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Debates of the Senate (Hansard)

1st Session, 44th Parliament
Volume 153, Issue 109

Tuesday, March 28, 2023
The Honourable George J. Furey, Speaker


Tuesday, March 28, 2023

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


Business of the Senate

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I received a notice from the Government Representative in the Senate who requests, pursuant to rule 4-3(1), that the time provided for the consideration of Senators’ Statements be extended today for the purpose of paying tribute to the Honourable Landon Pearson whose death occurred on January 28, 2023.

Is it agreed to continue tributes in Senators’ Statements?

Hon. Senators: Agreed


Visitors in the Gallery

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I wish to draw your attention to the presence in the gallery of Michael Pearson, son of the late Honourable Senator Pearson; Hilary Pearson, her daughter; Kerry Buck, her daughter-in-law; Maija Buckley-Pearson, her granddaughter and her two-month-old son; and Euan Pearson, her grandson. They are accompanied by the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions of Canada.

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

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!


The Late Honourable Landon Pearson, O.C.

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Honourable senators, I rise today to pay tribute and to remember the life of former senator Landon Pearson, an Officer of the Order of Canada. I would also like to welcome Senator Pearson’s family to the chamber, and to express my sincerest condolences to her family.

Senator Pearson was appointed to the Senate in September 1994 by then-prime minister Jean Chrétien, and served in this chamber for over 11 years. She was, above all, an ardent children’s rights advocate, and a pioneer in bringing these issues to the attention of the public.


Senator Pearson’s tireless work advocating for children’s rights began long before her appointment to the Senate. In 1974, she co-founded Children Learning for Living, a prevention program focused on children’s mental health, located in Ottawa. She was involved in community-based programs such as Mobile Creches for Working Mothers’ Children, a child care service for the children of nomadic construction workers in New Delhi and Mumbai.

In 1979, she made a significant contribution as vice-president of the Canadian Commission for the International Year of the Child and as editor of the commission’s report entitled For Canada’s Children: National Agenda for Action.

In 2006, after retiring from the Senate, she went on to found the Landon Pearson Resource Centre for the Study of Childhood and Children’s Rights.


Reflecting on her work with children in Mexico, India and the Soviet Union, as well as her experience with the Ottawa school system and as a mother of five children, Senator Pearson explained to the chamber how these experiences convinced her “. . . of the indivisibility of childhood and of the global nature of children’s issues.”

In their advocacy, our colleagues Senator Moodie and Senator Miville-Dechêne continue in this “Pearsonian” tradition. But, as you well know, many issues remain pressing. According to Amnesty International, over 61 million children do not attend primary school, an estimated 150 million children are sexually assaulted every year and at least 330,000 children are held in immigration detention in 80 countries every year.

As we remember Senator Pearson, let us be reminded of the need to continue to make these issues more visible and — to quote again from Senator Pearson — that “we all have a stake in the well-being of the world’s children.” Thank you, colleagues.

Hon. Scott Tannas: Honourable senators, let me begin by quoting one of my predecessors, Senator Joyce Fairbairn. She said in this chamber:

. . . throughout history there are times when the stars and the planets are aligned to produce spectacular events. I would say that one of those occasions was the day Landon Pearson was summoned to the Senate on September 15, 1994.


Colleagues, Canada has lost one of its strongest advocates for the rights of young people in the form of the Honourable Landon Mackenzie Pearson. During her time in this place, she held the very distinguished title of being “the Children’s Senator” for her tireless advocacy for the rights and well-being of young people in Canada and internationally.

She was the co-chair of the Special Joint Committee on Child Custody and Access that produced the report entitled For the Sake of Children, which interpreted the consequences of family breakdown from a new perspective: the children themselves. She was a Canadian representative at the United Nations World Summit for Children and the United Nations Special Session on Children — that was under two different prime ministers from different parties. She was also an adviser to the Minister of Foreign Affairs on the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child.

During her 11 years as a senator, she was described as an individual with sharp eyes and ears, a clear mind, a big heart and the ability to watch and learn. Her passion for children was described as constant, persistent and often dogged. She often said, “When one door closes, another opens,” which showed her commitment and dedication.

We offer our sincere sympathies to her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and to all children in Canada.

Hon. Jane Cordy: Honourable senators, I am honoured to speak today to recognize our former colleague Senator Landon Pearson who passed away on January 28 at the age of 92.

In this place, we often deal with big ideas, and, sometimes, we deal with complicated, intricate and detailed legislation. We have each developed skills that allow us to examine such legislation because of fundamental building blocks set out for us in childhood. Our foundation as children is something that Senator Pearson recognized as important to shaping capable, interested and analytical adults. Children need our support, and they should be provided with opportunities to express their ideas and their opinions on matters that directly impact their lives. This was a principle that Senator Pearson strongly believed in and advocated for on behalf of children.

From 1984 to 1990, Landon served as the president and then the chair of the Canadian Council on Children and Youth. From 1989 to 1994, she was a founding member and the chair of the Canadian Coalition for the Rights of Children, which worked to promote the 1991 ratification and implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Former prime minister Jean Chrétien wisely appointed Landon to the Senate in September 1994. As Senator Tannas stated, it wasn’t long until she was known around the Hill as “the Children’s Senator.” In 1998, Prime Minister Chrétien appointed her as his personal representative to the United Nations Special Session on Children.

There are only a few of us left here today who served with her in this place, and, honourable senators, it is impossible to forget her compassion and love for children. Senator Pearson was the driving force behind the original idea for the Senate to host an annual event to celebrate National Child Day. Hundreds of children have had the chance to attend these special annual celebrations over the years. Held in this chamber, the celebrations have been a joy to attend for both children and senators alike. After Landon’s retirement, former senators Terry Mercer and Jim Munson took over for her as hosts, and they were fond of saying how it took two senators to try to replace her. She would serve in the Senate for 11 years, retiring in 2005. Landon Pearson’s work with children would not end with her retirement from this place. In 2006, she helped establish the Landon Pearson Resource Centre for the Study of Childhood and Children’s Rights at Carleton University.

Colleagues, Senator Pearson was a lifelong, passionate advocate for children and youth. It was truly her life’s work. On news of her passing, former Senator Munson and former Senator Mercer both reached out to me to share their condolences with the Pearson family.

Senator Munson wrote:

Terry Mercer and I were her disciples. Landon was actually the one who dragged me into the Senate when I was sworn in. Under her guidance, Terry and I hosted National Child Day after her retirement. We used to say, only half-jokingly, to her that it took two men to do her job. She was my hero in the Senate.

Senator Mercer expressed similar sentiments. He wrote:

Canada has lost a true hero. What a legacy Landon has left behind. When I was appointed to the Senate, Landon was one of the first to take me under her wing. She guided and mentored me, especially in our work for children. She was truly a great woman.

Honourable senators, please join with me to celebrate a great Canadian — a beloved Canadian — who lived a long and full life, and who did so much to elevate the often-overlooked voices of children and young people. It was an honour and a privilege to have worked with her.

On behalf of myself and the Progressive Senate Group, I wish to express our most heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of my former colleague and friend Landon Pearson. Thank you.

Hon. Yonah Martin (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, I rise today to pay tribute to a remarkable individual and former senator, the late Honourable Landon Pearson, who was known to many as “the Children’s Senator.” From 1994 to 2005, she served in the Senate of Canada, representing Ontario. In 1996, she was named an adviser on children’s rights to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and, in 1998, she became the personal representative of Prime Minister Chrétien to the 2002 United Nations Special Session on Children.

Her dedication and tireless work earned her recognition across Canada and around the world. She was awarded the Canada’s Volunteer Award and honorary doctorates, and was among 1,000 women worldwide nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for her work on behalf of children. In 2008, Landon Pearson was appointed to the Order of Canada as an Officer for her exceptional work supporting and advocating for the rights of children and youth. As a senator, she initiated National Child Day on the Hill — a day of celebration for children and the organizations and stakeholders that advocate for them.

Our former colleagues Senator Mercer, Senator Munson and Senator Cochrane took over her legacy of sponsoring the annual event, and I had the honour of joining as co-sponsor of this important annual tradition after Senator Cochrane retired. Presently, Senator Moodie is leading the way. National Child Day on the Hill is a wonderful legacy that she has left behind — one that continues to reflect her belief that children deserve a chance to flourish, to be children and to have their own voice. She truly is a champion for the voices of children and youth, and will forever remain “the Children’s Senator” of Canada.

Another legacy that she leaves behind is the Landon Pearson Resource Centre for the Study of Childhood and Children’s Rights, which opened in 2006. The centre houses Canada’s largest catalogued collection of children’s rights materials, including Landon Pearson’s personal library comprising over 14,000 documents related to her long history as a children’s rights advocate. In her own words, “Every child is a new chance for the whole human race.”

To her family, please know that her legacy lives on — and the impact she had, and will continue to have, on the lives of so many children and families is also part of her legacy. On behalf of the Conservative caucus, the official opposition in the Senate, we offer our deepest condolences and sympathies.

Honourable senators, please join me in honouring the life of the late Honourable Landon Pearson. May she rest in peace.

Hon. Rosemary Moodie: Honourable senators, I rise today to pay tribute to a remarkable Canadian, former senator Landon Pearson.

Former Senator Pearson — “the Children’s Senator” — dedicated her life to advocating for children and youth, both here in Canada and around the world. For nearly seven decades, she has led the way on children’s rights, and has transformed how children are viewed — not just here in Canada, but around the globe. Her work as a champion for children began long before her time in the Senate. As you have heard, she served as the vice‑chair of the Canadian Commission for the UN International Year of the Child and chaired the Canadian Council on Children and Youth. She was a founding member and chairperson of the Canadian Coalition for the Rights of Children from 1989 to 1994, when she was appointed here to the Senate.


As a senator she was increasingly focused on giving children the space to advocate for themselves and went on to advise both the Chrétien and Martin governments on children’s rights in Canada and abroad.

As we have heard, her retirement was not the end of her work, but a new chapter. Shortly after retiring and founding the Landon Pearson Resource Centre for the Study of Childhood and Children’s Rights, she continued her work. She has been an adviser and mentor for me and many other people in this space.

Colleagues, much of what I have just said is well known to you and much more can be said, but I can personally attest to her kindness, wisdom and work ethic. Even past the age of 90 years, she was unrelenting in her devotion to Canada’s children. I remember when we were recently on a program together and she was a panellist speaking. She ripped off her oxygen to present, and we had to say, “No, put it back on, please.”

Over her entire career, former Senator Pearson was a trusted voice across Canada. She was often the glue that pulled together actors from across the country on children’s rights, a space that can be notoriously fragmented. She brought credibility and reputation. She carried weight because everybody knew she was the real deal.

She was a great senator and a great Canadian, and she leaves a great legacy. May it be said of all of us who sit in this chamber that we strove to give our time and our voice to those who needed it most, and that like our dear colleague Landon we gave all measure of true devotion to all Canadians.

To her children Hilary, Michael and Patricia and to her other family, friends and to her community, our deepest condolences. Know that you do not mourn her loss alone. Thank you.

Hon. Andrew Cardozo: Honourable senators, it is indeed my honour to pay tribute to one of the Senate’s legendary members, the Honourable Landon Pearson.

I am glad that we are being treated to some sounds from her great-granddaughter, who, like her great-grandmother, will be heard when she wants to be heard.

I have had the very good fortune to count Landon Pearson as a friend and as a mentor.

For many years, I had spoken of her as an outstanding senator who used her role in this place to advance the cause of her life, the rights of the child, and in so doing brought great honour to this institution.

Allow me to share my personal memories.

Some 10 years ago when a group of us were beginning the Pearson Centre, we went to meet with her to seek the family’s support in naming the think tank after her father-in-law, Lester B. Pearson, one of our most consequential prime ministers. From day one she had been a great supporter, adviser and participant in our work. I want to share one aspect of our friendship.

Colleagues, you will have all watched the TV series, “The Crown,” where the Queen would have regular meetings with British prime ministers. Well, I considered Landon Pearson to be our sort-of Governor General at the Pearson Centre, as she was indeed the senior keeper of the Lester B. Pearson flame. We would meet regularly, although our get-togethers were never as crusty as those between the Queen and Margaret Thatcher.

Over the years, our get-togethers would begin with a discussion about the Pearson Centre and our priorities of the time, and gradually the conversation would shift to what was in the news domestically and globally. Sometimes she might pull out a clipping from a recent newspaper article, opine on it or ask me my opinion, and other times she might show me an important artifact from the Pearson era which she was about to dutifully donate to Library and Archives Canada or the Canadian Museum of History.

I always marvelled at those conversations because she would be discussing issues both in their very contemporary reality and in their historical sense, drawing from the front-row seat to Canadian history she had had throughout her adult life.

Colleagues, I want to draw to your attention two wonderful webinars that are on the Pearson Centre’s YouTube channel, called “Pearson TV.” One was recorded in April of last year, marking the one-hundred-and-twenty-fifth birthday of Lester B. Pearson, where Landon Pearson is in conversation with Canada’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Bob Rae.

The other webinar was recorded at the time of her ninetieth birthday, three years ago. It is a conversation with two of her granddaughters, Lucy and Rachel, each accomplished in their own careers. What you will see is a window into wonderful, warm conversations about family, children’s rights, domestic and global affairs and Canada, and you will marvel at one of the great Canadian families of our time who are deeply dedicated to public service.


Colleagues, I’m sure her many friends will share my view that we have all benefited enormously from the friendship of a great public servant and an outstanding senator.


Hon. Kim Pate: Honourable senators, family and friends, it is a humbling honour as well as a significant responsibility and magnificent privilege to have been one of the thousands and thousands of fortunate friends, mentees and collaborators of the spectacular senator we are all rising to recognize today.

I won’t repeat any of my or your previous tributes today. Rather, as Landon taught us so well, I want to take this opportunity to give voice to those who knew her best, those who inspired her intellectual curiosity, incomparable rigour and insistence on promoting and representing the rights and interests of children — her beloved Hilary, Anne, Michael and Patricia.

These are their words, and I am honoured to be their messenger in this place:

Mum’s Senate appointment came for her at exactly the right moment… she had accumulated many years of education, research, volunteer advocacy and experience working with children and youth in Canada and other parts of the world. She was ready to put all of this knowledge and experience into action…to mobilize concerted commitment in Canada to protect and give voice to children and youth within a framework of human rights…children’s rights.

No question… she had an agenda!

She believed in the role of the Senate as Canada’s second legislative chamber... one that has the opportunity to reflect, revise and improve on Canada’s statutory and legal frameworks for the protection of rights.

The Senate gave her a platform and she made unique and productive use of it —

— and she taught many of us well.

She spoke for children —

— she spoke for all children —

— and brought them to the Chamber to speak with her. She believed in enabling children and youth to have their say on decisions and laws that directly affected them. In this she was far ahead of her time.

And she left many admirers in her wake… admirers of her diplomacy, her intelligence, her discipline, her willingness to work every lever she could on behalf of the children and youth she cared so much about. She was a model for future senators, women like her, with determination, commitment, courage and motivation to make change for social justice.

She made social justice, and she encouraged others to achieve and strive for social justice.

Thank you for your words and for inspiring each of us to emulate the light, life and legacy that was your mum.

Most especially, though, thank you to each of you and your children, her grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces, nephews and all those attached to your family for sharing this incredible woman — really, the dean, not just “the Children’s Senator” but an example for all of us in this chamber. We are beyond grateful and so blessed with the contributions and memories that the Honourable Landon Pearson, Canada’s “Children’s Senator,” leaves us. Thank you.

Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, I rise today to pay tribute to our former colleague and friend senator Landon Pearson and express my condolences to her family.


She was a fierce advocate for children’s rights throughout her life and was fondly referred to as “the Children’s Senator” during her tenure in the Senate from 1994 to 2005.

Former prime minister Jean Chrétien described Senator Pearson as “one of the best appointments that I ever made in my life.” He said she:

. . . did a great job as a Senator and specialized in an area that was neglected by everybody, at least at that moment.

Senators, I remember Landon as a highly intelligent and resourceful person who was also incredibly humble. Her niece Landon Mackenzie highlighted this humility when she described her as:

. . . “the most ordinary aunt you could have,” one whose lack of interest in cooking was family legend and whose absence of ego likely meant many people who met her had no idea of her accomplishments.

In the Senate, she endeavoured to end corporal punishment and sexual exploitation of children. On numerous occasions, she spoke out on the high rates of homelessness among young people coming out of government care and the grim reality of Indigenous children and families in remote communities.

Senator Pearson also represented Canada on the global stage. In 1996, she was named Advisor on Children’s Rights to the Minister of Foreign Affairs. In 1998, she became the Personal Representative of the Prime Minister to the 2002 United Nations special session on children.

Landon never stopped working. As Canada’s peace envoy, I saw her work hard even after she retired. I appeared on many panels with her when she was a senator and even after. I marvelled at her ethic of hard work and her passion for children.

Senator Pearson was a shining example of how this chamber can represent and advocate for the most vulnerable in our society. She absolutely excelled at that.

Today, there are countless children whose lives she has improved through her work. I will always remember Landon’s zeal to help children and continue to be grateful for the time I got to spend with her.

Landon, you were a wonderful friend and an inspiring colleague. Rest in peace, my friend.


The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I would ask you to rise and join me in observing a minute of silence.

(Honourable senators then stood in silent tribute.)


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 Darius Skusevičius, Ambassador of the Republic of Lithuania to Canada; His Excellency Kaspars Ozoliņš, Ambassador of the Republic of Latvia to Canada; and His Excellency Margus Rava, Ambassador of the Republic of Estonia to Canada.

I know I speak on behalf of all honourable senators when I say that Canada stands shoulder to shoulder with its partners in the Baltic region, as friends and as allies.

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

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!


Hon. Mohamed-Iqbal Ravalia: Honourable senators, this past Wednesday marked the beginning of Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and an important religious holiday celebrated by Muslims in Canada and around the world. Ramadan is a time for prayer, spiritual introspection, reconnecting with loved ones and giving back to your community. The traditions of Ramadan honour the values at the heart of Islam, like benevolence, generosity, peace and service to others.

Ramadan reminds us of the essential importance of caring for one another, despite our differences. During Ramadan, Muslim families and friends fast during the daytime and break their fast in the evening with an iftar. Fasting during Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam. These pillars, or duties, form the basis of how Muslims practise their religion.

Honourable senators, this evening I have the honour of co‑hosting an iftar dinner in the Senate foyer with His Excellency Fahad Saeed Al Raqbani, the Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to Canada, at 7 p.m., with the breaking of the fast beginning at 7:25 sharp as the sun sets. I sincerely hope that you will consider joining us for an authentic Ramadan meal.

For all those who are observing the sacred month in my home province of Newfoundland and Labrador and beyond, I’m wishing you all a blessed and peaceful Ramadan. On behalf of my fellow Muslim senators — Senators Ataullahjan, Jaffer, Yussuff and Gerba — and, in fact, on behalf of all of us in this chamber, I would like to wish all observants a Ramadan Mubarak! Thank you. Meegwetch.

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 Michael Spavor, Yejin Kim, Simon David Cockerell, Linda Tung Yu, and baby Cyrus Rongxi Cockerell-Yu. They are the guests of the Honourable Senator Woo.

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

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

The Honourable Larry W. Smith

Congratulations on Induction to Canadian Football Hall of Fame

Hon. Pamela Wallin: Honourable senators, this is the story of Larry “Pretty Boy” Smith. He was, his friends said, always the best-looking guy in the room, but he kind of knew it. He is still the same, I said: perfectly coiffed hair, dapper, charming. But let’s turn to football.

In 1972, “Pretty Boy” Smith was the first overall pick in the Canadian Football League Draft, round 1, pick 1, then played nine seasons, always a running back, and won two Grey Cup championships, in 1974 and 1977. But 1975 was a different story. Eskimos versus the Alouettes, known as the “Als,” played in Calgary. It was bitterly cold. As was the fad, a young woman streaked the opening ceremonies. Many thought she was just looking for Larry.

But back to the game. Quarterback Jesse “Sonny” Wade completed a 23-yard pass to Larry. “That oughta do it,” someone heard Larry say, but then Don Sweet missed a field goal, and Edmonton won the Grey Cup by a point. But Larry had done his job. He always did. And he has two rings to prove it.

The man has a degree in economics and one in civil law. He was publisher of the Montreal Gazette before returning to his beloved game as Commissioner of the Canadian Football League, the CFL, in 1992. The league was in dire straits, so he tried expansion into the U.S. It didn’t work, but he relocated the Baltimore Stallions to Montreal, where they became the Alouettes.

His vision breathed life into a game that had been seen as a bit of an Anglo pastime and made it a passion for an entire province.

Of course, he later became team president and he has worked every day since to advise and guide and even help them find an owner with deep pockets and commitment.

So the résumé is impressive, very impressive, but he is also loved. I called a friend of Larry’s the other day. The two had careers almost in tandem as players and then as presidents of their respective organizations, the Saskatchewan Roughriders and the Montreal Alouettes. Jim Hopson remembered the time that he and his daughter flew to Montreal at Larry’s behest for a game where they would be sitting with the Prime Minister. Montreal won, and the PM invited Jim and his daughter out for a celebratory drink. Larry didn’t get invited.

Jim later figured out, just as with everything else in the world, that there may have been a bit of politics at play.


The PM was Paul Martin. Larry was a bit more blue.

Larry ran for office and even contemplated a run for party leader but, in the end, he succumbed to the siren song of the Senate and served as Conservative Party caucus leader before coming to his senses and joining our team. His friend Jim said, “Just tell him he may have had a better career as a player and that he was prettier than me, but I went into the Hall of Fame first.”

So, Larry, better late than never.

Thank you for your love of the game; your commitment to the country; and for being a man with skill, determination, a sense of humour and a kind, generous heart. We take pride in being your colleagues and friends.

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 Craig Smith, President, and Sean McCarthy, Treasurer, of the St. John’s Fire Fighters Association. They are the guests of the Honourable Senator Wells.

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

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!



Auditor General

2023 Spring Reports Tabled

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the 2023 Spring Reports of the Auditor General of Canada to the Parliament of Canada, pursuant to the Auditor General Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. A-17, sbs. 7(5).

His Excellency Joe Biden, President of the United States of America

Address to Members of the Senate and the House of Commons—Motion to Print as an Appendix 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(j), I move:

That the Address by His Excellency the Honourable Joseph R. Biden, Jr., President of the United States of America, to members of both Houses of Parliament, delivered Friday, March 24, 2023, together with all introductory and related remarks, be printed as an appendix to the Debates of the Senate and form part of the permanent records of this house.

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.)

(For text of speeches, see Appendix.)

Income Tax Act

Bill to Amend—First Reading

The Hon. the Speaker informed the Senate that a message had been received from the House of Commons with Bill C-241, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (deduction of travel expenses for tradespersons).

(Bill read first time.)

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

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


Inter-Parliamentary Union

Parliamentary Forum at the United Nations High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, July 12-13, 2022—Report Tabled

Hon. Salma Ataullahjan: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the report of the Inter‑Parliamentary Union concerning the Parliamentary Forum at the United Nations High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, held in New York, New York, United States of America, from July 12 to 13, 2022.

Business and Economic Contributions Made by Indigenous Businesses to Canada’s Economy

Notice of Inquiry

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

I will call the attention of the Senate to the ongoing business and economic contributions made by Indigenous businesses to Canada’s economy.


Foreign Affairs

Canada-China Relations

Hon. Donald Neil Plett (Leader of the Opposition): My question is for the government leader in the Senate. It concerns foreign interference in our country.

Senator Gold, Global News reported last week that a member of the other place:

. . . privately advised a senior Chinese diplomat in February 2021 that Beijing should hold off freeing Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, according to two separate national security sources.

That member of Parliament left the Liberal caucus that day, and the next day, he voted with the opposition to pass a motion calling upon the Trudeau government to launch a public inquiry.

Leader, the allegation levelled against this member of Parliament is very serious. It is clear that there has to be a public inquiry; there is no doubt about that. How can the Prime Minister still cling to the belief that a public inquiry is optional, even now? It has to happen, leader. Why can’t he see that? Can you see that?

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

The Prime Minister has put into place a number of mechanisms to address the very important issue of the unacceptable attempts by countries to interfere in our democratic processes. Indeed, the mandate given to the special rapporteur, the Right Honourable David Johnston, is such that he will be considering all options, including that of a public inquiry. Canadians should have confidence in the quality of the analysis and advice he will give to the Prime Minister.

Senator Plett: It is not Mr. Johnston whom we have questions about and don’t have confidence in; it is the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister and his office will not come clean with Canadians about what they knew about Beijing’s interference, so they are finding it hard to keep their story straight.

In the same Global News story of last Wednesday, the Prime Minister’s Office, or PMO, said that it “. . . only became aware that a conversation took place after Mr. Dong told us, following recent media questions.”

However, last Friday, The Globe and Mail reported that it contacted the PMO about this conversation on March 3, after which the Prime Minister’s Office asked CSIS to provide a copy of the conversation’s transcript.

Which is correct, leader: what PMO told Global News or what they told The Globe and Mail? Or is neither statement correct? It seems that their storytelling has seen better days.

Senator Gold: Thank you for the question.

I believe the statements that were made both reflect the government’s position and both can be coherent and true.


Public Safety

Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Hon. Claude Carignan: Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Last week, an investigative report was aired on the show Enquête on Radio‑Canada, in which we learned that the security firm Neptune had contracts with the Government of Quebec, several entities, as well as the Government of Canada.

The investigation uncovered dubious practices by its director, including the fact that he went by two names. One was Robert Butler and the other was Badreddine Ahmadoun. The Government of Quebec took this matter very seriously. The Autorité des marchés publics suspended the company for the next five years, since it was already familiar with the case.

What is the Government of Canada doing for the mandates entrusted to Neptune, including by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and by the Department of National Defence?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you for the question. I will look into that with the government and come back to you with an answer shortly.


Senator Carignan: How do you explain that the RCMP gave security contracts to someone who uses two identities? Also, under what name did he sign those contracts with the RCMP?

Senator Gold: I will add that to my questions.


Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

International Students

Hon. Ratna Omidvar: My question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate.

Senator Gold, I wish to draw our attention to the growing stories of abuse that international students are facing when they come to Canada. I think we all appreciate the boost to our economy — close to $24 billion — and the boost to the bottom line of post-secondary educational institutions, but the underbelly of abuse is a stain on our reputation. I hope you agree with me on that.

While I understand that education is a provincial responsibility, the granting of visas for students is solely a federal one. Can you tell me if the government is taking this seriously and what, if anything, they are doing to correct the situation?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you for the question and for underlining the importance of the contribution of international students to Canada. The government is very aware of it and is doing much to assist and promote it.

The government works, as we know, with universities and colleges across the country, along with the provinces and territories, as you properly note, to help international students better integrate and flourish in Canada when they come for their studies. Indeed, the government’s response is more tangible than that. It includes investments through the International Education Strategy of $147.9 million in collaboration with the provinces’ and territories’ associations and institutions such that Canada remains one of the top destinations for international students to come and learn.

With regard to the visas, the government, through its agencies, is committed to upholding the integrity of our immigration system. Indeed, officials are trained in detecting fraud. They work hard to protect the integrity of our system, and will continue to do so.

There’s a fair procedural process in place for those students who might have been the victim of fraud, such as has been alleged in the press. Students will be given an opportunity to explain what transpired. The officers will take that into account, of course, when coming to a decision.

