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Previous Sittings
Previous Sittings

Debates of the Senate (Hansard)

1st Session, 44th Parliament
Volume 153, Issue 174

Tuesday, February 6, 2024
The Honourable Raymonde Gagné, Speaker


Tuesday, February 6, 2024

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



Business of the Senate

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

Is it agreed, honourable senators?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.


New Senators

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I have the honour to inform the Senate that the Clerk of the Senate has received certificates from the Registrar General of Canada showing that the following persons, respectively, have been summoned to the Senate:

Marnie McBean

Paulette Senior

Toni Varone

Mary Robinson

Mohammad Khair Al Zaibak


The Hon. the Speaker having informed the Senate that there were senators without waiting to be introduced:

The following honourable senators were introduced; presented His Majesty’s writ of summons; took the solemn affirmation, which was administered by the Clerk of the Senate; and were seated:

Hon. Marnie McBean, of Toronto, Ontario, introduced between Hon. Marc Gold, P.C., and Hon. Chantal Petitclerc.


Hon. Paulette Senior, of Pickering, Ontario, introduced between Hon. Marc Gold, P.C., and Hon. Rosemary Moodie.

The following honourable senators were introduced; presented His Majesty’s writ of summons; took the oath prescribed by law, which was administered by the Clerk of the Senate; and were seated:

Hon. Toni Varone, of Toronto, Ontario, introduced between Hon. Marc Gold, P.C., and Hon. Tony Loffreda.


Hon. Mary Robinson, of Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, introduced between Hon. Marc Gold, P.C., and Hon. Robert Black.

The following honourable senator was introduced; presented His Majesty’s writ of summons; took the solemn affirmation, which was administered by the Clerk of the Senate; and was seated:

Hon. Mohammad Al Zaibak, of Toronto, Ontario, introduced between Hon. Marc Gold, P.C., and Hon. Peter M. Boehm.


The Hon. the Speaker informed the Senate that each of the honourable senators named above had made and subscribed the declaration of qualification required by the Constitution Act, 1867, in the presence of the Clerk of the Senate, the Commissioner appointed to receive and witness the said declaration.

Congratulations on Appointments

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Honourable senators, on behalf of the Government Representative Office, I am pleased to welcome five new colleagues to the Senate of Canada: senators Marnie McBean, Paulette Senior, Toni Varone, Mary Robinson and Mohammad Al Zaibak. I look forward to working with all of you.

We all remember Senator McBean’s triumphs rowing for Canada in 1992 and 1996. She is one of only two Canadians to be a triple gold medallist at the summer games. She was Team Canada’s chef de mission for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, leading Team Canada to one of its best Olympic results ever. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Canadian Sport Institute Ontario and Right to Play Canada. She remains committed to many social-justice-related causes, including the Special Olympics Canada Champions Network.

Senator McBean was awarded the Thomas Keller Medal by World Rowing and was inducted into the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame and Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame. She received the Bonham Centre Award for increasing awareness of sexual diversity, as well as the Bruce Kidd Leadership Award for her leadership and contributions to Canadian athletics.

Senator Paulette Senior has devoted her life and her career to women’s issues. She is currently the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Women’s Foundation and was previously the Chief Executive Officer of YWCA Canada.

Her work has included promoting gender equity, addressing gender-based violence, reducing women’s poverty, shrinking the wage gap and promoting the empowerment of women and girls across this country. Senator Senior has worked with all levels of government and civil society to address issues of poverty, housing, immigration and social justice.

She has managed and operated Toronto-based shelters, employment programs and housing programs and sat on the Board of Directors of the Women’s College Hospital and on the G7 Gender Equality Advisory Council. In 2022, she was appointed to serve as a member of the Independent Advisory Board for Supreme Court of Canada Judicial Appointments.

Senator Toni Varone is a businessman and philanthropist who has been recognized for his work in building affordable housing and his commitment to the social and cultural life of the Italian-Canadian community.

As President of the Varone Group, he oversees companies specializing in hospitality, construction, land development and property management services. Senator Varone has also been involved in community and government initiatives, including the creation of safe and affordable shelters for those in need. He is a board member of the Villa Charities foundation and is President of The Italy Earthquake Relief Fund and member of the Peace Through Valour Committee.

Senator Varone is the recipient of the Canadian Italian Business and Professional Association Community Achievement Award, the Italian Canadian Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Award and the Heart and Hand Award from Villa Charities.

Senator Mary Robinson will represent her home province of Prince Edward Island and will be a strong voice for Atlantic Canada. Senator Robinson brings a wealth of experience to the Senate as a managing partner of the Robinson Group of Companies, a sixth-generation farm and agribusiness in Prince Edward Island. She is also involved in agricultural sector organizations at the provincial, national and international levels.

Senator Robinson was a Board Member and President of the P.E.I. Federation of Agriculture, the first female President of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture and the first female Chair of the Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council.

Senator Al Zaibak is a successful entrepreneur and a generous philanthropist. He is an expert in public-private partnerships and international negotiations, especially in the technology sectors. Senator Al Zaibak has worked to strengthen the economic, social and cultural ties between Canada and the international community, especially between Canada and Arab countries.

He served as Director of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and Chair of its International Strategic Advisory Committee and is a former chair of the Canada Arab Business Council. Senator Al Zaibak is a co-founder of Lifeline Syria, a not-for-profit organization that helped the sponsorship and settlement of nearly 1,200 Syrian refugees in Canada.

To our five newest colleagues, your wealth of experience, your accomplishments, your leadership skills, your devotion to this country are very much welcome additions to the Senate. My team, all senators and I look forward to working with you. Congratulations.

Hon. Yonah Martin (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, let me begin by wishing everyone a happy new year and soon-to-be Lunar New Year. As we welcome our new colleagues in this first sitting of Parliament of 2024, let us refocus on the work ahead, in the best interest of our nation, the prosperity of the regions and the well-being of future generations.

On behalf of the opposition and the Senate Conservative caucus, I am pleased to rise in this chamber to welcome our new colleagues.

The Honourable Mohammad Al Zaibak of Ontario is a Syrian-born Arab-Canadian entrepreneur, an advocate for social development and diversity and co-founder of Lifeline Syria, which helps Syrian refugees resettle in Canada.

According to his biographical note on the Prime Minister’s website:

Throughout his career, Mr. Al Zaibak has worked tirelessly to strengthen Canada’s economic, social, and cultural ties with the global community, in particular with Arab countries.

The Honourable Marnie McBean of Ontario is a motivational speaker, published author and one of the most decorated Olympians in Canadian history. She was inducted to the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame in 1994 and Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in 1997. She is also an Officer of the Order of Canada and was recognized for her outstanding international achievements with a Thomas Keller Medal by World Rowing in 2002.


The Honourable Mary Robinson of Prince Edward Island is a globally recognized leader in the agricultural sector and her community. She is also the Vice-President of the World Farmers’ Organisation. As a proud Atlantic Canadian and a managing partner of the Robinson Group of Companies — a sixth‑generation farm and agribusiness in Prince Edward Island — she will certainly serve her province and Canada well with her wealth of experience and expertise.

