses on digital transformation north of the fifty-fifth parallel, in rural and remote communities, not to mention the Indigenous reserves across this country in rural Canada, too many of which have poor or no internet connectivity.

As broadband internet connectivity continues to advance in these rural and remote communities, it will be incumbent on the government to ensure that young Indigenous adults have access to digital skills and training opportunities, skills that they will need to participate and compete in the new economy. Digital transformation goes beyond just providing broadband internet access.

Minister, does this government know what level of digital skills our young Indigenous youth have in these rural and remote communities? Will they be ready to participate and compete in the new economy? What measures are being taken to ensure the gap is being closed to ensure Indigenous youth can make valuable contributions that benefit rural communities?

Hon. Gudie Hutchings, P.C., M.P., Minister of Rural Economic Development: That is a phenomenal question. All your questions have been phenomenal.

Senator, I had a chat with the U.S. ambassador a few months ago. He has a passion for broadband and connectivity. That was his question to me. He said, “It’s great to have the connection in the community, but do people have the skill set and do Indigenous communities have the skill set to use it?”

I’m delighted to tell you that through my department and ISED — Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada — there is a Digital Skills for Youth Program, and it’s over $100 million. That was announced in the 2021 budget. There is also digital transformation money to help businesses and communities learn this new digital world that we’re in.

It’s a proven fact that when you do have that training, as we saw through COVID-19 when businesses went from in person to online, how in many cases that scaled up and their sales just exploded. But we need to make sure we’re training the skill set there.

I hear you, sir. That money is there. If you need help finding some more, you reach out and we will do our best to make sure our Indigenous communities get their share and more. Because you’re right: It is in the rural, remote and Indigenous communities that we need this work done more than ever.

Rural Policing

Hon. Pamela Wallin: Minister, in September, 11 people were murdered during a stabbing rampage at James Smith Cree Nation in Saskatchewan. We know of your government’s recent pledge of $40 million for the First Nation, but we also know that the issue is that there simply aren’t enough police officers to respond to crimes in progress or emergencies in a timely way in rural areas. When a citizen calls the RCMP, they are often told just to stay inside and lock their doors because they can’t get there.

Will your government commit, minister, to allocating serious new funding for training, recruitment and resources for the RCMP for officers for all rural areas of Saskatchewan and rural Canada? After all, safety and security are key economic determinants.

Hon. Gudie Hutchings, P.C., M.P., Minister of Rural Economic Development: Senator Wallin, that’s an incredible question. Sadly, we have to talk about it too much.

I talked to Minister Mendicino about this, and he and I have done a round table on rural policing, because it is different.

I have nine RCMP detachments in my riding. There is hours between them, and all of them are 30% underserved. It was before the pandemic. It wasn’t just all because of the pandemic.

I also reach out to the provinces and the territories and say that we have to have a discussion of how we do rural policing better. Do we have to focus on using the RCMP for the cybersecurity and the big drug busts? In my home province of Newfoundland and Labrador, we have the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary. Do we help put them out on the ground in further areas?

It’s a conversation we all have to have. It’s not one-size-fits-all. It’s what we can do to work together with the provinces and territories to make sure that the applicable resources are there.

This is a serious issue. I have heard terrible stories, as I’m sure you have, of people committing petty crime, probably for drug money, where they target the space in between where they know it’s a three-hour recovery for whatever policing unit to get there. They target that maximum time so they know they can get in and out. That’s not a way that we need to live in Canada.

So I’m there with you. If you have some ideas, please let me know. It’s only by creative ideas that we will be able to address this from coast to coast to coast.


Canada Post—Services Provided to Rural Communities

Hon. Claude Carignan: Minister, as Question Period progresses, you are putting more and more pressure on the senators who are coming up next to ask great questions.

My question is based on your mandate letter, which includes the following commitment:

Support the Minister of Public Services and Procurement in ensuring that Canada Post better reaches Canadians in rural and remote areas.

Minister, can you tell us specifically how much money Canada Post has spent in 2021 on its strategy to improve postal services in rural communities, and how many post offices have been opened or renovated in rural communities as a result of your strategy?


Hon. Gudie Hutchings, P.C., M.P., Minister of Rural Economic Development: Senator, that’s a wonderful question. I don’t have that number, but I will get it for you.

I have had conversations with my counterparts as we explore how we do the rural hubs better. I just had a conversation this week in an area where the local bank had pulled out. Sadly, we have seen some of the big-name banks — the major four or five — pull out of rural communities.

Their concept was, in the Canada Post hub, to put in a credit union. So they’re working with the credit union on how to make this a bigger service centre.

I think we will see Canada Post come up with a variety of these different hub models. It can’t be one-size-fits-all, and it has to be from the ground up. Maybe in some communities it is a bank. Maybe in other communities they need a little business centre. Maybe in other communities they need a service centre for Service Canada to deliver things.

I think we will look at the model of what we can do and how that can serve rural, remote and Indigenous communities better. I promise you that I’ll get a number on that. I’ll be curious to see that number too. I’ll report back to you, sir.

Carbon Tax

Hon. Donald Neil Plett (Leader of the Opposition): Minister, my question is on behalf of Senator Wells, who, of course, is from Newfoundland and Labrador:

Last week, the federal government announced they were imposing a carbon tax on Newfoundland and Labrador, which is set to take effect July 1, 2023. Alongside your colleague MP Seamus O’Regan, who is also from your province, you said you were excited about this new tax. However, this ignores the pressures people are facing in the province with the rising cost of living. In fact, the carbon tax will drive up the price of home heating fuel by 17.38 cents per litre. The significant increase in heating costs over the past year already imposed considerable economic hardship and stress on these residents. A 20% increase to the carbon tax threatens to drive residents in the province into energy poverty.

There has been disappointment expressed that the carbon tax will apply to home heating. This was exempted in the made-in-Newfoundland-and-Labrador approach implemented in 2019.

Minister, will the government consider amending this tax —

The Hon. the Speaker: Senator Plett, your time is up.

Hon. Gudie Hutchings, P.C., M.P., Minister of Rural Economic Development: Thank you, senator, for that question. When I answered the same question from your colleague from Newfoundland and Labrador, I didn’t have time to mention another thing that we have done for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, which was rate mitigation.

We all know what the Muskrat Falls project was doing to Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. When that comes online, people’s electricity rates were going to double. The federal government stepped in to guarantee the rates would not be doubling.

Also, on the price on pollution, we’ll agree to disagree on that one. I know that the average family of four in Newfoundland and Labrador is going to pay in about $700, and they will get back over $1,300.

We have also done a variety of things to help people with the cost of living. As I said, we have increased Canada Child Benefit payments. There has been an increase in the Guaranteed Income Supplement. We have a program out for people to transition off of oil and go to heat pumps. We have come with a rent subsidy for people.

But again, on the rate mitigation piece, we have delivered a lot for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, and the rate mitigation piece is helping as well with their heating.

Rural Housing

Hon. Tony Loffreda: Thank you, minister, for being with us today. Could you elaborate further on these important issues? I noted in your progress report on Canada’s Rural Economic Development Strategy, released in August 2021, that one of your key priorities is to help address housing pressures by building or renovating over 9,000 units of affordable housing in rural and Indigenous communities.


Could you provide us with an update on this initiative and elaborate further? I might also add that home affordability is obviously a significant issue, but home accessibility and availability are equally important. How is the government helping address some of the real estate pressures and challenges in rural communities? Does your agency have targeted measures or policies in place to encourage new Canadians, immigrants and refugees to consider rural communities as a place to call home?