Senator Omidvar: Senator Gold, there is a rather straightforward solution, which is that the federal government should allow international students to tap into settlement supports. In this case, they may not fall vulnerable to extortion in housing and through extortion of other kinds that has led them, as we know — these are anecdotes but they are serious — to suicide, sex trafficking, et cetera.

Will the government consider opening up settlement supports throughout the country to international foreign students in need?

Senator Gold: Thank you, senator. I will certainly bring this suggestion to the attention of the government, and I will report back, if I can, with any decisions or thinking in that matter.


Canadian Institutes of Health Research

Hon. Stan Kutcher: My question is for Senator Gold.

Senator Gold, it is well known that the federal funding for our health research enterprise in Canada is falling behind our global competitors, and we’ll see if that will be addressed today in the budget. As a result of this falling behind, it will become increasingly unlikely to be able to conduct the research needed to maintain and improve the health of Canadians.

For example, the project grant competition success rates at the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, or CIHR, range between 15% and 20% in the last five years, which means, at best, only one in five applicants are successful. However, in the pre‑screening process at CIHR, at least 50% of the applications are of high quality. Such mismatch between success rates and the efforts needed to do these grants create tremendous discouragement, particularly for our young researchers.

Will the Government of Canada ensure that substantial increases for health research funding through CIHR will be made, and that this amount will be sufficient to not only maintain but also grow our health research enterprise? If not today, when could we expect that to happen?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you for your question. The government recognizes how important investment is in fundamental research and support for the Canadian research community. It is essential to all of the challenges facing Canada, especially health challenges, which became very evident during the pandemic. That is why, in fact, over the last five years, we’ve seen an unprecedented increase in such investments.

In Budget 2018 alone, the government committed nearly $4 billion over a five-year period to support the next generation of Canadian researchers. In Budget 2022 — I am glossing over a number of initiatives and details that took place in the years between those two budgets — the government announced $20 million to study the long-term effects of COVID and $20 million to increase our knowledge of dementia and brain health that will be funded over five years through the CIHR.

The government takes this very seriously. It is working with provinces, territories and institutions to make sure we have world-class researchers getting the support they deserve.

Senator Kutcher: Senator Gold, thank you for that. The problem still remains that the funding success rates are abysmally low for Canadian researchers, and that is a huge problem.

Additionally, the Canada First Research Excellence Fund helped a number of world-class research centres in Canada to become established, yet none of these centres are now able to compete for federal funds to cover ongoing operating costs. Furthermore, there are no federal programs available for these centres to access, potentially causing them to close their doors after they’ve already demonstrated global excellence.

What plan does the Government of Canada have to ensure that these research centres, initially established under a Government of Canada program and that have already so clearly demonstrated global excellence, will continue to be properly supported so that Canada does not lose what it has already invested in?

Senator Gold: Thank you for the question. It is an important one. I do not know the answer specifically to your question, but I would remind senators that in recognition of the need to support the institutions and researchers, the government launched the Advisory Panel on the Federal Research Support System last October, which is designed to advise the government and provide expert advice as to how we can maximize the impact of the research and the downstream innovation that research can give rise to.

Privy Council

Answers to Questions

Hon. Jim Quinn: My question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate.

Senator Gold, I respect the position that you are in as government leader responding to questions asked in this chamber, and given the myriad of questions asked of you, it is unreasonable to expect that you have all of the information on hand for the entire Government of Canada. I think it is entirely reasonable for you to make inquiries and follow-up regarding parliamentary returns.

The concern that I have is the length of time it regularly takes to receive answers to written questions and delayed answers. For example, over the past weeks, there were answers tabled to written questions dating back to 2021 and several others that were asked many months ago.

Senator Gold, would you agree that these extended timelines impact the ability of senators to fulfill their role as parliamentarians by limiting their ability to have timely information on government policy?

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

I have said repeatedly in this chamber that the government takes seriously the exercise of both written questions and delayed answers, and I make every effort to ensure that senators get responses to their important questions in a timely fashion. Indeed, since our return in January, I have tabled responses to 21 written questions and 61 responses concerning delayed answers, and I look forward to tabling further responses in due course.

I think what might lie behind your question is how we can do better. Of course, we can always do better. One thought is that this is a subject that might possibly and profitably be taken up by our Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament. That might very well be the appropriate forum to examine this issue, if they so choose, and to make recommendations for the full chamber to consider.

Senator Quinn: Senator Gold, thank you for your response. I agree with the second part as well, that we should ask our Rules Committee to look at this so that we can have equality, if you will, as parliamentarians with those parliamentarians in the other house who have responses delivered within 45 days. It seems that we should have that same privilege as parliamentarians, so I’m glad to hear that you support bringing this to the Rules Committee. That was the nature of my question, so would you, in fact, agree to having this referred to the Rules Committee?


Senator Gold: Thank you for that.

First and foremost, I think it is up to the Rules Committee to decide if that is something they wish to consider, and, of course, for the chamber as a whole to consider as well. I certainly would be happy, on behalf of the government, to participate in any such discussion to improve our Rules so as to improve the work that we do on behalf of Canadians.


Canada Emergency Business Account

Hon. Yonah Martin (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): My question is for the government leader in the Senate.

All honourable senators will remember the Canada Emergency Business Account, or CEBA, loans to help small businesses stay afloat during the pandemic. When the Trudeau government told Canadians the CEBA loans program was being administered by Export Development Canada, we believed that to be the case. No one had any reason to believe otherwise.

Last month, documents released to The Globe and Mail through an access to information request told a different story. In fact, the Trudeau government paid the consulting firm Accenture at least $61 million to administer this program and never disclosed it.

Leader, whatever happened to your government being open by default? Why did it outsource the CEBA program and keep that information secret?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): The government’s programs that were put into place to help Canadians were largely successful in helping Canadians get through the pandemic. The government used the expertise of the civil service and the public service, who worked in extraordinarily diligent, unprecedented and efficient ways, to deliver what they could. In light of the extraordinary circumstances of the global pandemic and the demands and expectations that government would act as it did, the government also used outside sources to make sure that Canadians received the benefits they needed.

Senator Martin: The Trudeau government never proactively disclosed that Accenture was administering the CEBA program. It kept this information from parliamentarians and from taxpayers. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business told The Globe and Mail that it had thousands of contracts with the Trudeau government about various issues with the CEBA loans and had no idea that Accenture was behind all of it. Export Development Canada has acknowledged that this arrangement is ongoing, so we have reason to believe that the Trudeau government has given Accenture more than $61 million.

Leader, what is the total value of the contracts given to date to Accenture to administer the CEBA loans, and how much more will it receive?

Senator Gold: Thank you for the question. I don’t have that information, but I’ll make inquiries.

Foreign Affairs

Canada-China Relations

Hon. Donald Neil Plett (Leader of the Opposition): Leader, in 2016, around the same time the Prime Minister was holding cash-for-access fundraisers with wealthy donors connected to the Chinese Communist Party, or CCP, in Beijing, his autobiography was republished by a state-owned enterprise, which serves as a propaganda department for the CCP. When this was brought to light in the media in 2021, the Prime Minister’s former National Security Advisor Richard Fadden indicated he would have strongly recommended against it, as it’s a classic ploy to cozy up to the Prime Minister.

I’ve had a written question on the Order Paper since November of 2021, leader, asking whether the Office of the Prime Minister or the Privy Council Office were provided with any security warnings about the republication of the Prime Minister’s autobiography. I have also asked if Global Affairs Canada had provided any advice on this matter.

Leader, why doesn’t the Trudeau government want to answer my questions, or do they also want the Rules Committee to deal with it?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Senator, thank you for your question. I regret that you have not yet received an answer. I’ll certainly make inquiries to see if I can expedite it.

Senator Plett: Well, at least it was a brief answer.

The Globe and Mail reported in September 2021 that the promotional blurb for the book in China noted that early in Mr. Trudeau’s first mandate, he signed Canada up for the Beijing-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, a development that happened over the objections of the United States. It’s interesting that Beijing chose this way to publicize the Prime Minister’s book when the Trudeau government is very secretive when it comes to this bank.

I have two questions on the Senate Order Paper on this matter. One question has been there for almost a year, asking if the Trudeau government will make any further payments to this bank. The other question has been there for two years, leader. What’s the purpose of us asking written questions for two years — since March of 2021? It asks how many middle-class jobs were created here in Canada by sending tax dollars to this bank. It is a simple question.

Why doesn’t the Trudeau government want to answer these questions, leader? And why don’t you want to answer these questions? Surely you have the resources to make the inquiries and get us these answers.

Senator Gold: Indeed, thank you for your question. I have the resources, and I use those resources. I shall continue to endeavour to get you those answers.

United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals

Hon. Marilou McPhedran: Senator Gold, yesterday, the Auditor General of Canada released a report and noted that Global Affairs Canada was unable to show how the approximately $3.5 billion in bilateral development assistance that is prioritized each year for low- and middle-income countries actually improved outcomes for women and girls. While not arguing against the government’s Feminist International Assistance Policy, the Auditor General did identify serious reporting and accountability failures in monitoring the policy objectives.

Research conclusively shows that local women leaders are crucial multipliers in social, economic and democratic development, because women typically invest higher in their incomes and energy for their children and families, and because women never give up.

Investing in women’s empowerment is essential to reducing poverty, ending hunger, promoting democracy and achieving the global commitments of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. Sadly, the Auditor General’s report finds that Global Affairs Canada missed an opportunity to collect evidence-based data to demonstrate the value of Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy and galvanize progress to reach these crucial global goals.

Senator Gold, what is the government doing to rectify these gaps in effectiveness at Global Affairs?

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

The government values the work of the Auditor General, takes its recommendations seriously and is working to make its processes more effective and impactful.

The challenge with the ambitious agenda that the government has put in place — and it is an ambitious agenda — is not only to gather data on individual programs, but to aggregate it so that it can be analyzed. It is critical that we assess the impact that it’s actually having on the ground on the lives of women and children and, indeed, on all projects that we fund.

We have been funding significantly. Indeed, in 2021-22, 99% of Canada’s bilateral development assistance either targeted or integrated gender equality results, which exceeded the target of 95% by 2022 that the government gave itself.

The challenge is also one of timing, because the programs get up and running, money is transferred, and schools, clean water facilities and the like are built, but then the collection of the data and the analysis take more time.

The government is committed, and now believes it begins to have the data to then properly aggregate and analyze and make sure that our money is being well spent with the impact that it needs to have to make a difference.

Senator McPhedran: Senator Gold, there are very specific points raised in the Auditor General’s report. May I ask explicitly, please, as part of my question, if the answers to those concerns would be brought back to us with a specific focus on the empowerment of women and girls and the actual outcomes in bettering their lives?


Senator Gold: I will certainly make inquiries, senator, but as I tried to answer, the fact is — as the Auditor General found — the data has not yet been fully collected or analyzed, and so the government is committed to doing that. It will just take time for that. I’ll do my best to get at least a progress report such that we know that we’re heading in the right direction, which I firmly believe we are.

Fisheries and Oceans

Protection of Cetaceans

Hon. Marty Klyne: Senator Gold, people around the world are saddened by the recent death of Kiska, the world’s loneliest and Canada’s last captive orca. Captured in 1979, her five calves died young, and she lived alone in Marineland in Niagara Falls for over a decade.

Kiska also inspired Canada’s ban on new whale and dolphin captivity, yet Marineland still holds over 30 belugas, five dolphins and plans to sell the park. Many Canadians hope to see the remaining whales moved to a planned whale sanctuary in Nova Scotia or, otherwise, to the best possible homes.

Does the Government of Canada support this goal? How can the public work with the government to prioritize and expedite helping these whales?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you for your question. The well-being of our marine species is a priority for the government. The government remains, through Fisheries and Oceans Canada, committed to protecting the welfare of cetaceans based upon the authorities granted.

As you know, the Bill S-203 received Royal Assent and that, going forward, bans the captivity of cetaceans in Canada under the Fisheries Act and the Criminal Code.

There are amendments and exemptions — I won’t repeat them. If a request that a cetacean be moved to another facility is received by the department, the minister would review this application and be guided by the policies in place in order to make a decision as to whether to issue the appropriate Fisheries Act permit.

As you know, of course, in Canada, aquatic parks and zoos, animal care laws and private property of animals — like Kiska — are under provincial jurisdiction. The federal government has a role to play and will play it responsibly.

Environment and Climate Change

Canada’s Emissions Targets

Hon. Mary Coyle: My question is for Senator Gold, a little bit more on evidence and science.

Last week, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, released a summary for policy-makers from the last eight years of climate science. It shows that although global temperatures have already risen by 1.5 degrees Celsius, with urgent action, it is still possible but increasingly difficult to keep it below the 1.5-degree target.

At the report’s launch, the UN Secretary-General António Guterres presented his “Acceleration Agenda,” a comprehensive plan based on the IPCC report which calls for developed countries to commit to reaching net zero by 2040.

As we know, Canada has committed to reaching net zero by 2050, the previous agreed-upon goal, and has targets and a plan to reach that goal.

My question, Senator Gold, is: Will Canada recalibrate our national emission reduction targets and plans in line with this new scientific evidence and accelerate our ambitions and actions in order to reach net zero by 2040?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you for your question. Since 2015, the government has committed over $120 billion and introduced over a hundred measures to support environmental action and climate mitigation such as banning single-use plastics, putting a price on pollution and making zero-emission vehicles more affordable. Under all of this, it’s just a scientific brute fact that climate action cannot be stalled.

Now, with regard to the report to which you referred, Minister Guilbeault responded quite clearly that he will be taking a hard, long look — I think were his words — as to whether we can hit our long-term greenhouse gas emissions targets 10 years earlier than planned. That’s under review by the minister, and he and his team will be studying the IPCC report very carefully.


Business of the Senate

Hon. Raymonde Gagné (Legislative Deputy to the Government Representative in the Senate): Honourable senators, pursuant to rule 4-13(3), I would like to inform the Senate that as we proceed with Government Business, the Senate will address the items in the following order: second reading of Bill C-18, followed by consideration of Motion No. 91, followed by second reading of Bill C-43, followed by second reading of Bill C-44, followed by all remaining items in the order that they appear on the Order Paper.

Online News Bill

Second Reading—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Harder, P.C., seconded by the Honourable Senator Bellemare, for the second reading of Bill C-18, An Act respecting online communications platforms that make news content available to persons in Canada.

Hon. Marty Klyne: Honourable senators, I rise in support of Bill C-18, legislation to enhance fairness in the news marketplace, which was sponsored by Senator Harder.

This bill is a necessary tool to level the playing field for Canadian publishers. For years, the publishing industry has been overrun without government intervention. Governments have stood by as an industry once comprised of local papers, owned by local proprietors and committed to local stories was overtaken by conglomerates and tech giants. These giant companies shuttered community newspapers, consolidated larger papers and established online platforms to become the dominant source of information.

Big tech companies like Google and Facebook have overtaken our Canadian publishing industry and fail to pay our publishers anything close to fair value for the right to share their work. Journalism is a pillar of our democracy, and we must correct this situation. Bill C-18 is a promising start.

The discussion on Bill C-18 has focused on Google, the world’s most popular search engine, and Meta, the company that owns Facebook. Both platforms are used by millions of Canadians, and both offer tools that allow Canadians to connect with friends and family and access information.

They have become conduits between people and news, especially local news. Unfortunately, neither company has lived up to the responsibility inherent in this new role, which includes protecting and promoting freedom of expression and dealing fairly with Canadian publishers in sharing their work.

These tech giants have monetized the work that publishers produce for their own gain, collected data on its readership and have taken steps to dominate the online advertising space.

In reviewing this bill, I draw upon my experience as the former publisher and CEO of two major daily newspapers in Saskatchewan. In this role, I saw first-hand what operating a newspaper looked like in the digital age. The business is simple: publishers — whether they operate online or in a newsprint format — depend on advertising and subscription revenues to fund their operations.

Advertising pays for the newsroom, the equipment and for all the people that get the daily miracle out every day and have done so for over a century.

This system worked well for years, even when the internet came along and turned the industry on its head. Today, however, circumstances have changed, and it has become impossible for publishers to receive fair compensation for their work.

Allow me to dispel some myths about this bill and the publishing industry. First, I’d like to address the fiction that publishers made little effort to adapt their products when the internet began to take over the medium. This is false. Publishers made great efforts to move their products onto multiple platforms. They tailored their news content and advertising, depending on whether a person was reading it on their desktop, their cell phone, their tablet or in newsprint. Unfortunately, these efforts were impeded by Google’s unfair advertising practices, and I’ll talk more about that in a moment.

Second, I’d like to address claims that this bill is being used to subsidize legacy media. Again, this is not true. Bill C-18 is not about trying to preserve old systems. It’s about ensuring that Canadian publishers are properly compensated for their work. Bill C-18 has nothing to do with propping up a legacy media.

Finally, I want to be clear that sharing someone else’s news content without providing proper compensation is not good business. It’s unfair and damaging to the free press. Depriving content creators of proper payment deters creation. That means less content for platforms and less credible news for Canadians.

Of course, using someone else’s work without reciprocity is not new in the publishing industry. Radio stations refined the practice of “rip ‘n’ read” decades ago. With platforms like Google and Facebook, however, that practice is elevated to a whole new level.

Google is not just the world’s leading search engine. It morphed into a dominant online advertising company. That’s not a hyperbolic statement. Google effectively owns the business of online advertising placement, and their anti-competitive practices have made it difficult for publishers to get their fair value for ad placements and hence difficult to thrive and pay for their publishing operations.


Colleagues, allow me to share a short history lesson of Google’s advertising business and, in doing so, help define the problem before us. In the early 2000s, Google began to increase its online advertising presence. Their goal, seemingly, was not just to compete in this space, but to dominate it. As an article in the National Post recently noted, “Google’s strategy wasn’t to remain a search engine, but to expand and control all online advertising.”

But it wasn’t going to be simple. To control online advertising, Google first had to take over its competitors. In the early 2000s they acquired DoubleClick, a company that held a 60% market share in the software that publishers used to sell ads on websites. While Google’s purchase of DoubleClick may have seemed like a simple corporate transaction, it forever altered the way digital ads would be bought and sold. Buying DoubleClick allowed Google to own the market. They now had a huge list of advertisers and owned much of the existing ad space online.

At the same time, they owned AdX, an ad exchange network that connected buyers and sellers. This gave the company a near‑monopolistic level of control over online advertising — maybe a quasi-monopoly. That remains true today, and Canadian publishers have tried in vain to compete in a digital world where buyers, sellers and brokers of ads are all working through a limited number of companies under one umbrella.

The numbers don’t lie. The United States Department of Justice suggests that Google has a 90% share of the sell-side inventory on the digital advertising market. In other words, Google controls nearly all the market space that publishers use to sell ads on their websites. By their own estimates, Google collects “. . . on average more than 30% of the advertising dollars that flow through its digital advertising technology products . . . .” I don’t understand why the United States Federal Trade Commission did not block Google’s acquisition of DoubleClick in 2007, but this is the reality publishers must live with.

The situation has become so bad that the United States Attorney General recently launched an antitrust lawsuit against Google for monopolizing digital advertising technologies. The United Kingdom has launched a similar suit. The United States lawsuit argues that Google has engaged in “. . . a systematic campaign to seize control . . .” of the online advertising market, and they further argue:

. . . that Google itself believes “increased competition between (its ad exchange) AdX and publishers . . . would increase publisher revenues by 30 per cent to 40 per cent.”

These statistics underscore one simple fact: Canadian publishers are forced to do business with Google because Google is virtually the only game in town. This allows Google to set the terms, and they’ve been denying publishers their fair share for years.

Critics of Bill C-18 have argued that the bill is being used to prop up failed publishers who had their chance to adapt and didn’t. That doesn’t add up. I know because I was in the business during the years when Canadians were embracing the digital world. Traditional publishers made huge efforts to move online, and many new digital-first publishers were created. Both traditional outlets and the new companies did their best, but they simply could not and still cannot compete in a domain where their ability to receive fair compensation is blocked. Canadian publishers are not unable or unwilling to adapt, nor are they suggesting they have an inherent right to Google’s money. They are simply asking for fair value.

I also want to address Google’s public response to Bill C-18, and to share my concerns with their recent actions. In February, Google made the decision to restrict some Canadian users from accessing news content on their search engine, with the explanation that this was being done as part of test runs in response to the bill. As we learned from Google’s testimony at the Canadian Heritage Committee in the House of Commons on March 10, the tests were targeted at “. . . less than four per cent of Canadian users.” That may seem like a small figure, but when we consider that Google has over 30 million Canadian users, that works out to over 1 million Canadians being restricted from accessing news content.

Google has a right to make changes to its products, to run tests and to modify its services. None of that is up for debate. But when Google decides to block Canadians from seeing news stories from their local publishers, that amounts to intimidation in the public square. We have a responsibility to challenge this behaviour.

We’ve seen this type of aggression from both Google and Meta before. In December 2020, the Australian government introduced legislation that required Facebook and Google to pay local media outlets for the right to share their content. From the time when the legislation was introduced until it was passed, both companies mounted significant efforts in Australia to resist the law. Google threatened to pull its search function tools from the country, and Facebook temporarily restricted Australian news and publications from being shared on their platform. Leaked internal messages from the company show that, during this time, Facebook went so far as to block pages for local police services and government pages containing public health information.

Google’s recent actions seem to suggest that they are looking for a fight. And now, just like it did in Australia, Facebook is threatening to block news content in Canada should Bill C-18 pass. We already have an idea of how this will play out: Google ultimately backed down from their threat to pull their search engine from Australia, and Facebook restored the ability to share news articles in that country after a few days. I had hoped both companies might have learned from their past experiences and would emulate a more responsible approach here in Canada, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

By threatening to block Canadians from local news even before the legislation has been voted on in the Senate, Google and Facebook have underscored the need for this bill. These companies have a tremendous amount of power over what Canadians see online. By choosing to restrict Canadians’ access, they reminded those same Canadians of the value that local news provides to communities. They reminded them that access to local news and information that is enlightening, engaging and entertaining is vital to them, and that private corporations appear to be messing with that which provides not only information on current events, but in many ways, respite. I think these companies may come to find that declining audiences lead to declining ad revenues.

In an update to their 2017 report The Shattered Mirror, the Public Policy Forum notes that:

Every community in Canada remains keenly interested in its own local affairs. Google and Facebook did not do away with that interest. But between them, Google and Facebook drained advertising from the news publications for which that interest was both the point and the business model. . . .

When we look at advertising revenues for community newspapers, that rings true. News Media Canada estimates that advertising revenue for community newspapers shrunk 66% from $1.21 billion in 2011 to $411 million in 2020.

We know that this legislation can work; we’ve seen it in Australia. Since their legislation was passed, Google and Facebook have signed deals with publishers worth AU $200 million annually. Canada needs Bill C-18 so our publishers can continue to do what they do best: hold powerful voices to account, which, for all intents and purposes, serves as a pillar of democracy.

Colleagues, credible journalism is the cornerstone of our democracy. I support Bill C-18 because it supports investigative journalism’s role in our democratic society. Journalism plays an important role in holding those in power accountable. It helps to foster a well-informed citizenry that can make informed decisions about the policies that affect their lives. In a complex and increasingly globalized society, it is more important than ever to be able to sort through the noise and find reliable sources of information. This means requiring tech giants like Google and Facebook to deal fairly with Canadian publishers and, hence, relevant investigative journalism reports. Parliament can make this happen. As a senator, I am duty bound to support Bill C-18. I believe in fortifying this cornerstone of democracy, and that’s why I established a scholarship fund for journalism at the University of Regina. Colleagues from all groups, I ask you to please help move this bill to committee quickly.

Thank you, hiy kitatamihin.

(On motion of Senator Martin, debate adjourned.)

The Senate

Motion to Affect Sitting on Wednesday, March 29, 2023, and Authorize Committees to Meet During Sitting of the Senate Adopted

Hon. Raymonde Gagné (Legislative Deputy to the Government Representative in the Senate), pursuant to notice of March 23, 2023, moved:

That, notwithstanding the order adopted by the Senate on September 21, 2022, the sitting of Wednesday, March 29, 2023, continue beyond 4 p.m., if Government Business is not completed, and adjourn at the earlier of the completion of Government Business or midnight;

That rule 3-3(1) be suspended on that day; and

That committees of the Senate scheduled to meet on that day for the purpose of considering government legislation be authorized to meet after 4 p.m., even though the Senate may then be sitting, with rule 12-18(1) being suspended in relation thereto.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Motion agreed to.)


Appropriation Bill No. 5, 2022-23

Second Reading

Hon. Raymonde Gagné (Legislative Deputy to the Government Representative in the Senate) moved second reading of Bill C-43, An Act for granting to His Majesty certain sums of money for the federal public administration for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2023.

She said: Honourable senators, I rise today to speak to Bill C-43 which implements the Supplementary Estimates (C) for the 2022-23 fiscal year.

I intend to speak at greater length regarding the spending items contained in Bill C-43 as part of my remarks at third reading tomorrow.

If approved by Parliament, voted budgetary spending for this fiscal year would increase by $4.7 billion — or 2.1% — to a total of $224.6 billion. Much of the new voted spending is intended to provide military aid to Ukraine; help developing countries address the impact of climate change; reimburse First Nations and emergency management service providers for on-reserve response and recovery activities; write off unrecoverable student and apprenticeship loans; and preserve current capacity and service levels at the Canada Revenue Agency call centres.

These estimates also show, for information purposes, changes in planned statutory expenditures. Statutory budgetary expenditures are forecast to rise by $5.6 billion — or 2.6% — to a total of $218.7 billion.

Before concluding my brief remarks, I would like to take the opportunity to thank the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance for their study, and thank Senator Marshall in advance for her work as the critic of this bill. Thank you. Meegwetch.

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

Some Hon. Senators: Yes.

Some Hon. Senators: No.

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

Some Hon. Senators: Yea.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: All those opposed to the motion, please say “nay.”

Some Hon. Senators: Nay.

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

I see two senators rising.

And two honourable senators having risen:

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Do we have agreement on the bell?

An Hon. Senator: Thirty minutes.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Call in the senators for a vote at 4:03 p.m.


Motion agreed to and bill read second time on the following division:

The Honourable Senators

Arnot Jaffer
Audette Klyne
Bellemare Kutcher
Bernard LaBoucane-Benson
Black Lankin
Boehm Loffreda
Boniface Marwah
Bovey Massicotte
Boyer McCallum
Brazeau McPhedran
Burey Mégie
Cardozo Miville-Dechêne
Clement Moncion
Cordy Moodie
Cormier Omidvar
Cotter Osler
Coyle Pate
Dagenais Patterson (Nunavut)
Dalphond Patterson (Ontario)
Dasko Petitclerc
Deacon (Nova Scotia) Quinn
Deacon (Ontario) Ravalia
Dean Ringuette
Downe Saint-Germain
Duncan Shugart
Dupuis Simons
Forest Smith
Francis Sorensen
Gagné Tannas
Gold Verner
Greenwood Wallin
Harder Woo
Hartling Yussuff—66

The Honourable Senators

Ataullahjan Marshall
Batters Martin
Boisvenu Plett
Carignan Poirier
Housakos Richards
MacDonald Seidman
Manning Wells—14

The Honourable Senators

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

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


Appropriation Bill No. 1, 2023-24

Second Reading

Hon. Raymonde Gagné (Legislative Deputy to the Government Representative in the Senate) moved second reading of Bill C-44, An Act for granting to His Majesty certain sums of money for the federal public administration for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2024.