The Honourable Paulette Senior of Ontario is the President and CEO of the Canadian Women’s Foundation, and an advocate for empowering women and girls from diverse backgrounds. As a Jamaican-born Canadian who immigrated to Canada as a young girl, her personal experiences ignited her interest in social justice, and has made her the dynamic, grounded leader and now the Canadian senator that she is today.

Finally, the Honourable Toni Varone of Ontario is a prominent businessman and philanthropist dedicated to building safe and affordable housing. He has received many awards and honours for his outstanding charitable work and dedication to the development of the social and cultural life of many communities, including the Italian-Canadian community in the Toronto region.

Honourable colleagues, I am pleased to extend you a warm welcome to the Senate of Canada. We all look forward to getting to know you as we collectively ensure due diligence is done within the debates and work ahead of us. The Conservatives look forward to working in collaboration with you on ways to improve the lives of Canadians by working and fighting for their best interests.

On behalf of the opposition and the Conservative caucus, welcome to the Senate of Canada — your new family away from home.


Hon. Raymonde Saint-Germain: Today, we are welcoming five colleagues with impressive résumés.


Ontario Senator Marnie McBean first distinguished herself through her athletic feats, most notably her participation in the Atlanta and Barcelona Olympic Games. Representing Canada, she won an impressive total of four medals, including three gold medals. Besides that, Senator McBean illustrated herself through her community engagement. Indeed, she has long defended several human rights causes, notably related to sexual and gender identity. Before her deployment with the Olympic teams to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, she stated, “Our team is going to be a safe and open space for self-expression and dialogue.” In the current political context, we know her future senatorial participation will help safeguard the constitutional rights of these minorities’ — and all minorities.

For her part, Ontario Senator Paulette Senior has been committed to combatting the systemic barriers that impede the development of the potential of women, girls and young people. Having administered social programs and numerous front-line community assistance resources, Senator Senior has been significantly impactful on the empowerment of women across the country. This inspiring leadership — both female and Black — is a fundamental asset for fulfilling our institution’s mandate. Senator Senior, I can assure you that the Senate is the right place to, as you have so eloquently put it, demand and lead a lasting change for all — everywhere.

Welcome also to Ontario Senator Toni Varone. Senator Varone has distinguished himself throughout his career as an influential businessman and philanthropist dedicated to the cause of the disadvantaged and vulnerable. Besides that, his commitment has regularly extended beyond Canada’s border, with Senator Varone serving as the President of The Italy Earthquake Relief Fund. Developing and maintaining connections in Canada and internationally is an essential skill for our institution; we deeply value it. I will paraphrase you, Senator Varone, when you were introduced to the charity world: You said that you fell in love with the passion of giving back. I have no doubt that, at the end of your Senate term, you will be able to emulate the heroes who left their mark on you.

Welcome, Senator Mary Robinson, who is representing Prince Edward Island. As a leader who has evolved in a family-owned agriculture business for the last six generations, Senator Robinson possesses extensive knowledge and a wealth of experience related to the challenges and issues impacting Canadian farmers. Senator Robinson will have the opportunity to engage and tackle head-on several problems affecting the Canadian agri-food industries. Her peers have also recognized her career achievements, notably through the Prince Edward Island Women’s Institute outstanding Woman in Agriculture Award, and her nomination in Atlantic Business Magazine as a member of the Top 25 Most Powerful Women in Atlantic Canada. Her appointment to the Canadian Senate is another milestone in her brilliant career.

Welcome to our newest appointee, Senator Mohammad Al Zaibak, who is representing Ontario. As a successful technological business leader and a remarkable philanthropist, Senator Al Zaibak’s efforts have been highlighted during his career. He made possible the resettlement of nearly 1,000 Syrian refugees in the Greater Toronto Area through his not-for-profit charitable organization, Lifeline Syria. His commitment to the well-being of the population inhabiting his home country is durable, sustainable and deeply human. Due to the results achieved, the Toronto Region Board of Trade awarded him the 2018 Toronto Region Builder Award to highlight his exemplary leadership and commitment to the Toronto region. Senator Al Zaibak, your international business knowledge and acumen will bring great value added to the Senate.

In conclusion, I point out that both Ontario and Prince Edward Island now have full representation. This is something that I wish for all provinces and territories.

On behalf of all members of the Independent Senators Group, I gladly welcome all five of you. Thank you. Meegwetch.

Hon. Scott Tannas: Honourable senators, on behalf of my colleagues in the Canadian Senators Group, I wish to welcome Senator McBean, Senator Senior, Senator Varone, Senator Robinson and Senator Al Zaibak to the Senate.

Honourable senators, with these appointments, we are getting closer and closer to a full Senate. According to my calculations, we have eight more vacancies for this chamber to be at its limit. As Senator Saint-Germain just expressed, I am hopeful that the Prime Minister will soon fulfill his constitutional duties by filling the empty seats, and providing to all regions its full slate of representatives.

By welcoming these five new senators — all eminent Canadians — the Senate continues to transform itself from the traditional partisan vestiges to a chamber of more independent reflection. Our new senators come with very different backgrounds. Senator Al Zaibak comes to the Senate from the international and technological business community, and he is also a broader community leader and builder. Senator Robinson comes from the agricultural sector and is a strong advocate for the industry and for P.E.I., which comes to the great relief of our lonely farmer, Senator Black, who welcomes another voice for agriculture.

Senator McBean is a highly decorated Olympian and champion of social justice causes. Senator Senior is a recognized leader in the charitable sector, and a trailblazer for women and girls. Senator Varone is a businessman and philanthropist, and he is involved in lifelong civic engagement.

Seeing these individuals from very different backgrounds who have chosen to come forward and serve is a positive sign that this institution matters.

Our former colleague P.E.I. Senator Diane Griffin made this point back in 2017 during a speech: She said it is important to ensure that the selection board “. . . considers under-represented occupations as part of its appointment process . . . .” I think that we are now seeing the fruits of that labour. I know that she will be excited to see a farmer from P.E.I. join us here. I mention her because I suspect she is probably watching on television right now.


With this diversity in background comes a diversity of views and opinions, and, senators, this is a very good thing. Our role is to represent our regions on national issues. At times, we all agree, but most of the time, we do not. Again, this is a good thing.

Diversity of opinions, coupled with a sense of respect for opposing views, is a strength, not a weakness, and it is the hallmark of the work of the Senate.

I encourage each of the new senators to participate fully in our debates and bring your diverse views forward. Please do not hold back. Your views and perspectives are welcome here. In fact, they are needed here in the Senate as we do our work on behalf of Canadians.

Senators McBean, Senior, Varone, Robinson, and Al Zaibak, welcome to the Senate of Canada. My Canadian Senators Group, or CSG, colleagues and I look forward to working with you.

Hon. Jane Cordy: Honourable senators, it is such a pleasure to be back with you. I’m coming from Nova Scotia, which, for the past four days, has been the land of snow, wind and delayed and cancelled flights, so I’m really happy to be here. I just arrived a very short while ago, after fully expecting to be here more than 24 hours ago.

I am very pleased, on behalf of the Progressive Senate Group, to join the other leaders in offering some welcoming remarks to our newest senators.

Before we adjourned in December, we bid farewell to some of our senators whose retirements became official, so it seems fitting that while we ended our year with some heavy-hearted goodbyes, we will be starting this year by adding some new faces and voices to our chamber.

