Skip to content
Previous Sittings
Previous Sittings

Debates of the Senate (Hansard)

1st Session, 44th Parliament
Volume 153, Issue 123

Thursday, May 11, 2023
The Honourable George J. Furey, Speaker


Thursday, May 11, 2023

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



Royal Assent

The Hon. the Speaker informed the Senate that the following communication had been received:


May 10, 2023

Mr. Speaker,

I have the honour to inform you that the Right Honourable Mary May Simon, Governor General of Canada, signified royal assent by written declaration to the bills listed in the Schedule to this letter on the 10th day of May, 2023, at 4:59 p.m.

Yours sincerely,

Maia Welbourne

Assistant Secretary to the Governor General

The Honourable

The Speaker of the Senate


Bills Assented to Wednesday, May 10, 2023:

An Act to enact the Fighting Against Forced Labour and Child Labour in Supply Chains Act and to amend the Customs Tariff (Bill S-211, Chapter 9, 2023)

An Act to establish Food Day in Canada (Bill S-227, Chapter 10, 2023)

An Act to amend the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act and the Income Tax Act (Bill C-46, Chapter 11, 2023)




The Honourable George J. Furey, K.C.—Speaker of the Senate

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Honourable senators, it is with profound gratitude that I rise today to pay tribute to Speaker George Furey. Your Honour, you have had a rich and varied career as a teacher, a lawyer and a parliamentarian, but as our Speaker, you guided us through two historic and great transformations: the COVID-19 pandemic and the modernization of the Senate.

The COVID-19 pandemic placed enormous strains on Canadians, on our institutions and on our economy. But under your leadership, the Senate adjusted its practices, and we made this institution work to deliver the important supports that Canadians needed during those difficult years.

But your legacy, Your Honour, what students of Westminster parliaments will remember you by, is the skill with which you helped us navigate the modernization of the Senate. I recall in your opening remarks upon taking the chair as Speaker in 2015, you highlighted the need for this chamber to reinvent itself and to fulfill our constitutional role as an independent institution of sober second thought. Your Honour, your leadership throughout the process of reform was exemplary, and its effects will reverberate long into the Senate’s future.

Colleagues, many of us have had the great opportunity to travel with the Speaker or to join him as he welcomed parliamentary and diplomatic delegations here in the Senate, so you have seen how elegantly the Speaker represented our institution and, indeed, our country. Many of us have also had the pleasure of spending time with the Speaker in more relaxed settings, enjoying a good meal, fine wine, good whisky — often both — and being regaled by stories of his political life. These are some of the memories I cherish most fondly.

We all know that a successful political career requires a supporting family, and George has been blessed with a loving wife in Karen and with four talented children. We are all grateful to them, to all of you, for sharing George with us.

Your Honour, you have presided over this chamber with dignity, with fairness, with integrity and with a steadfast respect for this institution and all who work in it for the benefit of Canadians.

Above all, you have remained true to who you are as a person: modest and without pretension, a loving husband, father and grandfather, a person anchored in your faith and devoted to your province and your country.

You have been a mentor to me and to many, many Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, including a very important member of my team.

Your Honour, in my tradition, we have a word for people like you, and it’s a word that comes with the highest, highest praise. George, you are a true mensch. Thank you for your friendship and your support. I am going to miss you greatly.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.


Hon. Donald Neil Plett (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, I also rise to pay tribute to our colleague and friend the Honourable George Furey as we begin saying goodbye to Canada’s forty-fifth Speaker of the Senate.

Your Honour, as I reflected on your tenure in the Senate, I remembered many of your interventions when we both served on the Standing Senate Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration. That’s when our friendship began. We were faced with difficult times then — times that brought on increased transparency. Yet, things back then were simple. You were a good Liberal — if there is such a thing — and I a proud Conservative. But at the end of the day, we both knew that partisanship had a respectful role in this institution. Those were the good old days.

A lot has changed since then, as Prime Minister Trudeau sent the Senate into uncharted waters — waters that you as Speaker have had to navigate. You stepped up to the helm as a storm was brewing on the horizon. There were turbulent times, which called for you to make difficult rulings. Some we agreed with, and others we did not. But my respect and admiration for your efforts to be a fair and impartial Speaker prevailed. They never wavered.

Your Honour, thank you for the role you have played in ensuring this chamber runs smoothly. You have demonstrated incredible patience. I will always cherish your professionalism and allegiance to this institution.

Over the years, you took on the role of a devoted ambassador for Canada in your travels abroad. When meeting with various leaders of other countries, you always allowed and welcomed everyone present to take part in the discussions and meetings. You recognized the role of the opposition and you let everyone express their views.

Your Honour, I wish to close with this genuine thought: It has been a pleasure to know you over the years. I recognize that this sentence is sometimes used lightly, but the meaning is sincere. Both Betty and I hold great memories of our times spent with you and Karen. We have truly enjoyed your friendship.

As of later today, Your Honour, I will once again be calling you George. Happy retirement! I wish you and Karen the very best, and may you catch up on spending time with your loved ones, especially your grandchildren. I will take you up on that game of golf that you have promised me.

Thank you, Your Honour.


Hon. Raymonde Saint-Germain: Your Honour, I know how incredibly humble you are and that I am prolonging your agony by rising to pay tribute to you.

In all seriousness though, you deserve all of the tributes that are being paid to you today because you have done such an excellent job as our Speaker, a role that is so very important to our institution.

I pay tribute to you today on behalf of the Independent Senators Group, only three members of which served with you before 2015. For the other 36 members of the group, you have been the only Speaker they have known in this chamber during a particularly complex and demanding time in the history of our institution.

Your Honour, your commitment to public service is an example to us all, and your leadership has been essential in guiding the Senate in its mission to represent all Canadians and to modernize the institution.