She said: Honourable senators, I am pleased to rise today to speak, if only briefly, to Bill C-44, appropriation bill No. 1, 2023-24. The funding in the 2023-24 Main Estimates is requested through this interim supply bill and the full supply bill, which will be voted on in June.

Bill C-44, on the interim supply, seeks to allocate funding to federal departments for the first three months of the fiscal year. It seeks to withdraw $89.7 billion from the Consolidated Revenue Fund.

I want to once again thank the members of the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance for their hard and careful work on a relatively tight deadline. The committee heard from witnesses from more than eight departments, including officials from Infrastructure Canada, Employment and Social Development Canada, Global Affairs Canada and the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat.

I will provide more details on the bill at third reading.


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

Some Hon. Senators: Question.

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

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

Some Hon. Senators: Yea.

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

Some Hon. Senators: Nay.

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

And two honourable senators having risen:

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

An Hon. Senator: Fifteen minutes.

The Hon. the Speaker: The vote will take place at 4:28.

Call in the senators.


Motion agreed to and bill read second time on the following division:

The Honourable Senators

Arnot Jaffer
Audette Klyne
Bellemare Kutcher
Bernard LaBoucane-Benson
Black Lankin
Boehm Loffreda
Boniface Marwah
Bovey Massicotte
Boyer McCallum
Brazeau McPhedran
Burey Mégie
Cardozo Miville-Dechêne
Clement Moncion
Cordy Moodie
Cormier Omidvar
Cotter Osler
Coyle Pate
Dagenais Patterson (Nunavut)
Dalphond Patterson (Ontario)
Dasko Petitclerc
Deacon (Nova Scotia) Quinn
Deacon (Ontario) Ravalia
Dean Ringuette
Downe Saint-Germain
Duncan Shugart
Dupuis Simons
Forest Smith
Francis Sorensen
Gagné Tannas
Galvez Verner
Gold Wallin
Greenwood Woo
Harder Yussuff—67

The Honourable Senators

Ataullahjan Marshall
Batters Martin
Boisvenu Plett
Carignan Poirier
Housakos Richards
MacDonald Seidman
Manning Wells—14

The Honourable Senators

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

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


Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration

Motion to Affect Membership of Subcommittees Adopted

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate), pursuant to notice of March 23, 2023, moved:

That, notwithstanding the provisions of rule 12-12(1), the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration be authorized to appoint senators who are not members of the committee to its subcommittees, provided that, for greater certainty, no member of the Standing Committee on Audit and Oversight may be appointed to a subcommittee under the terms of this order.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Motion agreed to.)


Protecting Young Persons from Exposure to Pornography Bill

Third Reading—Debate Adjourned

Hon. Julie Miville-Dechêne moved third reading of Bill S-210, An Act to restrict young persons’ online access to sexually explicit material, as amended.

She said: Honourable senators, I rise today at third reading stage of Bill S-210 on protecting young persons from exposure to pornography. I’ve been the sponsor of this initiative for the past two and a half years, and this is the second time that the Senate is debating the bill at third reading. The bill we’re studying was improved by this process.

I’d like to extend my heartfelt thanks to all members of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, especially the then chair, Senator Mobina Jaffer. I also wish to thank the critic of Bill S-210, Senator Yonah Martin, our law clerk, Marc-André Roy and, in my office, legal experts To-Yen Tran and Jérôme Lussier, for their invaluable work. They believed in the bill.

I supported this bill with conviction because it appealed to my many identities.

I am a mother and my two children are part of the generation that had access to the first free pornography sites. Previously, explicit sexual content was for adults only; suddenly, there was nothing to prevent children from accessing pornography on the internet. At that time, just like today, parents were powerless to address this boundless access and total lack of controls.

I am also a feminist, and I’m concerned that young people’s exposure to pornography undermines gender equality in their intimate relationships. Porn too often encourages and normalizes sexist practices of domination that directly contradict the values we wish to instill in young men and women. According to a report released last week by the U.K. Children’s Commissioner, 47% of young people in England believe that girls expect sex to involve physical aggression, and 42% stated that most girls enjoy acts of sexual aggression.

Finally, for me, who has always believed in the importance of equal and comprehensive sex education in schools, it is clear that the avalanche of porn available online is having harmful effects on young people. Among other problems, teenagers who consume pornography develop unrealistic expectations about their bodies, what is expected of them and what they are supposed to look for in love.


At its core, Bill S-210 is based on the simple idea of protecting children from pornography in the virtual world as we protect them from pornography in the real world.

Twenty years ago, pornography was still largely restricted to adults, even on the internet. The huge influx of free porn sites has been a total game-changer. These companies want to maximize their viewership and they make no attempt to control the age of their users. For example, it is estimated that 14% of the people using Pornhub, a Montreal-based company, are minors who have unlimited access to millions and millions of porn videos that are often violent and degrading.

This is a pressing public health issue because an entire generation is getting their sex education by watching these videos. Studies have demonstrated the risk of trauma, addiction, distorted views of consent and one’s own desires, young girls’ misconceptions and even erectile dysfunction. There is an urgent need to act.

The major innovation contained in Bill S-210 would be to require porn sites to verify a user’s age, failing which they will be subject to a criminal offence. Most importantly, delinquent porn sites, even if they are based outside Canada, would be subject to a blocking order in Canada.

Again, for adults, Bill S-210 doesn’t change anything. All content legally available today will continue to be, once an age verification has occurred, which takes only a few minutes. At the recommendation of a witness, I proposed an amendment during the study in committee that enhances privacy protection for users and their personal information in the age verification mechanisms that will be clarified in the regulations. That amendment was adopted.


Of the 30 witnesses and briefs received by the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee, 25 supported the bill, including a majority of the legal experts who testified.

The bill has the support of pediatricians, psychiatrists and sexologists, but also of many parents who need help to protect their children. Research in the United Kingdom and Australia show about 80% of parents agree with age verification to stop children from watching porn.

The bill passed unopposed at the committee stage. However, we had interesting and, at times, difficult debates about the effectiveness of the proposed measures.

It won’t be easy, of course. This is a new legislative field, technology changes regularly and some people seem to think that the internet should be exempt from any laws and regulations that apply in the real world.

But that’s no reason to give up. Other countries have acted or are in the process of doing so. Germany and France have already passed laws similar to Bill S-210. The British government is also considering legislation that would require age verification for porn sites. This is a global issue, and Canada must do its part. The more countries that hold porn sites accountable, the more effective the measures will be.

Here is how the Canadian Centre for Child Protection sums up its support for the bill:

The digital nature of online pornography does not and should not mean that society abrogates its responsibilities to children and youth. It makes no sense that a 14-year-old cannot watch an R-rated movie with simulated sex scenes in a movie theatre but can easily access pornography on her phone. We cannot let adult websites dictate the sexual education of Canada’s children.

Like the other members of the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee, I am aware that Bill S-210 is part of a larger and more complex puzzle. The same applies to alcohol, drugs, gambling and other harmful content or activities from which we want to protect children. There is a role for parents, for education and for legislation. Age verification is part of the solution; it is not the whole solution.

In 2020, the Australian Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs published a report entitled, Protecting the age of innocence, which focused on age verification for online porn. Here is one of its main conclusions:

The Committee acknowledges that age verification is not a silver bullet — some websites containing pornographic material may not be captured, and some determined young people may find ways to circumvent the system. However, when it comes to protecting children from the very real harms associated with exposure to online pornography, the Committee’s strong view is that we should not let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

You will not be surprised to know that I fully concur with our Australian colleagues.

And for this reason, I believe that Bill S-210 should be sent to the House of Commons where the debate can continue and be enriched. I urge you all to vote for this bill.

Thank you.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Will the honourable senator accept a question from Senator Simons?

Senator Miville-Dechêne: Certainly.

Hon. Paula Simons: When I had the privilege of sitting in on the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee during the evolution of this bill, I raised concerns about the use of facial recognition software as a method of age verification. Could you tell me what the bill lays out as possible ways to verify age that might be less intrusive?


Senator Miville-Dechêne: Thank you for your question, Senator Simons.

To be extremely clear, the bill does not include any solutions or age verification options. All of that will be in the regulations. Why did we decide to do it that way? The reason is that the technology is changing very quickly, and we could not include specific solutions, such as using a certain card or form of identification, in the bill because it would become outdated very quickly. Instead, what we did was to establish safeguards to protect the privacy of individuals and customers. Everything else will be set out in the regulations.

However, please know that the strictest regulations in this area require third-party companies to conduct that verification. We are talking about companies that will be approved by the government. We will have companies that will follow the privacy rules, companies that are not the pornography platforms themselves because there is no way that those platforms should be entrusted with the age verification. They already have so much information about what customers are doing, even more than banks have. We do not want to give them even more power.

The issue that you raise about the use of facial recognition is indeed very controversial. It would be quite possible to list in the regulations the approved methods and those methods that are not approved. That is already being done in Germany and will soon be implemented in France and Great Britain. Thank you.

Hon. Chantal Petitclerc: Honourable senators, I also rise today in support of Bill S-210.

First, allow me to warmly thank Senator Miville-Dechêne for her perseverance, rigour and work on this important issue.


Colleagues, if I were to ask you the question: Between protecting young people from the harms of pornography exposure or increasing traffic to one’s online platform, which of these two goals might be a priority for the owner of a commercial pornographic website? That is, choosing between the health and safety of children or the profits from increased traffic? Yes, we can all easily guess the answer. And it is this obvious answer that, in my humble opinion, justifies the relevance of this bill and the urgency to send it to the other place as soon as possible to increase its chance of becoming law.

It is important to note that we have before us an issue on which there is near unanimity on the need to act. Whether in this chamber, in committee, among experts or in families, everyone is clear: Children should never have access to sexually explicit content.


This bill fills a void, and that is crucial given the increasing prominence of technology in our homes and schools. Screens are omnipresent in our living and working spaces. More than ever before, we have a life online, and it will only grow. We sell, we buy, we trade online. Children are learning, playing, interacting, communicating and gaming online. They increasingly have their own smartphones, tablets, laptops and a Wi-Fi or mobile internet connection, and this at a relatively young age. On the other hand, experts are developing advanced techniques to keep them engaged and connected as long as possible.

We hear this concern from parents everywhere, and it is growing from year to year in all socio-economic backgrounds. The management of screens, to which access has multiplied, is the parental challenge of the 21st century, especially after the pandemic of COVID-19.


In this world that is changing before our eyes at a speed unlike anything we’ve ever experienced, parents will have to be given additional tools, which they really need in order to properly fulfill their roles and experience greater peace of mind. Some might argue that it is the responsibility of parents, not the government. On the one hand, I think it’s a shared responsibility. On the other hand, it’s important to realize that when it comes to accessing illegal content, educating and supervising a child in 2023 is a much bigger challenge than it was in my day, with only one TV in the house and my Walkman as a source of entertainment when I went out.

Our children are bombarded from all sides, and they are curious. They are under pressure from others and they want to push the limits, which is quite normal. They are passionate about digital technology. Are we equipping them properly? We also need to help them protect themselves from online content that is harmful to their psychological and emotional well-being.

Once this bill passes, companies that distribute commercial pornography will be required to implement an age verification mechanism before providing access to their content.

That way, as is the case in the real world, only adults would be able to legally access this content, which must be kept away from our children for various reasons. I will come back to this later in my speech.

I’d like to highlight the amendment passed by the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs. The amendment ensures greater respect for users’ privacy and protects their personal information. Senator Jaffer and Senator Miville-Dechêne described it in detail during their speeches at report stage.


Colleagues, restrictions on youth access to pornography already exist, and these restrictions are widely accepted in our society, such as access to adult magazines and films and to sex shops, which are restricted to those over 18, and proof of age is required. If something is forbidden in a physical context, don’t we all agree that obviously it should also be forbidden in the virtual world?

To quote Senator Martin:

The same rules should be in place online as well in the real world. For example, accessing explicit material from a store, for a minor, is illegal and heavily enforced by store owners, requiring proof of identification.


Adults are allowed to purchase alcoholic beverages. At the Société des alcools du Québec, the same logic applies to online sales as applies to in-store sales. In store, the buyer’s age will be verified if necessary and, for online sales, mandatory proof of age is required upon delivery of a product purchased via their website. For the purpose of this speech, I verified and found that the Société québécoise du cannabis website applies the same principle to the delivery of its products. No delivery can be made to anyone under the age of 21, even if the products have already been paid for.

How do we deal with the online world now that it has merged with the real world, for which most of our laws were designed? Now, these two worlds coexist and our laws and regulations must take that into account. They must reflect this new reality and evolve.

Colleagues, by ratifying the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Canada has committed, as set out in Article 19, to:

 . . . take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse . . . .

The experts are clear on that and I agree. Giving children access to pornography is essentially child abuse. The negative psychological impacts have been documented for years and the findings are all the same. In this chamber and in committee, we have heard solid arguments on the negative short- and long-term effects of exposure to pornography, which we know often includes violent images.

Béatrice Copper-Royer, a psychologist who specializes in child and adolescent psychology, is very clear. She said, and I quote:

It is disastrous for a child to happen upon these images or videos by accident. It is a violation. It destabilizes them and they choose not to talk about it because they can sense it is terribly wrong.

She goes on to say the following, again about youth, and I quote:

The older ones choose to look at this content for a laugh or to try to get away with something in a world where there is not much you can’t get away with. It is also disastrous in that these images give them a violent and degrading view of sexuality and trivialize violent sexual behaviour.

During the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs’ study of a previous version of this bill, Laila Mickelwait, founder of the #Traffickinghub movement and the Justice Defense Fund, said the following:

 . . . we have over 40 years of peer-reviewed research that demonstrates the harm pornography does to children who are viewing this content. We talk about viewing and doing. A study was done which showed that over 88% of mainstream pornography films contain sexual violence. When children view this content, research has shown that it does something in their brain that creates permission-giving beliefs, which then enable them to more easily act out in sexually violent ways.

It is troubling, to say the least. More troubling still is the fact that every study says the same thing, in other words, that there are definitely serious risks for children.


Being exposed to this type of content at an early age is undoubtedly a form of violence, of abuse. It deeply distorts the representations of a child in his or her relationship with the other, in the creation of his or her sexual identity, in the nature of his or her relationships with others. And then, of course, it has contributed to a banalization of sexuality, violence and a hypersexualization of society.

Honourable senators, my speech is certainly not about taking a moral position on pornography. What an adult does legally in his or her spare time is clearly none of my business, but what is our business, our responsibility, is to ensure that our children are protected and that we maximize their chances of growing up in healthy environments. This is a responsibility that we all share — as parents, as a society, as a country and here in this room. We must act. We must legislate.

To conclude, I think that not acting on this is equal to saying that we’re fine with our youth having access to porn, even though we know it has serious consequences. So, I guess the question is this: If it makes so much sense, why hasn’t it been done yet? We can’t hide behind the argument that it’s too complicated. We are now able to make it happen. We are able to do it, so let’s do it.

(On motion of Senator Martin, debate adjourned.)



Pension Protection Bill

Bill to Amend—Third Reading—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Martin, for the Honourable Senator Wells, seconded by the Honourable Senator Housakos, for the third reading of Bill C-228, An Act to amend the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act and the Pension Benefits Standards Act, 1985.

Hon. Diane Bellemare: I rise today to speak in support of Bill C-228.

It is about time that we acknowledged the ongoing social injustice that pensioners and future retirees with a defined benefit registered pension plan face when a company goes bankrupt.

Bill C-228 responds to this important concern, which is shared by all parliamentarians in the other chamber.

Nevertheless, our role in the Senate is to provide sober second thought. That is why, as a member of the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Commerce and the Economy, I wish to share the witnesses’ thoughts on this bill with all those who did not participate in the committee’s study and to explain the reasons for my vote.

We received many emails about this bill, encouraging us to pass it quickly. You will understand, as I did, that this bill addresses the needs and uncertainty expressed by thousands, if not millions, of pensioners, because it will cover approximately 1.1 million employees in the private sector, in addition to an even larger number of already retired pensioners.

Some of the organizations and individuals who testified or submitted briefs told us not to act hastily. Today I will recap what we heard.

First, this bill will unfortunately not solve all the problems for current and future pensioners in the private sector. In other words, Bill C-228 is not a panacea or a cure-all.

Bill C-228 aims to prevent high-profile cases like the bankruptcy of Sears and other companies that pushed pensioners and older workers into poverty because they were relying on their company pension plans to provide for them in their old age. In some cases, their pensions were reduced by as much as 30%.

The approach chosen by the sponsor of this bill, MP Gladu, is to amend the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act and the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act in order to ensure that retirement pensions are given priority in the event of bankruptcy proceedings. I believe Senator Moncion explained the legal context of this bill quite well last week.

However, there is no guaranteed protection. Let’s be clear. This is not a retirement insurance plan like those that exist elsewhere in the world. Prioritizing pension funds during bankruptcy proceedings does not guarantee that the proceeds of a company’s liquidation will fully cover the promised pensions.

A company expecting to go bankrupt could act accordingly and make special payments to reduce the amount recoverable by the pension fund. Bill C-228 does not prevent such behaviour. The brief from the Council on Aging of Ottawa, which is made up of a variety of experts, points out the following:

An ethical and financial problem can be created if firms approaching bankruptcy make decisions to run down remaining assets by making special payments to executives, directors and shareholders. Any “special” or “unusual” payments to any of these groups should be recoverable by the pension fund if made within a specified time period before the application to be declared insolvent.

The bill does not provide for that option.

Furthermore, this bill will not produce any real results for four years. Many pension managers are happy about that and would have liked even more time. They talked about as much as 10 years in some briefs. Meanwhile, pensioners and workers will not be given priority in the case of a recession or bankruptcy until four years from now, once the bill is given Royal Assent. We need to plan for a four-year period before this comes into force.

Second, the scope of Bill C-228 would affect very few people in terms of the whole issue of registered pension plans in the private sector. Over 12 million Canadians are employed in the private sector and very few of them have defined benefit pension plans.

According to Statistics Canada data, the percentage of workers who are members of a registered pension plan has been steadily declining, from 46.1% in 1977 to 37.1% in 2019. This percentage has remained stable in the public sector, where 88% of public sector employees have a registered pension plan, but it has been steadily declining in the private sector, where it is now at 22.4%. Two in ten private sector employees have a registered pension plan.

The percentage of workers covered by a defined benefit registered pension plan has also declined significantly from 34.5% in 1999 to 24.7%, to the benefit of defined contribution plans, which have seen participation rates increase from 0.7% to 5.5% in 20 years.

The coverage rate of defined benefit registered pension plans such as our pension plan, such as the pension plan that Bill C-228 is trying to protect, has remained rather stable in the public sector. It has gone from 83% to 80% in 20 years. It has drastically decreased in the private sector, going from 21.3% to 8.8%. Fewer than one in ten private sector workers have a defined benefit registered pension plan. Bill C-228 seeks to protect these workers and pensioners covered by these plans.

Again, I would like to quote the brief submitted by the Council on Aging of Ottawa, which notes the following:

Canada’s retirement income system has been designed on the assumption that workplace pension plans will play an important role in helping people with moderate to high earnings maintain their standard of living in retirement. Success in meeting this objective has been modest and recent trends are worrisome.

Furthermore, as stated in the Canadian Federation of Pensioners’ brief, private sector defined benefit pension plans are practically in their death bed. The brief says the following:

The reality is that no one tracks data on private single employer defined benefit pension plans.

The Canadian Federation of Pensioners brief continues as follows:

What we do know, according to a 2022 survey of Canadian Federation of Pensioners member organizations, is that all our member plans are closed. This means new members are not allowed to be enrolled. In fact, most of these plans have been closed for up to twenty years. Our survey also showed that there are far more retired members than active members of these plans. For every 6 retirees, there is only one active (i.e. working) member.

Other briefs submitted by pension fund managers maintain that Bill C-228 could accelerate the disappearance of private employer-sponsored registered defined benefit pension plans. This already seems to have happened. They also submit that there are other ways to protect these pensions.


In summary, the pension issue is complex and, to add to the complexity, the financial stakes are enormous. I found the numbers quite startling. According to Statistics Canada, in 2019, total employer and employee contributions to a registered pension plan, or RPP, which is not a public plan, reached $71.1 billion. Also in 2019, the market value of all registered pension plan assets exceeded $2.1 trillion. That’s the value of Canada’s GDP. Of course, these issues raise many questions.

Why pass Bill C-228 so quickly when the issues are so complex and other solutions do exist?

Certain submissions from the Council on Aging of Ottawa, whose members are experts and former trade unionists, recommended that we take our time to propose sustainable solutions. They said, and I quote:

 . . . Bill C-228 creates a real dilemma. On the one side, the members of surviving defined benefit plans will have increased protection — but not complete protection — when the employer/sponsor of their defined benefit plan becomes insolvent. On the other hand, as Committee members have been warned, there is also reason to believe that Bill C-228 may contribute to the further decline in coverage of defined benefit pension plans.

Colleagues, you may be wondering whether this threat is a real possibility. The reasoning is simple. Once this bill comes into effect, the fact that pension benefits get priority would increase borrowing costs for businesses, since financial institutions would be at higher risk of not being able to recover their stake in the event of bankruptcy proceedings because they are no longer the priority. In short, if borrowing costs increase, companies will drop defined benefit plans in favour of defined contribution plans, as many are currently doing, because they do not present the same constraints for lenders.

Parliamentarians face a tough policy choice, according to the experts at the Council on Aging of Ottawa. Here is what they said:

This policy choice would be difficult under any circumstance. But the choice is especially difficult given that, as far as we are aware, there are no analytics in the public domain that would help in understanding the consequences of the choice. Important bills, like Bill C-228, should not reach the stage of passage that Bill C-228 has reached, without there being substantial analytical support in the public domain so the Members of Parliament (MPs) and the public at large can understand their consequences.

To make our decisions even more difficult, other witnesses warned that Bill C-228 could harm foreign investment as well as the restructuring of Canadian businesses. Those are some scenarios that were mentioned.

The Canadian Federation of Pensioners, which is in favour of Bill C-228, had this to say in its brief, and I quote:

Canada has 11 different pension jurisdictions, each with different requirements, rules, and enforcement standards. Superpriority under Bill C-228 is the best way to achieve fair and equitable protection for all defined benefit pensioners within Canada’s complex pension regulatory environment.

That is the backdrop against which all this is playing out, and the Association of Canadian Pension Management, which is very critical of this bill, noted that Canada would be the only OECD country, besides South Korea, to respond to the issue of what happens to registered pension plans in the event of bankruptcy proceedings by drafting a law that operates through the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act. So what should we do? Canada is lagging far behind other countries, which protect their pensioners and future retirees in the private sector. They prefer retirement insurance plans. The United States, England, Germany and Ontario all have such a plan. We need to move toward that solution, but as senators know, that will be difficult to achieve, given the large number of jurisdictions we have in Canada.

To me, I think it is crucial to vote in favour of the bill at this time, because this will force us to reflect on it for the next four years so we can discuss it in further detail. As the Council on Aging of Ottawa said, if we vote in favour of this bill, we should undertake further analytics to advance this issue.

Pensions in Canada are in bad shape. We have public plans that provide the minimum, which is good. However, registered pension plans are woefully inadequate.

I hope the Senate will get things moving. That is its mission and its duty. Thank you.

(On motion of Senator Clement, debate adjourned.)


Health-Centred Approach to Substance Use Bill

Bill to Amend—Second Reading—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Boniface, seconded by the Honourable Senator Hartling, for the second reading of Bill S-232, An Act respecting the development of a national strategy for the decriminalization of illegal substances, to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts.

Hon. Mary Coyle: Honourable senators, as we celebrate the early days of spring here in the traditional and unceded lands of the Anishinaabe Algonquin people, a time of renewal and hope, I rise today to speak in support of Bill S-232, sponsored by our colleague Senator Gwen Boniface.

Bill S-232 is, in fact, a bill about renewal and hope — renewal in terms of how our society approaches illegal substances, the people who use them and the systems that surround them, and hope that we can look with clear eyes and open minds at the abundance of evidence that exists to guide us through this important moment of necessary change.

Senator Boniface reminded us in her speech that this bill does two things. Firstly:

It mandates conversations between the federal government, the provinces and the territories and other stakeholders so that the federal government can report to Parliament with a national strategy as to how best tackle the epidemic of substance use. The second thing it does is remove the criminal sanctions from the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act for simple possession, also known as decriminalization.

The bill’s short title, the “Health-Centred Approach to Substance Use Act,” signals the shift in approach. Our colleagues Senators Pate, Campbell, White, Busson, Dean and Ravalia have weighed in with important perspectives from their front-line experiences in support of this bill and Senator Boniface’s previous one, Bill S-229.


My intention today is to add to the debate by speaking first to the broader issues of substance use and substance use health, then touch on the limitations and adverse effects of criminalization — otherwise known as prohibition — highlighting recommendations from studies from over the past 50 years, bringing forward voices from last week’s United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs held in Vienna and end by encouraging us to get this important and long-overdue bill to committee for the in-depth study that it deserves.

Honourable colleagues, Dr. Marc-Antoine Crocq in his article “Historical and cultural aspects of man’s relationship with addictive drugs” indicates:

Our taste for addictive psychoactive substances is attested to in the earliest human records. Historically, psychoactive substances have been used by (i) priests in religious ceremonies . . . (ii) healers for medicinal purposes . . . or (iii) the general population in a socially approved way . . . . Pathological use was described as early as classical Antiquity.

He points out that in Shakespeare’s play Othello, we get two different takes on substance use with Cassio declaring:

Oh thou invisible spirit of wine, if thou hast no name to be known by, let us call thee devil.

And then Iago’s, “Come, come, good wine is a good familiar creature, if it be well used . . . .”

Colleagues, the Community Addictions Peer Support Association, or CAPSA, in its document called Understanding Substance Use Health: A Matter of Equity, points out that the term “substance use” is often incorrectly used as a synonym for addiction or substance use disorder. They indicate that similar to physical and mental health, substance use health occurs across a continuum.

CAPSA and Ottawa Public Health have a visual illustration of this, which includes five points along a spectrum. Picture the spectrum. At the one end, we have no use of substances, then beneficial use of substances with positive health or social effects. In the middle, lower risk with occasional use of substances that has negligible health or social effects. Towards the other end, we see problems occurring with substance use that has negative consequences for individuals, families or communities. Finally, we have substance use disorder, a diagnosable, chronic medical condition based on 11 criteria listed in the Diagnostic And Statistical Manual Of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition — the DSM-5.

In that same CAPSA document earlier, the association makes the point that all kinds of people in Canada use all kinds of substances. For instance, in 2017, 78% of us — I say “us” — 23.3 million people in Canada aged 15 and over reported alcohol use. In Canada, in 2020, 6,000 people died due to opioids, 14,800 people died from alcohol-related illnesses and 37,000 people died of smoking-related causes.

Colleagues, most of the substances Canadians use are legal and regulated, including alcohol, tobacco and now cannabis. CAPSA promotes a strength-based, health promotion approach to substance use with a spectrum of services along the spectrum of substance uses — legal and illegal — which includes everyone, not just those with disorders. This is absolutely critical to reducing stigma.

The bill we are currently debating at second reading, known as the health-centred approach to substance use act, is focused on illegal substances and, in particular, the opioid crisis my colleagues have so vividly described. Colleagues, criminalization — prohibition of substance use — is not achieving the objectives of improved health and safety in our communities.

According to Mark Thornton of Auburn University, alcohol prohibition in the U.S. was a failure. I will quote him:

National prohibition of alcohol (1920–33) — the “noble experiment” — was undertaken to reduce crime and corruption, solve social problems, reduce the tax burden created by prisons and poorhouses, and improve health and hygiene . . . .