We have already heard about the impressive and varied backgrounds of our five newest senators, who have already taken their seats. I won’t repeat their incredible accomplishments.

Representing the province of Ontario, we have Senator Marnie McBean, Olympian and champion; Senator Paulette Senior, thought leader and trailblazer; Senator Toni Varone, businessman and philanthropist; Senator Mohammad Al Zaibak, entrepreneur and community leader; and, filling the last vacant seat from Prince Edward Island, we welcome Senator Mary Robinson, a businesswoman and strong agricultural advocate.

Though I share the enthusiasm of my colleagues in welcoming five new senators at once, it’s a shame that it doesn’t allow quite as much time to devote to each of you and the incredible careers you have all had to date. The various experiences that you bring will not only help to shape your work in the Senate but also bring new issues to our attention.

An important part of our work here is to advocate on behalf of our regions and under-represented groups whose concerns may not always be raised in the other place. Senator McBean, Senator Senior, Senator Varone, Senator Al Zaibak and Senator Robinson, we are so glad to have you with us as champions for each of your communities. Having heard a bit about your backgrounds this afternoon, we may already feel we have a sense of who each of you are and what issues you may choose to highlight in the Senate, but it’s important to remember that we are all much more than what can be summed up easily.

Some of you may end up pursuing issues that you or we would not have guessed, and I hope that happens. We are all more than meets the eye, and that is true of this institution as well. The Senate is known as the chamber of sober second thought, but it can be so much more. I don’t know what inspired each of you to apply to join our upper chamber, but I hope that you are all able to keep an open mind as you find your places here in the Senate of Canada.

It may not always be what you expect, but you are each now one of Parliament’s agents of change. We are so glad to have you with us, and we will do our best to help you navigate this transition.

So, Senator McBean, Senator Senior, Senator Varone, Senator Al Zaibak and Senator Robinson, on behalf of the Progressive Senate Group, it is my pleasure to officially welcome you to the Senate of Canada. We look forward to working with each of you.


Visitors in the Gallery

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I wish to draw your attention to the presence in the gallery of family members and friends of the Honourable Senator McBean.

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

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I wish to draw your attention to the presence in the gallery of family members and friends of the Honourable Senator Senior.

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

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

Distinguished Visitors in the Gallery

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I wish to draw your attention to the presence in the gallery of family members and friends of the Honourable Senator Varone, including former Senator Consiglio Di Nino.

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

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

Visitors in the Gallery

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I wish to draw your attention to the presence in the gallery of family members and friends of the Honourable Senator Robinson.

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

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

Distinguished Visitors in the Gallery

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I wish to draw your attention to the presence in the gallery of The Right Honourable Joe Clark. He is accompanied by family members and friends of the Honourable Senator Al Zaibak.

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

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

IMP Aerospace & Defence

Hon. Colin Deacon: Honourable colleagues, I’d like to take a moment to recognize IMP Aerospace & Defence, a Halifax-based aircraft engineering and service company.

IMP’s Halifax Stanfield International Airport facilities serve a steady stream of commercial and military customers from Canada, the United States, South America, Europe and Asia. For over 50 years, they’ve delivered cutting-edge, highly technical aerospace expertise, servicing everything from military aircraft — like the Super Hercules — to search and rescue aircraft — like the Cormorant helicopters. They are leading innovators, using 3-D printing to make discontinued replacement parts for aging fleets — of which we have some in Canada — and manufacturing critical, zero-fault-tolerance components like wire harnesses that operate the Fine Guidance Sensor on board the $13-billion James Webb Space Telescope.

To keep pace with their growing need for highly skilled workers in this era of chronic labour shortages, IMP just launched IMP Academy at two of their facilities — one in Enfield, Nova Scotia, and the other in Abbotsford, British Columbia. IMP created and funded this tuition-free, four-year, earn-as-you-learn apprenticeship program. This mix of classroom learning and hands-on training enables apprentices to complete Transport Canada’s basic training as well as paid, on-the-job training, which is necessary to become a licensed aircraft maintenance engineer.

IMP Aerospace & Defence is an excellent example of how government procurement can become a reliable tool for enabling Canadian companies to become and remain global leaders. This isn’t just about buying Canadian. Success requires a whole‑of‑government approach to ensure that Canadian businesses become or remain global leaders in highly technical, valuable and strategically important sectors.

Unfortunately, this whole-of-government approach to procurement is not yet a priority. For example, Canada too often relinquishes its right to either select a preferred provider or secure access to the intellectual property necessary to deliver the most strategically valuable types of services. This failure profoundly limits the opportunities for Canadian companies to compete both domestically and globally.

In the case of aircraft, the initial purchase represents only a fraction of the lifetime cost. Consequently, lost or limited maintenance and service opportunities cost, rather than benefit, the Canadian economy over the long term. Canada urgently needs to prioritize the importance of intellectual property, or IP, rights, as identified in the Senate Banking Committee’s June 2023 report called Needed: An Innovation Strategy for the Data-Driven Economy.


IMP Aerospace & Defence is an exceptional example of how federal procurement can become even more than a stamp of approval — yes, validating the quality of performance but also creating opportunities to acquire the technical experience and expertise that will unlock recurring global sales. Let’s do a lot more of that.

Thank you, colleagues.

Lunar New Year

Hon. Yonah Martin: Honourable senators, Lunar New Year holds special significance in Canada as a time of celebration, reflection and cultural diversity. In Canada, the Lunar New Year serves as an opportunity to appreciate and embrace the diversity that strengthens our social fabric.

As Canadians of East Asian descent — particularly Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese communities — gather with family, friends and communities, Lunar New Year is a vibrant tapestry of cultural expressions, delicious cuisines and festive performances for everyone to enjoy. Colourful parades, traditional dragon and lion dances and the exchange of white or red envelopes symbolize the renewal of hope, prosperity and good fortune in the coming year.

In homes and community venues across Canada and Korea — in the Korean community — there will be dduk-gook, which is a delicious traditional Korean soup with slices of rice cake and dumplings. It will be served along with other tasty dishes. Many will wear hanboks — traditional clothing made of exquisite silk and other fabrics, beautifully embroidered. Children and young adults will do saebae — deep bows of respect to their elders in exchange for gifts of money in white envelopes. As well, there will be fun games like yut nori, a traditional game played with four sticks and a game board, which can be played with fierce competition by the entire family or community. My family will gather in celebration of Seollal, the Lunar New Year, on February 10.

In addition to celebrating Seollal on February 10, I hope to participate in several events taking place in metro Vancouver in my home province of B.C. On February 9, I will attend the annual Lunar New Year countdown at Aberdeen Centre in Richmond, B.C., with Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre, former minister of seniors Alice Wong and several parliamentary colleagues. On Saturday, I will attend the luncheon with members of the Korean community. On Sunday, February 11, there will be the annual Vancouver Chinatown Spring Festival Parade that will attract thousands of people along the parade route. I will also attend the 2024 Chinese New Year gala celebration hosted by the White Rock & South Surrey Chinese Association.

Honourable senators, 2024 is the Year of the Blue Dragon, and in Asian cultures, the dragon holds a significant place as an auspicious and extraordinary creature, unparalleled in talent and excellence. It symbolizes power, nobility, honour, luck and success. The year 2024 is forecasted to bring about opportunities, changes and challenges. As we enter the Year of the Blue Dragon, may the traditions of this festive occasion continue to inspire unity and goodwill across our nation.