In your opening address to this chamber as Speaker, you started by stating:

Colleagues, our chamber is at a crossroads. We have an opportunity to work together to recreate how this chamber of the Parliament of Canada does its work for Canadians. Truly, we are entering uncharted waters in which we are invited by the government to reinvent ourselves in a less partisan way and fulfill our role, as envisioned under the Constitution, as an independent chamber of sober second thought.

Your Honour, you sailed us through these waters seamlessly, and your legacy as Speaker of the Canadian Senate will live on in our country’s history. You have worked tirelessly to modernize the institution and strengthen the confidence of Canadians in the Senate.

Your previous professional training has also served us well as members of this democratic institution. On the one hand, your legacy as a teacher has made you a great guide in helping new senators better understand the Senate as well as its rules and protocol. From time to time, you have even had to do the same for veteran senators. On the other hand, your legal training has made you a Speaker with a great sense of justice and fairness, and this sense has manifested itself in all your decisions and interventions within this chamber. You have handled this with great courage — the courage to take tough decisions, sometimes not to everyone’s liking.

Outside this chamber, you have acted as an eminent ambassador for our institution. Both within Canada and abroad, along with your wife, Karen, you have represented the Senate with great elegance and finesse, and I have had the pleasure of witnessing that on several occasions.

On a more personal note, I take this opportunity to wish Karen and you a happy retirement. For you and for your family, it will be a chance to finally enjoy each other’s presence more.

Your Honour, you leave behind an impressive legacy, and your contribution to Canadian democracy and public service will never be forgotten.

Thank you and congratulations on your outstanding public service!

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.

Hon. Scott Tannas: Honourable senators, I rise today to pay tribute to our dear Speaker, the Honourable George Furey.

Your Honour, your career in the Senate has spanned over 23 years, which, if you want to be exact, means you’ve been a senator for 8,675 days — in case you’re counting. Throughout this time, you’ve been a steady hand for this institution. Your time as the forty-fifth Speaker of the Senate and your chairmanship of the Rules Committee, the Internal Economy Committee and the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee were each simply exemplary.

This time also included some difficult moments. There is a naval expression that says, “A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.” Your Honour, during your tenure, you were faced with many difficult obstacles — the establishment of the new security arrangements for Parliament Hill, the move to a new building and a global pandemic, just to name a few. Throughout, you were the captain of our ship and you showed your skill as a sailor in very turbulent seas.

You are a well-respected leader not just for the Senate but for Canada. As you travelled the world, you met with speakers, kings, queens, presidents and prime ministers. You always represented us with dignity and poise. That’s pretty good for a boy from Newfoundland and Labrador who grew up with big dreams.

With all that you have accomplished and the way you did it, as a teacher, lawyer, senator, husband, father and grandfather, your pursuit and subsequent attainment of your dreams are a testament to your strength of character. Your personal story is an inspiration to boys and girls that your journey to greatness is possible regardless of your beginnings. That is a powerful mark to leave.

George, my colleagues from the Canadian Senators Group and I sincerely and with much affection wish you a happy retirement. Please enjoy your time at home with Karen, your kids and grandchildren. I’m sure they will be happy to see you full-time from now on.

You are a model of humility, wisdom and kindness. You are irreplaceable. It has been our honour to serve with you.


Hon. Jane Cordy: Senator Furey, I can’t believe that the time for your retirement is here. Your distinguished career serving the people of Newfoundland and Labrador in Ottawa is coming to a close after almost 24 years.

It was a pleasure to serve alongside you in caucus for 15 of those years, until your appointment in 2015 as the first Speaker of the Senate from Newfoundland and Labrador. I will add that during the time that Geoff Regan served as Speaker of the House of Commons, it was the first time that the Speaker of the House of Commons and the Speaker of the Senate were both graduates of the law school at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia.

George, I have many fond memories of working with you here in Ottawa. One fun thing that stands out was the Senate choir. You and I, along with Senator Ringuette and former senators Bill Rompkey, Joan Fraser, Lorna Milne and Gerald Comeau — to name a few — would sing together in the Senate choir, not as Liberals or Conservatives, but in the spirit of friendship.

The late senator Tommy Banks would lead and accompany us on piano, and if we sang out of tune, Tommy would simply begin to play a little louder.

As others have said, George, you have kept a steady hand as we have navigated these uncharted waters of change in the Senate over the last eight years — from the ever-evolving dynamics of this place, to the move from Centre Block to our temporary new home here in the Senate of Canada Building and the upheaval of the pandemic with a shift to hybrid sittings.

I think the highest praise a Speaker can receive is to be regarded as being fair. Your Honour, you have ruled fairly but firmly with words of encouragement for us to find solutions.

George, I know how important family is to you. You will now be able to spend more time with Karen, your children and, particularly, your grandchildren.

I wouldn’t normally quote a family member. However, since Andrew is a politician, I will make an exception here. He said:

Dad was a great role model, and not only was he a great role model, he’s one of my best friends.

He went on to say:

. . . my top priority is always going to be my family. That’s something that’s been instilled in me since I was a kid.

George, there is no better tribute to a parent or a Speaker than this.

You and Karen have always recognized that while politics is exciting and invigorating, family is what keeps us grounded.

Speaker, I phoned former senator Joan Cook — that might make you a little bit nervous — and I asked if she would like to share a funny story about you. She said, “George isn’t funny. He’s serious. It’s all about family.”

She went on to say that you had five grandchildren in two years. Now, Joan always knitted things for new babies, but I understand she phoned you, George, and said:

So, five grandchildren in two years — for God’s sake George, tell your kids to slow down. I can’t keep up with the knitting.

George, I am honoured to have had the privilege to serve with you in the Senate for the last 23 years. You have served Canadians and the Senate of Canada with great distinction and you have earned a deep respect from your colleagues. To quote this week’s The Hill Times, your retirement is “. . . a loss for the Senate and the Canadian public.” The descriptions of your decency, commitment and impact on this place cannot be overstated.