At the beginning of Prohibition, the Reverend Billy Sunday stirred audiences with this optimistic prediction:

“The reign of tears is over. The slums will soon be a memory. We will turn our prisons into factories and . . . corncribs. Men will walk upright now, women will smile and children will laugh. Hell will be forever for rent.”

Although consumption of alcohol fell at the beginning of Prohibition, it subsequently increased. Alcohol became more dangerous to consume . . .

— it was adulterated —

. . . crime increased and became “organized”; the court and prison systems were stretched to the breaking point . . . . No measurable gains were made in productivity or reduced absenteeism.

Prohibition, which failed to improve health and virtue in America, can afford some invaluable lessons . . . provide some perspective on the current crisis in drug prohibition — a 75-year effort that is increasingly viewed as a failure.

Colleagues, in 1973, the Le Dain Commission issued its final report on the Inquiry into the Non-Medical Use of Drugs in Canada, recommending, among others, that medical treatment for individuals addicted to opioids be offered instead of criminal punishment.

A recently retired colleague, the Honourable Larry Campbell, reminded us that his predecessor, B.C. Chief Coroner John Vincent Cain, recommended in a 1994 report on illicit narcotic overdose deaths that the B.C. Ministry of Attorney General:

Enter into discussions with the federal Ministers of Justice and Health on the propriety and feasibility of decriminalizing the possession and use of specified substances by people shown to be addicted to those . . . substances.

And today, almost 30 years later, we finally have a pilot exemption in B.C., and the City of Toronto just last week has renewed its request for the same exemption.

The 2011 report of the Global Commission on Drug Policy stated:

The global war on drugs has failed . . . .

Vast expenditures on criminalization and repressive measures directed at producers, traffickers and consumers of illegal drugs have clearly failed to effectively curtail supply or consumption.

They recommended to:

End the criminalization, marginalization and stigmatization of people who use drugs but who do no harm to others. Challenge rather than reinforce common misconceptions about drug markets, drug use and drug dependence.

Colleagues, the sixty-sixth session of the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs was held in Vienna earlier this month. In his introductory remarks, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director-General of the World Health Organization, said:

Non medical use of drugs leads to at least 600,000 deaths worldwide each year largely due to viral hepatitis, HIV and overdose. People who use drugs often suffer criminalization, stigma, and discrimination and are denied access to health services further compounding the harms of drug use.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk added at the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs:

The so-called war on drugs paradigm is detrimental to public health. Fear of arrest and widespread stigma around drug use prevents people who use drugs from accessing health care, harm reduction services and voluntary treatment services. Drug crime is one of the key reasons that well over 2 million people are in prison worldwide.

If drugs destroy life the same can also be true of drug policies.

Representing Canada at the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs, Jennifer Saxe, Director General of Health Canada’s Controlled Substances and Cannabis Branch, spoke about Canada’s response to the drug toxicity overdose crisis, where she indicated, “Canada continues to advance drug policy that respects human rights . . . .” She stated that “more needs to be done” but she did not mention decriminalization.

Finally, and very importantly, in their brief to Canada’s Minister of Health leading up to the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs, the Canadian Civil Society Working Group on UN Drug Policy said — and I will quote at length from them:

The criminalization of drug possession has been ineffective in reducing drug use and has only perpetuated widespread human rights violations and discrimination towards marginalized groups such as Indigenous peoples, racialized communities, women, people of diverse gender identities and those with mental health conditions.

One of the main drivers behind stigma and discrimination, criminalization hinders people from seeking harm reduction and treatment services. Drug-related deaths continue to rise.

Criminalization of drug possession also means resources are directed towards the criminal justice system instead of toward health and social services.

In Canada, the push for decriminalization has been advocated for by civil society groups and professional organizations for many years. In 2021, the Federal Task Force on Substance Use recommended the same. That same year 112 human rights and public health organizations released a platform advocating for the decriminalization of all drugs for personal use, and the removal of sanctions for related activities such as sharing or selling drugs to support personal drug use costs or provide a safer supply. Provincial, municipal and law enforcement authorities have supported those calls.

For effective decriminalization, a range of policies and practices that are evidence-based and tailored to the situation are needed. It is critical that administrative penalties such as fines, mandatory treatment referrals, or drug confiscation are not substituted for criminal sanctions, otherwise, this will allow law enforcement to continue monitoring and policing people who use drugs, and will likely still disproportionately affect Indigenous, Black and other marginalized communities.


Colleagues, as I move toward concluding my remarks, I want to emphasize three important points:

First, criminalization of people who use drugs does not work. I repeat what the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk said, “. . . if drugs destroy lives, the same can also be true of drug policies.” Colleagues, I know that we all want our policies to make life better, and certainly not cause more harm.

Second, health is the common bond that Canadians can get behind. Viewing substance use health as part of our overall physical and mental health, and ensuring that health — with both upstream and downstream considerations — is the focus will be the key to breaking free of this whole convoluted, stigmatizing, ineffective, expensive and dangerous paradigm that we are currently caught up in.

Third, in order to develop a successful national strategy — based on a new health-focused paradigm — it is essential to have people with living and lived experience with drug use at the centre of that process, including Indigenous people and Canadians of African descent.

Honourable colleagues, we are at an important societal crossroads — one where we have an opportunity to save lives while building a healthier and safer Canada for all.

Honourable senators, let’s demonstrate the leadership of this chamber, and move Bill S-232 — Senator Boniface’s important paradigm-shifting bill — to committee. Thank you. Wela’lioq.

(On motion of Senator Woo, debate adjourned.)


Federal Framework on Autism Spectrum Disorder Bill

Message from Commons

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore informed the Senate that a message had been received from the House of Commons returning Bill S-203, An Act respecting a federal framework on autism spectrum disorder, and acquainting the Senate that they had passed this bill without amendment.


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. Scott Tannas: Before I speak to Bill S-241, I’m sorry, colleagues, that I missed my call for Bill S-201. I was at a subcommittee meeting, and three senators who were supposed to speak today didn’t; I missed it. I have apologized to Senator McPhedran, who was expecting me to deliver that speech — and also to Senator McCallum, who was also ready to speak today on that subject. We will get to it.

Honourable senators, I rise today to speak to Bill S-241, the Jane Goodall act. It certainly has some high expectations, I would suggest, with such an internationally eminent person agreeing to attach her name to it.

Speaking of eminent people, illuminous former Senator Sinclair was the former sponsor of this bill. I want to thank him for bringing it forward. I also want to thank Senator Klyne for taking the torch upon Senator Sinclair’s retirement.

At some point, there will be committee hearings on this. I know there are other speakers on Bill S-241 before we get to a second-reading vote. It’s my hope that the committee will look carefully at the bill and at the potential amendments, if they’re needed.

I have two concerns that I’m hopeful the committee will spend some time on — they’re around the unintended consequences of the bill.

The first one that I worry about is the transition of the current population of animals that are affected by this bill, particularly in the context of the restrictions on the activities that are immediate, but might also be part of the funding process for the care and feeding of those animals.

In any of the preliminary inquiries that I’ve made, I have not heard of any amount of time that’s been spent on a real, practical plan to deal with the thousands of animals whose lives we are going to change through the restrictions that come into effect right away — never mind that those animals are grandfathered in the possession of whom they are now. In some cases, I suspect that the restrictions that are there for the future activities of those grandfathered animals may prevent people from being able to afford feeding them and caring for them.

The committee needs to satisfy itself that there is a plan, as well as what the plan is, who is going to conduct it and how it will be paid for. I would like to ensure that there are a couple of ways that the committee is, in fact, doing its due diligence on this.

The best thing would be for the committee to report — when it reports back to us — on their estimates regarding the transition of animals to zoos and sanctuaries. How many animals will age in place because they are owned by people who have funding that isn’t reliant on exhibitions, and how many animals will be euthanized? If we’re going to pass this bill, we’d better ensure that we understand all of those things, in addition to the plan regarding how animals arrive at zoos; how animals arrive at sanctuaries; how we’re going to police the idea that people will treat these animals humanely, and have the capacity to feed them; and the result for those who can’t afford them, can’t sell them, can’t trade them and can’t do anything other than euthanize them. We owe it to ourselves to know all of that. I think it will also help us prevent what could be a horrifying tragedy during the transition period that would outrage lots of Canadians, including the Canadians that are probably the most keen to see this bill passed. I think we owe it to ourselves to make sure that we have, in the cold light of day, examined that particular unintended consequence.


My second concern, which has been spoken to before, is around the animal advocate legal status that the bill confers in certain circumstances. There is a legitimate concern posed by certain groups and people that this somehow could be a first step toward influence or interference in animals for food. That is a legitimate concern and the committee should listen to those groups and try and find ways to mitigate that concern rather than simply dismiss it.

Both those items, the transition plan and the advocate role, are potential unintended consequences that we must spend the time working on here if we are going to propose this bill and send it over to the popular house that may or may not spend as much time on sober second thought as we would if the roles were reversed. Thank you, colleagues.

(On motion of Senator Clement, debate adjourned.)

Enacting Climate Commitments Bill

Bill to Amend—Second Reading—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Galvez, seconded by the Honourable Senator Gignac, for the second reading of Bill S-243, An Act to enact the Climate-Aligned Finance Act and to make related amendments to other Acts.

(On motion of Senator Martin, debate adjourned.)

Criminal Code

Bill to Amend—Second Reading—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Wallin, seconded by the Honourable Senator Tannas, for the second reading of Bill S-248, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (medical assistance in dying).

Hon. Chantal Petitclerc: Honourable senators, I am speaking today in support of Bill S-248, in which Senator Wallin proposes that it become possible to make an advance request for medical assistance in dying. Senators Seidman, Kutcher and Ravalia have already very well positioned the issues that deserve our attention in this debate, and I wish to add my voice.


Allow me to take a step back in time. When the Supreme Court of Canada recognized the right of an individual to obtain medical assistance in dying at the time of their choosing, it did not just reverse its position on the criminal prohibition against medical assistance in dying. With Carter, the court also invited both federal and provincial legislative and regulatory bodies to assume responsibility for an important societal reform that it recognized would be difficult and complex.


Coincidentally, I joined the Senate when Bill C-14, the first legislation on medical assistance in dying, was being studied. The positions were divergent and the debates vigorous. Some Senate amendments were accepted, others rejected and several other issues were left unresolved or subject to review by a parliamentary committee to be established. We understood at the time that the chapter that had just been opened was the first of several chapters that were to follow. Legislation governing medical assistance in dying would evolve. The implementation of regulatory guidelines would be gradual.


In 2019, when it ruled that the criterion of reasonably foreseeable death contravened the Charter, the Quebec Superior Court reminded us of this responsibility and asked us to continue what we had started. That is what we did with Bill C-7 as we revised the eligibility criteria, created a new safeguard and expanded access to individuals suffering from mental disorder as the sole underlying medical condition.

After Bill C-7 was passed, we also knew that by once again submitting the issues of access for mature minors, advance requests, the palliative care situation in Canada and the protection of Canadians with disabilities for parliamentary study, we were ensuring that this debate would come back before the committee.

This brings me to the bill before us.


During the study of Bill C-7, for which I was the sponsor, I felt it was more prudent to limit our response to the Truchon decision. The Legal Affairs Committee did not deal with advance requests, and rightly so, since they were not part of the bill. I felt at the time that it was premature to study this aspect of medical assistance in dying. Although I agreed with the principle, I abstained from voting for Senator Wallin’s amendment on advance requests.


With respect to the bill before us, I would like to acknowledge the work done by Senator Wallin, who kept us informed after taking the necessary time to consult experts, organizations, stakeholders and individuals with real-life experience. Her thorough work and the work that will be done in committee are reflected positively in the text she is proposing.

Under Bill S-248, advance requests would only be allowed for those who are already seriously ill. The parliamentary review by the Special Joint Committee on Medical Assistance in Dying, which many saw as an important prerequisite to allowing advance requests, ended last month with a similar conclusion.

When I spoke to Senator Wallin’s amendment to Bill C-7 in 2021, I felt that more clarity was needed for situations when the individual no longer had the capacity to make health care decisions and it was up to others, such as a family member, to determine when and how the advance request would be invoked, and when the MAID provider would be contacted.

I am reassured by the wording in Bill S-248 stating that any written advance request must include a set of medical conditions defined by the applicant in close consultation with his or her physician. These conditions must be clearly identified and observable by a physician or nurse practitioner. Once the person has lost capacity, these criteria will be used as a guide to define when the person would like to go ahead with MAID.


This provision protects the individual, as Professor Downie noted during the proceedings of the Special Joint Committee on Medical Assistance in Dying:

There is no room for substitute decision-making in this context. It is the individual who was saying what is to be done to them at a point at which they have lost decision‑making capacity, and the clinician assesses the objectively assessable conditions because you’ve sorted that out by writing down your written request. You figured out what will work. It is something that clinicians can assess, and they determine whether those conditions have been met or not.

There is no substitute decision-making here at all.



Are the safeguards that are already in place, combined with those written into this bill, strong enough to protect a vulnerable person from making an advance request against their will? I believe that they are. As I mentioned, it is the individual, while fully lucid, who sets out in their initial application the criteria to be considered. Furthermore, several other people are involved in this process, including two independent witnesses whose role is to confirm that the person’s written request was made voluntarily and without external pressure. Let’s not forget, it is a crime to coerce or force a person to opt for medical assistance in dying.

Another safety net is that the written advance request must be updated every five years by the person concerned, as long as they have the capacity to do so.

Another issue that was unclear to us in 2021 was the potential complexity of harmonizing provincial and territorial legislation. Things have evolved and continue to evolve because, as we speak, the Quebec National Assembly is studying the terms of a provincial framework for making an advance request for MAID. However, this framework, once adopted, will not be applicable unless an amendment similar to the one currently proposed by Senator Wallin is made to the Criminal Code.

As you know, in the current state of criminal law, the waiver of final consent just before receiving medical assistance in dying is possible only in very limited cases. A patient whose natural death is reasonably foreseeable can make arrangements with their doctor to waive this consent because they may lose decision‑making capacity before the chosen date.

Another scenario involves any patient who allowed a doctor to proceed with the self-administering process, if that process should run into complications that cause the person to lose their decision-making capacity.

Bill S-248 provides that it would also be possible to administer medical assistance in dying without having obtained final consent from the individual, on the condition, as I have already indicated, that the problems causing their suffering are clearly indicated in their written request and that these problems can be easily observed by the doctor or the nurse practitioner. This proposed amendment to the Criminal Code would free individuals who received a diagnosis of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease from a quasi untenable situation, such as ending up being subject to, when suffering becomes untenable, making a decision when it is clear that the progression of the disease will irreversibly affect the capacity to choose and make a decision.

Honourable senators, we also need to listen to Canadians. Year after year, more and more of them are telling us that they strongly support advance requests. According to an Ipsos poll conducted in April 2022, 85% of Canadians support advance requests for those with a grievous and irremediable condition and 77% support advance requests even if no grievous or irremediable condition exists.

We do not always have to wait for the courts to ask Parliament to intervene before we take action. Those who have to appeal to the courts are already carrying the heavy burden of their illness. Are we respecting their dignity by leaving that up to them when the Supreme Court of Canada has already ruled that that is our responsibility?

I would like to end my speech by saying that many people who are at the centre of this debate on medical assistance in dying are taking a strong stand on autonomy and our individual right to choose. Already in 2019, the Truchon decision led us to reflect on this by stating from the outset that it is essential to properly understand a person’s condition based on their personal experience and not as a member of a vulnerable group.

The court ruling reads as follows, and I quote:


The vulnerability of a person requesting medical assistance in dying must be assessed exclusively on a case-by-case basis, according to the characteristics of the person and not based on a reference group of so-called “vulnerable persons.” Beyond the various factors of the vulnerability that physicians are able to objectify or identify, the patient’s ability to understand and to consent is ultimately the decisive factor, in addition to the other legal criteria.

This is something that strongly resonates with me. This reflection on autonomy has always been present when it comes to medical assistance in dying, and I suspect it will stay. Senator Woo, in his recent speech on Bill C-39, reflected on this also:

I am signalling to all of us here that there is a discernible shift in the reasoning behind arguments for MAID — from reasonably foreseeable death to grievous and irremediable condition to autonomy.

I don’t disagree with you, Senator Woo. I also appreciated the finesse of your reflection and the strength of your arguments to support this observation.

I too notice that shift toward autonomy as a key factor for policy-making. I see it in this conversation on MAID but also in other areas in our society. I personally find it reassuring. It’s when you suddenly wake up in a great loss of autonomy that you realize how crucial it is and how it’s worth fighting for self‑determination.

Persons in situations of vulnerability live in a world where so many decisions are made on their behalf, and when this happens, you realize even more how having the right to make your own choices is crucial.


To me, the right to choose is non-negotiable when we have the capacity, of course, and reasonable safeguards have been established.

The advanced requests that this bill calls on us to reflect on represent an extension of our capacity to make decisions while we are able to do so.

Paul Brunet, president of the Conseil pour la protection des malades, said, and I quote, “It is a matter of autonomy, of the person’s free will.” It is simple, but to me these words sum up the issue.

In the hope that we will soon have the privilege of studying this bill in committee, I want to conclude by acknowledging the serious, thorough and important work that this chamber does at every stage in our reflections and our decisions on medical assistance in dying.


Senator Wallin, your voice in this debate is essential. Your work and your consistency in making access to an advance request possible are remarkable. Dear senator, I thank you for it.

Meegwetch. Thank you.

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

Business of the Senate

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senators, it is now almost six o’clock, and pursuant to Rule 3-3(1), I am obliged to leave the chair until eight o’clock, when we shall resume — unless it is your wish, honourable senators, to not see the clock.

Is it agreed to not see the clock? Consent is denied.


Accordingly, honourable senators, leave not having been granted, the sitting is suspended and I will leave the chair until eight o’clock.

(The sitting of the Senate was suspended.)


(The sitting of the Senate was resumed.)


National Strategy for the Prevention of Intimate Partner Violence Bill

Second Reading—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Manning, seconded by the Honourable Senator Batters, for the second reading of Bill S-249, An Act respecting the development of a national strategy for the prevention of intimate partner violence.

Hon. Pierre J. Dalphond: Honourable senators, I rise in support of Bill S-249, the national strategy for the prevention of intimate partner violence act, sponsored by Senator Manning. This is an issue close to my heart, and I believe this bill should be expeditiously sent to committee.

This legislation would require the Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth to develop a national strategy for the prevention of intimate partner violence.

I will address three aspects of the bill, in Senator Cotter’s fashion: its origin, its purpose and its relevance today.

First, regarding its origin, Senator Manning essentially introduced the same bill in 2018. It even had the same number. Senators McPhedran, Hartling and Pate added their insights on debate, and senators unanimously referred that Bill S-249 to the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology. Unfortunately, the bill died there due to the upcoming election.

However, between the bill’s first incarnation and now, it has developed and improved. At the second-reading debate in 2018, Senator Hartling said that the need for a bill like this was obvious, but it should be thoroughly studied at committee, with the involvement of the relevant minister and stakeholders. She suggested involving women’s groups across the country in the consultations the bill called for.

This past June, when Senator Manning reintroduced the bill, he acknowledged Senator Hartling’s concerns by updating subclause 3(2) of the 2022 version of the bill to include consultations with “. . . representatives of groups who provide services to or advocate on behalf of victims of intimate partner violence . . . .”

As for the purpose of the bill, the heartbreaking story of Ms. Georgina McGrath that Senator Manning presented during the bill’s second reading certainly made an impact on me. Having a former victim of intimate partner violence behind this bill reinforces its importance.

Senator McPhedran worried in 2018 about the proposed national strategy’s inclusion of a provision around requirements for health professionals to make a report to the police if they suspected that a patient was a victim of intimate partner violence. Senator McPhedran argued that this might not be in the best interests of all victims and could compromise their Charter right to security of the person. Offenders who received probation or short prison sentences could quickly be back on the streets and terrorizing their victims, and that’s if they were convicted at all. She quoted a Juristat statistic that just 40% of domestic violence cases result in a guilty verdict.

That is a valid concern. However, the bill itself does not demand mandatory reporting. Paragraph 3(2)(d) only asks for consultations around requirements for reporting suspected intimate partner violence. It is opening the debate on it and not providing for it. Those consultations should include victim advocacy groups and take into consideration the recommendations of a report that Senator McPhedran mentioned, A Report to Guide the Implementation of a National Action Plan on Violence Against Women and Gender-Based Violence, written by a pan-Canadian group of anti-violence experts including survivors, grassroots organizations, academics and lawyers.

As Senator Manning said in his speech in November last year:

. . . I have learned that patient privacy and a victim’s fear of what may happen if a police report is made are important factors that need to be thoroughly discussed as we proceed. . . . But in order to find possible solutions to this increasing problem of intimate partner violence in our country, we need to begin exploring avenues to find a way to assist those who so desperately need our help.

I agree with Senator Manning that:

The cloak of secrecy around intimate partner violence has created a travesty of justice that has prevailed because of fear, stigma and the absence of a law to protect the most vulnerable in our society.

As it stands now, the bill ensures that Senator McPhedran’s concerns around victim privacy and consultation would be well considered both in committee and during consultations once the bill comes into force.

I note two important elements of Bill S-249: The requirement for the minister to set out a national strategy in each house of Parliament within two years and the requirement for a progress review, including recommendations and conclusions, two years after the minister tables their initial report. Those ensure accountability. The strict time frame and review requirement mean the minister can adapt the national strategy more easily so we can learn from what works well and what can be improved moving forward. The bill’s purpose is to create a national strategy for preventing intimate partner violence, but we certainly want an effective one. Those measures will help achieve that goal.

As for my final point, which is the bill’s relevance today, it is sadly more relevant than ever. According to a 2018 report published on the Statistics Canada website, more than 12% of women had experienced intimate partner violence in the year preceding the survey. That number more than doubled to 29% for young women aged 15 to 24.

Moreover, in Canada, more than 127,000 acts of police-reported domestic violence took place in 2021, with women and girls representing 69% of all victims, according to Statistics Canada. And we know that those who go to the police are just a small portion of the victims.


Things are no better in my province. SOS violence conjugale, an organization that helps victims of domestic violence, reports that, since it was established in 1987, it has received no fewer than 800,000 requests for help. That represents an average of 23,000 calls a year, a number that is actually growing. Averages can be deceiving because even if the number is growing, it is not necessarily reflected in an average.


Moreover, this violence resulted in 17 femicides in 2021, a sad record for Quebec. In 2022, there were another 13 femicides as well as the murders of six children. What did the Government of Quebec do when faced with this totally unacceptable situation? It adopted the strategy entitled the Integrated Government Strategy to Counteract Sexual Violence, Domestic Violence and to Rebuild Trust 2022-2027.

The Government of Quebec’s document describing this strategy highlights that it is the result of the collaboration of several ministries and government organizations based on many consultations held with stakeholders. The main elements of this strategy are the following.

First, significant investments over five years to support organizations on the ground, including rape crisis centres and also centres providing support for violent partners.

Second, campaigns that raise awareness about domestic violence, sexual assault and sexual exploitation. For those who have seen the ads on Radio-Canada or on other French-language or even English-language stations, this advertising is quite shocking and captures the attention of viewers. For example, the ads show how one partner controls the other, with the dominant partner constantly calling the other and asking, “Where are you? What are you doing?” and constantly sending text messages. Then he is told, “Stop, you need help.” The awareness campaign is both dramatic enough and well targeted, and I hope it will be effective.

Third, the creation of a court specialized in sexual violence and domestic violence located in centres where there are not only courtrooms, Crown prosecutors and police officers, but also support and assistance services provided by sexual assault and domestic violence specialists.

Fourth, compensation for victims of sexual and domestic violence.

Fifth, a legal aid clinic for victims that can be accessed by telephone and online.

Finally, the implementation of a system of electronic geolocation bracelets for defendants and offenders released into the community when ordered by the judge or parole board.

What we need now is an integrated government strategy at the federal level. I am pleased that Senator Manning’s bill proposes such an approach.


This bill also responds to Senator Audette’s work through the Calls for Justice of the final report of the National Inquiry Into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. Call for Justice 5.3 reads:

We call upon the federal government to review and reform the law about sexualized violence and intimate partner violence, utilizing the perspectives of feminist and Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people.

Bill S-249 will also honour the call of so many organizations, reports and stakeholders for consultation and reforms related to preventing intimate partner violence. It will bring together government ministers and representatives with victim advocacy groups. It will be the first step in creating solutions that will give so many of our fellow Canadians a choice where none exists today. What happened to Ms. McGrath and too many others shall never happen again.

Colleagues, I ask you to join me in supporting Bill S-249 at second reading in order to send it to committee for careful review and amendment, if necessary.

Thank you. Meegwetch.


Hon. Renée Dupuis: Would Senator Dalphond agree to a question?

Senator Dalphond: Of course.

Senator Dupuis: Senator Dalphond, thank you for your speech. Do you think this multi-faceted bill should be studied by several committees at the same time, whether it’s the Legal Affairs Committee, the Social Affairs Committee or the Indigenous Peoples Committee?

Senator Dalphond: I want to thank Senator Dupuis, because that is an excellent question. I think it may even be a suggestion that she is making indirectly to the chamber, because violence varies. There is a legal aspect, of course, but there is also a social aspect. Then there is the Indigenous dimension because, as we know, the number of Indigenous women filing complaints is twice as high and the risk is even higher in remote communities. There are different needs for specific groups, and the committees could look at these different characteristics of domestic violence.

(On motion of Senator Clement, debate adjourned.)


Criminal Code

Bill to Amend—Second Reading—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Boyer, seconded by the Honourable Senator Marwah, for the second reading of Bill S-250, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (sterilization procedures).

Hon. David M. Wells: Honourable colleagues, I rise today to speak on Bill S-250, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (sterilization procedures). In my remarks, I will challenge the arguments raised by critics of this bill, and I will express the importance of the legislation brought forward.

Colleagues, as you may recall from Senator Boyer’s speech, this bill proposes to amend section 268 of the Criminal Code — which addresses aggravated assault offences — to add a new offence for forced or coerced sterilization. This would establish that anyone involved in coercive measures to cause, or attempt to cause, someone to be sterilized against their will, or without obtaining proper informed consent, is guilty of an indictable offence for a maximum of 14 years in prison.

As you are aware, this bill came out of the tireless work done by Senator Boyer throughout her career, and also at the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights which completed two studies, in 2019 and 2022, on forced sterilization in Canada. I sat on the Human Rights Committee for both studies where we heard from a number of witnesses comprised of medical and legal experts, survivors of forced or coerced sterilization and other experts, all of whom gave invaluable testimony on an extremely difficult, painful and, frankly, unbelievable subject.

At the beginning of the committee’s first study, I thought forced sterilization was something of the past — an issue of historical significance that the committee had an interest in looking at. When I learned that it still happens today, with reported cases as recent as 2019, I was shocked. How could a country like Canada — which prides itself on being a progressive and avid protector of human rights — allow this deplorable act to happen in the first place and to go on for so long, let alone until now?

The more I learned through separate discussions with Senator Boyer, listening to survivors bravely share their stories and looking at the extensive documentation on forced sterilization in our country, the more I wanted to help bring effective change.