Hon. Gudie Hutchings, P.C., M.P., Minister of Rural Economic Development: Thank you, senator, for that question. I certainly hope they do consider a rural place to call home.

Minister Hussen has at his purview billions of dollars. We take the housing issue very seriously. There is a pocket of money now under the Housing Accelerator Fund. That’s to help with the capacity piece. A lot of that will be going to rural, small and remote communities to help them quarterback their way through the application process.

There has been housing earmarked specifically for rural development under the Rapid Housing Initiative stream, where 25% of that housing money that went to rural areas. Look, we know we have to make it easier for communities and not‑for‑profits and businesses — anybody — to avail themselves of the housing project.

What we haven’t done well as a federal government is making the application process fit the price. If you want to build a 10‑unit building in northern Ontario or northern Quebec, why is it the same application process for a 1,000-unit building here in downtown Ottawa?

I’m working with Minister Hussen, and there is a rural set‑aside under all his policies that are coming out now. We have worked hard to get that. We’re also suggesting to him that he use the pathfinder program. The pathfinder program was what we put in place with the Universal Broadband Fund to help people and communities get access to answers to questions like, “How do I find this information?” “How do I apply?” “With whom do I work and where do I go?” We are encouraging the minister to put this pathfinder program in the housing fund to specifically help rural and remote communities navigate through the sometimes onerous processes to access these funds.


Federal-Provincial-Territorial Collaboration

Hon. Diane Bellemare: Welcome, minister.

Your mandate is to work with the provinces and territories to generate rural economic development projects.

Would you please tell us about some successful examples of collaboration with the provinces and territories in areas other than internet access and transportation?


Hon. Gudie Hutchings, P.C., M.P., Minister of Rural Economic Development: That is a wonderful question. You probably know that we have various regional development associations — agencies across the country. Each of those six ministers has their own specific area. You have me, who is coast to coast to coast in rural economic development; you have Minister Boissonnault coast to coast to coast in tourism; and you have Minister Ng coast to coast to coast with small business and export. We get together every two weeks. We chat about what we need to do, how we can get out on the ground, how we make sure that our programs are being heard by all.

My department now has, where we’re putting all the information about funding. You go there and find information on high-speed internet. You can find information if you’re looking for funding for small communities, if you’re a not-for-profit or if you’re an Indigenous group. We’re putting all the funding in one place to make it easier for people.

I can tell you that the regional development associations are doing great work. They each have a component that focuses on rural areas in addition to my team, the Centre for Rural Economic Development team. Those people on the ground work with the regional development associations daily, so they all coordinate together. If we’re going to be successful in growing rural Canadian communities and rural Canada, we have to break down the silos and all work together, which is what we’re doing now. Thank you for the question.

Firearms Legislation

Hon. Pamela Wallin: Minister, on November 22, through last-minute amendments, without debate or committee hearings on Bill C-21, the federal government moved to ban hundreds of legally owned firearms and shotguns. Many of the weapons are rifles that are low powered, slow to fire and only designed to shoot birds or deer.

In rural areas, a rifle or a shotgun is an important tool. They also help put food on the table at a time when it is also too costly. These amendments will criminalize hunters and farmers when we know that the overwhelming bulk of violent gun crime is taking place in big cities. So why target legal hunters and farmers rather than the gangs and those who import weapons illegally?

Adding insult to injury through Bill C-5, your government has actually moved to reduce sentences for those who are convicted of serious gun crimes and violence.

Hon. Gudie Hutchings, P.C., M.P., Minister of Rural Economic Development: Senator Wallin, thank you for that. Many in this Senate house probably don’t realize that I own a firearm acquisition licence. I started to hunt when I was a young gal with my dad, and I continue to do so, but I don’t have as much time now.

I can tell you that when you get into the details of Bill C-21, yes, there are some firearms found there. But there are many that do not impact hunters and farmers and those who use firearms for sustenance hunting.

We need to get this in place once and for all so that the topic is dealt with. We have invested billions of dollars at the border, and that’s having great success. The other fact that we don’t talk about enough is that a lot of firearms are used for suicides. So we need to make sure that the regulations are in place for safe storage and making sure that trigger locks are imposed.

I live in rural Canada, and we all can do a better job of making sure we have safe storage. I will fully support Bill C-21. This is not against fishers, farmers or hunters — this is to make our country safer. We all have to do our part, so I will be supporting that bill.

Hurricane Fiona Recovery Fund

Hon. Michael L. MacDonald: Welcome, minister. Minister, certain parts of Atlantic Canada were hit hard by Hurricane Fiona, certainly the southwest coast and the gulf coast of Newfoundland — you’re familiar with that — all the Atlantic seaboard of Cape Breton, and Prince Edward Island as well was hit particularly hard.

Two days ago, you posted the following on Facebook:

The impacts of Fiona were hard hitting, and they continue to be, especially as we move into winter months.

That’s why I am so happy to hear that my friend and colleague Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor has announced that the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency . . . will now begin accepting applications through the Hurricane Fiona Recovery Fund to help support communities in hard hit sectors in the Atlantic that are not eligible for other financial support.

In the face of such an emergency, what took the government so long to make an application form available to the communities and businesses affected by Hurricane Fiona? Why would it take over two and a half months?

Hon. Gudie Hutchings, P.C., M.P., Minister of Rural Economic Development: Senator, you’re correct: Hurricane Fiona hit hard in Eastern Canada and, yes, in my home province. When the hurricane hit, the province reached out right away under a request for assistance, we were there and put the military in place.

The other aspect of financial assistance to any area — and this program has been around in Canada for years — is the Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements with the provinces and territories. That’s where the province has a covey of items that they can pull from where they say, “Yes, we will go to the federal government and we want these items covered.”

The money that Minister Petitpas Taylor announced the other day is for things that we now know are falling through the cracks of what the province asked for under the Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangement. I can tell you the applications are coming in, and Minister Petitpas Taylor is getting them out right away.

We know that housing and municipal infrastructure will be covered under the Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangement. Like I said, these are things that are falling through the cracks — perhaps your community centre didn’t come under the Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangement, for example. This was put in place to cover the things that the provinces didn’t request under the Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangement. It’s another pot of money.

Look, we know this hurricane is probably going to cost us well in excess of what was expressed. In the Fall Economic Statement, Minister Freeland said she put aside a billion dollars for this. That’s on top of the $300 million from Minister Petitpas Taylor. We will be there to support all —

The Hon. the Speaker: Sorry, minister, your time is up.

Honourable colleagues, I apologize for interrupting the session, but I was informed before the minister came that when voting started at the House, she would have to step out for about 30 seconds. We will suspend for 30 seconds while the minister steps outside to vote, and we will add that to the time.

Ms. Hutchings: Thank you, Your Honour.

(The sitting of the Senate was suspended.)

(The sitting of the Senate was resumed.)



Safety of Indigenous Women and Girls

Hon. Amina Gerba: Welcome, minister. I have a question for you on behalf of our colleague, Senator Audette:

In June, the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples released its report entitled Not Enough: All Words and No Action on MMIWG.

I would note that the Government of Canada ordered the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and that the commissioners, together with the families, submitted their report on June 3, 2019. Several of the Calls for Justice, including 4.1 and 4.6, urge the government to build and repair housing so that Indigenous women and girls have access to housing that is safe, appropriate to geographical and cultural needs, and available wherever they reside, whether in urban, rural or remote communities.

Minister, what have you done to ensure a safe environment for Indigenous women and girls?


Hon. Gudie Hutchings, P.C., M.P., Minister of Rural Economic Development: Thank you for that question, senator.