The Progressive Senate Group and I wish you and Karen the very best.

Thank you for all you have done.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

Expression of Thanks

The Hon. the Speaker: I cannot begin without thanking Senator Gold, Senator Plett, Senator Saint-Germain, Senator Tannas and Senator Cordy for the very warm, kind and, I must say, humbling remarks. I want to thank you very much for that. It’s very touching and very heartfelt. Thank you.

Honourable senators, for 23 and a half years it has been an honour and a privilege to serve in the Senate of Canada.

As many before me and, no doubt, many after, I will always cherish fond memories of the Senate and of its members, past and present, with whom I have had the distinct privilege to serve.


I feel very humbled to have had the honour and unique opportunity to contribute to the work of the Senate as Speaker for the past seven and a half years.

I want to sincerely thank you, honourable senators, for your generous support, encouragement and advice throughout my tenure as Speaker.


Honourable senators, let us always remember that our calling to this chamber is an honourable one. Let us always remember in our debates that disagreements must be debated, even vigorously at times, but never — never — personally. Disparaging individuals adds nothing to debate, but indeed denigrates the Senate as a whole.

Colleagues, we live in a world filled with outpourings of misinformation and disinformation. We see the very principles of democracy under attack all around the world.

In 1947, Winston Churchill said:

Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time . . .

Churchill was not trying to be funny; he was reminding us that while the very freedoms of democracy are its strengths, so too are they its vulnerabilities. For with all its strengths and all its fragilities, democracy requires honesty, honour and decency on both sides of the aisle. Your deliberations must always reflect this as well as your commitment to the principles of democracy, accountability and transparency.

We are very fortunate in our parliamentary system of government to have an appointed Senate as a complementary chamber to the House of Commons. And as we have seen, the new method of appointments since 2015 builds on the advantage of an appointed house by diversifying and strengthening the overall membership.

Members of the other place carry the responsibility of being the elected representatives of the people to whom the government of the day is both responsible and accountable. We in the Senate are less constrained than they are in applying our knowledge and experience to the tasks of making good laws and scrutinizing government policy because we do not face that requirement of seeking election.

Instead of being so often preoccupied with the day-to-day that is the necessary duty of the House of Commons, we in the Senate have an opportunity to focus on the long-term perspective. We can offer advice and propose policies that enrich public discourse across the entire spectrum of public policy. The studies we undertake can assist the House of Commons, the government and the general public in appreciating the nature of the challenges we face and the opportunities they present in today’s Canada and, indeed, in today’s world.

In playing this vital role, the Senate can never pretend to have a determinative voice, but as a complementary chamber we can certainly ensure a better-informed, more balanced public debate.


At the outset of my career in the Senate, two outstanding examples of this work were carried out by two special studies in committee: The first concerned cannabis in a special committee chaired by former Conservative senator Pierre Claude Nolin, and the second concerned the federal role in health care, resulting from the work of the Social Affairs, Science and Technology Committee chaired by former Liberal senator Michael Kirby.

These studies make real a characteristic that is unique to the Senate and that exists only because we are an appointed body. These studies show clearly the great value of bipartisan parliamentary work. Senators are in the distinct position of being able to resist public pressure in order to do public good. Never has this been more important than in today’s world.

The membership in the Senate now is as good, as talented and as capable as it has ever been. The challenges that we need to confront remain still before us. Some, like climate change, are existential in importance. Others, like the poisonous impact of dark social media, threaten to undermine confidence in the institutions of government.

The Senate offers so much potential to do so much good. Do not waste this potential through partisan bickering. Do your very best to make the Senate a truly integral and complementary part of our whole parliamentary system.

On this matter, the Senate must always make its views known, but must then show deference to the elected body. There are, of course, rare occasions when the Senate may hold out in the name of grave public interest. Remember, though, that just because some may feel an issue is of grave national interest does not make it so. The people of Canada will tell you when there is an issue of grave national concern.

I wish you well in your deliberations. Argue and debate loud and clear, but please never fall victim to ad hominem or personal attacks, no matter how subtle they are. And never assign motives to the decisions and debates of others. You belittle yourself with such attacks, and the Senate in general.

I want to take a moment to thank the staff of the Senate, whose dedication and hard work have made my job as Speaker, and all our jobs as senators, if not much easier, certainly possible. Their tireless efforts to support the work of the Senate, often behind the scenes, have been instrumental in ensuring that this institution functions smoothly and effectively.

I wish to highlight the work of our senior executive: our Clerk, Gérald Lafrenière; our Chief Corporate Services Officer and Clerk of the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration, Pascale Legault; and our Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel, Philippe Hallée, who are supported by our directors and their staff.

As well, I want to extend a special thank you to our present and former chiefs of the Chamber Operations and Procedure Office, or COPO, who sit next to me during all of our sittings: Till Heyde, Cathy Piccinin, Heather Lank and all other COPO staff members, without whom we would, no doubt, descend into chaos here in the chamber.

And, of course, thank you to our pages, who always manage to do their work with great zeal and great humour. We owe all who work here a great deal of appreciation for their commitment to public service and to our great institution. They work long hours often and sacrifice personal and family time to serve the Senate.

I also wish to thank my long-standing senior staff and all those who worked with them over the years, in particular, Suzanne Charron, Stuart Barnable, Loren Cicchini and Vince MacNeil. I want to express a special thank you to Frederick Grittner, who has served five Speakers over the years with dedication and professionalism and who will be retiring as well.

I will speak more about this later today but, for the record, I want to recognize and thank my wonderful wife, Karen, who is in the gallery today, and our children — Andrew and his wife, Allison; Meghan and her husband, Ben; Rebecca and her husband, Mike; David and his friend, Kerri — as well as our wonderful grandchildren, Maggie, Sarah, Adam, Luke, Rachael, Mark and Matthew, whose love and support have made my work possible. As well, they are accompanied by other family members and friends.