Visitors in the Gallery

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I wish to draw your attention to the presence in the gallery of Dr. Peter Wong, Senator Moodie’s spouse, as well as Nicholas Wong, their son.

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

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

Dr. Bolu Ogunyemi

Hon. Mohamed-Iqbal Ravalia: Honourable senators, I rise today during Black History Month to recognize the incredible achievements of my friend and colleague Dr. Bolu Ogunyemi in the spirit of this year’s theme: “Black Excellence: A Heritage to Celebrate; a Future to Build.” Bolu was supposed to be with us here today, but the weather patterns in Atlantic Canada have unfortunately grounded him.

Dr. Ogunyemi was the first Black student from the province of Newfoundland and Labrador to train at Memorial University’s Faculty of Medicine. He is a dermatologist, keynote and TEDx speaker, equity and anti-racism educator and board director. He is a fierce advocate for improving diversity, representation and equity in medical schools and medical education, including by helping develop equity training materials for the faculty at Memorial. His efforts also extend to increasing access to virtual care for those in remote and vulnerable communities and engaging in public education efforts to encourage vaccine uptake.

His passion for community and delivery of care radiates throughout his career and values. His role as the former assistant dean for social accountability at Memorial touches on every aspect of medical practice and the continuous fight for equality in the health care community. From patient care to professional education for health care providers, Dr. Ogunyemi has been a champion for anti-racist advocacy and the betterment of the health care community.

To quote Bolu from a recent interview from the Canadian Medical Association:

. . . When we’re intentional about empowering people from underrepresented backgrounds, that’s when we can get the best solutions to our problems.

Honourable senators, it is important for all of us to look for ways in which we too can use our experiences, knowledge and skills to create and enhance opportunities and uplift our marginalized communities. On behalf of all senators today, I express gratitude to you, Dr. Bolu Ogunyemi, for your ongoing advocacy and leadership and for paving the way for future generations to come.

Thank you, asante.

Some 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 Nola Kianza and Indira Moudi. They are the guests of the Honourable Senator Gerba.

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

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

Indira Moudi

Hon. Amina Gerba: Madam Speaker, I am delighted to rise to speak about Black History Month 2024. This February, I will have the honour of giving three statements in which I will share some inspiring stories that demonstrate Black excellence and the invaluable contributions Black people make to our society.

I will begin today by introducing you to Indira Moudi, a smart, dynamic woman who speaks several languages and is a global leader. She is here with us today. Thank you.

Born to a Guyanese mother and a Nigerian father, Indira came to Canada at the age of 16, bringing with her a rich cultural heritage, as someone who speaks five languages and was raised in five religions.

After graduating from Polytechnique Montréal with a degree in industrial engineering in 1997, Indira began a 20-year international career working for multinational energy companies, a career that took her to five different continents around the world. That is how she met her husband, Guillaume Pham, who is also here with us today. They met in France and she convinced him to come back and live in Quebec and start a business.

In 2012, the couple purchased one of Quebec’s premier food processing companies, Viandes Lafrance, which operates out of Shawinigan, in the Mauricie region. They brought in fresh blood, giving the 100-year-old company a new lease on life.

Under Indira’s leadership, the company has received many accolades, the most recent being the Desjardins Mercure award for sustainable development strategy from the Fédération des chambres de commerce du Québec and the inclusion and diversity award from the Chambre de commerce et d’industrie de Shawinigan in recognition of the company’s sustainable development practices, which promote the recruitment and hiring of visible minorities.


Esteemed colleagues, Indira’s journey clearly illustrates that Black excellence is a heritage to be celebrated not just for one day or one month, but all the time.

Thank you.

The Late Honourable Ed Broadbent, P.C., C.C.

Hon. Pierrette Ringuette: Honourable senators, today I pay tribute to a remarkable Canadian parliamentarian, John Edward Broadbent, who passed away last month at the age of 87.


On January 28, I was honoured, along with many other senators, to attend the state funeral for Ed Broadbent. Personally, I found it was a moving and loving ceremony filled with friends, family and colleagues. It was a dignified ceremony for this inspiring former parliamentarian, leader and great Canadian.

A Companion of the Order of Canada, Ed Broadbent devoted decades of his life to fighting for justice and equality in Canada and around the world. His commitment to social justice was unwavering. I believe we all can say that we didn’t see eye to eye with Ed, but he stood tall in any debate because of his strong conviction, sincerity, compassion and understanding.

Through his time as an MP for Oshawa and Ottawa Centre, and his time as Leader of the NDP, he served with honour and distinction. He was respected and admired by all, including those across the political aisle.

While he did not support an unelected Senate, he was profoundly respectful of the parliamentary process and was always civil and considerate of our role as senators.

We lost a great man who loved our country and did everything he could to fight to make it better for all citizens. He fought for his principles. It wasn’t partisan politics to him, but a sincere commitment to right the wrongs he saw.

His legacy will live on. His fight and determination will, no doubt, continue to inspire us today and those who will follow.

To quote a line from author Terry Pratchett, “No one is finally dead until the ripples they cause in the world die away . . . .” His ripples will remain in many halls, particularly in Parliament, for a long time.

Thank you, Ed Broadbent, for giving so much. I offer my deepest condolences to his family and friends.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.

Health, Well-being and Community

Hon. Marty Deacon: Honourable senators and staff, it’s great to be back today.

A special welcome to our five new senators.

As I return, I would like to highlight three happenings that connect to our health, well-being and community building at this time of year.

The first is to remind you that next Wednesday, February 14, with hearts, I will be hosting the Ski Day on the Hill with our parliamentarians and special guests. Yes, we are doing the snow dance, dreaming of shipping some of the snow in from the East so that you can join us in front of Centre Block at 12:30 on February 14. You can take part in a lap or two on cross-country skis, snowshoes or have a hot chocolate and say hello to celebrate the outdoors and winter.

We are honoured to have students joining us from Nunavut — Iqaluit — a very special group. As a reminder to new senators, this event is part of our buildup to National Health and Fitness Day started by a bill here in the Senate to help ensure our communities are physically and mentally active.

I also wish to remind you that in a few short weeks, from February 27 to March 2, Calgary will be hosting the Special Olympics Canada Winter Games. Their theme is “Together. We Can.” There are no better words for 4,000 athletes, coaches, families, volunteers and partners.

The games will open February 27 with the Law Enforcement Torch Run. Students from the RBC school program are gearing up now to cheer on these athletes as they compete — a special group — in five-pin bowling, alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, curling, floor hockey, figure skating, snowshoeing and speed skating.

Finally, this past January 19, Team Canada marched into the opening ceremonies of the Gangwon 2024 Winter Youth Olympic Games. Flag-bearers Chloe Fediuk in curling and Charlie Beatty in freestyle skiing carried our flag into the opening ceremonies.

Senators, think back a short while. Here, Chloe was in the Senate with us as part of Team Plett, that fabulous group of young curlers, just over a month ago. We met her, shared the Senate world with her and we’re thrilled to see and witness her on this world stage. There were many great results, learnings and some disappointing performances which our athletes will learn from.