Amongst the recommendations by witnesses for the deterrence and eradication of forced sterilization, several survivors told the committee that they wanted a new criminal offence created as a means of greater deterrence and accountability. Some detractors of the bill say that this legislation is not needed since there are existing legal provisions in the Criminal Code that could be used in court proceedings by a victim of forced sterilization. These include section 265 which relates to assault; section 267 which relates to assault causing bodily harm; and section 268 which relates to aggravated assault, all applicable to a medical setting where informed consent for a procedure was not present.

In addition, the federal government amended the Criminal Code in 1997 to include — under aggravated assault — the act of female genital mutilation, which forced sterilization could be closely interpreted as, given the procedures involved in the severing, tying or cauterizing of the Fallopian tubes, ovaries or uterus. Done forcibly, this procedure could constitute a form of genital mutilation.


And yet, despite all of these laws, over 12,000 women have been subjected to the procedure with not one person charged with assault in this circumstance to date, let alone convicted or otherwise held to account. If the law is not used for such a clear crime as forced sterilization, what is the use of the law existing in the first place? If there is no investigation and therefore no charge and no conviction, there is no consequence. Justice for survivors never comes. Protection of citizens is not upheld.

There is something wrong when the laws currently in place are not being utilized to combat forced sterilization. If the existing charges of assault were enough, there would be tens of thousands of charges at least or, perhaps, with the motivation of deterrence, there would be far fewer.

I would also like to highlight the fact that these are the recorded numbers, and there are likely thousands more cases that will never come to light.

I want to emphasize again the grave reality that there have been zero charges laid against this appalling act. It, therefore, does not make any sense under any circumstances to not criminalize forced sterilization.

Other critics have said that this will do little to solve the larger systemic problem — a view with which I adamantly disagree since this step is crucial for several reasons.

First, criminalizing the practice sends a clear message that the government acknowledges forced sterilization as a violation of an individual’s human rights and not to be tolerated in any way. The threat of criminal prosecution would also act as a deterrent to health care providers and institutions that might consider engaging in such practices as a form of control, knowing there are explicit and serious legal consequences. For those who do perform the procedure, criminalization will hold offenders accountable.

While this legislation will not address harms of the past, it will prevent future violations and may provide some comfort to survivors. The law is meant to protect society, deter unlawful actions and establish precedent. Forced or coerced sterilization is not only assault, in the common vernacular, on a citizen, but, for the most part, on the most vulnerable groups and individuals in Canada. The practice has disproportionately targeted Indigenous women, women of colour, those with disabilities and those in other marginalized groups.

In many instances, those forced into the sterilization procedure also had just given birth, suffered a miscarriage or had an abortion. These women are in their most vulnerable state, physically and mentally. One survivor, Sylvia Tuckanow, told the committee about how she was forcibly moved to an operating room immediately following the birth of her son, where she was administered an epidural and was sterilized despite protest. As she stated during her testimony:

. . . I was still disoriented from giving birth and the effects of pain medications. . . .

I felt terror and fear as I was taken into that room. . . . I already had an epidural sticking out of my back from giving birth, so I wondered why they needed to do another one. . . . During this I kept saying, “No, I don’t want to do this,” and crying uncontrollably, but nobody listened to me. . . .

. . . they tied me down to the bed.

Ms. Tuckanow says she still remembers to this day the smell of burning tissue.

Another survivor, who wished to remain anonymous, was waiting for a Caesarean delivery. She risked going into septic shock. She felt the life of her son was in her hands if she did not sign the consent forms to be sterilized, presented to her before the operation. She said:

. . . they brought up a tubal ligation. Since they would already be operating on me, they said that this would be a quick process. . . . At that point, I didn’t second-guess my decision, because the only thing that was on my mind was surviving and the survival of my unborn child.

Other survivors recounted how doctors took it upon themselves to perform these procedures, unknown to the patient at the time, who would only discover years later when attempting to have children. Many were deliberately misinformed by medical providers of the procedure’s permanency and the risks, or they faced pressure tactics at a time of high emotion and severe pain and disorientation.

Colleagues, all the women who came forward to speak before the committee were courageous. Some did not mind their faces being shown and their names being shared. Others did mind, for reasons I cannot even begin to imagine. Some of these survivors conducted their testimony under pseudonyms and in silhouette.

The reason I share these details with you, colleagues, is to illustrate the level of damage forced sterilization has inflicted upon thousands of women, in many cases being so severe that they do not want to be identified. Shame was forced upon them.

Some of the survivors expressed burying their memories until hearing others speak about similar traumatic experiences.

These forced procedures have left many women terrified of the health care system so that they avoid necessary care for themselves. Isolation, guilt and other trauma-induced responses have snowballed, in addition to the physical harms and consequences of the procedures. This doesn’t even include the effect that it has had and continues to have on the family life of the victims and their partners.

Hearing all of this, it is extremely unfortunate that we are still debating the need for such a law. The reality is that forced sterilization is a blatant violation of human rights, and it is time we took decisive action to put guardrails around this procedure and protect vulnerable members of our society.

I would like to take a moment in my remarks to commend Senator Boyer for her efforts in bringing to light the issue of forced sterilization in Canada. This is no small feat and a hard reality that’s not been addressed on a national level before. No words can convey the pain and trauma victims of forced sterilization endure. Being robbed of the ability and choice to carry life is the utmost violation to bodily autonomy. Full credit and respect go to our colleague Senator Boyer for being the superhero to these victims.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.

Senator Wells: Honourable senators, since criminal law falls under federal jurisdiction, we should consider whether the federal government should provide compensation to victims or provide funding for in vitro fertilization where it is still possible or desired by victims. The government’s failure to act is a de facto acquiescence to the practice.

Let there be no mistake: As critic of this bill, I’m supportive of the bill unamended, unless there are ways to strengthen it even more and to build on the work that Senator Boyer has done — and not just during committee study but over the course of her career.

While I am the critic and my job is to find weakness in the legislation and improve it, I have not found any. What I have found is inaction by governments over the years on what is clearly a violation of human rights and a key provision of medical professionals whose first obligation is to the health and well-being of the patient, not to their societal thinking and prejudices.

Forced sterilization is a form of violence and a gross violation of bodily autonomy, and it is unacceptable that such a practice has been allowed to occur in Canada. We have laws that could have prevented this and addressed this, and yet the government has chosen not to use existing assault charges at its disposal.

Criminalizing forced sterilization would not only deter offenders and hold those responsible accountable but would also provide a legal recourse for victims. It is long overdue for Canada to take decisive action to criminalize forced sterilization, and that time is now. We must ensure that everyone has the right to make informed decisions about their own bodies and that they are not subject to coercion or force in any form.

Bill S-250 is the next right step. Thank you, colleagues.

(On motion of Senator Gagné, for Senator LaBoucane-Benson, debate adjourned.)



Criminal Code

Bill to Amend—Second Reading—Debate Adjourned

Hon. Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu moved second reading of Bill S-255, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (murder of an intimate partner, one’s own child or an intimate partner’s child).

He said: Honourable senators, I rise today to speak at second reading of Bill S-255, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (murder of an intimate partner, one’s own child or an intimate partner’s child), which I introduced on November 2, 2022.

I would like to begin my speech by sharing with you the tragic story of a victim of domestic violence. On August 1, 2015, Cheryl Bau-Tremblay, a 29-year-old woman who was four months pregnant, was tragically murdered by her partner.

I would like to read you something that Cheryl’s mother Nicole passed on to me about her, as follows:

I keep her memory alive inside me, as best I can. She taught me that small doses of courage can lead to beautiful discoveries, and that passing judgment can be an obstacle to the affirmation of others and lead to derogatory comments. People were drawn to her vibrant energy. Like an indomitable thoroughbred, she was unwaveringly loyal once trust was established. She could be reckless at times, perhaps misjudging the level of danger, because of her love for adventure and discovery. As a nature lover, she did not abide animal suffering, and so she was a vegetarian. She was unconventional, and certain events brought out her rebellious side. Always seeing the good in humanity, she always gave second chances. Discreet, she left this world with many secrets. From high up among the stars, she cares for her little baby, who has since grown up. She sends light and a lot of love to me and to the family.

Cheryl was also a victim of domestic violence. Like many women murdered by their partners in Canada, Cheryl was repeatedly and violently abused by her spouse. A week before the tragedy, she locked herself in her bathroom and called 911 for help. I would like to quote a passage from the call between Cheryl and the 911 call centre, as reported by La Presse:

I’m with my partner and things are bad. Please send someone. The situation is getting worse! He is aggressive.

After making the call, Cheryl went to her sister’s to protect herself from his violent outbursts. She gave him an ultimatum and told him to stop his violent behaviour and his drinking. Unfortunately, when she returned to their home on August 1, 2015, Cheryl, who, I remind you, was four months pregnant, was strangled by her partner, who hid her body under the bed in their room. It was not until five days later that the police found her body while the murderer was being interrogated by the Sûreté du Québec, claiming that he had not heard from Cheryl, who had supposedly left several days earlier.

Since then, he has continued to blame his partner, now his victim, describing her as jealous and angry. Despite being convicted of second degree murder, he sought to appeal the decision to the Quebec Court of Appeal, which rejected it. He pleaded self-defence.

I would like to share with you the message from Cheryl’s mother, who wanted me to bring this to your attention. She stated the following:

The loss of a loved one causes a tsumani in our day-to-day and in our entire life. Those responsible for these vile acts are judged in different ways; extenuating circumstances are considered, but at the end of the day, they change nothing about the tragedy for those who are affected by it. Considering the seriousness, the impact and all the consequences for the victim’s loved ones, I can only support Senator Boisvenu’s bill, which, in its own way, can only contribute to prevention and deterrence efforts, while encouraging reflection on domestic homicides.

Honourable senators, I would also like to share the story of Geneviève Caumartin, who supports Bill S-255. Her mother was murdered by her partner, who strangled her in June 2016. Ms. Caumartin deplored legal proceedings that were far too long and cumbersome and unfortunately ended up with a negotiation between the Crown and the defence that resulted in a more lenient sentence. All this happened despite the fact that she was assured from the outset that the evidence was strong enough and that all the requirements had been met to prove second degree murder. She was told that based on some of what was found at the crime scene there was even a chance of proving that this was a premeditated murder.

What a shock for Ms. Caumartin, the victim’s daughter, to find out that the charges would be reduced to manslaughter. That means that the murderer received a shorter sentence with the possibility of being released from prison after serving only a third of his sentence. What is worse, he did not get a life sentence, so he will not be monitored for life for this horrific crime. There was no trial and the sentence was not harsh enough. Justice was never served for Ms. Caumartin and her family.

The murderer got out of prison on parole in 2022, five years after he was sentenced.

I would like to read you a few words that Ms. Caumartin sent me about her mother, Francine Bissonnette, and that describe her so well.

My mother was my rock, my anchor. When I was a child, she was the pillar of the household, the centre of my life. I hardly ever went to day care, except on rare occasions. I walked to school and I came home for lunch. My mother was waiting for me with my lunch all ready. I watched “The Flintstones” while I ate and then I went back to school for the afternoon.

When I was sick, she was the one who took care of me. She is the one I automatically turned to when something was wrong. She was very patient. She was the model mom. What happened to her later was unimaginable.

She worked for the Patriotes school board for more than 20 years. She loved children and enjoyed a varied career, including a long stint as a support worker for children with disabilities. Her job was to help them in class on a daily basis.

She was a woman of many talents: a seamstress, a knitter and a macrame maker. She even sold her handmade items. Without a doubt, her ruling passions were her cats, plants and fashion. It was important to her for everything to be beautiful, orderly and in its place.

She was also a doting grandmother. She was very generous, despite her modest means, and did everything she could to make her granddaughter happy. I have so many fond memories of her and my daughter. She was a vivacious person who loved music and dancing and who took care of herself. At 62, she still had plenty of good years ahead of her. She was in good health, very active and well supported.

Colleagues, the purpose of Bill S-255 is to spark a real conversation about the serious issue of intimate partner homicide in this country. In Canada, one woman is murdered every two days, typically in the context of intimate partner violence. These murders are becoming more and more frequent, and, sadly, we are becoming accustomed to it, even though this is not normal. In fact, it is unacceptable for a society. Over time, these murdered women are reduced to statistics in reports prepared by national organizations.

We must not forget these victims, and they must not become a mere statistic. These women represent lost lives that could have been saved, stolen futures, grieving children and parents, and, all too often, broken families. The 641 women who have been murdered over the past four years had a future ahead of them, children to raise, families, friends, jobs and dreams, and they made daily contributions to society.

I know many names and stories of women who had their whole lives ahead of them, but are no longer with us. Consider the case of Romane Bonnier, a young woman, just 24 years old, who was murdered on a sidewalk in the Plateau Mont-Royal area of Montreal in 2021. She was a musician known for her charisma, her joie de vivre and her kindness. She was a happy young woman who loved to sing and reinvent melodies from the past. Romane loved life and had many plans she never got to carry out.

She lives on in the hearts and memories of her loved ones and through her voice and the music she left behind.

Honourable senators, taking someone’s life has permanent, irreparable consequences. Murder is the most serious crime committed in our society. That’s why it’s important to pass legislation to pass harsher sentences on the criminals who commit the irrevocable act of murder, all too often involving an intimate partner.


Bill S-255 is a clear response to society’s growing condemnation of family murders. It also sends a strong message that legislators are committed to tougher sentences for perpetrators in order to bring justice to victims and support the goal of combatting family violence and violence against women.

It is difficult to accurately determine the scope of intimate partner violence, given that many of the violent acts committed by a partner or former partner will never be reported to the authorities by the victims.

Intimate partner violence takes many forms. There are several criminal offences that are likely to be considered intimate partner violence, particularly crimes against the person including assault, sexual assault, attempted murder, and various physical assaults up to and including the most serious crime, murder.

That said, thanks to the statistics we have at our disposal, we are able to get a good idea of the scope of intimate partner violence in Canada as well as the resulting homicides. Here are some numbers. In 2022, there were 185 femicides and, in 55% of those cases, the women were murdered in a context of intimate partner violence.

In 2021, 537 women per 100,000 population reported being a victim of intimate partner violence. It marked the seventh consecutive year of gradual increase for this type of violence. Also in 2021, police reported 114,132 victims of intimate partner violence, a 2% increase from 2020.

Between 2019 and 2021, there was a 36% increase in the number of women and girls violently killed in Canada, not counting their children.

In 2021, Quebec saw a 28% increase in cases of intimate partner violence.

According to the Fédération des maisons d’hébergement pour femmes au Québec, a Quebec federation of women’s shelters, in 2022, 300 women were victims of attempted murder in Quebec alone.

Honourable senators, Bill S-255 would add a subsection to section 231 of the Criminal Code with the legislative objective of imposing harsher penalties for intimate partner homicide as a deterrent. This clause seeks to ensure that a murder committed within a family is automatically classified as first degree murder.

Right now, section 231 of the Criminal Code already provides for the automatic classification of some murders as first degree murder, such as a murder committed following a sexual assault, criminal harassment or intimidation. It is also first degree murder if the murder is committed in association with terrorist activities or a criminal organization or the victim is a peace officer.

Bill S-255 would add a new subsection to section 231, which means anyone found guilty of murdering their intimate partner, their own child or the child of their intimate partner would automatically be sentenced for first degree murder, if they are found guilty.

I want to clarify that the bill does not change anything about the process of a criminal trial. Crown prosecutors and defence attorneys will still play the same roles, and the defence attorneys will still be free to raise whatever defence they wish, such as self-defence.

The only thing that will change is the sentence imposed on a person found guilty of murdering their intimate partner or their child. If this bill is passed, the criminal will automatically be sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years, even if there is no evidence of premeditation, as required under the current definition of first degree murder.

It is often difficult for the prosecutor to prove premeditation in order to have an accused convicted of first degree murder.

In a context of intimate partner violence, it is not uncommon to learn that a murder has occurred following a sudden fit of rage, even though it may have been an impulsive, unpremeditated act, and even though acts of intimate partner violence and coercive behaviour may have been part of the victim’s daily life for a significant period of time.

In drafting this bill, I looked to foreign legislation that was similar or in the same vein. Take France, for example, which metes out severe penalties for intimate partner homicides. Article 221-4 of France’s penal code provides for a sentence of penal servitude for life with no possibility of parole for 18 to 22 years in the case of a murder committed by the victim’s spouse, unmarried partner or civil partner. Penal servitude for life is equivalent to the life sentence for first degree murder in our Criminal Code, and the parole eligibility period under French criminal law is a period associated with a sentence of penal servitude or imprisonment during which the offender cannot benefit from any changes to their sentence, such as day parole or conditional release.

In the state of Minnesota in the U.S., any offender with a history of intimate partner violence against a current or former partner who commits intimate partner homicide would automatically face the sentence for first degree murder if convicted. I would remind you that the penalty for first degree murder in Minnesota is the most severe penalty available under Minnesota law, a life sentence.

Finally, also in the U.S., the North Carolina Senate enacted a new law on the subject that came into force on December 1, 2017. Britny’s Law was drafted in memory of Britny Puryear, who was killed by her boyfriend in 2014. Britny was only 22 years old, and their five-month-old baby was present at the time of the murder. This bill was modelled after the Minnesota law and therefore serves the same purpose of imposing a first degree sentence on any offender with a history of intimate partner violence who is convicted of killing their intimate partner.

Honourable senators, intimate partner violence can no longer be regarded as a simple act of violence against one’s partner. It is a complex relational process of control and domination of one partner over another, with behaviour that gradually turns into repeated episodes of violence and, in some cases, death.

From a constitutional perspective, the Supreme Court of Canada has already indicated in some of its decisions that a murder committed by someone who exploits a position of power over their victim warrants harsher punishment.

In addition, the Supreme Court of Canada has already ruled on the constitutionality of certain subsections of section 231 of the Criminal Code, which are similar in some respects to the new subsection proposed under Bill S-255.

For example, in 1990, in R. v. Arkell, a young woman, Lisa Clark, was murdered and burned while her murderer sexually assaulted her. The Supreme Court of Canada determined that automatically characterizing a sexual assault followed by murder as first-degree murder does not violate the rights guaranteed in sections 7 and 11(d) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The court was referring to the organizing principle that treats a murder committed while “the perpetrator is illegally dominating another person as more serious than other murders” and thus justifies the harsher sentence imposed for first-degree murder.

In fact, I’d like to share some of this decision, which reads as follows:

The section is based on an organizing principle that treats murders committed while the perpetrator is illegally dominating another person as more serious than other murders. Further, the relationship between the classification and the moral blameworthiness of the offender clearly exists. Section 214 only comes into play when murder has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt. In light of Martineau, this means that the offender has been proven to have had subjective foresight of death. Parliament’s decision to treat more seriously murders that have been committed while the offender is exploiting a position of power through illegal domination of the victim accords with the principle that there must be a proportionality between a sentence and the moral blameworthiness of the offender and other considerations such as deterrence and societal condemnation of the acts of the offender.


Still in 1990, in another Supreme Court of Canada ruling in R. v. Luxton, there was Charmayne Manke, a taxi driver who was confined in her taxi by one of her clients and brutally stabbed several times to death. The Supreme Court of Canada determined that no fundamental right had been violated under paragraph 214(5)(e) of the Criminal Code.

Honourable senators, in light of the many examples that I just shared with you, I think that Bill S-255 aligns with the reasoning of the Supreme Court of Canada and that a context of domestic violence that leads to a murder inevitably arises from illegal domination of the victim by the offender. Accordingly, it is justifiable for us, as legislators, to legislate to ensure that there is proportionality between the sentence and the guilt of the offender in a context of domination that leads to violence between intimate partners in order to provide justice for the victims.

I’d like to continue my speech by saying that this bill is equally about the murder of an intimate partner as it is about the murder of one’s own child or the child of an intimate partner. I’m sure that we are all sensitive to the happiness and development of our children. We also hope for our children to grow up in a safe society that watches over them and protects them.

Unfortunately and all too often, many children in Canada experience, either passively or actively, domestic violence in their homes. Through no fault of their own, they find themselves in an unhealthy and violent environment where their parents tear each other apart. Some of these children will not survive. It is not uncommon to learn in the media that when a femicide occurs, the partner has also murdered his children.

I’d like to tell you about another family of victims who support this bill, a family devastated by the tragic fate that befell them on the night of October 10 to 11, 2020. A terrible tragedy took place at a home in Wendake, near Quebec City, when two children, five-year-old Olivier and two-year-old Alex, were murdered by their own father. After committing the fatal act, he photographed the two lifeless bodies of his children and sent a photo to his mother and to his former partner, the mother of the two victims.

Dear colleagues, I will pause briefly to ask you the following question: Can you imagine for a few seconds the suffering that a tragedy of such violence can inflict on an entire family? Since the murder of my daughter Julie in 2002, I have lost count of the number of tragedies that I have involved myself in, but there are some that are more difficult to talk about than others.

Justice François Huot, who presided over the trial of this terrible tragedy, made the following statement to the murderer — I share his opinion and I’m sure you do too — saying, and I quote:

I’m sick of these cowards who take revenge on innocent children to further their agenda and satisfy their thirst for revenge.

Yet, despite the horror of these two murders and the modus operandi used, the murderer was convicted of second-degree murder and will be eligible for parole in 16 years. In the opinion of the victims’ family, this sentence isn’t commensurate with the seriousness of the crime committed, and I agree that it doesn’t reflect the moral culpability of this heinous act. I’d like to quote a message from the grandfather of the two children. He said the following about the bill, and I quote:

I fully support the bill’s objective. In my opinion, the justice system is not working properly if the murder of my two grandchildren is found to be second-degree murder. The murderer filmed his actions and sent a text message to my daughter telling her that it was her turn to suffer. I simply can’t believe that he didn’t know what he was doing, and it’s appalling that he is now hiding behind mental illness. These murders should automatically be classified as first-degree murder.

Honourable senators, I’m certain that classifying all murders of an intimate partner or of their children as first-degree murder would be a legislative response that addresses the need to protect those who are victims of domination in a context of domestic violence.

In addition, this legislative change would provide a deterrent to violence against an intimate partner and children given the heightened severity associated with the first-degree murder charge.

Colleagues, as a responsible society, let’s send a clear message about the scope of intimate partner violence by ruling that spousal homicide is socially unacceptable in Canada and that the legal consequences must be proportionate to the severity of the heinous act that was committed. Taking the life of one’s wife or children is in no way acceptable and these murders, all too often predictable, must now be punished more severely.

It is time for Canada to make the necessary decisions and become a leader so that we can be held up as an example when other countries take these same steps. Too many innocent victims’ lives have been taken in silence and ignorance. Only together, as members of this chamber and of an increasingly accountable society, can make a difference.

Thank you.

Hon. Michèle Audette: Will the honourable senator take a question?

Senator Boisvenu: Yes.

Senator Audette: Thank you, senator, for everything that you do. There is a long list and there are a lot of connections.

As you know, I’ve travelled across the country to hear testimony, which is sometimes shocking, related to what you told us. Sometimes I hear that, if the system — child protective services, social services, et cetera — had done something for these people, men or women, then perhaps this type of unacceptable act could have been prevented. Does Bill S-255 include any measures to ensure that these people get some kind of help before things get to that point? I’m not sure whether you understand my question.

Senator Boisvenu: My answer will be very clear. Bill S-205 will help to protect women by means of electronic monitoring devices and it will require men to receive counselling. I think that the two bills go hand in hand. When we deal with Bill S-205 and it is examined in committee, amendments will be made. I’m of the Minnesota school of thinking, a state that believes that when a man has already assaulted two, three or four women in his life and he ends up murdering a woman, it shows that there was some form of premeditation.

(On motion of Senator Clement, debate adjourned.)

Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration

Sixth Report of Committee Adopted

The Senate proceeded to consideration of the sixth report of the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration, entitled Amendments to the Senate Administrative Rules, presented in the Senate on December 1, 2022.

Hon. Lucie Moncion moved the adoption of the report.

She said: Honourable senators, I am sure that you read this report religiously. For those who may have missed the opportunity, I would like to highlight some of the main points.



The Standing Senate Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration, or CIBA, has carefully reviewed the Senate Administrative Rules in light of the creation of the new Standing Committee on Audit and Oversight, or AOVS, and recommends a few non-substantive changes to the Senate Administrative Rules. Simply put, this report is about housekeeping to align the Senate Administrative Rules with the mandate and role of AOVS. It is therefore my pleasure to propose the adoption of the sixth report of CIBA.

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

Hon. Senators: Question.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Motion agreed to and report adopted.)


Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament

Fourth Report of Committee—Debate Adjourned

The Senate proceeded to consideration of the fourth report (interim) of the Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament, entitled Amendments to the Rules, presented in the Senate on February 7, 2023.

Hon. Diane Bellemare moved the adoption of the report.

She said: Honourable senators, I am not sure if you read the report. Some of you read it carefully, I’m sure. The fact remains that it is rather opaque, since it proposes changes. I will briefly go over what it contains.


Last April, the Rules Committee wrote to the Clerk of the Senate, inviting the Senate Administration to identify changes to the Rules of the Senate that the committee may wish to consider. Over the course of two meetings on June 14, 2022, and September 27, 2022, the Clerk, accompanied by other senior officials, outlined a number of potential issues. After further consideration by the committee, the report before you today reflects the changes that the committee agreed to.

Many of the changes reflect minor corrections, errors in translation or elements that are no longer required due to legislative changes. I will not go into detail on these items, but they include such things as the removal of the prohibition on smoking in Senate and committee proceedings. Since 1988, the Non-smokers’ Health Act has prohibited smoking in federal workplaces, making those provisions of the Rules obsolete.

However, there are some elements that require some explanation, and I will address each of these in turn.


Rule 10-10, as it now stands, deals with the preparation and printing of Senate bills. It hasn’t undergone a major review since the rule that existed prior to that, which was adopted in 1923. As a result, it hasn’t kept up with modern practices, particularly the new bill format implemented in 2016 by the three federal entities that draft legislation, the Senate, the House of Commons and the Department of Justice.

The Office of the Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel recommended that the rule be repealed in its entirety because its component parts — form of amending bill, typographical indications of amendments, explanatory notes on amending bill and reprints of Senate bills — have not been strictly followed for many years and hearken back to a time when legislative information could be difficult to obtain.

In its place, the law clerk proposed a new rule 10-10, which would enable the Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel to make administrative and typographical corrections to bills. That would simplify that clause-by-clause consideration, reduce the risk of errors in legislative texts and minimize the risk of having to adopt additional amendments to correct errors introduced into bills throughout the legislative process before the two chambers of Parliament. The proposed wording is similar to that of House of Commons Standing Order 154.


Rule 12-23(6) currently requires a committee report recommending amendments to a bill to:

. . . have attached to it a printed copy of the bill on which the amendments are clearly written. The chair or deputy chair shall sign or initial this copy of the bill as well as all the amendments.

In practice, this has resulted in a time-consuming process where amendments were physically cut and pasted into a copy of the bill. The committee learned that in recent years this process was replaced by attaching a copy of the committee’s report to the bill. However, as this copy is not required at any subsequent stage of the legislative process, it serves no purpose, and its continuation is not necessary.

Rule 12-26 requires committees to table reports on financial expenditures in the previous session. Progressive changes to the Senate’s proactive disclosure requirements, in accordance with provisions contained in the Access to Information Act, have rendered these reporting requirements redundant, as this information is already required by legislation to be reported publicly on at least a quarterly basis.

As the reports under rule 12-26 cover the period of a session rather than a quarter or fiscal year, these reports can cause confusion, since the same information is reported in different ways. As such, the committee is recommending that rules 12-26(2) through 12-26(4) be deleted. As noted, this reporting practice has been overtaken by other reporting requirements, thus rendering this requirement redundant. It will in no way reduce the transparency surrounding committee spending.