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

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

The Hon. the Speaker: Finally, I want to reiterate that it has been, indeed, a great honour to represent Canada and Canadians in my capacity as senator and Speaker. I only hope that, in some small way, I have proven worthy of this honour.

Everywhere you travel around the world, you find that Canada is loved and respected. I have often heard leaders and heads of state around the world express great admiration for Canada. For with all its sins and foibles, including our past failures to love and protect our Indigenous brothers and sisters, and with our shortcomings regarding our regions and minorities, it is still the greatest country in the world.

Remember, colleagues, that it is through accepting and embracing your responsibilities as Canadian senators that we make Canada not just a better and stronger federation but the envy of the world.

Thank you for your support, for your patience and for your understanding.

I wish you all well.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!


Fisheries and Oceans

Budget and Authorization to Travel—Study on Issues Relating to Federal Government’s Current and Evolving Policy Framework for Managing Fisheries and Oceans—Fifth Report of Committee Presented

Hon. Fabian Manning, Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, presented the following report:

Thursday, May 11, 2023

The Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans has the honour to present its


Your committee, which was authorized by the Senate on Thursday, February 10, 2022, to study the federal government’s current and evolving policy framework for managing Canada’s fisheries and oceans including maritime safety, respectfully requests funds for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2024, and requests, for the purpose of such study, that it be empowered to:

(a) travel outside Canada.

Pursuant to Chapter 3:05, section 2(1)(c) of the Senate Administrative Rules, the budget submitted to the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration and the report thereon of that committee are appended to this report.

Respectfully submitted,



(For text of budget, see today’s Journals of the Senate, Appendix A, p. 1655.)

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

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


Budget and Authorization to Engage Services and Travel—Study on Seal Populations—Sixth Report of Committee Presented

Hon. Fabian Manning, Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, presented the following report:

Thursday, May 11, 2023

The Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans has the honour to present its


Your committee, which was authorized by the Senate on Tuesday, October 4, 2022, to examine and report on Canada’s seal populations and their effect on Canada’s fisheries, respectfully requests funds for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2024, and requests, for the purpose of such study, that it be empowered:

(a)to engage the services of such counsel, technical, clerical and other personnel as may be necessary;

(b)to adjourn from place to place within Canada; and

(c)to travel inside Canada.

Pursuant to Chapter 3:05, section 2(1)(c) of the Senate Administrative Rules, the budget submitted to the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration and the report thereon of that committee are appended to this report.

Respectfully submitted,



(For text of budget, see today’s Journals of the Senate, Appendix B, p. 1663.)

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

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

Canada Disability Benefit Bill

Bill to Amend—Twelfth Report of Social Affairs, Science and Technology Committee Presented

Hon. Ratna Omidvar: Honourable senators, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the twelfth report of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology, which deals with Bill C-22, An Act to reduce poverty and to support the financial security of persons with disabilities by establishing the Canada disability benefit and making a consequential amendment to the Income Tax Act.

(For text of report, see today’s Journals of the Senate, p. 1650.)

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

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

Agriculture and Forestry

Budget—Study on the Status of Soil Health—Ninth Report of Committee Presented

Hon. Robert Black, Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry, presented the following report:

Thursday, May 11, 2023

The Standing Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry has the honour to present its


Your committee, which was authorized by the Senate on Tuesday, April 26, 2022, to examine and report on the status of soil health in Canada, respectfully requests funds for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2024.

The original budget application submitted to the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration and the report thereon of that committee were printed in the Journals of the Senate on February 16, 2023. On February 16, 2023, the Senate approved the release of $36,220 to the committee.

Pursuant to Chapter 3:05, section 2(1)(c) of the Senate Administrative Rules, the budget submitted to the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration and the report thereon of that committee are appended to this report.

Respectfully submitted,



(For text of budget, see today’s Journals of the Senate, Appendix C, p. 1671.)

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

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

Social Affairs, Science and Technology

Notice of Motion to Authorize Committee to Deposit Report on Study of the Federal Framework for Suicide Prevention with Clerk During Adjournment of the Senate

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

That the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology be permitted, notwithstanding usual practices, to deposit with the Clerk of the Senate, no later than June 30, 2023, a report related to its study on the Federal Framework for Suicide Prevention, if the Senate is not then sitting, and that the report be deemed to have been tabled in the Senate.


Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

Passport Canada

Hon. Donald Neil Plett (Leader of the Opposition): Sarah Fischer, Director of Communications for the Conservative Party of Canada, posted on Twitter:

It’s just a passport

It’s just a symbol

They’re only words

Only beliefs held by the few

Only traditions that no longer matter

It’s just history

Milan Kundera wrote:

The first step in liquidating a people . . . is to erase its memory. Destroy its books, its culture, its history. Then have somebody write new books, manufacture a new culture, invent a new history. Before long the nation will begin to forget what it is and what it was.

The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting.

Leader, the mayor of Terry Fox’s hometown of Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, said yesterday:

Whoever made the decision to remove Terry Fox from Canadian passports needs to give their head a shake. Our country needs more Terry Fox, not less.

I certainly agree with those words. I also agree, leader, with the Royal Canadian Legion statement condemning the removal of an image of the Vimy Memorial from our passports. They said it was, “. . . to put it bluntly, a poor decision,” leader.

This is the result of a government that has a lack of respect for Canadians and Canada’s history, and the heroes and heroines of the past who have made our country great. They have no moral compass.

Leader, why did the Trudeau government make it a priority to erase images of our country from our passports?

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

Our passport is the most trusted travel document, not only for the images on it, but because it defines the strength of Canada’s relationship with so many countries. It also proves who we are as people.

The new passport was indeed redesigned from cover to cover, with new features and with new artwork, and it maintains its status as one of the most secure and universally accepted travel documents in the world for all Canadians.