Today, I want to share with you what Chef de Mission Lisa Weagle reminds us of as she looks back at these games — important messages. First, control what you can but accept you cannot control everything; meet the factors outside of your control with courage and kindness. Second, remember you can choose your perspective; instead of dwelling on what has gone wrong, view it as an opportunity to learn and to grow. Focus on the positives, what went well, as much as you do on what could be improved. Third, ask for help when you need it. Nobody gets to the top on their own. Regardless of your sport or dream, everyone needs a trusted team to rely on. Four, it’s a cliche, but enjoy the journey. It rings loud with truth. Embrace the moment to have fun. Enjoy what you do and who you do it with. Need I say more? Thank you. Meegwetch.



Public Sector Integrity Bill

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-290, An Act to amend the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act and to make a consequential amendment to the Conflict of Interest Act.

(Bill read first time.)

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

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


Commonwealth Parliamentary Association

Westminster Seminar on Effective Parliaments, March 13-17, 2023—Report Tabled

Hon. Rosemary Moodie: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the report of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association concerning the 2023 Westminster Seminar on Effective Parliaments, held in London, United Kingdom, from March 13 to 17, 2023.


The Late Honourable Ed Broadbent, P.C., C.C.

Motion to Place Inquiry on Notice Paper Adopted

Hon. Patti LaBoucane-Benson (Legislative Deputy to the Government Representative in the Senate): Honourable senators, I give notice that, two days hence:

I will call the attention of the Senate to the life and career of the late Honourable Ed Broadbent, P.C.

Medical Assistance in Dying

Third Report of Special Joint Committee Deposited with Clerk During Adjournment of the Senate

Leave having been given to revert to Presenting or Tabling of Reports from Committees:

Hon. Yonah Martin (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, I have the honour to inform the Senate that pursuant to the order adopted by the Senate on October 24, 2023, the Special Joint Committee on Medical Assistance in Dying deposited with the Clerk of the Senate on January 29, 2024, its third report entitled MAID and Mental Disorders: The Road Ahead.


Public Safety

National Summit on Combatting Auto Theft

Hon. Donald Neil Plett (Leader of the Opposition): Government leader, this is a direct quote from a Trudeau government press release last week:

Rates of vehicle theft rose by 50% in Quebec, 48.3% in Ontario, 34.5% in Atlantic Canada and 18.35% in Alberta in 2022, as compared to the previous year . . .

Leader, that statement is an admission of failure. To fix it, the Trudeau government thinks a meeting will do. This reminds me of their multiple cabinet retreats on affordability, where they spent money like water while Canadians go hungry.

Leader, why does the Trudeau government think a summit is going to stop the crime? Why doesn’t the Trudeau government just use common-sense solutions to stop the crime?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you for your question, senator. It’s good to be back.

The number of car thefts in Canada has risen. It’s a serious problem. The Government of Canada is doing its part to responsibly address it. Indeed, there are results. For example, the Canada Border Services Agency, or CBSA, intercepted over 1,800 stolen vehicles in 2023, but more needs to be done.

I have been informed that to further coordinate an approach to this issue, the government is convening a national summit on auto theft, bringing together leaders from across jurisdictions and sectors to discuss new actions to combat auto theft and strengthen already ongoing work.

Senator Plett: They can compare notes on how they all failed.

The Winnipeg Police Service says around 250 people had their cars stolen in just the first two weeks of this year. Leader, why not put an end to your catch-and-release policy for car thieves? Why won’t you simply repeal Bill C-75 to ensure repeat offenders get jail and not bail?

Senator Gold: You are making assumptions about who is stealing cars, where the cars are going and what’s drawing the market. In fact, as we know, most of the cars that are stolen are being shipped overseas, across our borders. I would remind honourable senators that the CBSA is an important element in controlling the trafficking of cars. Indeed, the previous government cut over 1,000 jobs from the CBSA during their mandate. Were they re-elected, they would have cut 400 more. This government has restored every job that was cut and added over 800 more so that the CBSA can do its job.


Port of Montreal

Hon. Claude Carignan: Leader, crime has been on the rise for years, and the Trudeau government has finally come up with a solution, namely, a summit, a smokescreen, just as it did for the increasing prices of groceries and housing. Senator Gold, I’m going to save you some time — no need for hours of blah, blah, blah. Everyone knows that vehicles are being stolen and that they leave the country through the Port of Montreal. Who is responsible for the port? It’s the federal government, your government, Senator Gold. My question is simple: When are you going to step up security at the port and start inspecting containers before they leave?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you for the question. You’re right. The Port of Montreal and ports in general are key locations for organized crime. You’re also aware, senator, that there are thousands and thousands of containers going in and out. It’s impossible for any government or individual to open all the containers. That would be a nightmare for our economy. That said, the reason the government wants to bring together key players from all sectors, including those responsible for borders and ports, is to develop a strong, coordinated approach to dealing with this issue.

Senator Carignan: Leader, Canada Border Services Agency employees have been telling us for years that there are fewer and fewer front-line staff and that too many officers are busy with administrative tasks. I’m not even talking about the RCMP, which is increasingly absent on this front. Fentanyl and guns enter the country, no problem, and vehicles exit just as easily. Senator Gold, when will your government give the CBSA and the RCMP the tools to do their job?

Senator Gold: Perhaps you missed my answer earlier, so I will repeat it now. Your government cut over 1,000 jobs and was in the process of cutting 400 more. This government has restored every job that was cut and has added new ones. The government will continue to provide the resources and police forces needed to do the job.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation

Rental Market Report

Hon. Marie-Françoise Mégie: My question is for the Government Representative in the Senate. Senator Gold, on January 31, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s Rental Market Report made headlines across Canada when it revealed that the average vacancy rate was exceptionally low, at under 1.5%. Several theories have been formulated, but one important aspect has been overlooked. All activities related to private, short-term rentals are excluded from vacancy rate calculations.

However, short-term Airbnb-type rentals are largely concentrated around the rental of houses, apartments and rooms in residential properties.

The Hotel Association of Canada even showed in 2017 that one in three rental units was being rented out as an Airbnb. Is the government planning any measures to get these hundreds and thousands of residential units back on the rental market in Canada?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you for the question. The government is taking unprecedented measures to lower the cost of rent by building more apartments more quickly and ensuring that rents are not too high. The measures taken by the government this fall should help unlock nearly 600,000 new rental housing units, including tens of thousands of affordable housing units across the country, but the government is also cracking down on short-term rentals in order to quickly free up to 30,000 additional apartments for families. I can assure you that the government will leave no stone unturned to resolve the national housing crisis in Canada.

Senator Mégie: That’s very interesting. I’m happy to hear that and to have raised this issue. The Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion is proposing a housing catalogue for Canada. Wouldn’t it be a good idea for the catalogue to indicate the projected square footage per occupant?

Senator Gold: Thank you for the question. Consultations for the housing design catalogue initiative are under way. I do not have specific answers to give you, but the government will share more information in due course.


Veterans Affairs

Access to Services

Hon. Mary Coyle: Senator Gold, last week Judge Paul Scovil released his final report on the Desmond Fatality Inquiry into the tragic deaths of Afghanistan War veteran Lionel Desmond; his wife, Shanna; their 10-year-old daughter, Aaliyah; and his mother, Brenda, in Upper Big Tracadie, Nova Scotia.