Rule 14-1(6) provides that when a rule, statute or order requires a report or other document to be filed with the Senate, it may be deposited with the Clerk. As a result, officials from government departments and agencies must go to the Clerk’s office to hand in physical copies of the hundreds of annual reports and other documents that are required to be tabled in the Senate.

As part of its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Senate adopted sessional orders that allow for these documents to be deposited with the Clerk’s office electronically. While this was initially done as a result of COVID-19 — to limit the number of people needing to enter the Senate of Canada building — it was quickly found to have benefits outside the context of the pandemic. When these documents are deposited electronically, it is easier to compile them, disseminate them to senators and the public as needed, and archive them. It also helps reduce paper consumption, which is consistent with the Senate’s environmental goals.

There is currently a sessional order authorizing this practice to continue, but the committee recommends that it be written into the Rules through an amendment.


Finally, the committee is proposing a new rule 1-1(3), which would allow the Speaker of the Senate or the chair of a committee to authorize reasonable adjustments to the application of a rule or practice in order to allow a senator’s full and equal participation in the Senate. This rule entrenches a long-standing but informal practice where the Speaker and senators have exercised discretion, compassion and common sense to allow senators to continue to participate, even though they may not be able to strictly conform to certain provisions of the Rules.


It should be noted that this is intended to allow minor variances in order to allow senators to continue to participate in proceedings within the current context. Substantive changes to that context itself should only be addressed through a substantive motion adopted by the Senate.

Now, before I conclude, I would like to highlight one element of the clerk’s proposal that is not included in this report, and that has to do with consideration of reports from the Standing Senate Committee on Ethics and Conflict of Interest for Senators.

The clerk had identified potential challenges with the timelines within which a report concerning a senator must be considered and the possibility that a vote on the report may need to be put forward before the senator in question has been given the opportunity to speak to it. Before addressing this point of timing, the committee wanted to consult with the Ethics Committee, which is why it was not included in this report. However, those consultations have taken place, and potential amendments to the Rules in that regard will be put to our committee for consideration. If adopted, a further report will follow.

On that, I thank you very much, and I hope you will adopt this report in due time.

Hon. Percy E. Downe: Senator Bellemare, I’m concerned about proposed rule 1-1(3) and why the provision says “may” rather than “shall.” Colleagues, I will take a moment to read it out, as it is a short section. It reads:

If a provision of these Rules or a practice of the Senate constitutes a barrier to a senator’s full and equal participation in proceedings solely due to a disability, as defined in the Accessible Canada Act, the Speaker, or the chair of a committee, may authorize reasonable adjustments to the application of the rule or practice.

Why does that not read “shall” so that the senator can have full and equal participation?


Senator Bellemare: Thank you for the question, Senator Downe.

The French version states, “le Président du Sénat ou le président d’un comité peut autoriser.” Regarding the proposal drafted by the clerks, it is my understanding that, as it stands, it is fully at the discretion of the Speaker that minor adjustments are made. The Speaker already does that, but it’s not written in the rules. Considering the debates we had on the accessibility bill, we thought it was appropriate to include in the rules that the Speaker has permission, or has the authority, to make provisions and adjustments to ensure participation. The word “peut” was used in French in the context that this is what the Speaker already does. We didn’t go any further than that. That’s the only answer I can give.

I can’t ask the clerk why they used “shall” in English, which means the same thing as “peut” in French. Isn’t it the same thing? It means “must.” That’s a good question, if it’s not the same as in English, of course. I have here the French version of the changes to the Rules. Someone will get back to you on that.


Senator Downe: Thank you. I trust the intention, but I’m sure colleagues would agree that it should not be left to discretion whether senators can have full participation because they suffer a disability. In the past in this chamber we have had people with a vision problem and adjustments were made. It should be automatic that all senators have full participation. I agree with the intent, but I don’t think it is here.

My second question is on rule 2-8(a):

When the Senate is sitting, it is not permitted:

(a) for Senators to engage in private conversations inside the bar, and if they do, the Speaker shall order them to go outside the bar; . . .

There has been a long tradition that when there is a disruption, if somebody is too loud — and I have been guilty of that myself — people frown, and the Speaker will intervene if necessary. But according to this rule, if I’m speaking to my seatmate I’m in violation of the rule; is that correct?


Senator Bellemare: You are probably quite right and that is the current rule. Nothing has changed. As for rule 2-8(a), it was not changed, but the reference to smoking being prohibited was deleted. Rules 2-8(a) and 2-8(b) are part of the current rule. No changes have been proposed in this case. We cannot have a conversation in the Senate and disturb others, but no changes were made to this point, which remained the same.

(On motion of Senator Martin, debate adjourned.)


The Senate

Motion to Recognize that Climate Change is an Urgent Crisis—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Galvez, seconded by the Honourable Senator Forest:

That the Senate of Canada recognize that:

(a)climate change is an urgent crisis that requires an immediate and ambitious response;

(b)human activity is unequivocally warming the atmosphere, ocean and land at an unprecedented pace, and is provoking weather and climate extremes in every region across the globe, including in the Arctic, which is warming at more than twice the global rate;

(c)failure to address climate change is resulting in catastrophic consequences especially for Canadian youth, Indigenous Peoples and future generations; and

(d)climate change is negatively impacting the health and safety of Canadians, and the financial stability of Canada;

That the Senate declare that Canada is in a national climate emergency which requires that Canada uphold its international commitments with respect to climate change and increase its climate action in line with the Paris Agreement’s objective of holding global warming well below two degrees Celsius and pursuing efforts to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius; and

That the Senate commit to action on mitigation and adaptation in response to the climate emergency and that it consider this urgency for action while undertaking its parliamentary business.

(On motion of Senator Housakos, debate adjourned.)

Motion to Resolve that an Amendment to the Real Property Qualifications of Senators in the Constitution Act, 1867 be Authorized to be Made by Proclamation Issued by the Governor General—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Patterson (Nunavut), seconded by the Honourable Senator Greene:

Whereas the Senate provides representation for groups that are often underrepresented in Parliament, such as Aboriginal peoples, visible minorities and women;

Whereas paragraph (3) of section 23 of the Constitution Act, 1867 requires that, in order to be qualified for appointment to and to maintain a place in the Senate, a person must own land with a net worth of at least four thousand dollars in the province for which he or she is appointed;

Whereas a person’s personal circumstances or the availability of real property in a particular location may prevent him or her from owning the required property;

Whereas appointment to the Senate should not be restricted to those who own real property of a minimum net worth;

Whereas the existing real property qualification is inconsistent with the democratic values of modern Canadian society and is no longer an appropriate or relevant measure of the fitness of a person to serve in the Senate;

Whereas, in the case of Quebec, each of the twenty-four Senators representing the province must be appointed for and must have either their real property qualification in or be resident of a specified Electoral Division;

Whereas an amendment to the Constitution of Canada in relation to any provision that applies to one or more, but not all, provinces may be made by proclamation issued by the Governor General under the Great Seal of Canada only where so authorized by resolutions of the Senate and House of Commons and of the legislative assembly of each province to which the amendment applies;

Whereas the Supreme Court of Canada has determined that a full repeal of paragraph (3) of section 23 of the Constitution Act, 1867, respecting the real property qualification of Senators, would require a resolution of the Quebec National Assembly pursuant to section 43 of the Constitution Act, 1982;

Now, therefore, the Senate resolves that an amendment to the Constitution of Canada be authorized to be made by proclamation issued by Her Excellency the Governor General under the Great Seal of Canada in accordance with the Schedule hereto.



1.(1) Paragraph (3) of section 23 of the Constitution Act, 1867 is repealed.

(2) Section 23 of the Act is amended by replacing the semi-colon at the end of paragraph (5) with a period and by repealing paragraph (6).

2.The Declaration of Qualification set out in The Fifth Schedule to the Act is replaced by the following:

I, A.B., do declare and testify that I am by law duly qualified to be appointed a member of the Senate of Canada.

3.This Amendment may be cited as the Constitution Amendment, [year of proclamation] (Real property qualification of Senators).

(On motion of Senator Housakos, debate adjourned.)

Motion Pertaining to Minimums for Government Bills—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Tannas, seconded by the Honourable Senator Black:

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

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

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

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

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

(b)the debate shall not be adjourned;

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

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

(e)no senators shall speak more than once;

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

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

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

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

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

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

(On motion of Senator Housakos, debate adjourned.)

Challenges and Opportunities of Canadian Municipalities

Inquiry—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Simons, calling the attention of the Senate to the challenges and opportunities that Canadian municipalities face, and to the importance of understanding and redefining the relationships between Canada’s municipalities and the federal government.

Hon. Bernadette Clement: Honourable senators, the sun hadn’t yet come up on September 30, 2021, when people started to gather at the Port Lands. If you were watching from a distance away, you would have seen something quietly momentous happening as the sun rose.

The Mohawk Council of Akwesasne hosted city council, staff, the Cornwall Police Service and other local officials for a tobacco burn ceremony. We were about 40 people — most of us wearing orange, and all of us muted in the dawn light.

It is difficult for me to express the emotion of that morning. The gathering was one of promise. This historic meeting was a commitment that we were in this together, and that we wouldn’t let each other down as we set precedent as equal partners.

I want to tell you about the future of the Port Lands and its potential, but, first, the background.


The Port of Cornwall opened in 1967 and served as a space to unload raw materials, such as coal and cotton, and materials for the factories of such companies as Courtaulds and Domtar, the backbone of our local economy for many years.



In 1987, Transport Canada started operating the Cornwall port. By 2016, the divesting process had begun, and Akwesasne and Cornwall had signed an historic agreement to co-own 16 acres of land. This partnership was no accident. The federal government insisted on an equal partnership, committing to this divestment only if it was to both communities. Transport Canada endowed $5 million for the remediation of the property.

In 2020, two councils broke bread together for the first time in 10 years. As mayor, it was my top priority to bring our two communities closer, and I’m grateful for my friendship with Akwesasne Grand Chief Abram Benedict and for his continued leadership on this ambitious project.

By 2021, we had worked in partnership to demolish a derelict building and create a temporary green space that would invite folks from either side of the river to enjoy the Port Lands. We launched a public consultation to see how residents in both communities wanted to see the space grow. Not long after, I was appointed to the Senate and resigned as mayor. However, my interest in the success of the Port Lands has not wavered. There is a call for proposals now to bring engaging community events to the Port Lands this summer, and work is progressing on environmental assessments.

Yet, this past year has been challenging for progress at the Port Lands. We always knew that it would be hard, and that the solutions for forging ahead would require compromise. This will take time, work and money. Building friendships takes work. Educating communities about truth takes time. Developing a framework for this new partnership takes proper financing.

But the challenges inherent in the development of the Port Lands are also incredible opportunities — opportunities to build bonds of friendship among Cornwall and Akwesasne leaders and residents; opportunities to show the rest of Canada how shared economic development can take place; and opportunities to show the federal government how municipalities can be actors for change in truth and reconciliation.


This statement is in response to the inquiry launched by my friend, Senator Simons. Its objective is to draw the Senate’s attention to the challenges and opportunities of Canadian municipalities and to the importance of understanding and redefining the relationships between our municipalities and the federal government.


I can’t think of a better and more relevant example than the Port Lands because all politics is local. Nothing has a bigger impact on the daily lives of Canadians than their municipality. If we want to move reconciliation forward in meaningful ways, municipalities must have a seat at the table. Municipalities are not the only ones looking for recognition. Indigenous communities need a seat at the table too.

I will tell you a story: Back in 2020, cruise ship passengers were quarantined at a conference centre in Cornwall — that is back when we were saying “coronavirus” and not “COVID-19.” The community felt blindsided. This was long before we understood what COVID-19 was, and residents wanted information and answers. After hosting a press conference, I met with an Indigenous leader and spoke about feeling disrespected by the federal government. And she responded, “Welcome to my world.”

In launching this inquiry, Senator Simons argued that municipalities urgently need fiscal and political resources to lead us to a more just, prosperous and creative future. Her inquiry has prompted statements from my distinguished colleagues.


Senator Éric Forest suggested that the federal-municipal relationship can evolve and that other changes are necessary.

Senator Omidvar showed how cities are ideally positioned to come up with innovative, local solutions to national and world problems.


Senator Cotter told us that our communities are the starting point for our identity. We take pride in where we come from. The health and prosperity of our towns and cities matter today more than ever.

Senator Sorensen, a former mayor too, spoke to the gap between what municipalities are expected to do and the funding they have access to in order to meet those needs.


Senator Ravalia pointed out the unique status of municipalities in Newfoundland and Labrador and talked about the fight to support cities that are being crushed under heavy administrative and financial burdens.

Senator Cormier talked about something that is of interest to all of us, specifically the role that municipalities play in protecting and promoting our official languages.


I couldn’t agree more with them. Municipalities are often small, under-resourced and occupied by daily tasks, such as removing snow, scheduling ice times, delivering transit services and managing goose poop along the St. Lawrence River — you wouldn’t believe how much time I spent as mayor talking about goose poop and about a million other issues. Yet, all day, every day, municipalities are leaders, and they should be recognized, resourced and supported as such.

What Cornwall and Akwesasne are attempting to do together at the Port Lands is unheard of in Canada. Co-ownership by a First Nation and a municipality of strategic waterfront property is a unique approach that should bring economic and social benefits to both communities. During consultations, the public’s imagination ran wild, and it was clear that they wanted to make the space their own. They wanted an accessible area that included boardwalks and green spaces, as well as an opportunity for artists and vendors to bring the community together. There was a strong interest in connections with the water, fishing, boating, swimming, canoeing, a pier, a dock and another marina. Most agreed that the project was extremely important to both Cornwall and Akwesasne. They said that the Port Lands project could add vibrancy to our area, bring in tourists and offer expanded public access to the waterfront.

There is so much work to do — not only to bring residents’ vision to life, but also to finish developing how this partnership will work on a day-to-day basis. Tasks like putting up a sign, coordinating tax payments and completing an environmental assessment can be challenging. Luckily, Akwesasne and Cornwall are up to the challenge. In divesting the Port Lands to these communities, the federal government entrusted us with a huge responsibility. It was as though they were saying to us, “So, let’s see what you can do.”

I’m proud that Akwesasne and Cornwall were trusted to take a huge step in economic development and, more importantly, in reconciliation. I hope that together they lay the groundwork for more municipalities to be able to take the lead.


If I could redefine the relationship between the municipalities and the federal government, if I could wave my magic wand, I would make two wishes. First, I would wish that Canada would trust its municipalities to take big steps in areas such as climate change, immigration, social issues and especially reconciliation. Second, I would wish that Canada would provide the municipalities with adequate resources and give them opportunities like the ones I described today to meet the objective of establishing relationships and a dialogue with Indigenous communities.


Second, it’s important that Canada provides support when things get difficult — because they always do. Municipalities want to be treated as equal partners, consulted and considered during strategic planning, implementation and beyond. Municipalities want communication — talk to them. Give them a seat at the table, and you may be surprised by their contributions.

Thank you. Nia:wen.

Hon. Robert Black: Honourable senators, it is my pleasure to rise to speak to Senator Simons’s inquiry that calls on our chamber to explore the challenges and opportunities that municipalities face, as well as the importance of understanding and redefining the relationship between Canada’s municipalities and our federal government. I would also like to thank my honourable colleague for introducing this very important inquiry. Municipalities play a critical role in each and every one of our lives. If there is one thing I know, it’s rural. I have spent my life in and around rural communities, advocating for rural residents. With that being said, I hope to highlight the role of rural municipalities, the unique challenges and opportunities they face and the importance of continued federal support for all things rural today.

As many of you know, I’m a lifelong resident of Fergus, Ontario. It’s where my ancestors settled in 1834, and it’s where I continue to reside today. Fergus is a rural community most famous for its scenic river views, waterfalls, limestone gorge and the annual Fergus Scottish Festival.

Now, I’ll share a little history lesson: Fergus has deep Scottish roots dating back to 1833 when settlers called it “Little Falls” because of its scenic waterfalls.


In 1858, with a population of 1,000, the town was incorporated and renamed Fergus in honour of one of its Scottish founders, Adam Fergusson. While you may be wondering why I wanted to share this information with you today, I believe it’s important to show that the history of our rural communities is woven into the history of our country as many of them predated Confederation. Unfortunately, municipalities that encompass rural Canada are sometimes forgotten when governments are developing policies that impact Canadians from coast to coast to coast.

As a senator, I have met with countless community leaders across rural Canada to learn more about the concerns and needs of their communities. The rural residents and leaders that I have met are always one thing, regardless of where they live or work: They are consistently clear in what their communities need to prosper and thrive. Typically, they need support from their province and the federal government to help achieve their goals and realize projects related to infrastructure, community development and access to services. Their stories and ideas have both inspired and informed how I approach issues here in the Red Chamber.

Rural communities have their own unique set of challenges and opportunities, and should be treated as such. While in many areas rural population growth has slowed, these communities still play a critical role in our economy providing food, fresh water, recreation and resources for those living within and beyond their boundaries. They all have a story to tell, and I am hopeful that more will be done to bridge the rural-urban divide in the years to come.

While our community histories are important for understanding those who live there, it is also important to take a step back and reflect on the role of the municipalities’ governance that helps build and develop these rural regions. Each municipality — large and small, rural and urban — has a governing body.

Our local governments play an integral role in the everyday lives of their residents. From waste disposal and public transit to fire services, policing, community centres and libraries, municipal governments are responsible for it all.

Fergus is located within Centre Wellington, a township within Wellington County. As such, Fergus is supported by both the Centre Wellington Council and the Wellington County Council. Both councils, along with every municipal government from coast to coast to coast, provide residents with the support they need to live, work and play in their communities.

I am proud to have served as the Ward 5 representative on Wellington County Council before being appointed to the Senate. It gave me the opportunity to really understand how municipalities operate and the important ways in which it affects each and every one of us.

I’d like to take this time to acknowledge the good work of both Centre Wellington and Wellington County Councils, and congratulate those who were elected in last autumn’s municipal elections. I look forward to seeing what can be achieved over the course of this term and I extend my very best wishes to all councillors in supporting their communities.

Today, municipal governments in rural and urban communities play a complex role in the lives of their residents. The environments in which they operate have become much more complex and demanding. With that comes more complex challenges they must face. In the case of rural communities, many face challenges they cannot afford to address alone.

At this time, I’d like to acknowledge the Association of Municipalities Ontario, or AMO, and the Rural Ontario Municipal Association, or ROMA, for their efforts to support municipalities across Ontario and, in turn, help to strengthen and enhance their efforts to support their residents.

AMO works to make municipal governments stronger and more effective. Through their organization, Ontario’s 444 municipalities, rural and urban, work together to achieve shared goals and meet common challenges.

I believe that our municipalities benefit immeasurably from the support of these organizations, as well as others in Ontario and across Canada. It is clear that organizations like AMO and ROMA, or the many other wonderful organizations that my colleagues have mentioned in their speeches, provide immeasurable value to communities across this country.

Late last year, we welcomed the Minister of Rural Economic Development in this chamber for Ministerial Question Period. We heard, through a number of questions, about a wide array of challenges that rural Canadians face and opportunities for the federal government to provide support, including through access to reliable broadband, developing and enhancing rural transportation, increasing access to health services, immigration programs, housing and community building, among many others.

In order to better support rural municipalities, I call on this chamber and the federal government to adopt a rural lens when exploring the challenges and opportunities that municipalities face.

Aging infrastructure, competing priorities and access to critical services are just a few challenges that rural municipalities face. However, they simply cannot address these challenges alone. For example, in my community of Centre Wellington, there are 113 bridges, three quarters of which are in need or near need of replacing. I am also hopeful that this inquiry encourages the federal government to re-evaluate and redefine its relationship with municipalities.

It is clear that both rural and urban municipalities require long-term financial and policy-driven support that will encourage long-lasting, positive changes.

The Canada Community-Building Fund, or the former Gas Tax Fund, provides some support to some municipalities. It is clear that more support is needed, though, especially for those underserved communities.

Another support for rural Ontario, the Rural Ontario Institute, or ROI, is a charitable not-for-profit that delivers programs that develops strong leaders who are critical voices around opportunities and key issues facing rural and northern Ontario. This organization is close to my heart, as I was previously the chief executive director and I know just how hard their team works to support rural communities across the province.

I would also like to take a few minutes to highlight an initiative by the University of Guelph: the People’s Archive of Rural Ontario, also known as PARO. PARO has done an amazing job of capturing the resilience and revitalization of rural Ontario through the many stories of communities, individuals and experiences pulled together in one place. If you have never heard of PARO, I invite you to visit their website at to learn more.

I am proud of initiatives like this that are working to help to bridge the gap between rural and urban across Canada, but much more needs to be done.

Honourable colleagues, we cannot ignore that rural municipalities require the same attention as their urban counterparts. It is not enough to treat these communities as an afterthought. These municipalities are just as important as their urban counterparts, and I hope that this inquiry and future federal policies will reflect that.

Thank you. Meegwetch.

(On motion of Senator Petitclerc, debate adjourned.)


Net-zero Emissions Future

Inquiry—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Coyle, calling the attention of the Senate to the importance of finding solutions to transition Canada’s society, economy and resource use in pursuit of a fair, prosperous, sustainable and peaceful net-zero emissions future for our country and the planet.

Hon. Rosa Galvez: Honourable colleagues, I rise to speak to Senator Coyle’s inquiry to find solutions to ensure the transition of society, the economy and the use of Canada’s resources in the pursuit of a just, prosperous, sustainable and peaceful net-zero future for our country and our planet.

In 2022, Canada’s Overshoot Day, in other words the day when our country used its share of all the resources that the Earth can regenerate in a single year, was March 13. Despite its imperfections, this indicator is easy to understand and reflects the unsustainable nature of our socio-economic system. Canada uses the resources for one year in just two and a half months. However, we used to waste much less. In the early 1970s, Canada’s Overshoot Day was around the end of December, where it should be.

It is in our own interest to become a sustainable nation. We need to be more efficient and careful when we use natural resources.


Our way of life and our behaviours have pushed the current system to its limits. Overall, there is a positive correlation between waste generation and income level. Hence, it’s our responsibility as a developed, rich nation to redress and set an example.

The global demand for material resources is expected to double by 2060. It will cause environmental damage, including rises in greenhouse gas emissions, waste and associated pollution if we don’t find rapid, smart, sustainable solutions and if we don’t change the paradigm of considering citizens uniquely as consumers in a linear economic system that takes, makes and wastes.


The strain on the global climate system has been observed by scientists for decades, and the cause of planet warming is unequivocally the result of human-induced greenhouse gas emissions. Current global average temperatures are close to 1.2 degrees above the pre-industrial levels, while Canada has experienced twice this warming and the Arctic three times as much. These changes are leading to the destruction of basic infrastructure by extreme weather events that all Canadians have experienced. Climate change is a systemic risk because it affects everyone, everywhere. Intense heat waves, melting of permafrost, sea-level rise, shore erosion, forest fires, tornadoes and hurricanes, atmospheric rivers, loss of biodiversity and species extinction are happening here and now. Last year — 2022 — will be known as the year when extreme weather events became the norm and costs of reparations amounted to billions per event.

I recently viewed the film The Issue with Tissue — a boreal love story by Michael Zelniker. I encourage you to watch it. You will see the direct relationship between our consumption habits, the destruction of natural capital and our blunt inaction. Understand this: More than 5,000 wild species are at some risk of extinction in Canada. For example, despite its status as a protected species, the three families of Canadian caribou are at risk of extinction, including the once-mighty George River and Leaf River herds of Labrador and Quebec. Senator Audette can tell you lots more about the disappearance of this species and its importance to Indigenous peoples.

But I’m here to speak about solutions and to say that Canadians are looking and waiting for this chamber to play its role of sober second thought and come up with constructive debate and propose effective solutions to the connected multiple crises that we are all experiencing without leaving anybody behind.

A first solution at hand is that markets address pollution and its impacts. As responsible corporations, they must address the negative externalities exactly as a responsible citizen. They created these negative externalities by providing efficient means to manage them. It is urgent to implement alternative models of production and consumption while addressing the letdowns of our linear system. We must transform to a circular economy where subproducts such as waste and other non-valued materials are reintegrated into the system.

The main principles are actually very simple: use fewer resources; design more durably; ban planned obsolescence; provide service loops, such as repair, that extend within product lifetimes; slow rates of extraction; use less toxic or polluting substances; and improve the collection and management of waste and reprocessing of materials to get the most out of the material by creating value in each stage of reuse. In sum, if a product can’t be reduced, reused, repaired, rebuilt, refinished, resold, recycled or degraded, then it should be restricted, redesigned or removed from production.

A second solution that is dramatically needed if Canada chooses to remain competitive during the ongoing third industrial revolution and knowledge economy is the shift to renewable energy for electricity production.

I was today locked in for the budget. I put out a press release. There is money for electricity — I’m very happy — but we can do better.

The Canadian renewable sector, although thriving in provinces such as Alberta, is, in general, lagging behind the rest of the world. We simply aren’t displacing fossil fuels with renewable energy quickly enough. Most G7 countries have succeeded in decoupling growth from greenhouse gas emissions because they developed and implemented clean energy. Contrary to fossil fuels, electricity from renewables follows learning curves where production costs keep falling dramatically. At present, renewable energy is the safest, cleanest and cheapest, and Canada has the resources to be a world leader. The East Coast alone has enough potential wave power to double our current installed generating capacity.

Dear colleagues, why — despite having the longest coastline, the highest tides and among the highest waves in the world — don’t we use wave or tidal renewable energy?

My office has published a white paper on the best policies for a clean recovery post COVID-19 and a second white paper on sustainable finances aiming at net-zero greenhouse gas emissions before 2050. By implementing similar or adapted approaches to those that have worked around the world, we can not only accelerate the transformation but we can render our economy more sustainable in line with our pressing reality and needs.

Among these approaches, we found several things.

Proposed bills can be viewed through both a climate lens that will consider impacts to future generations and a social justice lens that can ensure benefits and costs of the transition are distributed equitably.

Financial supports for the transition can focus on helping people first and then corporations. When financial assistance is provided to corporations, it should be accompanied by accountability and enforceable measures — verifiable goals that contribute to human and ecosystem well-being.

We can ask if government financial support to development projects protects and regenerates natural capital and ecosystems. We can ask if Indigenous communities have been consulted and if they can be supported in their role as guardians of Indigenous lands and biodiversity.

Fisheries, forestry and agriculture are sectors that still operate under unsustainable approaches. Several fish stocks are disappearing, boreal forests are being clear-cut and agricultural soils are impoverished by overuse of heavy mechanized operations like synthetic fertilization and pesticides. These sectors need to rethink and operations need to be optimized.

We can support actions so municipalities adapt to climate change now by building future-proof critical infrastructure, by building right the first time and in the right places and using natural infrastructure as first lines of defence against flooding and erosion.

Every government investment could go in the direction of building forward better, which coincides with economically and environmentally efficient projects that allow for recouping their costs while serving to reduce inequality.


Dear colleagues, there are many solutions to the problems that we face and can no longer ignore. What we need is the will and the intent to protect our children and current and future generations.


As President Biden said last week:

A future where we understand that economic success is not in conflict with the rights and dignity of workers or meeting our responsibilities addressing the climate crisis, but rather those things depend on us doing that. . . . Factually.

Colleagues, you know the United States Inflation Reduction Act is a game changer, and we need to step up our game if we don’t want to be left behind.