This update will reflect Canada’s diversity and inclusion, and it will strengthen the safety and security of Canadian travellers. This new passport will not only be more secure and reliable for Canadians, but it shall also continue to instill pride in the hearts of those who carry it.

Senator Plett: You know, leader, you’re upset when we, somewhat in frustration, ask you questions, and you don’t even attempt to touch the question. There’s no argument about the validity of our passports. I didn’t talk about that; I didn’t mention that. I asked about images, leader, and you didn’t even touch that. And then we’re being schooled on not being personal.

Senator Housakos: Why fix it if it’s not broken?

Senator Plett: What is so difficult in answering my question? Adding security features to the passport could have been done without erasing images from Canadian history. It’s mind‑boggling that the Trudeau government sees all the serious issues facing Canada and thinks it’s a good idea to put its time and energy into taking Vimy Ridge, Terry Fox, the War Memorial and the Famous Five off the passport.


Senator Martin: Shame.

Senator Plett: Food banks across Canada, leader, are reporting unprecedented demand. One in five Canadians say they’re skipping meals due to the high cost of food. A quarter of Canadians say there’s no scenario in which they can afford a summer vacation unless the Prime Minister takes them on one of his.

He, of course, has no answers to the cost-of-living crisis. At a town hall in April, he advised taking on more credit card debt to pay for school or home renovations.

Senator Martin: Out of touch.

Senator Plett: This passport fiasco, leader, demonstrates one thing clearly: This Prime Minister doesn’t respect our history or understand the everyday lives and priorities of Canadians. How much time, energy and money was wasted changing these passports? Please, leader, don’t tell me how important our passports are. We understand that.

Senator Gold: Thank you for your question. Let me be perfectly clear: This government is very proud of Canada’s history. The decision to move forward to the current passport design reflects the feedback that the government heard from an extensive process of consultation.

Every 10 years, colleagues, the government continually changes themes and designs of passports to make them harder to counterfeit and to protect Canadians from fraud. This is not and should not be a partisan issue. This is about ensuring that Canadians get the most secure and reliable travel document that they can use around the world.

To the other points that you raised, this government is very concerned with the challenges that Canadians face with regard to cost-of-living issues. That is why the government has provided support on many different fronts for those most in need. I’m glad that the Senate saw fit to pass Bill C-46 as it did, which will provide yet another measure of support.


Employment and Social Development

Journalistic Practices

Hon. Claude Carignan: The person who designed the passport is more of a fan of the Granby Zoo than a history buff.

On another subject, members of the government passed a resolution at your party’s convention — the Liberal Party, that is. Resolution 472 asks the government to limit the publication of online information, which obviously includes newspaper articles. It says, and I quote, “. . . limit publication only to material whose sources can be traced.”

After passing Bill C-11, the censorship bill, now the Liberals want to hunt down sources. Even though Parliament unanimously passed a law to protect journalistic sources, it is now government policy to hunt down sources.

Leader, is this the result of Chinese interference? Sources spoke out and embarrassed the government, so now it has decided to make it government policy to hunt down journalistic sources?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you for the question. No, that is clearly not the case. Despite the fact that your leader addressed me as the “Liberal leader,” I am the government representative. Resolutions adopted by the Liberal Party, and those adopted by your party as well, colleague, are quite obviously supporters’ resolutions, and the government is in no way obligated to take them up.

The Prime Minister made it very clear, as did Minister Seamus O’Regan, that the government has no intention of implementing the proposed resolution. The Government of Canada respects journalism. That is quite evident in the bills under consideration, and it is clear to everyone.

The answer, once again, is no.

Senator Carignan: No prime minister lasts forever, but the government and the Liberal Party are here to stay. This proposal was brought forward by the Liberal Party, this Liberal government, and some of the government members who were present endorsed it.

Whose job will it be to trace the sources? Should it be the CRTC’s job, or do the Liberals want to create a new politburo?

Senator Gold: Once again, colleague, I’m not sure I fully understood your question, but I will repeat what I just said.

Resolutions at political conventions, whether for the Liberal Party or, I assume, the Conservative Party, are brought forward by party supporters who want to express their views.

They have no bearing on the decisions the government must make for the well-being of Canadians. Once again, the Prime Minister and the minister have stated very clearly that the Liberals have no intention of pursuing this.


Credit Cooperatives

Hon. Lucie Moncion: My question is for Senator Gold, the Government Representative in the Senate.

It concerns Canada’s financial cooperative sector. The 2023 budget announced changes to the current definition of “credit union” in the Income Tax Act. These changes will guarantee that credit cooperatives can continue to provide a full range of financial services to more than 10 million Canadians and remain competitive in order to prevent Canadian banks from having a monopoly on financial services.

Having spent 38 years in the sector, I am pleased with Canada’s commitment to financial cooperatives. However, these amendments are not found in Bill C-47, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 28, 2023.

Senator Gold, what is the government’s intention with respect to this measure announced in the 2023 budget? Why wasn’t it included in Bill C-47, and when will it be included in a budget implementation bill?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Budget 2023 clearly expresses the government’s intention of making this change to put credit unions on an equal footing in the tax system. The government is taking the time necessary to draft the legislation to roll out this change properly.

As noted in the 2023 tax supplement, the amendment would apply in respect of taxation years of a credit union ending after 2016, providing retroactive support to credit unions.

Privy Council Office

Governor-in-Council Appointments

Hon. Claude Carignan: I think it is important to come back to this country’s shortage of judges, which can be attributed to the inertia of the government you represent.

When the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada takes the liberty of publicly rebuking your government, it’s a sign that the situation has become intolerable and that it’s jeopardizing timely access to justice.

Senator Gold, you know how the selection process for judges works. I am familiar with it, having spent three years on a judicial advisory committee. There is a pool of potential judges who have been pre-approved by the committees, so all your Prime Minister has to do is use the list of recommended candidates to fill the 85 judicial vacancies.