The report included 25 recommendations, including those calling on the Nova Scotia government to advocate with the federal government to provide case workers to veterans transitioning out of the Armed Forces, to ensure that health records from federal agencies for individuals diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, and other health issues are accessible in provincial health medical records and to implement a number of firearms-related policies, given the tragic murders and suicide.

Senator Gold, when can we expect the Government of Canada’s response on this important report?


Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you for your question. First and foremost, our thoughts are with the Desmond family and all of those who were impacted by this tragedy.

I’ve been informed that the Department of Veterans Affairs has been closely following the inquiry and the recommendations since the beginning — and continues to do so — and they have begun to make important changes. For example, now if a veteran reaches out to the Department of Veterans Affairs to seek mental health services, it’s immediately approved. That’s one small step in the right direction.

Additionally, Veterans Affairs has increased the number of case managers to ensure the coordination of services, and to ensure that more veterans have access to case management services as needed.

Senator Coyle: Thank you, Senator Gold. I look forward to hearing more as time passes.

This inquiry also raised concerns about the accessibility of government services to the African-Nova Scotian community. What will the federal government do to ensure that federal services, such as those offered by Veterans Affairs, accommodate the needs of Canadians of African descent?

Senator Gold: The government recognizes much more needs to be done in this area — and many areas — to address systemic racism and discrimination. That’s why the government has established the Federal Anti-Racism Secretariat which leads a whole-of-government approach to working with federal organizations, other orders of government and civil society to identify the systemic racial barriers and gaps in order to develop new initiatives, and to consider the impacts of those gaps on those communities.

Crown-Indigenous Relations

Specific Claims

Hon. Paul J. Prosper: My question is for the Senate government leader.

Senator Gold, this year, First Nations across the country applied for funding to research and develop 937 specific claims against the federal government — 327 applications were denied due to significant funding shortfalls. The $12 million allocated per year is woefully and increasingly insufficient. In July, research directors wrote a letter to Minister Miller, the then‑Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations. Forty endorsement letters — representing hundreds of First Nations across Canada — called for increased funding; none were responded to. The fund was recently renewed for two years at the same amount. While discussions are under way to improve the claims resolution process, this does not address the barriers that First Nations face at the claims research stage. This is an access‑to‑justice issue.

My question is this: Given that the fund has been oversubscribed for the past three years, will your government commit to reconciliation by action — by increasing the specific claims research funding — so that all First Nations can have access to the resolution process in a timely manner?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you, senator. It’s a very important question. This government is committed to reconciliation, and will continue to work diligently to that end. I cannot answer the specifics of your question with regard to that, but I do undertake to raise this directly with the minister, whom I see regularly.

Senator Prosper: Thank you, Senator Gold. I understand that work is under way to set up a co-developed, independent specific claims resolution process. The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act Action Plan — released last year — called for the inclusion of an independent senator for the resolution of specific claims. Will your government honour this commitment, and can you advise on a timeline for its implementation? Thank you.

Senator Gold: It’s an important question and an important element in our path forward. Again, I don’t have knowledge of the specifics, and, again, I will raise this with the minister at the earliest opportunity.


Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

International Students

Hon. Amina Gerba: My question is for the Government Representative in the Senate. Senator Gold, according to Statistics Canada and Global Affairs Canada, over one third of tuition fees collected by Canadian universities in the 2018‑19 academic year came from international students. Those same students contributed $22.3 billion to the Canadian economy in 2018. The recent decision by the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship to limit the number of international students allowed into Canada to 360,000 for two years, a 35% drop compared to 2023, will penalize Canadian universities and schools.

Senator Gold, what will the government do to help universities and the Canadian economy make up for this drop in revenue?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you for the question. First, it’s important to understand that international students are essential to our future, to our economy and to enriching our communities. That said, too many of them are vulnerable at this point in time, and abusive practices threaten the integrity of our international student program. The government has therefore placed a temporary two‑year cap on new study permit applications. It’s my understanding that the federal government will continue to discuss the matter with its provincial and territorial partners, which have jurisdiction over education, and with stakeholders in education across the country.

Senator Gerba: I understand that you are well aware of this phenomenon. Wouldn’t it make more sense to apply far more specific measures to offending schools that abuse the system?

Senator Gold: Thank you for your question. As you know, and as the other senators can appreciate, the program announced by the government is very targeted. It makes a distinction between the provinces and invites them to set different targets based on their demographic weight. It also makes a distinction between universities, students at post-secondary institutions and those enrolled in programs that are not as well recognized as true centres of education. These measures are targeted to address this issue.


Prime Minister’s Office

Invitation to Reception

Hon. Denise Batters: Senator Gold, when Yaroslav Hunka, a former Nazi soldier, was invited to Ukrainian President Zelenskyy’s address to Parliament last fall, Prime Minister Trudeau said, “The Speaker was solely responsible for the invitation . . .” — calling Speaker Rota’s resignation “. . . the right thing to do.”

Now we learn of a separate invitation that was sent four days before President Zelenskyy’s address:

Dear Yaroslav Hunka, The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, is pleased to invite you to a special event. The event will take place on Friday, September 22, 2023, at 8:30 p.m. in Toronto, Ontario.

Prime Minister Trudeau and the Prime Minister’s Office misled Canadians for months about their direct involvement in this international embarrassment. If Speaker Rota’s resignation was the right thing to do, what will the consequences be for the Prime Minister?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): As senators know by now, a thousand or so invitations were sent out for an event in Toronto at the request — in this particular case — of a national organization, the Ukrainian Canadian Congress. The Prime Minister had no knowledge of who was invited. The person in question did not attend. This is quite a different and distinct issue from the very unfortunate circumstance that occurred here on the Hill.

Senator Batters: Senator Gold, do you really expect us to believe that the Prime Minister’s Office does not vet the Prime Minister’s invitees to his own private reception, especially one featuring perhaps the most threatened and vulnerable target in the world: President Zelenskyy? First, he blamed the Speaker, and then he tried to blame Parliament. I’m sure some staffer has been — or will be — thrown overboard too. Now he’s blaming the Ukrainian Canadian Congress. When will the Prime Minister finally admit it’s his fault?

Senator Gold: This is not a question of blaming, honourable senator. This is a question of simply reporting the facts, and the facts are the following: For a community rally in Toronto, where a thousand invitations were sent out, with a list generated by reputable organizations, the Prime Minister — and this would be true for any prime minister — simply had no knowledge, as has been stated, and, therefore, the insinuations and allegations are simply unfounded.

Public Services and Procurement

Procurement Process

Hon. Leo Housakos: Senator Gold, with the Auditor General’s report due to be released next week, here’s what we do know about this unmitigated disaster called “ArriveScam.” It cost far more than it should have at well over $54 million. Your government is now under an RCMP investigation as a result. Seventy-six per cent of the subcontractors on the app were found to have done no work.


You shut down the committee looking into this matter. You kept the Auditor General in the dark about the RCMP investigation, and you reprimanded whistle-blowers. Everything about this app has been fraudulent from the beginning, including your government using it to unlawfully strand Canadians overseas, send others to unlawful detention and leave others with exorbitant and unlawful fines.