To conclude, we are hearing arguments about the cost of taking action. I challenge you to justify the economic, financial, societal and moral cost of inaction. In 2011, the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy predicted that the cost of inaction could reach $91 billion a year in Canada by 2050. The Canadian Climate Institute estimates that by 2025, or very shortly, our GDP will have decreased by $25 billion. By 2055, it will be $80 billion to $103 billion lower. Inaction or a business-as-usual approach results in the destruction of our natural capital, which is a significant part of our GDP.


I ask you to consider what you are doing to protect the livelihoods of Canadians and the Canadian economy from the impacts of the interconnected crises of climate change, biodiversity loss, and the financial crisis. I ask you to consider what you are doing to lead the way to a prosperous, net-zero economy.

Thank you, meegwetch.


Hon. Robert Black: Honourable senators, I rise again this evening to speak to Senator Coyle’s inquiry calling the attention of the Senate to the importance of finding solutions to transition Canada’s society, economy and resource use in pursuit of a fair, prosperous, sustainable and peaceful net-zero emissions future for our country and our planet.

I am and always will be an “agvocate.” I’ve worked in agriculture for most of my life. It’s what I know best and will remain a primary focus as long as I serve Canadians in the Red Chamber.

Thus, my focus this evening will be agriculture’s role in the fight against climate change and the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions in support of Canada’s efforts to achieve net-zero emissions.

According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, in 2016, agriculture contributed about 17% of greenhouse gas emissions globally, and that figure does not include an additional 7% to 14% caused by changes to land use. According to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, 10% of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions are from crop and livestock production, excluding emissions from the use of fossil fuels or from fertilizer production.

These are significant numbers that we need to work to bring down. However, the onus cannot be placed solely on the farmers and the agricultural industry. They work hard to provide us with food, and most of them are good stewards of the land. And, as stewards of the land, farmers are and have been heavily invested in the fight against climate change and mitigating its impacts.

In many cases, our farmers face the brunt of climate change as Canadian agriculture suffers greatly from the effects. The frequency of extreme weather events has doubled since the 1990s. There has been an increase in floods, droughts, forest fires and storms that, unsurprisingly, interfere with harvests and disproportionately affect farms of all sizes.

While we must recognize that agriculture is part of the problem when it comes to climate change, the agricultural sector has demonstrated continuous improvement over many years while emissions from other sectors have risen over time. Agriculture truly has an amazing potential to be an important part of the climate change solution.

In fact, many farmers have already taken steps over the years to make their land a zero-till operation. This technique increases the retention of organic matter and nutrient cycling, which in turn increases carbon sequestration. Or they use perennial forage cover crops: There is more carbon in soils under perennial forage than annual crops, due in part to the former’s ability to better transfer carbon to the soil.

In fact, the Canadian Federation of Agriculture shared that farmers have kept their emissions steady for 20 years while almost doubling production, resulting in a decrease of greenhouse gas emission intensity by one half.

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada also recognizes that agriculture helps slow climate change by storing carbon on agricultural lands. Storing — or sequestering — carbon in soil as organic matter, perennial vegetation and in trees reduces carbon dioxide amounts in the atmosphere.

We have also seen more technological advancements and innovation, including precision agriculture, the use of artificial intelligence and drones, that aim to decrease negative environmental impacts while also increasing profitability. We can also explore the possibility of scaling up technologies that we already know yield positive environmental outcomes.

There are many other innovative methods farmers employ in order to protect the environment without sacrificing profitability. An example of this is reintegrating livestock and crops on the farm and managed grazing, which can increase livestock’s nutrient consumption as well as increase soil organic matter. Additionally, vertical farming and urban farming have gained popularity in recent years.

These innovative ways of producing quality foods allow us to grow crops in cities without taking up much space.

We’re also seeing the use of hydroponics, meaning growing crops directly in nutrient-enriched water rather than soil.

The challenge for the agriculture and agri-food sector will be to mitigate their emissions while adapting to the impacts of climate change without jeopardizing food security.

To do so, Canadian agriculture producers and food processors will need the government’s and the public’s support in transitioning their operations to be more sustainable, and they will also require their support while they seek to change decades‑long practices and procedures.

Many organizations, including the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, the Canadian Cattle Association and the Canadian Pork Council, among others, have highlighted their dedication to supporting Canada’s fight against climate change over the past few years.

There are, of course, specific concerns to each sector regarding such issues as fair carbon pricing and other potential impacts to the overall sustainability of the industries, but overall, Canadian agriculture knows that they have a critical role to play as stewards of the land, which involves preserving ecosystems and resources, such as soil and water, as well as minimizing the environmental impacts of their activities through the implementation of beneficial agricultural practices.

At this time, I would like to pivot to the role of soil health and the environment and how it can and does affect climate change. I have risen on a number of occasions in this chamber and in the Agriculture and Forestry Committee to speak about the importance of soil health.

As you may know, the Standing Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry is undertaking a new soil health study. As one of Canada’s most precious natural resources, soil conservation is a top-of-mind matter for the agriculture and agri‑food sector. The future of this country is intrinsically linked to the health of its ecosystem, which in itself hinges on soil health. In relation to this inquiry, soils across Canada play a critical role in carbon storage and can help deliver on Canada’s net-zero targets.

Healthy soil is arguably one of the most critical resources for the health of our natural and agri-ecosystems so that they can sustain food production, as well as the provision of ecosystem services. Knowing how to manage soils and understanding how soils function is key to their productivity and long-term sustainability.

Ensuring the health and conservation of Canadian land is a shared responsibility and will require collective leadership and sustained commitment and action by those directly responsible for managing soil across the country.

However, it is concerning to think that Ontario is losing almost 319 acres of farmland every day. At this time, I would like to acknowledge the Ontario Federation of Agriculture’s Home Grown campaign. It is high time that we work together to protect local farms across this province and across Canada from being lost to urban sprawl. When we lose farmland, we lose the food that would have been cultivated there as well and the positive benefits of green space. That loss directly contributes to our ability to maintain a strong, stable food supply chain and contributes to the loss of ecosystems.

In March 2019, a report by the Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute entitled Clean Growth in Agriculture highlighted that:

Canadian agriculture . . . has steadily reduced its GHG emissions intensity as a result of dramatic disruptive technological changes. The efforts by governments, industry and academia continue to enable the industry to reduce its emissions . . . . becoming a net sink and providing solutions for the rest of the economy.

Soil health and climate change are intrinsically linked. On the one hand, soils are the second-largest carbon sink after our oceans, storing three times more carbon than is found in the atmosphere. On the other hand, rising temperatures and changing precipitation patterns can lead to soil erosion and fertility loss and a decline in soil’s ability to carry out basic ecosystem services.

We know that soil is not a renewable resource, and we don’t have much time left to save our soil — some experts say less than 50 years. Additionally, the cost of soil degradation in Canada is estimated at over $3 billion annually. That cost will only increase if nothing is done.


Improving soil health is not a one-size-fits-all endeavour across Canada’s varied landscape, but it is clear that healthy soil has an important role to play in our economy, environment and society, including helping our country reach our net-zero targets.

Honourable colleagues, we know that climate change is one of the biggest issues facing our world. It is clear that the agricultural industry understands and supports the call to action to fight climate change. However, we are asking a lot of our farmers. Many agricultural operations rely on decades-old practices that have only recently been deemed as environmentally detrimental. I am taking this opportunity to once again call upon the Canadian government to work collaboratively with our agricultural industry so that it can help make the journey to environmental sustainability a little easier for everyone.

I am confident that the agricultural industry, which has been innovating for as long as it has existed, will continue to rise to the challenge by helping in the fight against climate change. Of course, initiatives must come from all sectors and be a joint effort from all of us. In order to achieve our goals in greenhouse gas reduction, government and industry must work together.

I know that many of us in this chamber have children and grandchildren. Without working together to challenge and change the effects of climate change, I fear they will be living in a world entirely different than the one we know today.

I appreciate the opportunity to provide an agricultural perspective in the Senate. I thank my honourable colleague for bringing this inquiry forward. Thank you, meegwetch.

Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.

(On motion of Senator Clement, debate adjourned.)

Intimate Partner Violence

Inquiry—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Boniface, calling the attention of the Senate to intimate partner violence, especially in rural areas across Canada, in response to the coroner’s inquest conducted in Renfrew County, Ontario.

Hon. Yvonne Boyer: Honourable senators, I rise today to speak on Senator Boniface’s Inquiry No. 10, calling the attention of the Senate to intimate partner violence, especially in rural areas across Canada, in response to the coroner’s inquest conducted in Renfrew County, Ontario.

I would like to begin by acknowledging that we are on the traditional and unceded territories of Anishinaabe Algonquin Nation. The people of this nation are the original stewards of the land. It is important to show our humility, gratefulness and respect for their stewardship by acknowledging and thanking them. When we pay our respects to the ancestors, we reaffirm our relationship with one another. In doing so, we are actively participating in reconciliation as we navigate our time together in this place.

Intimate partner violence in Canada is a significant issue that disproportionately impacts First Nations, Métis and Inuit women, particularly in rural communities. In fact, 61% of all Indigenous women in Canada have experienced some form of psychological, physical or sexual abuse at the hands of an intimate partner in their lifetime, compared to 44% of non-Indigenous women.

While I’m specifically addressing Indigenous women within my speech today, I would like to note that intimate partner violence is not limited to race, sexual orientation or gender; it can and does occur across a great diversity of people and relationship types.

The overrepresentation of Métis, Inuit and First Nations women within intimate partner violence statistics cannot be attested to an isolated factor. It is a culmination of the intergenerational trauma experienced by Indigenous peoples, colonial legacies, structural and systemic inequities that exist within our institutions, the fragmentation of services and the deep sense of institutional mistrust resulting from those relationships.

One of the prominent factors relating to Indigenous women and intimate partner violence that I would like to highlight is remoteness. The geographic isolation of many Indigenous communities has exacerbated the violent experiences that many Indigenous women face. In rural Indigenous communities, police report that intimate partner violence incidents are 10 times higher than those reported in non-Indigenous areas. That is a staggering difference.

Aside from the sheer geographical isolation that may trap a woman with her abuser, remote communities often suffer from heightened poverty, social and psychological isolation and multi-relational factors that hinder confidentiality. What seems to be clear is that remoteness fundamentally equates to a scarcity of services. Shelter and housing, medical resources and legal supports are very limited in rural areas.

The fragmentation of those services across provinces, the discrepancies between federal and provincial services and eligibility issues often deter Métis, Inuit and First Nations women from seeking support. When they do, it is extremely difficult to obtain meaningful assistance.

In addition, health care and social services that are available to Indigenous clients are often devoid of any cultural sensitivity and fail to engage Indigenous knowledge, traditions and laws. The engagement of traditional practices and cultural knowledge and values is essential to accessibility, healing and program efficacy. Culturally safe services are essential to combatting intimate partner violence.

And while there is a great deal of work to be done, I’m hopeful today to share with you some of the important developments made by some Métis, Inuit and First Nations groups across the country.

An organization called Beendigen, associated with the Anishinabe Women’s Crisis Home and Family Healing Agency in Thunder Bay, is one of the many Indigenous-run crisis centres that provide a plethora of services to Indigenous women experiencing intimate partner violence. I believe Beendigen has recognized that service fragmentation is a key deterrent for Indigenous women seeking support. It provides crisis homes, transitional housing, counselling, support for children, prenatal care, family support, court support and addiction services, all with cultural and traditional knowledge at the very centre of their service provision.

Other Indigenous-led organizations, such as Warriors Against Violence in British Columbia, are developing a unique approach to addressing intimate partner violence. Warriors Against Violence prioritizes the principles of restorative justice and reintegration. It understands the prevalence of intimate partner violence within Indigenous communities and that it stems directly from a loss of community and values that have eroded throughout time.

Warriors Against Violence works to help Indigenous families unlearn abusive and violent behaviours and reclaim traditional values of equality, honour and respect. Using traditional teachings such as the circle of life at the centre of their prevention program, Warriors Against Violence operates with the guiding principles that the best way to end intimate partner and family violence is to help men heal and break that cycle and the patterns of abuse. Their prevention program includes elders, life givers, men and youth.

The RedPath – Living Without Violence treatment program is located in Peterborough and serves 400 to 700 people a year. It was developed in 2003 to begin to break down the persistent patterns of family violence and abuse, including both physical and sexual abuse, which have never been systemically acknowledged and resolved in most Indigenous communities. Over the years, the program has grown and is now offered at dozens of locations across Canada. It makes a difference with every person who participates.

RedPath is an Indigenous-specific model that was first developed as an emotion management program and was initially piloted and delivered within the federal penitentiaries. As a result of its great success, the model was then developed into an addictions treatment program, a pre-employment program and for living without violence, which can be used with abusers and those being abused.

The underlying model in all the programs teaches facilitators and front-line workers the crucial importance of emotional health. The RedPath program is integrated into existing health and wellness programs to ensure their effectiveness and success. This program is based on an Indigenous holistic approach to healing and self-wellness to address the physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual aspects of the participants.

The most effective way to decrease problems that lead to intimate partner violence is through strengthening an individual’s identity and awareness. The core element of the intervention is to skillfully deliver tools in a group setting to provide participants with knowledge and awareness that all events and behaviours are interconnected with the past, present and future. These key concepts used to facilitate action and change are identification, communication, reflection and experience of emotions.


I would like to quote Redpath facilitator Tracey Whiteye:

As one participant told me RedPath is his ‘precious bundle’ it saved his life. He said that there is no other program out there like it — he had been to treatment centres, to grief and bereavement programs — but nothing has changed his life like RedPath — he even made his partner, and two children take the program which he says changed their lives. He said that it took him to areas that he did not know existed — to the root of his problems, where he learned to understand himself better — the roots of his childhood. It was not a surface program it uncovered the root causes and forced him to be more accountable.

Importantly, the Redpath program reconnected these Indigenous men to their Indigenous culture, identity and traditional ways. This helped the participants recognize the importance of their roles and responsibility to the family system as protectors and providers. For women and children and their families and communities, these Indigenous men were reunited back with their families as healthy fathers, uncles, brothers and grandparents.

The Redpath framework helped them in their ongoing healing and wellness in their continuum plan of care. Although these are just a few programs that are seeing success addressing intimate partner violence, there are many more across the country that must be recognized and thanked for their good work.

Honourable senators, while there is still so much to be done when it comes to the relationship between Métis, Inuit and First Nation women and intimate partner violence, I’m pleased that there are innovative, Indigenous-led initiatives that are not only aiding in offering support and access to services, but further prioritizing ideas of prevention and breaking the intergenerational patterns of abuse.

I would like to close by sharing a few key points that Indigenous communities and service providers have shared that they have found are vital in working towards ending intimate partner violence in Indigenous communities. For instance, honing productive referral pathways for Indigenous women seeking help while increasing access to crisis shelters and housing services, and developing healing and well-being services for Indigenous men. By implementing a cohesive approach, it facilitates the ending of the fragmentation of services that deter women in remote areas.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, working to engage Indigenous teachings within all intimate partner violence services and programs that aid in facilitating a culturally safe environment for Indigenous women seeking help.

As my honourable colleague Senator Boniface has noted, while our understanding of intimate partner violence has progressed, there is a long road ahead, and it is imperative that we keep in mind the disproportionate impact this issue has on Indigenous communities. Thank you, meegwetch, marsee, all my relations.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.

(On motion of Senator Clement, debate adjourned.)

One Hundredth Anniversary of the Chinese Exclusion Act

Inquiry—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Woo, calling the attention of the Senate to the one hundredth anniversary of the Chinese Exclusion Act, the contributions that Chinese Canadians have made to our country, and the need to combat contemporary forms of exclusion and discrimination faced by Canadians of Asian descent.

Hon. Paula Simons: I’m honoured to rise today to speak to Senator Woo’s inquiry which calls our attention to the enduring legacy of the Chinese Exclusion Act, which passed into law on July 1, 1923, one hundred years ago.

The act was designed by the government of William Lyon Mackenzie King. It put an end to the old head tax system, and instead, slammed the door on Chinese immigration entirely.

The rules were strict. Only four classes of Chinese people were allowed entry: diplomats and government representatives; children who had been born in Canada but left the country for educational purposes, but only if they returned in less than two years; students who were attending university or college; and, in rare circumstances, merchants who had received special status from the Minister of Immigration and Colonization.

Ships that brought Chinese immigrants to Canada were only allowed to carry one Chinese person for every 250 tonnes of total ship weight. Those who’d been born here all had to register and carry photo identification.

The language of the 1923 act empowered the police to detain and arrest, without a warrant, any person of Chinese origin or descent whom they suspected of having entered the country illegally. Those who were arrested were detained until they could provide legal proof that they were allowed to be in Canada. Those who could not faced deportation.

The result, by some calculations: Fewer than 50 people, and according to some sources as few as 15, were able to emigrate from China to Canada between 1923 and 1947.

To put things in perspective, in 1921, Canada had admitted 2,707 immigrants from China. In 1924, we admitted just three, and by 1925, just one.

In his original speech last month, Senator Woo suggested that one of the reasons that the Exclusion Act has not received as much attention as the head tax may be because most of its victims were hypothetical, the immigrants who might have come here if only they had been allowed.

But if I may be allowed to disagree with my respected friend and colleague, that’s not quite true. The primary and very real victims of the Exclusion Act of 1923 were the wives and children still in China, who were not allowed to travel here to be reunited with their husbands and fathers. And since an estimated 80 per cent of Chinese-Canadian men had spouses and families in China, there were plenty of stranded families.

Because of the difficulty and expense of travel — made all the more expensive by the head tax — it had been common practice for Chinese men to come to places such as Alberta and British Columbia to establish themselves, leaving their wives and families behind, hoping to bring them to Canada later. Now that door was slammed shut.

By 1931, the ratio of Chinese men to women in Toronto was 15 to 1. In Calgary, there were 12 Chinese men for every one woman. In Vancouver, there were 11 times as many Chinese men as Chinese women.

Families were, in many cases, permanently separated, and family ties forever sundered.

Wives left behind in China often suffered from social stigma and cultural isolation. Meanwhile, the lonely bachelors in Canada often turned to gambling houses and brothels to pass the time, to the distress of Chinese community leaders. The Chinese Benevolent Association of Vancouver protested that the lack of women and family ties in their communities led to “an undisciplined indulgence in bad habits and entertainment.”

The result, of course, was to fuel racist beliefs that the Chinese themselves were culturally immoral, even though such “bad habits” were the logical result of creating an artificial and segregated bachelor society.

Eventually, the draconian law’s natural consequences became evident. The Chinese population of Canada started to fall dramatically. In 1931, there were 11,592 Chinese people living in Vancouver. By 1941, the population had plummeted to 5,973.

That’s all the more shocking and disturbing when you think that anyone who went back to China in that 10-year period was entering an active war zone, a country subject to Japanese occupation.

Between 1921 and 1951, Canada’s overall Chinese population dropped by 25 per cent. That was most assuredly a feature — and not a bug — of the Exclusion Act. It was designed by the racist Mackenzie King government not just to keep Chinese immigrants from coming in, but to drive those who were already here back out again.

It was not only Chinese Canadians, and would-be Chinese Canadians, who suffered as a result of the Exclusion Act. Canada, too, paid for its xenophobia and its bigotry by losing out on the talent and drive of those who were denied entry.

In this context, I think it’s illustrative to look at some of the extraordinary accomplishments of Chinese Canadians who came of age during the very time the Exclusion Act was in place.

Dr. Victoria Chung was born in 1897 in Victoria, the city which gave her her name. She was the first person of Chinese-Canadian descent to become a doctor — not just the first female physician, but the first Chinese-Canadian doctor, period.

In 1923, the year the Exclusion Act was passed, the Presbyterian Women’s Missionary Society sponsored Chung to go to China to work at a hospital there. But when she tried to come back to Canada, she was told she had been in China too long and was ineligible to live in the country of her own birth. Her parents made the choice to leave Canada to come be with her, forfeiting their right to return to the country where they had lived for decades. Dr. Chung could have fled China when the Japanese invaded. Instead, she continued to work as a physician and missionary through the war and the Chinese Revolution.

Peter Wing was born in Kamloops, British Columbia, in 1914. A successful businessman, he became the youngest member of the Kamloops Board of Trade in 1934. He went on to serve as the Mayor of Kamloops for three terms, making him the first Chinese Canadian to serve as mayor in Canada and, indeed, the first person of Chinese descent to be elected mayor anywhere in North America.


George Ho Lem was born in Calgary in 1918. His mother, Mary, was the first recorded Chinese-Canadian woman to live in that city. He was a dry cleaner, a restaurateur and a successful horse breeder who won two Alberta Derbies. He was a director of the Calgary Stampede board for 18 years. He was elected a Calgary alderman in 1959 and then went on to become the first Chinese Canadian elected to the Alberta legislature.

Gretta Wong Grant was born in London, Ontario, in 1921. In 1946, the year before the Chinese Exclusion Act ended, she was called to the bar in Toronto as Canada’s first Chinese-Canadian female lawyer. A graduate of Osgoode Hall, she went on to serve as London’s Assistant City Solicitor, the Director of Legal Aid, London, and as the first woman to head her local bar association. But then Gretta’s whole family was extraordinary. She may have been the duffer. Her two older sisters were doctors who had attended medical school at the University of Western Ontario, and her younger sister earned a PhD in biochemistry.

Douglas Jung was born in Victoria in 1924. He was 20 when he volunteered to serve in the Canadian Army among a group of 13 Chinese Canadians who volunteered for Operation Oblivion, a British Special Operations Executive mission to send secret agents into Japanese-occupied China to serve as spies and saboteurs.

After the war, Jung attended law school and become a successful lawyer. In 1957, 10 years after the Chinese Exclusion Act ended, he was elected as Canada’s first Chinese-Canadian member of Parliament.

Norman Kwong was born in Calgary in 1929 and grew up during the ugliest years of the Chinese Exclusion Act, but in 1948, at the age of 18, he began an extraordinary career in football. He played for the Calgary Stampeders for three years, becoming the first Chinese-Canadian player in the Canadian Football League, the CFL, and the youngest to win a Grey Cup. He spent 10 more glorious years playing for Edmonton, winning three more Grey Cups and earning the nickname “the China Clipper.” He twice won the Schenley Award for the most outstanding Canadian player in the league, and in 1955, he was named Canada’s male athlete of the year. He then went on to a successful career in business and became a co-owner of the Calgary Flames, making him the first — and perhaps the only — person to win both the Stanley Cup and the Grey Cup. After years of dedicated public service, he was named Lieutenant Governor of Alberta in 2005, filling the role with distinction and huge public popularity.

I could go on telling such stories, but I think these few examples illustrate my point. Just think of the extraordinary obstacles all those people had to overcome. Now imagine what we as Canadians lost out on with our self-sabotaging racism, all the talent and drive we turned away or drove away.

Now, we need to be extremely careful that we don’t repeat the mistakes of our past and let prejudice and paranoia cloud our judgment or lead us to question the patriotism and loyalty of Canadians based on ethnic origin. Let it be said: Serious, well‑founded allegations of interference by the Chinese government into provincial or federal Canadian politics should be properly, thoroughly and swiftly investigated. If and when they are substantiated, we must take firm action to safeguard the integrity of our elections and we should not be naive about the possibility of other nations’ agendas.

Let us be extraordinarily careful not to make lazy, dangerous assumptions about the loyalties of tens of thousands of Chinese Canadians. Asian Canadians have already suffered through ugly racism prompted by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. While those racist attacks are abating, it would be tragic indeed if ethnic Chinese Canadians — including politicians — were smeared as a result of anonymous allegations.

We cannot and should not allow foreign governments or foreign actors to influence our elections, whether that influence comes from Russia, China, the United States, India or elsewhere. We must take credible reports of such foreign influence seriously. In our haste to protect our democracy, we must not sacrifice our own core democratic values. I fear that some of the increasingly heated rhetoric around this issue, even if it’s well intended, is already having the result not just of defaming specific Chinese Canadians in public life but also of fuelling a corrosive suspicion of Chinese Canadians more broadly. There is nothing our various adversaries and agent provocateurs would like more than to sow suspicion and discord amongst Canadians, to see us turn on one another, to foster disunity when we most need to be united. Let us not make it easy for them.

As we approach the one hundredth anniversary of a dark and destructive chapter in our history, let us be sure to learn from our past, and let’s be sure that we remember and celebrate the extraordinary legacy of the historical Chinese Canadians who have enriched our nation and the accomplishments and leadership of the Chinese Canadians today who have given so much back to this country that we all cherish. Thank you. Hiy hiy.

Hon. Kim Pate: Would you take a question, Senator Simons?

Senator Simons: I would be delighted to take a question.

Senator Pate: I would be remiss in not asking if you knew that, in fact, Gretta Wong, whom you mentioned, has a direct link back to this chamber.

Senator Simons: I did not know that. Would you care to enlighten us on that link?

Senator Pate: I’m pleased to add that Gretta Wong, in addition to opening some of the first Chinese-Canadian legal clinics in this country, largely because she was not provided with other opportunities and provided legal aid, is also the grandmother of my Director of Parliamentary Affairs, Emily Grant, and the great-grandmother to Emily’s daughter, Isabel Gretta.

Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.

Senator Simons: I did not know that.

(On motion of Senator Clement, debate adjourned.)

(At 10:28 p.m., the Senate was continued until tomorrow at 2 p.m.)




The Honourable Joe Biden

President of the United States of America


Both Houses of Parliament

in the

House of Commons Chamber,


on Friday, March 24, 2023

The Honourable Joe Biden was welcomed by the Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, by the Honourable George J. Furey, Speaker of the Senate, and by the Honourable Anthony Rota, Speaker of the House of Commons.


Hon. Anthony Rota (Speaker of the House of Commons, Lib.): Mr. President, Dr. Biden, welcome to Canada and the House of Commons.


Prime Minister, Speaker Furey, party leaders, honourable parliamentarians, Your Excellencies and dear guests, allow me to welcome you to this extraordinary event.


On behalf of my colleagues, we are honoured by your visit. As we come together under one roof, we take a moment to celebrate the friendship and the shared values of our countries. We celebrate our people and the history of co-operation between Canada and the United States.

A prime example of this co-operation can be seen in my hometown, North Bay, in the riding of Nipissing—Timiskaming, where Canadian and American military personnel work side by side at NORAD to ensure our safety by patrolling the skies of North America. NORAD is proof that when Canadians and Americans venture to undertake a mission together, we accomplish great things and, more importantly, our great friendship grows. This visit reminds us all that we must never take our friendship, this co-operation and these shared values for granted.


I would now like to invite the right hon. Prime Minister to say a few words.


Right Hon. Justin Trudeau (Prime Minister, Lib.): Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Today, we welcome to our Parliament the 46th President of the United States of America, President Joseph R. Biden, Jr.

Mr. President, you are a true friend to Canada, and that matters more than ever in this consequential moment. Make no mistake: These are serious times. When the consequences of a warming planet are intersecting with the aftermath of a global pandemic, when an unjustifiable war in Europe has shocked the conscience of the world and exposed the vulnerability of energy markets and supply chains, when families are facing the pressures of inflation and struggling with affordability, when citizens around the world feel anxious about their future and their kids’ futures, Mr. President, as it should be, our two nations stand united in this moment, finding solutions side by side.


We will continue to work together to create jobs, and build healthier and more sustainable economies. The economy, the environment and security are interwoven, and that has never been more clear.


It has never been more clear that everything is interwoven: economic policy is climate policy is security policy. People need us to think strategically and act with urgency, and that is exactly what brings us together today.