I can’t help but remember Radio-Canada’s exposé from October 2020 about how the judicial selection process was being politicized by the Prime Minister’s Office.

Leader, can you assure us that the reason the Prime Minister isn’t filling this country’s judicial vacancies isn’t that there aren’t enough card-carrying Liberals among the candidates pre‑approved by independent committees? If that’s not the reason, then can you tell us what is?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you for the question. To emphasize the importance of matters related to the appointment of judges, as I said recently in this chamber, the government has appointed more than 600 judges since it took office in 2015, and it has also created a significant number of judicial positions in order to help judges manage their workload. The government takes into account the recommendations of the judicial advisory committees that review the applications, as well as the needs of the court.


The government is also trying to ensure that the justice system reflects the country that it serves. Merit, not political affiliation, is the guiding principle for the process. The government is working to fill the vacancies in various provinces. The minister has spoken with members of the judiciary and the bar to encourage more people to apply.

As I have said, the government continues to make appointments at a steady pace, and I have been informed that the number of vacancies will continue to decline.

Senator Dagenais: Despite getting such a detailed answer, I have another question.

Considering his personal knowledge, would the government leader at least acknowledge that the shortage of judges, which the government is responsible for, could lead to dangerous criminals being released, thus endangering public safety? Indeed, this is probably already happening because of the Jordan decision.

Senator Gold: Thank you for the question. The government’s position is that it will continue to appoint judges at an appropriate pace. More importantly, the Government of Canada has full confidence in the judiciary, which is capable and responsible for managing its cases, particularly the chief justices, and I speak from experience there. We will continue to work with the judiciary on our side, and we will also continue to fill those positions that are still vacant.


Public Safety

Foreign Interference

Hon. Andrew Cardozo: I have a two-part question for the Government Representative in the Senate. Out of respect for this institution, I will use your proper title: Government Representative.

My question relates to two current controversies, and, rather than complaining or accusing, I will propose that my theme is solutions to complex issues.

On the matter of foreign interference and parliamentarians, while I compliment the government on the new policy announced this week that requires the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service, or CSIS, to brief up all intelligence regarding parliamentarians, can you confirm that CSIS will brief individual parliamentarians directly when there are any intelligence issues concerning those individuals going forward, as well as that CSIS will also brief them on intelligence received in recent years?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you for your question. Colleagues, I’m not in a position to comment on the decisions and actions of CSIS, or any other security agency, with regard to how they may address matters of national security.

As the Prime Minister recently stated, he will be instructing CSIS to lower the threshold in determining what constitutes a sufficient level of concern. Going forward, the government has made it clear to CSIS that threats to any parliamentarians, regardless of the level of threat, need to be fully briefed up.

I would certainly be happy to bring the concerns and suggestions that you have raised to the attention of the Minister of Public Safety.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

Passport Canada

Hon. Andrew Cardozo: Thank you, Government Representative.

This question is on the same theme of solutions to complex issues, and it relates to the watermark-style pictures in the new passport. Let me approach it quite differently than was earlier discussed. I do believe those symbols are important. As you know, I’ve raised the issue of ensuring that Parliament Hill and Wellington Street are reformed in a way that will highlight that icon for all Canadians.

I want to ask the government to take a step back from this issue, and consult with Canadians once again in order to develop a new proposal by the fall. Given that Canadians will be applying for passports online, I wonder if we can provide applicants with a choice of the art they would like for their passports. Passports are not a document to be weaponized. Can we find an amicable solution as soon as possible?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you for your question, senator. As I already responded today, my understanding is that there was, in fact, a process of consultation that gave rise to the suggestions that found their way into this particular redesign.

With regard to your particular suggestion, again, I would be happy to bring it to the attention of the appropriate minister.

Veterans Affairs

Disability Benefits

Hon. Yonah Martin (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): My question is for the government leader in the Senate. It was mentioned earlier that the Royal Canadian Legion expressed its disappointment when the Trudeau government removed the image of the Canadian National Vimy Memorial, as it signifies the sacrifices made for the very sort of freedom that the passport provides.

In March, the Legion said it wants assurances from the Trudeau government that the money announced in this year’s budget to tackle the backlog in disability benefits will be spent. The Legion pointed to the most recent public accounts, which show that Veterans Affairs Canada did not spend $920 million in 2022. Leader, when I raised this issue with you a year ago, the amount of funding lapsed by Veterans Affairs Canada in 2021 was over $634 million.

Why has your government allowed over $1.5 billion to lapse at Veterans Affairs Canada in just two years — when thousands of applications remain in the backlog?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you for your question, and for underlining the important contribution that our veterans have made, as well as the important support that they deserve.

The government continues to work assiduously to provide appropriate benefits to veterans. The pacing and timing of expenditures are a function of many variables. In that regard, I would certainly be happy to take your concerns and transmit them to the appropriate minister.

Senator Martin: An answer I received to the question that I asked last year stated, “Unspent funds are a normal and expected part of a department’s budgetary process.”

$1.5 billion is a staggering amount of money for Veterans Affairs Canada to allow to lapse in only two years, especially when you consider that the department missed its own target to reduce the backlog to 5,000 cases by the spring of last year. Just one year ago, a report from the Auditor General found that our veterans “are waiting too long to receive compensation for injuries sustained in their service to Canada.”

Leader, do you believe that over $1.5 billion is a normal amount to go unspent at Veterans Affairs Canada while our veterans continue to wait in line for the help they need?

Senator Gold: Thank you for your question. I certainly understand the frustration that many will feel in the face of delays. The government invested close to $340 million to hire hundreds of new staff in order to increase the capacity to process veterans’ claims so that they receive faster decisions. These resources were recently extended to continue to address the backlog and reduce wait times for our cherished veterans.