Since this is the week of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence: Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and LGBTQ2S+ people, it’s a fitting question. As a matter of fact, this morning I did an announcement on behalf of Minister Ien, who is responsible for Women and Gender Equality and Youth, and it was on Indigenous programs for women in rural areas.

The housing issue is succinct, and it is terrible everywhere in rural Canada, especially for Indigenous peoples. I can tell you that there is money set aside under Minister Hussen’s housing initiative for Indigenous peoples, and we need to get that done. We especially need more safe houses in rural and remote and Indigenous communities.

Everything is impacted, including transit — if somebody is in an abusive relationship, how they can get out. It’s connectivity as well. I was blessed to visit in the spring the Highway of Tears, which is that section of road in British Columbia where so many Indigenous girls have gone missing. That was a collaboration between federal, provincial governments and Rogers Communications. They saw that this area was known. It was targeted for Indigenous women and girls, and we partnered together to make sure that that section of road now has cell service. It was a terrible thing.

Partnerships will work. Partnerships will work on housing. Partnerships work on addressing this terrible issue that we all have to address.

Canada Community-Building Fund

Hon. Donald Neil Plett (Leader of the Opposition): Minister, I noted that your colleague MP Blois, who is the National Liberal Rural Caucus chair, was an advocate for making rural fire stations eligible to apply for funding from the Canada Community-Building Fund, or CCBF.

Infrastructure Canada’s website has numbers available to the public on the allocated funds from the CCBF by the province and territory. Rural volunteer fire departments are crucial in so many communities.

My question, minister, is very specific: Since this fund was amended earlier this year to include fire halls, can you please share with us how successful this addition is and how many rural fire halls have applied and succeeded in receiving funds?

Hon. Gudie Hutchings, P.C., M.P., Minister of Rural Economic Development: Senator Plett, thank you for the question.

This is important to my riding as well. I have 87 volunteer fire departments in my riding. I have one paid fire department, so I hear from volunteer fire departments all the time.

I’ll get the exact number for you, but I can tell you that as Minister LeBlanc is developing his new infrastructure program to work with provinces and territories and municipalities, we were talking just about how we can make sure that these small projects that mean so much in small, rural communities — maybe it’s $200,000 or $300,000 or $400,000, which would be nothing to Ottawa, but we know how important it is in these small communities.

I have a commitment from Minister LeBlanc that we will look at how small communities can avail themselves of these funds if they want to use them for a fire hall, if they want to use them for connectivity or if they want to use them for a community centre. We know that small funds that get out into rural Canada will have a difference on rural lives.

I will get you the exact number on what has happened in fire halls. I supported my friend MP Kody Blois on that as well.

Rural Inflation

Hon. Donald Neil Plett (Leader of the Opposition): A report from CBC indicates, minister, that sky-high inflation is causing more people to turn to rural food banks, and, in fact, this is something we are seeing across the country as food bank usage reached its highest level in Canadian history this year.

While this is an issue affecting all Canadians, it is not uncommon to have differences in inflation rates throughout the country. For many Canadians living in remote communities, many of whom are low-income or seniors on fixed incomes, the effects of inflation are felt all the more pointedly. Gas price increases likely come as a huge blow, as they depend on their vehicles for day-to-day activities and do not have the luxury of public transportation, as you indicated earlier.

As the minister on this file, can you tell me where the inflation rate currently stands in rural Canada and what kind of practical impacts it is having on rural Canadians?

Hon. Gudie Hutchings, P.C., M.P., Minister of Rural Economic Development: Thank you for the question, senator.

As I alluded to earlier, we were just through terrible times. We are just coming through a pandemic, and some would say we’re just at the tail end of the pandemic, along with the impacts of the war.

I can tell you that inflation is not one number, because it varies whether you’re in a remote community, an Indigenous community or what I call a really rural and remote community. The inflation number will change depending on where you go.

It’s a challenging time for people, but we have to think outside the box, too. I don’t have many food banks in my riding, but we have community kitchens, where people work together. How can we support and help by other means, not just what the Ottawa bubble would say is a food bank? What else can we do to support rural communities to help folks in need in these trying times?

I’ll be there every step of the way, sir.

Support for Tourism Sector

Hon. Andrew Cardozo: Thank you, minister, for being here to answer our questions.

You covered a number of different departments that you work with. I’m interested in the machinery of government or how you get things done or make things happen, because you seem to be working with a lot of different ministers and departments. How does that all happen?

I want to sneak in a little question about rural tourism, if you can talk about that. I had the good fortunate of travelling in your riding, and it’s certainly one of the most beautiful areas of the country.

Hon. Gudie Hutchings, P.C., M.P., Minister of Rural Economic Development: Senator, when the Prime Minister asked me to take this role, I was so excited because it’s breaking down those silos. It’s not only breaking down the political silos but breaking down the departmental silos.

We must have had some impact because in June I had a call that the clerk wanted to speak with me. I don’t know how you folks feel, but when the clerk wants to see you, your heart goes in your throat.

She called me in and said, “Look, good news; we now have another deputy coming to your department, and the deputy is going to be focused on rural economic development and tourism and small business.”

That’s incredible. For the work that we’re doing on the rural part with the political side of things, she is also doing the work with the departments. So we are making headway. That was a huge thing.

Also — and you alluded to this — my mandate letter covers many departments. Our government used to put an LGBTQ lens on things. Then we were the first government to put the gender lens on. Then we put on an Indigenous lens. Now we put a rural‑reality lens on all programs and policies and legislation that we put forth.

I’m now having ministers come to me and say, “Oh, before I send this up, will you look at it? I need to sit down and talk. How is this going to work? Do we need to change it to work in rural communities?”

We are having an impact.

Sadly, I need your help, too. When you see legislation come here in this Red Chamber, I need you to push back as well to say, “What impact will this have in rural, remote and Indigenous communities?”

On tourism, sir, I can talk tourism all day long because I know that we have what the world wants and we all need to work together to welcome everybody to Canada. I think during the pandemic we all had an opportunity to explore our backyards, and people saw what we have in Canada. We need to do that more. We all need to be proud of the tourism product and grow.


The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I am sure you will wish to join me in thanking Minister Hutchings for joining us today. Thank you, minister. We look forward to seeing you again.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.

Hon. Gudie Hutchings, P.C., M.P., Minister of Rural Economic Development: Thank you, all. It was my first visit to the beautiful Red Chamber. Thank you for the work you do, and I look forward to our paths crossing. If I don’t see you all again, from my family to yours, happy holidays.


Jamila Afghani

Congratulations on Aurora Humanitarian Prize

Hon. Tony Loffreda: Honourable senators, I rise to pay tribute to the 2022 Aurora Prize Laureate, Ms. Jamila Afghani, who joins us today from the gallery. I thank Senator Housakos for highlighting the significance of this prestigious award.

Earlier this afternoon, we hosted a reception in honour of Ms. Afghani’s outstanding humanitarian achievements and commitment to her people, particularly the women and girls of her native Afghanistan.

Ms. Afghani is an educator, a former deputy minister, a human rights defender and, perhaps more importantly, a strong voice of reason and strength for the women of her country, who have been silenced, degraded and stripped of their fundamental human rights by the discriminatory and inhumane Taliban regime.

Ms. Afghani currently leads the Afghanistan section of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom and she is also the founder and president of the Noor Educational & Capacity Development Organization. She has helped empower and educate thousands of Afghan women and given them a sense of purpose and value by establishing libraries and home schools, arranging capacity-building training and psychosocial wellness sessions, offering support and guidance to women-led businesses and providing humanitarian and financial aid to families in need.