Mr. President, throughout our history, Canada and the United States, as friends and allies, have faced many challenges together: pandemics, recessions and wars. Here in the House, in September 1939, members of Parliament debated going to war. A few years later, Canadian and American soldiers were fighting against fascism, shoulder to shoulder. There are battlefields around the world where our soldiers lay in cemeteries, shoulder to shoulder.

War has now returned to Europe. As you well know, Mr. President, Canada will continue to stand strong with Ukraine with whatever it takes. Together, both of us are partners that Ukraine and the world can count on. Since Putin launched his brutal invasion, like you, Canada has provided significant military support. In our case, artillery, ammunition, armour and tanks. From 2015 to today, with Operation Unifier, the Canadian Armed Forces trained the brave members of the Ukrainian military, about 35,000 of them, and counting.

With partners and allies, we have both used sanctions and punitive economic measures to continue to deplete the Kremlin’s war chest. After a terrifying spring, a violent summer and fall, and an exhausting winter, Ukraine still stands.


One year ago, our friend President Zelenskyy addressed this House to thank us for having supported him from the start. Today, together, we reiterate our message to President Zelenskyy and to Ukrainians: We remain by your side.

We will ensure the security of Canadians and Americans by defending democracies and the international rules-based order. Vladimir Putin underestimated the determination of Europe and NATO allies. He underestimated the strength and courage of Ukrainians and their will to defend their language, culture and homeland.


Mr. President, today I want to introduce you to Natalia, who I met just last week. Natalia arrived in Canada from Ukraine more than 10 years ago. She is safe here with her family, but she still has a lot of loved ones in Ukraine. Every time she hangs up after speaking with a cousin or a friend, she feels a twinge in her heart wondering if this conversation might be their last.

Mr. President, we cannot and will not let Natalia’s loved ones down. The Ukrainian people are counting on us. We must stand shoulder to shoulder with Ukraine with as much as it takes, for as long as it takes. I bring up Natalia now, not just because of what is happening over in Ukraine as we speak, but also because she is key to what we are building here today and tomorrow.


I met Natalia last week in Nova Scotia where she currently lives near Bridgewater, a small town of 9,000 people. For over 50 years now, the Michelin tire factory in Bridgewater has been one of the most productive in the world. Thanks to the strength of its workers, Michelin has just announced major investments to modernize its facilities to meet the growing need for electric vehicles. Good, stable jobs like the ones in this factory are really important for people like Natalia and her family. They are also important for our communities, be they large or small.


When I was in Nova Scotia, meeting with Natalia and others, I met third-generation tire workers at that Michelin plant, and because of the work we are doing together and the investments we are making for the future, that community will have jobs for generations more to come. That does not just impact them in Bridgewater; it means there will continue to be vans delivering food to grocery stores in California and trucks delivering medical supplies to hospitals in Pennsylvania that roll on tires made in Nova Scotia, as it should be.

Mr. President, in 1987, Ronald Reagan addressed this House in a final big push toward the first Canada-U.S. free trade agreement. He pointed out that the U.S.-Canada border was a meeting place, rather than a dividing line. More than 30 years later, our border is no longer just the place where we meet each other; it is the place where we will meet the moment. It is the place where we will meet the future, a future not only with good jobs, but good, stable careers for generations to come.

We are also joined today by steelworkers from Dofasco in Hamilton. One of them is Neil. Neil’s mother worked at Dofasco in the seventies. His father worked in the finishing steel area for 37 years. Now, with the investments we have made to help Dofasco phase out coal-fired steelmaking in favour of electric arc, Neil’s kids, grandkids and great-grandkids will be able to choose careers making the clean steel the world needs to build EVs, buildings and bridges. Clean steel will be the backbone for manufacturing in the future, and workers like Neil, from generations past to generations future, will continue to be at the heart of the economy we are building for the middle class.

Economic policy is climate policy is security policy. With growing competition, including from an increasingly assertive China, there is no doubt why it matters that we turn to each other now to build up a North American market on everything from semiconductors to solar panel batteries.

Mr. President, with the Inflation Reduction Act, you are creating the jobs of today and tomorrow for the middle class in America. This also means more clients for Canadian critical minerals processors, for our clean-energy innovators, for our integrated auto workers, for our farmers, growers and producers, and so many others. It is an example of how we can make progress at home and as partners.


To support good jobs in the economy of the future, Canada has one of the cleanest electricity grids in the world. Approximately 83% of our electricity is already carbon neutral, and we are on track to reach 100% by 2035. To achieve that goal, we are working with local communities, including on indigenous-led projects across the country, be it for solar panels or wind turbines. All of our clean energy exports go to the United States. Across the globe, we need to accelerate our transition to renewable energy.

This week, the United Nations panel on climate change published a new report indicating that our planet will hit a critical global warming threshold in the next decade. This means more heat waves, more droughts, more floods and more endangered species.


When I think of the families I met on the Atlantic coast last fall who saw their houses being torn to pieces by hurricane Fiona, when I think of the people who live in B.C. whose town burned because of the wildfire during a record-breaking heat wave, I know that responsible leadership means doing more to fight climate change and more to protect families. Climate policy is economic policy is security policy.


As leaders, keeping people safe is our priority. Not only do we need to continue our work, but we need to more and to do it faster.

I know that you agree, Mr. President. I remember the discussion that you and I had in 2016 on the fight against climate change, during your visit to Canada as vice president. You had met with the premiers of the provinces and territories, as well as with indigenous leaders. That same day, during the first ministers’ meeting, our government adopted the pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change, the cornerstone of which was pollution pricing across the country. I am very pleased, then, to welcome you back today, knowing that environmental protection remains one of your top priorities.


Mr. President, what makes this such a moment of consequence is that our world, our way of living, is facing multiple threats at the same time. That is why security policy is climate policy is economic policy, because climate change, inflation, war, energy shortages but also foreign interference, misinformation and disinformation, and constant attacks on our values and institutions all compound.

Democracies like ours, just like democracies around the world, did not happen by accident and will not continue without effort.


We need to be there for each other. We must continue to stand up against authoritarian threats, both at home and abroad, and continue to defend what is just.


This is not a moment to compromise on our values. This is a moment to double down on them. We must continue to show resilience, perseverance and strength.

Resilience, perseverance and strength, these are words that perfectly describe two men who are here with us today, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor.

Mr. President, when the plane transporting the two Michaels landed on Canadian soil after their more than 1,000 days of arbitrary detention in China, Canadians proved that resilience, perseverance and strength are more than just lofty ideals. They are commitments that drive our actions and shape our character.

Canada got the two Michaels home, and we did it the right way, not just by respecting the rule of law but by anchoring ourselves to it. When under great pressure to undermine our commitment to our agreements and treaties, and to the rule of law, we did not capitulate. We did not abandon our values. We doubled down and we rallied our allies against arbitrary detention, and through that, with your support and your leadership, Mr. President, the rule of law prevailed and the Michaels came home.


With our allies and partners, Canadians and Americans must remain a source of inspiration to the rest of the world, but, above all, we must continue our work. We need to make the necessary efforts every day to build a better future for people like Neil and Natalia, and for their children and their grandchildren.


We must and we will meet this moment.

Mr. President, in your most recent powerful state of the union address, you encouraged the American people to stay optimistic, hopeful and forward-looking. This is a vision that Canadians share too. Therefore, let us keep working hard, and together, let us continue to build a better future for our people.

Welcome to Canada, my friend.

Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States of America, Joe Biden.

Hon. Joseph Biden, Jr. (President of the United States of America): Good afternoon. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Bonjour, Canada. I must tell you that I took four years of French in school. The first time I attempted to make a speech in French, I was laughed at, so that is as good as I can get. Seriously, thank you very, very much.

Speaker of the House of Commons, Speaker of the Senate, members of Parliament, thank you for the very kind welcome to my wife and me.

Prime Minister Trudeau, you were my first meeting with a foreign leader just one month after my presidency, during the hardest days of COVID-19. We had to make the visit virtual, but since then we have been all over the world taking on some of the toughest issues our nations have faced in a very long time. I want to thank you for your partnership and for your personal friendship. I thank you very much. Jill and I are grateful for the hospitality you and Sophie have shown us.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am honoured to have the opportunity to hold on to a tradition, carried out by so many of my predecessors, of addressing the hallowed halls of the Canadian democracy, although this is a different hall. You have done a hell of a job. This is really very beautiful.

This is a custom that speaks to the closeness of our relationship. Americans and Canadians are two people, two countries, in my view, sharing one heart. It is a personal connection. No two nations on earth are bound by such close ties of friendship, family, commerce and culture. Our labour unions cross borders, as do our sports leagues: baseball, basketball, hockey.

Listen to this: hockey. I have to say I like your teams, except the Leafs. I will tell you why. They beat the Flyers back in January, and that is why. I married a Philly girl. If I did not say that, I would be sleeping alone, and fellows, I like you, but not that much.

It can be easy to take a partnership between Canada and the United States as a given, but when you stop to think about it, it is really a wonder. It is a 5,552-mile-long border, more than 8,800 kilometres, defined by peaceful commerce and trading relationships that measure more than $2.5 billion a day. Every day, hundreds of thousands of people cross the borders going to the north and south to work or just to visit, knowing they will find a warm welcome on the other side of the border.

Americans love Canadians, and that is not hyperbole. It is a data-driven fact. Earlier this week, the Gallup poll did a new poll showing American opinions on different countries in the world. This is a fact: Canada ranked at the very top, with an 88% favourable rating among Americans, up from 87% the year before. I take credit for that one point.

I suspect every politician in this room would do a hell of a lot to get those kinds of numbers. However, there is a reason for it. The same fundamental aspirations reverberate across both our nations, from the Atlantic to the Pacific: to live in freedom, and not just freedom but to live in freedom with dignity; to relentlessly pursue the possibilities of tomorrow; and to leave our children and our grandchildren a future that is better because of our efforts, those of the people in this room and in a similar room in the United States.

President Kennedy said, when he spoke here in 1961, “ours is the unity of equal and independent nations, co-tenants of the same continent, heirs of the same legacy, and fully sovereign associates in the same historic endeavor: to preserve freedom for ourselves and all who wish it.” Through more than a century of that historic endeavour, Canada and the United States have had each other’s backs. In war and in peace, we have been a stronghold of liberty and a safeguard of the fundamental freedoms that literally give our lives meaning. We have gladly stepped into the responsibilities of global leadership, because we understand all that is at risk for Canadians and Americans alike when freedom is under attack anywhere in the world.

Today, our destinies are intertwined and are inseparable, not because of the inevitability of geography, but because it is a choice we have made again and again. The United States chooses to link its future with Canada because we know we will find no better partner, and I mean this from the bottom of my heart, no more reliable ally and no more steady friend, and today I say to you and to all the people of Canada that you will always be able to count on the United States of America. I guarantee it.

Together, we have built a partnership that is an incredible advantage to both our nations. That does not mean we never disagree, as any two countries will do from time to time, but when we disagree, we solve our differences in friendship and goodwill because we both understand our interests are fundamentally aligned.

We stand at this inflection point in history. I had a professor who once explained an inflection point. When you are going down the highway at 60 miles an hour and rapidly turn in one direction five degrees, you never get back on the same path again, but you’re on a different course. The decisions we make in the coming years will determine the course of our world for decades to come. It happens every five or six generations, but we are at that point. Nothing gives me greater confidence in the future than knowing Canada and the United States stand together still.

Today, I would like to speak a bit about the future, if I may, a future that is ours to seize. I get criticized at home sometimes for saying that. President Obama used to always kid me, because I would always say to him in our private meetings that a country is never more optimistic than its president or its leaders. I have never been more optimistic in my life about our prospects, and I really mean this from the bottom of my heart. We are so well positioned for a future built around our shared responsibilities, prosperity, security and values.

First, it is a future built on shared prosperity, where Canada and the United States continue to anchor the most competitive, prosperous and resilient economic region in the world. That is a fact. Our supply chains are secure and reliable from end to end because we are creating value at every step right here in North America. We are mining critical minerals, manufacturing and packaging the most advanced semiconductors in the world and producing electric vehicles and clean energy technology together. It is a future where we understand that economic success is not in conflict with the rights and dignity of workers or meeting our responsibilities of investing in the climate crisis, but rather that those things depend on us doing that, factually.

Since becoming President, I have been laser-focused on rebuilding the U.S. economy from the bottom up and the middle out. Not a whole lot trickled down from the top down at my dad’s kitchen table. By the way, when the middle class does well, the wealthy do very well. No one gets hurt.

The United States made historic and, to the chagrin of some of our critics in the press, bipartisan investments in infrastructure and innovation that are already bringing together and delivering concrete benefits to the American people. As we implement these legislative achievements, there are enormous opportunities for Canada and the United States to work even more closely together to create good-paying jobs in both our countries.

The Inflation Reduction Act, which was not bipartisan but nonetheless all of a sudden I am finding we have more adherence, represents the single largest commitment in tackling climate change in our history, as a matter of fact, the single largest investment in all of human history, and it is going to spur clean energy investments all over the world. It explicitly includes tax credits for electric vehicles assembled in Canada, recognizing how interconnected our auto industries and our workers are. I am the most pro-union president America has ever had, and I speak to a hell of a lot of Canadian union members. This is a model for future co-operation, with both our nations investing at home to increase the strength of our industrial bases, making sure not only that the products manufactured in North America are manufactured, but that they are the best in the world. We are going to amplify our shared commitment to climate action while growing our economies.

I will just stop for a second to say that when I announced for president, I was always known as one of those kind of green Democrats, and Republicans used to be the same. Well, guess what? I did not announce my environmental plan, and I was getting beat up: “Why is Biden all of a sudden changing?” The reason is that I brought all the unions together and I brought them into the White House, not a joke, because they all said they were going to lose their jobs. I pointed out that every single solitary initiative required to do with the environment creates union jobs, creates thousands of jobs.

For example, I met with the IBEW and pointed out that we were going to build 5,500 electric charging stations. Guess who builds them? It is union workers. We are coordinating a stand for new electric vehicles and charging stations so that Americans and Canadians can continue to easily cross the border without ever hitting a snag in their American- or Canadian-built zero-emissions vehicles. Moreover, we are going to build batteries and technologies that go into those vehicles together.

We have learned the hard way during the pandemic that when we rely on just-in-time supply chains that circle the globe, there are significant vulnerabilities due to disruptions and delays, and it drives up costs here at home, both in Canada and in the United States. However, there is a better way. Our nations are blessed with incredible natural resources. Canada, in particular, has large quantities of critical minerals that are essential for our clean energy future, for the world’s clean energy future. I believe we have an incredible opportunity to work together so that Canada and the United States can source and supply, here in North America, everything we need for reliable and resilient supply chains.

Folks, to make our critical mineral supply chain the envy of the world, the United States is making funding available under the Defense Production Act to incentivize American and Canadian companies to responsibly mine and process critical minerals needed for electric vehicles and stationary storage batteries. We are also building integrated supply chains for semiconductors, a critical computer chip that I know was invented in America and we lost control of it; not only control of it, we lost producing them and the power in so much of our daily lives.

The IBM plant in Bromont, Quebec, is the largest semiconductor packaging and testing facility in North America. Chips made in Vermont and upstate New York are shipped to Bromont to be packaged into electronic components, but now Bromont is expanding with the support of the Canadian government.

There is going to be a lot more work to do. Thanks to the bipartisan CHIPS and Science Act that I signed into law last year, companies are breaking ground for new semiconductor plants across the United States, representing billions of dollars in new investments in American high-tech manufacturing: $12 billion from the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company in Arizona; $20 billion and counting for Intel in Ohio; and $100 billion in New York, the single largest investment of its kind ever in the world.

When the chips begin to roll off of these new production lines in America, a lot of them are going to be coming to Canada to be packaged. That is a lot of jobs, good-paying jobs. Today, I am also making available, through the Defense Production Act, $50 million to incentivize more U.S. and Canadian companies to invest in packaging semiconductors and printed circuit boards.

That brings me to a second pillar of our future, because our shared prosperity is deeply connected to our shared security. The past years have proven that Canada and the United States are not insulated from the challenges that impact the rest of the world. The world needs Canada and the United States working together with our partners around the world to rally strong and effective global action. Nowhere is that more obvious than our united response to Russia’s brutal aggression against Ukraine. We have stood together to defend sovereignty, to defend democracy, to defend freedom for ourselves and all who wish it. As I told President Zelenskyy when I visited with him in Kyiv last month, people all over the world are with the brave people of Ukraine. Are you not amazed at the personal bravery they are showing? It is incredible.

I know there is a large Ukrainian diaspora here in Canada, not just the lovely lady we were all introduced to a moment ago, who feel the same way. Canada and the United States, together with a coalition of 50 nations we jointly worked to put together, are making sure Ukraine can defend itself. We are supplying air defence systems, artillery systems, ammunition, armoured vehicles, tanks and so much more. It is tens of billions of dollars so far. Together with our G7 partners, we are imposing a significant cost on Russia as well, denying Russia critical inputs to its war machine. We are independently holding Russia accountable for the war crimes and crimes against humanity that Russia is committing and continues to commit as I speak today.

Canada and America alike have opened their arms to Ukrainian refugees. Our people know well the high price of freedom. Your Peace Tower stands as a testament to the sacrifices of the more than 60,000 brave Canadians who perished in World War I, forever making this nation a champion of liberty. The words of a Canadian poem by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae still call to us from Flanders Fields, echoing their charge through the ages:

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

Today, let us once more affirm that we are going to keep that torch of liberty burning brightly and support the Ukrainian people. We will not waiver.

Putin was certain that he would have been able to break NATO by now. He was certain of that, but guess what. His lust for land and power has failed thus far. The Ukrainian people’s love of their country is going to prevail. In the face of President Putin’s aggression against Ukraine, Canada and the United States are also making clear our commitment to our NATO allies. We will keep our alliance strong and united. We will defend every inch of NATO territory. An attack against one is an attack against all.

As we look forward to the 75th anniversary of NATO next year, Canada and the United States share a responsibility and a commitment to make sure NATO can deter any threat and defend against any aggression from anyone. That is the bedrock of the security of both our nations.

Canada and the United States are not only partners in transatlantic security. We are Pacific nations as well. Earlier this month, the U.S. and Canada held our first Indo-Pacific dialogue to deepen our co-operation in that vital region and promote an Indo-Pacific region that is free and open, prosperous and secure.

We are also an Arctic nation. We both recognize the critical importance of this region to our collective security, and the interests of other nations, all of a sudden, in the Arctic. We are working in close coordination to steward and protect the northern-most reaches of our world. We are American nations, deeply invested in ensuring that the western hemisphere is peaceful, prosperous, democratic and secure. That starts with our commitment to defending our people and our own sovereign territory.

NORAD is the only binational military command in the world, which is yet another way in which our partnership is exceptional. It is an incredible symbol of the faith we have in one another and the trust we place in each other’s capabilities. Soon NORAD will have a new next-generation, over-the-horizon radar to enhance our early warning capacity; upgraded undersea surveillance systems; and modernized infrastructure, which is necessary to host the most advanced aircraft. I am looking forward to continuing to work in close partnership with Canada, as we deliver on these needs so that our people can continue to rest soundly knowing NORAD is on the watch.

We are also coordinating closely to take on the human security challenge throughout the region. We are working in partnership with the people of Haiti to try to find ways to provide security and humanitarian assistance, and to help strengthen Haiti’s stability.

We are tackling the scourge of synthetic drugs that are devastating Canada and American communities, particularly our young people. Fentanyl is a killer. Almost everyone knows someone who has been affected by this, lost a child or lost a friend. Canada and the United States are working closely with our partner Mexico to attack this problem at every stage, from the precursor chemicals shipped from overseas to the powder, the pills and the traffickers moving into all of our countries. We all know the synthetic opioid epidemic has its roots around the globe, not just here, so today we are announcing a commitment to build a new global coalition of like-minded countries, led by Canada and the United States, to tackle this crisis. This is about public health, our economic futures and our national security.

We are also working together to address the record levels of migration in the hemisphere. The Los Angeles Declaration on Migration and Protection, which the United States and Canada, along with 19 other nations, signed last June, represents an integrated new approach to the migration challenge, which is real. It is an approach that unites humane policies that both secure borders and support people. In the United States, we are expanding legal pathways for migration to seek safety on a humanitarian basis, while discouraging unlawful migration that feeds exploitation and human trafficking.

Today, I applaud Canada for stepping up with similar programs, opening new legal pathways for 1,500 migrants to come to Canada from countries in the western hemisphere. At the same time, the United States and Canada will work together to discourage unlawful border crossings and fully implement the updated safe third country agreement. Finally, as we advance our shared prosperity and security, we must never lose sight of our shared values, because our values are literally the linchpin holding everything else together.

Welcoming refugees and asylum seekers is a part of who Canadians and Americans are. In fact, the United States recently launched a new private sponsorship program for refugees. We call it welcome corps, which draws on Canadians’ decades of leadership in refugee resettlement, where both countries built upon the nation-to-nation relationship with Native Americans and first nations.

We have both been influenced and strengthened by the contributions of generations of immigrants. We believe to our core that every single person deserves to live in dignity and safety, and to rise as high as their dreams can carry them. We strive to defend human rights, to advance equality and gender equality, to pursue justice and to uphold the rule of law.

I want to note the outstanding work Canada has done to build a coalition of nearly 70 countries endorsing the Declaration against Arbitrary Detention in State-to-State Relations. It is not only a statement of value. Our citizens are not bargaining chips. They are not diplomatic leverage. They are human beings with lives and families who must be respected.

I am very glad to see the two Michaels, Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, are safely back with their families after more than 1,000 days in detention. If my mother were here, she would say, “God bless you both.” Thank you for joining us today, and thank you for the opportunity to meet you earlier.

The incredible diversity that defines each of our nations is our strength. Prime Minister Trudeau, I know this is a belief that you and I share. We both built administrations that look like America and look like Canada. I am very proud both of us have cabinets that are 50% women for the first time in history.

We took the lesson from you because the bottom line is this: If we make it easier for historically under-represented communities to dream, create and succeed, we build a better future for all our people, so let us continue the work. Where there are no barriers, things look better. Where there are barriers to equal opportunity, we need to tear them down. Where inequity stifles potential, where we unleash the full power of our people, where injustice holds sway, let us insist on justice being done. Those are the shared values that imbue all of our efforts, our very democracy, our vitality and our vibrancy.

It is what seems to drive us all. Some places and some persons are kind of forgetting what the essence of democracy is. It is what allows to reach beyond the horizon.

Let me close with this. The year after President Kennedy spoke in Canada’s Parliament, he delivered a famous speech at Rice University. He issued a challenge for Americans to go to the moon in a decade’s time. Remember what he said, and you probably do, because we had to learn it when we were in school:

We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard...because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win.

That speech tapped into something deep in America’s character, something powerful, a belief that we can do big things. Just think about it. Turn on the television in the last two years, whether it is in your country or mine, and after two years of COVID, people are beginning to wonder if we can still do big things. We sure in hell can.

That confidence, I believe with every fibre in my being, can make the most audacious dreams reality. Less than seven years after Kennedy’s speech, the entire world watched humanity leave its first footprints on those further shores. It inspired a generation and spurred much of the technology advancement that now enriches our daily lives.

Today, our world once more stands at the cusp of breakthroughs and possibilities that have never before even been dreamt of.

Canada and the United States are leading and will continue to lead the way. In just a few days, NASA is going to announce an international team of astronauts who will crew the Artemis II mission, the first human voyage to the moon since the Apollo mission ended more than 50 years ago. It will consist of three Americans and one Canadian.

We choose to return to the moon together. Together, we will return to the moon and from there, we look forward to Mars and to the limitless possibilities that lie beyond. Here on earth, our children who watch that flight are going to learn the names of those new pioneers. They will be the ones who carry us into the future we hope to build: the Artemis generation.

Ladies and gentlemen, we are living in an age of possibilities.

Xi Jinping asked me on the Tibetan plateau if I could define America. I could have said the same thing if he had asked about Canada. I said, yes, one word, and I mean it, one word: possibilities.

Nothing is beyond our capacity. We can do anything. We must never forget that. We must never doubt our capacity. Canada and the United States can do big things and stand together, do them together, rise together. We are going to write the future together, I promise you.

God bless you all and may God protect our troops. Thank you, thank you, thank you.


Mr. Speaker Rota: Thank you, Mr. President.

Now I invite the Hon. George Furey, Speaker of the Senate, to say a few words.

Hon. George J. Furey (Speaker of the Senate): President Biden, Dr. Biden, Prime Minister Trudeau, Madame Grégoire Trudeau, distinguished guests, fellow parliamentarians.


On behalf of all the parliamentarians and all the guests present in the Chamber, I have the great honour, Mr. President, to thank you for your presence and for your address to the Parliament of Canada.


It is an honour to have you with us here in our Parliament. On behalf of all parliamentarians, and indeed on behalf of all Canadians, I would like to express our gratitude for the very powerful words you have shared with us here today.

I say, Mr. President, with no small measure of confidence, that your words have touched Canadians everywhere. Your message of hope, unity and partnership is one that reflects the shared values and ideals that unite us.

In May 1961, when former president Kennedy spoke to our joint session of Parliament, he said, “Geography has made us neighbors. History has made us friends.” Your visit today, Mr. President, continues this very strong testament to the firm bond between our two countries, and it is a cherished reminder of our deep friendships.

With the return of war in Europe, with the rising global assault on the very foundations of democracy and with increased threats to the rules-based international order, we find ourselves living in a time of great strength, a time when the world looks to great leaders such as you, Mr. President, to restore calm, to strengthen the principles of democracy that unite us and to ensure that the world is a better place for our children and our children’s children. I know I speak on behalf of all of us when I say that your call for renewed collaboration and co-operation on global security, on climate change and on economic recovery will not go unheeded.

Your lifetime, Mr. President, of dedication to public service, performed with a profound sense of duty as senator, as vice‑president and now as President, is an inspiration for all of us who strive every day to reflect, with honesty and pride, the diverse views of those we represent. Today, more than ever, we must shine a light on the darkness of conflict, chaos and despair. We must all, despite our differing views and despite our diverging ideologies, come together for the betterment of our people.

I believe you expressed it best, Mr. President, when you wrote in your book Promises to Keep, “If you do politics the right way, you can actually make people’s lives better.” To make people’s lives better is indeed a path that we must all follow in public life. It is right and fitting that we take this journey together as Canada and the United States of America, for the great task before all of us is to make this world a more peaceful and more prosperous place for everyone.

Thank you, Mr. President.

Mr. Speaker Rota: Mr. President, Dr. Biden, whether from the Oval Office, the Senate chamber or inside the classroom, you have given yourselves to public service, to bringing people together for common good and to lifting others up in a shared sense of purpose.

It has been said, Mr. President, that empathy is your biggest superpower, and what a superpower that is.


You have used it to help people set commons goals and set aside their differences.


You embody the words of one of your illustrious predecessors, former president Jimmy Carter, who said, “What is needed now, more than ever, is leadership that steers us away from fear and fosters greater confidence in the inherent goodness and ingenuity of humanity.”


I would like to take a moment to say that our thoughts and prayers are with President Carter and his family during this difficult time.


Mr. President, Dr. Biden, you have both shown to the world that devotion to family and country are not mutually exclusive. The events of your lives, some heartbreakingly tragic, stand testament to how a life of dedication to family nourishes and strengthens us so that we may better serve others.

Indeed, Mr. President, you have shown, through example indeed, the transformative power of leadership from the heart. For this, we thank you very much.

Thank you for being with us today.


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