I’m advised that the government has seen a significant decrease — over 50% — in the backlog. That said, the government knows that there is much more work to do, and they are committed to doing it.

Public Safety

Foreign Interference

Hon. Leo Housakos: My question is for the government leader in the Senate. We just found out yesterday that Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino — who helps Canadians sleep so comfortably at night — has announced that this country is not going to see a foreign influence registry before next fall.

This is another example — despite the urgency by both the public and the media — of so many cases where we currently see our national security has been compromised, yet your government continues to vacillate on this issue and bury its head in the sand, always taking an extraordinary amount of time to respond to the globe’s biggest bully: the Chinese Communist Party in Beijing.

Why is the government so reticent in taking a hard stand to protect Canadians of Chinese descent, as well as so many other Canadians of the diaspora who are being intimidated and threatened?

Why doesn’t your government embrace Bill S-237 — a private member’s bill that has been lingering in this house for 15 months? Take the bill, mould it, send it to committee, build in the elements that the government wants and expedite it out of this chamber, which the government can do quickly, given the fact that the majority of senators here continuously vote for what they wish. Get it over to the House, where there is a political will to deal with this. Why are we waiting until next fall? What is going on?


Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you for your question. The minister engaged in consultations with key stakeholders and the Canadian public so that the path forward can be fully informed by all relevant considerations. Those consultations have borne fruit.

It’s my understanding that the government is, in fact, drafting legislation, and, indeed, we can expect it in the coming months. This is legislation that is important and will be dealt with and drafted with due care.

Senator Housakos: Government leader, both in the other chamber and in this chamber, it has been now six years that we’ve been asking about this issue of foreign interference. Semblances of this bill have been tabled back in 2019 by MP Kenny Chiu in the House of Commons. I tabled this bill now 14 months ago. That is a long time. The minister now, for a number of months, has been talking about publicly consulting. What do they need to consult on? We know what needs to be addressed, and this is a potential tool that can be put in place quickly.

Our American allies have done it. Our allies in the U.K. have done it. Our allies in Australia have done it. Why can’t this government do simple things that the public is calling for, that the opposition is calling for and that can take a couple of months to do?

Senator Gold: As I said, the government engaged in a consultation with Canadians and stakeholders, and it was the position of the government that it was the appropriate way in order to address this important issue.

It is now taking further steps to draft government legislation, and that will be drafted carefully, with the support of the resources of government, and that will be tabled — my understanding is that we can expect that legislation — within the coming months.

Foreign Affairs

Human Rights in Russia

Hon. Marilou McPhedran: I have a question for Senator Gold, please. Senator Gold, less than a month ago, on April 17, Vladimir Kara-Murza, one of the Kremlin’s most prominent critics, was sentenced to 25 years in prison after the court found him guilty of treason, spreading false information about the Russian army and being affiliated with an undesirable organization. What was his actual crime? Defying Putin.

Mr. Kara-Murza’s wife has noted that her husband’s sentence far exceeds the Russian criminal code’s penalty of 15 years’ imprisonment for the most severe crimes. The trial — behind closed doors, despite no state secrets being implicated — has been likened to Stalin’s sham trials of the 1930s to eliminate dissidents.

Mr. Kara-Murza is no stranger to this chamber, having played an instrumental role in our Parliament’s unanimous adoption of the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act in 2017, also known as the Sergei Magnitsky Law. In 2016, he testified before our Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade on increasing erosion of fundamental elements of a functioning democracy, including free media, free and fair elections, an independent judiciary and an active civil society, as well as repressive persecution of pro-democracy defenders, including himself.

Now Vladimir Kara-Murza is locked away, and he will not be the last to be silenced and abused by Russia.

Senator Gold, what is the Canadian government doing to call out human rights violations by the Russian state against its own citizens?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you for your question. The Government of Canada deplores the guilty verdict handed down to Vladimir Kara-Murza for simply the “crime” of making legitimate political comments aimed at a better and safer future for Russia and for the Russian people. It is another example of Russia’s gross violations of international rights and lack of respect for basic principles of due process. It is clear that Russia continues to completely disregard respect for democratic principles and for universal human rights, including freedom of speech, in relation to its own people and others around the world.

Canada has always stood for the protection and promotion of human rights around the world. We’ve done so for decades now and will continue to do so. The Senate can be reassured that this government is seized with this issue and is doing what is necessary to call out the government of Russia for these violations of human rights.


Point of Order

Speaker’s Ruling Reserved

Hon. Claude Carignan: Madam Speaker, during question period, I always make a point of addressing the Leader of the Government as “government leader.” Earlier, a senator stated that he would call the leader by his title, “Government Representative,” implying that calling him “government leader” shows a lack of respect.

I would like to point out that rule 4-8(1) of the Rules of the Senate states that senators may ask a question of the Leader of the Government. Throughout the Rules of the Senate, we see the title “Leader of the Government.” The Parliament of Canada Act refers to the Leader of the Government.

Therefore, the Leader of the Government is free to call himself the government go-between, the agent of the government or any other title, but he is the Leader of the Government. I do not see how addressing the Leader of the Government as “government leader” is disrespectful.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Senator Carignan, I respect the point you have raised, which is nearly a point of order. I would remind you that Speaker Furey delivered a ruling on this matter last week.


Hon. Donald Neil Plett (Leader of the Opposition): I find it strange, Your Honour, that you would make a ruling on something without even allowing anybody else to get up and say anything. The fact of the matter is the Speaker last week made a ruling calling the government leader, the Liberal leader, calling him the Leader of the Government —

Hon. Leo Housakos: In his ruling.

Senator Plett: — in his ruling. So today —

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Senator Plett, just a second. Let us clarify this.

Senator Carignan didn’t raise a point of order; he just stood up. Are you now raising a point of order, Senator Plett?