In a moving video tribute by the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative, Ms. Afghani shares her heart-wrenching story and reminds us that she has been a refugee a total of six times in her life. Thanks to the generosity and kindness of countless individuals, Jamila, her husband and children have successfully made their way to Kitchener, Ontario, where, despite being nearly 10,000 kilometres away from home, she continues her advocacy.

Ms. Afghani recently explained that she hopes to return to her country to continue her work in support of women’s rights. We all hope that day is soon, but we urge you to consider your safety and well-being above all before returning home. Until then, I know all honourable senators join me in reminding you of how lucky we are to have you here in Canada. I hope you and your family have felt welcomed, appreciated and respected.

Ms. Afghani, your service to humanity and your desire to do good for the women and girls of your country are admirable and certainly deserving of the 2022 Aurora Prize.

I stand here before you, in the Senate of Canada, a place where freedom is protected, where democracy is upheld and where peace is valued, in admiration of your many achievements and in solidarity with you, your people and your country. You are truly an inspiration.

I conclude with a quote from Randy Pausch:

In life you cannot choose the cards you are dealt but you can and do choose the way you play the hand.

Thank you for choosing Canada.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.

Visitors in the Gallery

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I wish to draw your attention to the presence in the gallery of Marcia Kran, newly invested Officer of the Order of Canada, and her spouse, Luis Molina. They are the guests of the Honourable Senator McPhedran.

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

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

World Soil Day

Hon. Robert Black: Honourable senators, I have risen on a number of occasions in this chamber and in the Standing Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry to speak on the importance of soil health.

Today, I would like to highlight the United Nations World Soil Day, which takes place every year on December 5. This year’s theme — Soils: where food begins — aims to raise awareness about the importance of maintaining healthy ecosystems and human well-being by addressing the growing challenges in soil management, increasing soil awareness and encouraging societies to improve soil health.

I am proud to share that the Standing Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry is currently undertaking a soil study to review the health of Canada’s soils and its impacts on our country. In fact, just this morning, members of the committee travelled to the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum to get our hands dirty and to learn more about Canada’s soils, as well as conservation and protection practices. While this study is still in its early days, I am sure that we will have the opportunity to investigate how food begins with our soils.

As a long-standing member of Ontario’s agricultural community, I know just how important healthy, arable soil is to our farmland and our food system. However, it is concerning to think that Ontario is losing 319 acres of farmland every day.

At this time, I would like to acknowledge the Ontario Federation of Agriculture’s Home Grown campaign in that regard. It is high time that we work together to protect local farms from being lost to urban sprawl.

Honourable colleagues, when we lose farmland, we lose the food that would have been cultivated there as well. That loss directly contributes to our ability to maintain strong and stable food supply chains. While it is clear that food security is an issue around the world, it is also an issue here at home.

I’m sad to share that a poll conducted by Food Banks Canada found that one in five Canadians reported going hungry at least once between March 2020 and March 2022, and almost a quarter of Canadians reported eating less than they should have due to rising prices. As a leader in agriculture on a global scale, we must prioritize ending food insecurity in Canada and around the world. To achieve that, we will also need to prioritize our agricultural industry and ensure that our soils are healthy enough to feed the world for generations to come.

This World Soil Day, I encourage you to take the time to learn more about the ways in which Canada can conserve and protect its soils and reflect on the ways in which healthy soils in Canada are linked to a strong food supply system. We must acknowledge that protecting our healthy soils also means protecting all the benefits that come with it, like healthy ecosystems, improved water quality and reduced greenhouse gases.

I am certain that this is something we can all “dig” into on this upcoming World Soil Day and beyond. Thank you. Meegwetch.



Hon. Diane Bellemare: Honourable senators, I rise today to pay tribute to caregivers. People don’t always choose to become a caregiver. It often happens naturally, and it’s not always easy.

In Quebec, the week of November 6 to 12 was a special time to highlight the work of caregivers and salute the community organizations that support them in their journey.

According to Statistics Canada, nearly one in four people in Canada is a caregiver, which represents roughly 25% of the population aged 15 and over, or 7.8 million Canadians. Caregivers are usually women between the ages of 45 and 65 who most often are taking care of a parent.

There is little government support for caregivers. According to a 2018 Statistics Canada survey, support for caregivers comes primarily from family members or friends. However, caregivers rarely receive financial support. Some 14% of caregivers receive financial support from family and friends, 8% receive federal tax credits, and 6% receive funding from government programs.

This is despite the fact that caregivers make a significant economic contribution. According to a study cited by Statistics Canada, caregivers in Canada contributed an estimated $26 billion in unpaid labour in 2009. Yet these caregivers receive little recognition for the support they provide.

My sister Sylvie looked after my mother every day for many years. When our mother could no longer live alone, Sylvie brought her into her own home. My sister had to leave her job and accepted all the consequences of that decision, which is difficult to imagine. I am very grateful to her, because, during that time, as a senator, I dealt with major societal issues.

It is urgent that we think about the essential services provided to older and very old individuals. The baby boomer aging wave is just beginning. Today, 19% of the population is over 65. When I visited various homes for seniors in Quebec this summer to find a suitable and, above all, available place for my mother, I noted that the robots of tomorrow will not really be able to take care of very old persons. We will have an even greater need of caregivers.

Honourable senators, as the song says, “Everybody wants to go to heaven but nobody wants to die.” I sincerely thank these earthly angels who watch over our loved ones day and night. Let’s recognize that they cannot live on thanks alone.

Thank you, meegwetch.


Tribute to Madeleine Féquière, C.M.

Hon. Marie-Françoise Mégie: Honourable senators, it is with great pride that I introduce you today to an icon of the Haitian community in Canada. This great lady has 35 years of experience in the largest corporations in the world in corporate credit administration, credit risk and operations, and international trade. She holds a directors education program diploma in governance from the Rotman School of Management of the University of Toronto. She has an ICD.D designation from the Institute of Corporate Directors. She also has a mini-MBA from the McGill Executive Institute.

She earned a certificate in finance from HEC Montréal jointly with the Credit Institute of Canada. She was corporate credit chief at Domtar Corporation since 2008. She is a co-founder of the Excellence Québec initiative, an entity that ensures the inclusion of Blacks in boards of directors. Our colleague, Senator Gerba, is also part of that group.

She actively worked to support the challenges of diversity, equality and inclusion by integrating promising young leaders into the management, finance and governance communities. She has implemented innovative strategies and deployed efficient credit structures across the Americas and in Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

Throughout her career, she has demonstrated her adaptability and leadership as she has held global executive positions in diverse sectors, including culture, health, education, agri-food, technology and telecommunications. Despite her heavy workload, she became involved in community development initiatives in our home country, Haiti, such as Fonkoze and KANPE. These foundations accompany and support the most vulnerable Haitians on the path to financial autonomy.

Ms. Féquière was invested into the Order of Canada on May 25, 2022, in recognition of her distinguished career and achievements. On November 9, the Minister of Foreign Affairs appointed her as the Consul General in Chicago, in the United States.

Esteemed colleagues, I have outlined Madeleine Féquière’s impressive career. Please join me in congratulating her and wishing her success in her new endeavours. Thank you.

World AIDS Day

Hon. René Cormier: Esteemed colleagues:

I came into this world with the HIV virus because the health care system failed to give my mother the preventive treatment that would have kept me from being infected when she needed it.

If he could talk, that is what the baby born with HIV last October at the CHU Saint-Justine in Montreal might say.