Senator Gold, how can your government in good conscience continue to make Canadians pay these outstanding fines related to “ArriveScam”? Will you finally do the right thing and waive these fines for hard-working Canadians?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): I am not advised of any plans to waive such fines. I am advised, though, that serious investigations are under way. There is an internal investigation by the Canada Border Services Agency, or CBSA, and, as you know, the CBSA has referred this matter to the RCMP.

As you also know, the CBSA has suspended contracts relevant to this matter. We await the report of the Auditor General with interest. The government will, as always, consider seriously the recommendations of that Auditor General report.

Senator Housakos: All this just acknowledges how this whole affair has been laced with fraudulent and bad will on the part of the government.

Senator Gold, you’ve destroyed lives. Still, many Canadians are left scrambling to come up with money to pay these fines. And for what? So some Liberal buddies can line their pockets at the expense of hard-working Canadians.

Senator Gold, can you at least tell us that your government is no longer doing business with GC Strategies? Have you removed them from the approved list of vendors? Have you suspended all contracts with this organization, which clearly did not provide the services that they were paid to provide to Canadians?

Senator Gold: I don’t have information with regard to your question. I will simply say that allegations of fraud and the like are, I suppose, within your parliamentary privilege, honourable senator, but the fact is that investigations are ongoing. The government looks forward to the results of those investigations. But pending those results, it is simply rhetoric to characterize it as you have.

Global Affairs

Conflict in Gaza Strip

Hon. Kim Pate: Senator Gold, on January 26, the International Court of Justice, the ICJ, concluded that it was “plausible” that Israel was committing acts of genocide against Palestinians in Gaza in response to the atrocities carried out by Hamas on October 7, 2023. Pending its final decision, the court ordered Israel to implement provisional measures to prevent expulsion and forced displacement of Palestinians, deprivation of access to humanitarian assistance, destruction of Palestinian life in Gaza and public incitement to commit genocide.

In light of the court’s ruling and the obligation on Canada as a state party to the Genocide Convention, will the government make clear publicly that it will, first, ensure no further transfer of Canadian military or dual-use technologies; second, reinstate full humanitarian assistance; and third, urge Israel to comply with the ruling of the court?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you for your question. Canada was a founding member and remains a strong proponent of the International Court of Justice’s independence and its critical role in the peaceful settlement of disputes between parties.

The Government of Canada has also made clear that the orders of the ICJ are binding on the parties and that they must comply with them. The government continues to support the ICJ’s critical role in the peaceful settlement of disputes, and it will continue to work in upholding the international rules-based order.

Senator Pate: Thank you, Senator Gold. If Canada fails to undertake these initiatives, how does Canada plan to address its own potential violation of our country’s obligations under the Genocide Convention? How will this impact Canada’s attempts to currently secure a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council?

Senator Gold: The fact that the International Court of Justice decided to proceed with a full hearing on the issue does not assume that the claims made against Israel have any basis in law. That will be determined by the court. It is inappropriate of me to comment further on whether or not Canada’s steadfast support for both Israel and Palestinians and the creation, ultimately, we hope, of a two-state solution so that all parties can live in peace — that this commitment has anything to do with the allegations or the hypothetical allegations that you have suggested would follow from this continued policy.


Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

International Students

Hon. René Cormier: My question is for the Government Representative in the Senate.

Senator Gold, on January 22, 2024, the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship announced a cap on the number of international students allowed into Canada, specifically to address certain abusive practices, as you mentioned.

Senator Gold, this decision will have a devastating impact on French-language post-secondary institutions in minority communities. It will limit their ability to achieve some aspects of their mission, such as helping to meet the government’s francophone immigration objectives.

Would the federal government be open to reviewing the terms and conditions of this announcement, for example, by considering the francophone clients of post-secondary institutions in francophone minority communities as a priority cohort?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you for your question, senator, and for drawing attention to the importance of these institutions across Canada.

To be clear, the government’s reform of the international student program is meant to punish bad actors who have rendered some students vulnerable to abuse and who have tarnished the integrity of our international student program.

At the end of the day, the provinces will receive an allocation and take responsibility for distributing it among the designated institutions.

I hope the provinces will ensure that legitimate and valid institutions continue to get the support they need.

Senator Cormier: Thank you, Senator Gold.

Although this policy was designed to punish the bad actors, it also punishes French-language post-secondary institutions in minority communities.

The new francophone immigration policy unveiled by the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship last month includes the proportion of study permits for francophone students outside Quebec as one of its performance indicators.

Why does the federal government fail to see the contradiction between its new francophone immigration policy and the announcement regarding the national cap?

Senator Gold: Respectfully, there’s no contradiction. I want to reiterate that this is about protecting vulnerable foreign students.

For far too long, too many foreign students have been exposed to abusive practices that threaten the integrity of our program, which is important for the entire country. The provinces will receive an allocation and they will be responsible for distributing it among the designated learning institutions.


Public Services and Procurement

Procurement Process

Hon. Donald Neil Plett (Leader of the Opposition): Government leader, the ArriveCAN app wasn’t necessary. It didn’t work. It caused chaos at the border, and it cost $54 million. It’s under an RCMP investigation — a fact your government hid from the Auditor General, who will issue her own report on ArriveCAN next week.

Unfortunately, for taxpayers, it’s a perfect example of how the Trudeau government is incapable of fixing the budget. We will never get a handle on its spending, no matter how wasteful. A report from the Office of the Procurement Ombud showed 76% of ArriveCAN contractors performed no work at all — zero.

Leader, since the Procurement Ombud’s report was released last week, has anything been done to get taxpayers’ money back? If so, how much?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): I’m not aware of what measures may have been taken this past week. I do know that the government takes seriously and respects the reports which you referenced. It looks forward to the Auditor General’s report, at which point, I’m sure, you will have questions for me, and I’ll be pleased to answer at that time.

Senator Plett: Trudeau government insiders lined their pockets through shady contracts when Canadians used food banks in record numbers. Shameful, leader.


The Procurement Ombud found numerous examples where the two-person company, GC Strategies, submitted résumés that simply copied and pasted the government’s requirements. I suggest this is fraud. How do you defend this, leader?

Senator Gold: Again, with all respect, Senator Plett, I think it is premature to come to legal conclusions when we do not have all the facts before us. We will look with interest at what additional information is revealed and disclosed by the audit. I have no doubt that this conversation will continue at that time.

Delayed Answers to Oral Questions

Hon. Patti LaBoucane-Benson (Legislative Deputy to the Government Representative in the Senate): Honourable senators, I have the honour to table the answers to the following oral questions:

Response to the oral question asked in the Senate on April 5, 2022, by the Honourable Senator Carignan, P.C., concerning private investment in Canada.

Response to the oral question asked in the Senate on May 5, 2022, by the Honourable Senator Plett, concerning the fertilizer tariff.

Response to the oral question asked in the Senate on November 1, 2022, by the Honourable Senator Gignac, concerning the Green Bond Program.

Response to the oral question asked in the Senate on December 15, 2022, by the Honourable Senator Downe, concerning Canada-Russia relations.

Response to the oral question asked in the Senate on February 14, 2023, by the Honourable Senator Gerba, concerning the granting of temporary visas.