Senator Plett: Well, the fact of the matter is — I think if we check Hansard, we’ll see — that Senator Carignan rose on a point of order. You may not have understood that, Your Honour, but Senator Carignan clearly stood on a point of order and raised a point of order.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Are you, Senator Plett, raising a point of order?

Senator Plett: Again, Your Honour, I will be raising another point of order in a minute, but right now we are dealing with a point of order that Senator Carignan raised. That is what he did.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: I did not understand Senator Carignan to say that he was rising on a point of order, but I will ask for the sake of argument and openness.


Senator Carignan, do you wish to raise a point of order on this matter?

Senator Carignan: Yes, I was raising a point of order. That’s what I said. I raised the point of order because we shouldn’t be criticized for calling the government leader “government leader.” According to the Rules of the Senate, when we ask questions in the chamber, we ask them of the Leader of the Government.

He can use whatever title he wants for himself. He can refer to himself as the go-between or whatever he wants, but he is the Leader of the Government. As my leader just mentioned, Speaker Furey’s ruling called him the government leader, so I find it strange to hear someone criticize me or imply that I am being disrespectful simply for calling him “government leader.”


The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Would any other senators like to speak on this point of order?


Hon. Andrew Cardozo: As I am the person who used those words, I think there is some lack of clarity about whether Senator Gold should be referred to as the Government Representative or the government leader. I would suggest that those two terms are both acceptable, but it’s when we ascribe partisanship to him that it is perhaps quite inaccurate. I think he’s made that point clearly.

Whether it is leader or representative, the word “government” stays. Both terms are used because, as I understand, he was appointed leader to be styled as representative. To me, if people want to use one word or another, that’s fine, but to use words beyond those two are inaccurate. We shouldn’t come up with all sorts of titles for each other. That is my main point.

Senator Plett: I will be brief. Again, Your Honour, I really don’t think it is up to any one senator here to all of a sudden determine that, “This is acceptable to me, so you can call the government leader this, and this is not acceptable to me.” Very clearly, there was an insinuation made that it was a lack of respect for us to call the government leader the government leader or possibly the Liberal leader. Again, the government is a Liberal government.

As our Speaker said a week ago when he ruled on a point of order, Senator Gold is, in fact, a member of the government and the leader of the government, which is a Liberal government. I will leave it at that, and when this is done, Your Honour, I have another point of order.

Hon. Leo Housakos: Thank you, Your Honour. Thank you to Senator Carignan for raising this point of order.

Senator Cardozo, there is no ambiguity. The only ambiguity and confusion there have been in the last eight years is that some in this chamber have allowed themselves to give into the political pressure of the agenda of a Prime Minister who has imposed his vision, political and partisan view on this institution. No ambiguity. It’s in the law. It’s in the rule and the law as stated by Senator Carignan.

More importantly, the current government leader — who styles himself as a representative — if you read his mandate letter, Senator Cardozo, which was issued by the Prime Minister of Canada, he refers to him as the government leader.

After that, we’re a very flexible opposition and we allow people to carry on with their charade, which is fine. If they want to style themselves as representatives, there’s not much representation going on in this place between the government leader and this institution as we’ve seen in Question Period and other exchanges. If he wants to style himself as that, that’s one thing.

But getting up during Question Period and questioning our authority and our right to call him and refer to him as government leader as somehow impugning his reputation, that is a bit much because that is the law. We’re lawmakers.

I will ask people in this chamber to go back to the speech of the Speaker where he mentioned that it’s important that we as an institution are transparent and honest.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Thank you, Senator Housakos.

Senator Housakos: If I may finish my point of order, I think we’ve earned that right on this side of the chamber. I am trying to finish the case that number one, it is in the Rules, in the law, that he is the government leader. We insist that there is at least a respect and an appreciation for the Rules and the law in this institution.

We didn’t get a written copy of the Speaker’s ruling unfortunately because we remember it was done in haste when he ruled on the government having the right to use closure. In that ruling, he made it clear that Senator Gold was the leader of the government. That was the ruling as we understood it. If anybody wants to challenge it, they can go ahead on a point of order.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senators, in regard to rule 2-5(1), it states that, “When the Speaker has heard sufficient argument to reach a decision, a ruling may be made . . . .”

Honourable senators, I take your arguments under advisement and shall come back with a ruling.

Point of Order

Hon. Donald Neil Plett (Leader of the Opposition): Your Honour, I know that you, others and all of us would like to go next door to an unveiling. However, we did not create the situation here today, others did. We are standing on points of order that we rightfully have, and you, Your Honour, are being put in a very difficult position here, as I’m not sure what your title will be next week. But you are certainly, at this point, in the chair and are going to need to take these matters under advisement.

During Question Period today, two senators made things clear in their questions. One of them was that, “You have given me a sufficient answer, but I have a second question.” The other one made it clear in his preamble, “I have two questions.” I think the Rules of the Senate, again, are that you have a question and a supplementary question. The supplementary question needs to at least refer to the initial question.

Your Honour, I’m hoping that you’re going to agree with me on this point, and in the future you’re going to hopefully police that. When a person asks a second question, it is a supplemental question, not a brand new question, which happened in two cases today where both of the people said at the outset that this is a second question and it should have been caught at that time.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Any other arguments?

Again, on this issue, the Speaker did make some remarks that supplementary questions during Question Period should be related to the first question. Please, honourable senators, bear that in mind during Question Period next week.


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: consideration of Motion No. 101, followed by all remaining items in the order that they appear on the Order Paper.



Motion Adopted

Hon. Raymonde Gagné (Legislative Deputy to the Government Representative in the Senate), pursuant to notice of May 10, 2023, moved:

That, when the Senate next adjourns after the adoption of this motion, it do stand adjourned until Tuesday, May 16, 2023, at 2 p.m.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Motion agreed to.)

Business of the Senate

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

That the Senate do now adjourn.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(At 3:29 p.m., the Senate was continued until Tuesday, May 16, 2023, at 2 p.m.)

Back to top