In an interview with Le Devoir on November 3 in relation to this shameful situation, Dr. Isabelle Boucoiran said that she is concerned about the fact that a growing number of HIV-positive migrant women are being referred to the health care system too late. She believes that a significant administrative burden is to blame.


On this World AIDS Day and Indigenous AIDS Awareness Week, I stand up once again to say that the inequalities that persist relentlessly impede progress to end this virus, and I decry once again the devastation this epidemic is causing — more than 40 years after it first appeared.

One more time, I affirm that HIV is not a virus of the past. The fact that it continues to contaminate our youth in a troubling way is proof that it is still present, and persists in anchoring itself in our societies.

Every day, colleagues, 1,100 young people between the ages of 15 and 24 are infected with HIV worldwide.


Most people who were diagnosed with HIV in Canada in 2020 were between the ages of 20 and 49. To be more specific, the rate of infection for the age category of 20 to 29 was 6.2 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants per year.

Honourable senators, what will it take for us to finally take the appropriate action to protect our youth? It is clear that the solution lies with community organizations that educate and provide local services to young people and all Canadians who are most at risk. These organizations are already working miracles with the few resources they have. It is time that they had access to the funding they have been waiting for far too long.


Colleagues, you will remember that exactly two years ago today, I tabled a motion in the Senate that was adopted the same day — thanks to all of you — urging the government to increase funding for the Federal Initiative to Address HIV/AIDS in Canada to $100 million annually — a recommendation also proposed by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health in 2019.

While applauding the recent efforts of the federal government, including the one-time funding for accessible testing and the historic increase in its contribution to The Global Fund, sustainable funding for community response here in Canada is still lacking, and inequities are growing.


Let me close by reminding you that UNAIDS and its member countries, including Canada, are committed to ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030. Eight years to eradicate this virus is not a long time, but I am hopeful.

Colleagues, the inequities that perpetuate the AIDS epidemic are not irreversible. We all have a role to play in addressing them. Let’s act together, now.

Thank you. Meegwetch


Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration

Sixth Report of Committee Presented

Hon. Lucie Moncion: Honourable senators, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the sixth report of the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration, which deals with amendments to the Senate Administrative Rules.

(For text of report, see today’s Journals of the Senate, p. 1097.)

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

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

National Council for Reconciliation Bill

First Reading

The Hon. the Speaker informed the Senate that a message had been received from the House of Commons with Bill C-29, An Act to provide for the establishment of a national council for reconciliation.

(Bill read first time.)

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

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




Motion Adopted

Hon. Raymonde Gagné (Legislative Deputy to the Government Representative in the Senate): Honourable senators, with leave of the Senate and notwithstanding rule 5-5(g), I move:

That, when the Senate next adjourns after the adoption of this motion, it do stand adjourned until Tuesday, December 6, 2022, at 2 p.m.

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.)

Federal Law–Civil Law Harmonization Bill, No. 4

Bill to Amend—Second Reading—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Clement, seconded by the Honourable Senator Petitclerc, for the second reading of Bill S-11, A fourth Act to harmonize federal law with the civil law of Quebec and to amend certain Acts in order to ensure that each language version takes into account the common law and the civil law.

Hon. Renée Dupuis: Honourable senators, today I rise in support of Bill S-11, a fourth act to harmonize federal law with the civil law of Quebec and to amend certain acts in order to ensure that each language version takes into account the common law and the civil law. The bill’s full title speaks to the substantial relationship within our judicial system between federal law and provincial law, which is to say, Quebec’s civil law and other provinces’ and territories’ common law. This form of bijuralism is unique to Canada, where two completely different legal traditions coexist within the same judicial system. They are the foundation of the system we have today.

This bill is a technical bill containing 642 clauses that amend some 50 federal acts. Contrary to what one might think upon reading Bill S-11, its content does not consist solely of random words. When used in various pieces of legislation, these words convey legal concepts. They convey the values that Parliament has endorsed following often arduous legislative debate on complex and sensitive social issues. As such, this bill treats words as more than interchangeable concepts.

The bill’s sponsor explained the content of the legislation, and her words have informed our reflection. I would like to draw your attention to one fundamental aspect, specifically that this bill refers to an element of our legal system that is an integral part of what it has become today, and I would like to briefly recall the historical elements that help explain why such a bill is currently before us.

Canadian bijuralism, as a subject of legal study, developed in the 20th century, but its origins lie in earlier historic events, some elements of which I found important to highlight.

The first element is the system of civil law governing mainly private rights, established by the French and applied in their colony of Quebec in the 17th century.

The second element is the Treaty of Paris, signed on February 10, 1763, which recognized the victory of the British over the French in 1759 at Quebec City and in 1760 at Montreal. This was the treaty by which France ceded to Britain its countries, territories and islands in America.

The third element is the Royal Proclamation of 1763, endorsed at the Privy Council in London by King George III, who imposed common law in his new colonies in the Americas.

The fourth element is the uncertainty that has persisted as to whether common law has abolished the application of French private law.

The fifth element refers to the uncertainty at the time regarding the new British regime’s ability to impose its law given the resistance it encountered in its colony. This resistance only compounded the discontent that was being expressed in the other British American colonies and that eventually led to the U.S. War of Independence.

The sixth element is the passage of the Quebec Act of 1774. Section VIII of that act, which is an act of the British Parliament, repealed part of the Royal Proclamation and re-established previous French laws regarding property and the rights of citizens in Quebec, while maintaining the common law in criminal matters, thereby formalizing the coexistence of the traditions of civil law and common law in a constitutional document.

The seventh element is the Quebec Act, which actually represents a political concession that the British felt they had to give the French, who did not recognize themselves in the legal regime, the common law tradition, which was completely foreign to them.

The eighth element is the civil law, which became an integral part of the Canadian Constitution; in other words, the Civil Code of Lower Canada, passed in 1865, became the first codification of this civil law and would serve as the main reference before being completely overhauled and replaced in 1991 with a new civil code that took effect in 1994. In the new version, a preliminary provision of the code states the following, and I quote:

The Civil Code comprises a body of rules which, in all matters within the letter, spirit or object of its provisions, lays down the jus commune, expressly or by implication.

The ninth element is the Constitution Act, 1867 which creates a federal system dividing legislative responsibilities between two levels of government, the federal and provincial levels.

The tenth element is the confirmation of the coexistence of the traditions of civil law and common law within the framework of the exclusive legislative powers attributed to the federal Parliament in the Constitution Act, 1867 over aspects of private law, such as marriage and divorce, alongside the exclusive jurisdiction given to provincial legislative assemblies to legislate on property and civil rights in the province.

Finally, the eleventh element is the federal government’s adoption of a policy to harmonize federal legislation with Quebec’s civil law in 1993. This policy reflects the complementarity between federal legislation and civil law when it comes to interpreting and applying federal legislation in Quebec and amending federal laws that existed in 1994 to adapt them to the new law concepts introduced after the comprehensive review of the Civil Code in 1994.

Honourable senators, I invite the members of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs to carefully review the 642 clauses of Bill S-11, because it deals with issues that are fundamental to us as we define the concepts and words that must reflect our constitutional system.

Thank you.

Hon. Bernadette Clement: Would the senator take a question?

Senator Dupuis: I would be honoured to answer questions from the bill’s sponsor.

Senator Clement: Senator, I very much appreciated your reminder of all the historical steps that led to this unique characteristic of our legal system. In your circles, how are civil law practitioners reacting to this harmonization work in general? Are they reacting favourably, or should we expect something else?

Senator Dupuis: Thank you, Senator Clement, for your question. You interpreted the last paragraph of my intervention quite well, when I said that I invite the members of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs to carefully review the contents of the bill. It is 169 pages long, if memory serves, and it has 642 clauses. One of the important elements that we must examine is the degree of buy-in from both the common law and the civil law practitioners, the members of professional associations such as the bar or notary associations. We know that consultations were held in 2017 on this fourth harmonization act and that the process was initiated some years ago. I believe that we must do this work, and I invite the committee to undertake it.

(On motion of Senator Carignan, debate adjourned.)



Statutes Repeal Act—Motion to Resolve that the Act and the Provisions of Other Acts not be Repealed—Debate Adjourned

Hon. Raymonde Gagné (Legislative Deputy to the Government Representative in the Senate), pursuant to notice of November 30, 2022, moved:

That, pursuant to section 3 of the Statutes Repeal Act, S.C. 2008, c. 20, the Senate resolve that the Act and the provisions of the other Acts listed below, which have not come into force in the period since their adoption, not be repealed:

1.Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act, R.S., c. 33 (2nd Supp.):

-Part II;

2.Contraventions Act, S.C. 1992, c. 47:

-paragraph 8(1)(d), sections 9, 10 and 12 to 16, subsections 17(1) to (3), sections 18 and 19, subsection 21(1) and sections 22, 23, 25, 26, 28 to 38, 40, 41, 44 to 47, 50 to 53, 56, 57, 60 to 62, 84 (in respect of the following sections of the schedule: 2.1, 2.2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 7.1, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14 and 16) and 85;

3.Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty Implementation Act, S.C. 1998, c. 32;

4.Public Sector Pension Investment Board Act, S.C. 1999, c. 34:

-sections 155, 157, 158 and 160, subsections 161(1) and (4) and section 168;

5.Modernization of Benefits and Obligations Act, S.C. 2000, c. 12:

-subsections 107(1) and (3) and section 109;

6.Yukon Act, S.C. 2002, c. 7:

-sections 70 to 75 and 77, subsection 117(2) and sections 167, 168, 210, 211, 221, 227, 233 and 283;

7.An Act to amend the Canadian Forces Superannuation Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, S.C. 2003, c. 26:

-sections 4 and 5, subsection 13(3), section 21, subsections 26(1) to (3) and sections 30, 32, 34, 36 (with respect to section 81 of the Canadian Forces Superannuation Act), 42 and 43;

8. Budget Implementation Act, 2005, S.C. 2005, c. 30:

-Part 18 other than section 125;

9.An Act to amend certain Acts in relation to financial institutions, S.C. 2005, c. 54:

-subsection 27(2), section 102, subsections 239(2), 322(2) and 392(2);

10.Budget Implementation Act, 2009, S.C. 2009, c. 2:

-sections 394, 399 and 401 to 404;

11.Payment Card Networks Act, S.C. 2010, c. 12, s. 1834:

-sections 6 and 7;

12.An Act to promote the efficiency and adaptability of the Canadian economy by regulating certain activities that discourage reliance on electronic means of carrying out commercial activities, and to amend the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission Act, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act and the Telecommunications Act, S.C. 2010, c. 23:

-sections 47 to 51, 55 and 68, subsection 89(2) and section 90.

13.Financial System Review Act, S.C. 2012, c. 5:

-sections 54 and 56 to 59;

14.An Act to amend the Railway Safety Act and to make consequential amendments to the Canada Transportation Act, S.C. 2012, c. 7:

-subsections 7(2) and 14(2) to (5);

15.Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act, S.C. 2012, c. 17:

-sections 70 to 77;

16.Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act, S.C. 2012, c. 19:

-sections 432, 433, 459, 460, 462 and 463; and

17.Jobs and Growth Act, 2012, S.C. 2012, c. 31:

-sections 361 to 364.

She said: Honourable senators, I am speaking to you today in support of the motion that this chamber adopt a resolution, before December 31, to defer the repeal of one act and the provisions of 16 other acts that are listed in this motion. I am asking the Senate to resolve that this act and these provisions, which have not come into force since they were enacted, not be repealed by operation of the Statutes Repeal Act.

Before going into the details of this motion, please let me give you some general information about the Statutes Repeal Act.


The Statutes Repeal Act was enacted in 2008 and came into force two years later. The act is a housekeeping measure for federal statutes and seeks to ensure the effective maintenance of federal legislation through the regular repeal of provisions that are not in force and that are no longer needed.

Section 2 of the Statutes Repeal Act requires that the Minister of Justice tables an annual report before both houses of Parliament on any of the first five sitting days in each calendar year. This report lists the acts of Parliament or provisions of acts of Parliament not yet enforced that were enacted nine years or more before December 31 of the previous calendar year.

Under the Statutes Repeal Act, every act or provision listed in the report is automatically repealed on December 31 of the year in which the report is tabled unless it comes into force on or before that date or unless, during that year, either house of Parliament adopts a resolution exempting them from repeal.


The twelfth annual report under the Statutes Repeal Act was tabled on February 3, 2022 in the House of Commons and on February 8, 2022 in the Senate.

Following the tabling of the report, the Department of Justice contacted the departments responsible for the act and provisions listed in the report to verify whether their repeal should be deferred.

This year, certain provisions of six acts will be automatically repealed on December 31 by operation of the Statutes Repeal Act because the responsible ministers have not recommended that their repeal be deferred.

Thirteen ministers have recommended the deferral of repeal of one complete act and provisions of certain other acts for which they are responsible.

Honourable senators, before I continue, I would like to draw your attention to a background document my office has shared with yours. Since my allotted speaking time is limited, the background document explains the purpose of the Statutes Repeal Act and includes an annex that lists the one act and provisions of 16 other acts for which ministers have recommended the deferral of repeals, including the reasons for the recommended deferrals. I hope this will give both new and seasoned senators a better understanding of this annual statute repeal process. That being said, I wish to provide some general information about this year’s recommended repeal deferrals.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs is recommending the deferrals of repeal of one complete act, the Comprehensive Nuclear Test‑Ban Treaty Implementation Act.

The Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Infrastructure and Communities, the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, the Minister of Labour, the Minister of National Defence, the Minister of Northern Affairs and the Minister of Seniors have each recommended deferral of repeal for certain provisions of one act under their responsibility.

The President of the Treasury Board, the Minister of Transport and the Minister of Public Services and Procurement are each recommending a deferral of repeal for certain provisions of two acts under their responsibility.


Finally, the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Justice are each recommending a deferral of repeal for certain provisions of three acts for which they are responsible.

The reasons for deferring repeal include that an external event must occur before the legislation can be brought into force or repealed, such as the coming into force of an international treaty or the enactment of legislation by the provinces and territories; proposed legislation repealing, replacing or bringing into force the not-in-force provisions is currently under way; matters currently being adjudicated must be dealt with; approvals are necessary for bringing the provisions into force or completing regulations; necessary policy work or consultations must be completed and failure to defer repeal could have a negative impact on international relations, relations with Indigenous peoples or with the provinces and territories.

The Statutes Repeal Act provides that repeal deferrals are valid for one year — so I’ll be back next year, hopefully. You never know, right? As such, any act or provision whose repeal is deferred this year will appear again in the next year’s annual report.


It is important that the resolution be adopted before December 31, 2022. Otherwise, the act and provisions of other acts listed in the motion will be automatically repealed by operation of the Statutes Repeal Act. This could lead to inconsistency in federal legislation. The repeal of certain provisions could also cause tension between the federal government and the provinces and territories and affect Canada’s international relations.

Furthermore, if the act and provisions of other acts listed in the motion were repealed on December 31, federal departments would need to address the resulting legislative gaps by introducing new bills. Those bills would have to go through the entire legislative process, from policy formulation to Royal Assent, which I am sure senators will agree would be a time‑consuming and costly exercise.

In conclusion, I am asking you to support the motion and vote in favour of a resolution that the act and provisions of other acts listed in the motion not be repealed on December 31 of this year by application of the Statutes Repeal Act.

Thank you. Meegwetch.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

(On motion of Senator Cormier, for Senator Duncan, debate adjourned.)


Protecting Young Persons from Exposure to Pornography Bill

Eighth Report of Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee Adopted

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Jaffer, seconded by the Honourable Senator Miville-Dechêne, for the adoption of the eighth report of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs (Bill S-210, An Act to restrict young persons’ online access to sexually explicit material, with an amendment and observations), presented in the Senate on November 15, 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 Miville-Dechêne, bill, as amended, placed on the Orders of the Day for third reading at the next sitting of the Senate.)



Governor General’s Act

Bill to Amend—Second Reading—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Carignan, P.C., seconded by the Honourable Senator Plett, for the second reading of Bill S-221, An Act to amend the Governor General’s Act (retiring annuity and other benefits).

Hon. Claude Carignan: Honourable senators, I see that this item is at its fifteenth day, and I am not prepared to speak to it. Therefore, with leave of the Senate and notwithstanding Rule 4-15(3), I move adjournment of the debate for the remainder of my time.

(On motion of Senator Carignan, debate adjourned.)


Jane Goodall Bill

Bill to Amend—Second Reading—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Klyne, seconded by the Honourable Senator Harder, P.C., for the second reading of Bill S-241, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act (great apes, elephants and certain other animals).

Hon. Stan Kutcher: Honourable senators, I rise in support of Bill S-241, the Jane Goodall act. The bill’s goals are to better protect wildlife in captivity, enhance public safety and support conservation. Today, following the debate format popularized by my friend and colleague Senator Cotter, I will address three points.

First, the relationship between federal and provincial jurisdictions with regard to wild animals in captivity; second, the quality of life of captive elephants in Canada; and third, the standards for designating zoos and other animal care organizations under the bill.

Before exploring these points, I acknowledge that the welfare of captive animals is a concern for many Canadians, including senators. Indeed, many of us share our lives with domesticated animals such as dogs and cats. Frankly, I am a dog-loving person, and I am always joyed by the greetings that our goldendoodle Mazie gives me when I return home, whether I have been away for three hours, three days or three weeks. I also note that my friend and colleague Senator Ravalia is an adopted uncle to Mazie, and I enjoy receiving photos of Mak, Senator Wells’ beautiful poodle.

As a young boy, I spent many summers living and working on a farm. Like some farm-raised senators here, I came away from that experience with wonderment about our relationships with those amazing creatures: cows, chickens, horses, pigs and others. However, my memories of shovelling out manure in the pigpens are, I must admit, not amongst the highlights of my childhood.

But wild animals in captivity are, to mix metaphors, a different kettle of fish. The relationship between humans and wild animals in captivity is complex and evolving.

In ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, rulers and aristocrats kept private collections of wild animals, primarily to demonstrate owners’ power and status. The larger and more exotic the collection, the more powerful the owner. The word “menagerie” captures this reality. And such traditions echo today. Michael Jackson and Pablo Escobar, for example, kept extensive menageries on their estates.

Zoos with animals for public viewing are a more recent development. In the Western world, the first modern zoo opened in Paris in 1793. This was fundamentally a political act. The private menageries of the king and queen and various aristocrats were put on public display at the Ménagerie, the zoo of the Jardin des Plantes, a tangible evidence of Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité. But also a nod to providing entertainment for the populace.

Today’s credible zoos have evolved into settings that promote education, and some have a strong commitment to scientific research and conservation. Enclosures in many cases have been developed to more closely approximate natural habitats. The cramped tiger cage with its perpetually pacing cat and the monkey showing signs of boredom, anxiety and stress are, hopefully, much less common today.

Yet, this evolution has not yet concluded, and as our knowledge about wild animals improves, compassionate people will continue to find better ways to cohabit this planet with other species.

That’s why this bill is important. It’s a significant next step demonstrating Canada’s international leadership in creating a better life for wild animals in captivity. If passed, this bill will create a transparent and accessible legal standard for animal care organizations that meet five criteria: the highest standard of animal care, whistle-blower protection, no use of animals in circus-style shows, responsible acquisition of animals and additional government standards based on expert consultation.

We know from World Animal Protection Canada reports and numerous news stories that we need to do more to protect the well-being of wild animals in captivity, with a sense of urgency. Legislation is necessary to shepherd this work along, and this is why we should move the bill forward to committee as soon as possible.

I’m hopeful that study will commence early in the new year, and I look forward to hearing from Dr. Jane Goodall and other experts, including leading Canadian zoos and animal welfare organizations.

Now, the first of the three topics that I mentioned — the relationship between federal and provincial jurisdiction with regard to wild animals in captivity. This is a matter that Senator Plett has previously and appropriately raised with concern that much legislation relating to animal protection is in the provincial sphere. Others have informed me that there is also federal jurisdiction in this domain.

Now, in addition to our rural boyhoods, I believe Senator Plett and I share the distinction that neither of us is a legal expert. That said, I would like to make some observations on jurisdiction, but please, as I do so, keep in mind that although we physicians can hold a high and perhaps misguided regard for our expertise in various areas of life, such as international finance, foreign affairs, quantum mechanics or how to bake sourdough bread, I venture into this part of my speech with some trepidation. I note also that the committee can hear from experts on legal aspects of the bill.

Bill S-241 proposes animal welfare restrictions on the international and interprovincial transport of live wild animals from affected species by amending the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act. As I understand it, trade across these boundaries is an area of exclusive federal jurisdiction under its trade and commerce power. For an example of animal welfare restrictions in federal trade laws, I refer us to section 23.2 of the Fisheries Act, restricting the import and export of live whales and dolphins, which was enacted in 2019.

Bill S-241 also exercises federal jurisdiction over criminal animal cruelty and public safety under federal criminal power.

Since 2019, section 445.2 of the Criminal Code has contained captivity-related offences with respect to whales and dolphins, prohibiting unlicensed breeding, as well as performance for entertainment purposes. This section protects these creatures’ physical health, psychological well-being and dignity from cruel or degrading treatment.


With this bill, Parliament would expand those captivity offences to provide additional protection for wild species, while allowing licences for justifiable purposes subject to potential conditions. Bill S-241 does not create new criminal offences, but modifies existing ones. Because many of the added species are dangerous, the bill also protects public safety.

Provincial jurisdiction on wild animals in captivity coexists via provinces’ property and civil rights power. Provincial legislation covers negligent treatment and patchwork regional ownership restrictions. However, all captive animals have long been subject to federal criminal animal cruelty restrictions on their treatment. In other words, as I understand it, the subject of captive wild animals is an area of both federal and provincial jurisdiction.

The bill’s preamble states that the subject of captive wild animals has what is known constitutionally as a double aspect of shared jurisdiction. I understand that the bill allows some dual licencing for that reason, following the same legal model as the whale and dolphin laws.

A committee can hear more, but we have not heard any arguments on debate that the federal trade or criminal jurisdiction is invalid. With Bill S-241, the question is not whether Parliament can help protect wild animals in captivity, the question is whether it should. In my opinion, the answer is that it must.

My second issue is the quality of life of captive elephants. Undeniably, the best place for elephants is in the wild or, if in captivity, in large outdoor spaces in a warm climate. They are highly intelligent, socially complex and physically wide-ranging. Elephants frequently experience physical suffering and psychological distress in captivity, exhibiting problems such as abnormal and repetitive behaviours, higher infant mortality and reduced life span.

In fact, according to a 2019 article in The New York Times Magazine, for every elephant born in captivity in North America, two have died. This same article describes the psychiatric disorder seen in captive elephants, one, frankly, I had not known about until I began to research the issue. It’s zoochosis, a form of mental illness that develops in animals held captive in zoos. It often manifests as unnatural, stereotypic behaviours that include rocking or swaying, pacing, self-mutilation and more. The article takes this further, stating:

One of the more disturbing manifestations of zoo-elephant psychosis is the high incidence of stillbirths and reproductive disorders among pregnant mothers. Even when births are successful, there are often instances not only of infant mortality but also of calf rejection and infanticide, something almost never witnessed in thousands of studies of wild elephant herds. . . .

In addition, we need to consider another reality for captive elephants in Canada: our cold weather. All four Canadian locations with elephants keep them indoors in the winter. These conditions are far removed from those that support their innate social, physical and psychological needs. According to the Born Free Foundation, the unnatural size of these enclosures and the conditions within them amplify the adverse psychological and behavioural impacts of captivity, and lead to other health problems including foot ulcers and obesity.

Honourable senators, toxic environments damage the physical and mental health of elephants just as they do for humans. In June, over 20 elephant scientists and other experts, including global leaders in their field, endorsed Bill S-241’s proposed phase-out of elephant captivity in Canada. In a letter sent to senators, they described elephants’ extensive health problems in captivity and the constraints on their needs, including keeping them indoors in the winter and the practice of chaining captive elephants.

Senators have received correspondence from many different organizations regarding the issues of the health and well-being of captive elephants. The committee will need to carefully consider all the evidence while, I trust, prioritizing the health and well‑being of these magnificent creatures.

Now to my third point. The executive director of Canada’s Accredited Zoos and Aquariums, or CAZA, has communicated to senators his desire for members of his organization to be deemed as animal care organizations under Bill S-241. For such a designation, the legislation requires organizations to administer “the highest professionally recognized standards and best practices of animal care” as well as meeting other criteria, such as refraining from performance for entertainment.

I have spoken to Senator Klyne about this issue as well as doing my own research on zoo accreditation. I also note that Senator Plett has recently, and appropriately, raised the issue of zoo accreditation with Senator Dean and Senator Sorensen in this chamber. I have learned that some consultations with stakeholders have indicated that the Canadian members of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, or AZA, uphold higher standards and practices than those who only hold accreditation from a different organization — CAZA. Others have seen this issue from a different lens.

In my discussions with Senator Klyne, I have learned that he is open to an amendment that would provide for automatic designations of any Canadian zoos meeting AZA standards within the first number of years, as well as an independent review of CAZA standards and practices. Perhaps this is an important issue to be considered by committee.

Whatever the outcome regarding accreditation, this issue requires the in-depth analysis that only committee study can provide.

To conclude, in my view, the Jane Goodall act is a credit to the Senate and to Canada, showing that we can lead the way in protecting wild animals. I add my voice to those of the many colleagues here eager to move to our second reading and committee study of the bill. Thank you. Wela’lioq.

The Hon. the Speaker: Senator Plett, did you want to ask a question? There are 40 seconds left. In order to have time to answer, Senator Kutcher would have to ask for five minutes.

Are you asking for five minutes to answer questions, Senator Kutcher?

Senator Kutcher: Certainly, Your Honour, if that would please the chamber.

The Hon. the Speaker: Is it agreed, honourable senators?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Hon. Donald Neil Plett (Leader of the Opposition): Just a couple of notes. Senator, we are told that it is urgent to pass this bill. You alluded to that today. But, senator, are you aware that on the day this bill passes into law not a single roadside zoo will be closed because of it? Every animal currently in a roadside zoo is grandfathered — or any zoo is grandfathered — and indeed will be left to die under the deplorable conditions that people are referring to.

But while it will be doing nothing for the animals in roadside zoos today, the bill will do immediate harm to the great conservation work done by 18 zoos that are fully accredited by Canada’s Accredited Zoos and Aquariums by restricting their ability to breed and creating a chill over possibly losing their animals. You and others have alluded to elephants and other animals needing social activities. They will be left to die in the places where they are. They will not be allowed to breed. To do something to prevent a social animal’s breeding is a whole lot crueller than having them there.

I’m not suggesting it not go to committee, but can you explain to me what the rush is when it will do nothing to prevent any of these zoos from having the animals they already have?

Senator Kutcher: Thank you very much for that important question, Senator Plett.

I understand that the legislation is not focused on closing zoos. You’re absolutely correct about that. You may want to make an amendment to it — thinking about it.

It is, however, focused on the protection of animals held in captivity and ensuring their well-being.

First of all, the bill will phase-out harmful practices. Second, it will encourage responsible relocations of animals. They won’t die in place. There are opportunities for responsible relocations. In my understanding, some zoos have already identified that they would be willing to take these relocations. Therefore, it’s an important consideration, but I think it’s one that zoos have thought about in preparation for this. It’s a good point that you make.


The bill also provides a mechanism of enforcement that will, over time, protect animals. I think that’s a good thing, and I think you would agree with me that’s a good thing as well.

Senator Plett: Senator Kutcher, Charles Gray is the superintendent of elephants at African Lion Safari. He has worked hands-on with elephants since 1982, has been the elephant manager at Africa Lion Safari since 1987. Charlie is a founding board member of the Elephant Managers Association, and he is a founding and current board member of the International Elephant Foundation. He has served on the American Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Taxon Advisory Group for the Asian elephant species survival program from 1988 to 2019. He is a world-renowned elephant expert.

Mr. Gray told us, Senator Kutcher, that, contrary to what you have said and other so-called experts would have us believe, the elephants under their care and their love thrive in all four seasons. This is partly because most of the herd of Asian elephants were born and raised in Canada. They’ve never been to Asia. They are very acclimatized to our winters. In fact, Mr. Gray says their elephants actually prefer the cold to the heat partly because there are no bugs. They also love to run and play in the snow, to break the ice on the lake and go swimming. They have large, heated enclosures — they are not in cages — where they can come and go as they please. They have doors that they open themselves as they come in and out of the cold.

Now, have you spoken to any of these caregivers? I have visited more zoos in the last two years than I have been to in my life. These facilities are huge. These elephants are no longer being ridden, although certainly what they would experience in their home countries would include being ridden. They are used to haul stuff, to carry stuff, to drag stuff. Yet here they are being treated cruelly by not having to do any of that? They are living not in enclosures but in a wildlife environment —

Senator Gagné: What is your question?

Senator Plett: Can you explain how you square that box when this renowned expert is saying the opposite of what you and whomever you talked to are saying?

The Hon. the Speaker: I’m sorry, Senator Kutcher, but your time has expired. Are you asking for more time?

Some Hon. Senators: No.

The Hon. the Speaker: I hear a no. Extra time is not granted.

(On motion of Senator Martin, debate adjourned.)

Business of the Senate

Hon. Raymonde Gagné (Legislative Deputy to the Government Representative in the Senate): Honourable senators, with leave of the Senate and notwithstanding rule 5-13(2), I move :

That the Senate do now adjourn.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(At 4:33 p.m., the Senate was continued until Tuesday, December 6, 2022, at 2 p.m.)

Appendix—Senators List

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