Response to the oral question asked in the Senate on February 15, 2023, by the Honourable Senator Plett, concerning income tax credits.

Response to the oral question asked in the Senate on March 9, 2023, by the Honourable Senator Cormier, concerning discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Response to the oral question asked in the Senate on March 9, 2023, by the Honourable Senator Loffreda, concerning the Task Force on Women in the Economy.

Response to the oral question asked in the Senate on March 30, 2023, by the Honourable Senator Patterson (Nunavut), concerning the cost of fuel — Department of Finance Canada.

Response to the oral question asked in the Senate on March 30, 2023, by the Honourable Senator Patterson (Nunavut), concerning the cost of fuel — Environment and Climate Change Canada.

Response to the oral question asked in the Senate on November 30, 2023, by the Honourable Senator Francis, concerning fishing vessel safety.

International Trade

Private Investment in Canada

(Response to question raised by the Honourable Claude Carignan on April 5, 2022)

Department of Finance

Energy producers curtailed capital expenditures sharply after the oil shock in 2014. The energy sector’s share of total business investment peaked at 32% in 2014, but now stands at 13%. Excluding the energy sector, business investment increased 10% since 2015, below the U.S. (+24%), reflecting weaker growth in many areas, including information and communication technologies. Canada’s business investment recovery from the pandemic ranks 5th in the G7, leading the UK and Germany.

The Canadian economy has nonetheless performed well in recent years. Canada experienced the second-fastest real gross domestic product recovery from the pandemic, unemployment remains low, and nearly a million more Canadians are working today than before the pandemic, including a record number of women thanks to the federal government’s Early Learning and Child Care Plan.

Budgets 2022 and 2023 introduced a number of measures aimed at creating an environment that will spur business investment in innovation and productivity. These include investment tax credits for clean technology and electricity, and the creation of Canada Growth Fund and Canada Innovation Corporation.

Agriculture and Agri-Food

Fertilizer Tariff

(Response to question raised by the Honourable Donald Neil Plett on May 5, 2022)

Department of Finance Canada

The General Tariff of 35% took effect on virtually all goods imported from Russia and Belarus beginning on March 2, 2022. The Government of Canada adopted this trade measure as part of a broad and comprehensive set of sanctions, in concert with like-minded global partners, to ensure that countries who seriously threaten and breach the rules-based international order cannot benefit from it.

It is important to recognize that the 35% tariff for Russian fertilizer was not imposed on farmers, but rather paid by those importers that made the decision to maintain their purchases from Russia. The government worked with the Canadian fertilizer industry to ensure a clear market-based signal for importers to shift away from Russian sources. No commercial fertilizer imports from Russia have been observed since May 2022.

The government has provided assistance to farmers by investing $34.1 million over three years, starting in 2023-24, to expand the On-Farm Climate Action Fund. This additional funding will provide non-repayable contributions to Eastern Canadian farmers to lower the cost of adopting farm practices that improve nitrogen efficiency and thus reduce the need for fertilizer.


Green Bond Program

(Response to question raised by the Honourable Clément Gignac on November 1, 2022)

Department of Finance Canada

Canada’s green bond program has been successful in reaching a broad set of Canadian and international investors, including those with environmental mandates, to support Canada’s green bond market. Critical to this success was ensuring Canada’s green bond framework met the requirements of those investors and was aligned with the criteria of various international green bond indices. As such, the exclusions in our green bond framework were aligned with international standards and investor requirements.

The international green bond market is growing and requirements for green investments continue to evolve. The government is aware of recent developments in the European Union regarding the Taxonomy for Sustainable Activities and its treatment of nuclear power and natural gas projects, which came into force on January 1, 2023. The Government of Canada will continue to monitor international standards and best practices regarding sustainable finance and will consider updates to the framework as appropriate.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

Canada-Russia Relations

(Response to question raised by the Honourable Percy E. Downe on December 15, 2022)

Insofar as Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is concerned:

Under s. 3(1)(a) of the Citizenship Act, a person is a citizen if they are born in Canada after February 14, 1977. Pursuant to s. 3(2)(a), this does not apply if at birth their parents weren’t citizens or permanent residents, and either parent was “a diplomatic or consular officer or other representative or employee in Canada of a foreign government.”

Alexander and Timothy Vavilov were born in Canada and are citizens pursuant to the Citizenship Act. The Registrar of Citizenship cancelled Alexander’s citizenship on the basis that his parents were representatives of a foreign government in Canada. Alexander appealed the decision, and the matter went before the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC), who concluded that it was unreasonable to interpret s. 3(2)(a) as applying to children of individuals who had not been granted diplomatic privileges and immunities at the time of birth. Alexander and Timothy are therefore lawfully Canadian citizens.

In granting leave to Mr. Vavilov’s appeal, the SCC signaled its intention to reconsider how courts should review administrative actions, in order to bring greater coherence to this area of the law. The Court addressed two main issues: determining the standard of review and how to see it properly applied.

Granting of Temporary Visas

(Response to question raised by the Honourable Amina Gerba on February 14, 2023)

Insofar as Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is concerned:

IRCC is committed to reducing processing times and tackling the accumulated inventory. We have recently processed a record number of cases and seen significant improvements. In February 2023, IRCC processed approximately 226,000 visitor visa applications. In contrast, the monthly average in 2019 was about 180,000 applications. We are continuing our efforts to process temporary resident visas more quickly to respond to the growing number of people who want to visit Canada.

While we understand that visa refusals can be frustrating for applicants and special event organizers, we cannot approve all applications. Maintaining a managed migration system that does not pose excessive demands on public services and ensuring those who come to Canada permanently are able to settle in Canada successfully are priorities for Canada’s immigration system.

IRCC has been taking steady action to reduce application inventories and build a stronger immigration system by digitizing applications, hiring and training new staff, and harnessing digital solutions to help increase processing capacity and efficiency, while protecting the safety and security of Canadians. Maintaining public trust by providing efficient and dependable service, while protecting the integrity of our immigration system and the safety and security of Canadians, is at the core of our decision-making.

National Revenue

Income Tax Credits

(Response to question raised by the Honourable Donald Neil Plett on February 15, 2023)

Department of Finance Canada

Bill C-208 came into force on June 29, 2021, the date it received Royal Assent. Budget 2022 announced a consultation process to allow stakeholders to provide feedback on how the amendments introduced by Bill C-208 could be strengthened to protect the integrity of the tax system while continuing to facilitate genuine intergenerational business transfers. As a result of this consultation, the government released draft legislative proposals in Budget 2023 and amendments to these proposals in the release of draft legislation on August 4, 2023. These legislative changes are proposed to come into force on January 1, 2024.


Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation

(Response to question raised by the Honourable René Cormier on March 9, 2023)

Department of Justice

Our Government is committed to a people-centred approach to justice. Statistics Canada’s 2021 Canadian Legal Problems Survey helps to identify the kinds of serious problems people face, how they attempted to resolve them, and how those experiences have impacted their lives. Justice Canada also contracted community-based researchers to conduct two studies with members of 2SLGBTQI+ communities as part of a complementary series of qualitative studies to explore serious legal problems. These studies identified discrimination, financial burdens and complex processes among the barriers to justice. Justice Canada has published these findings and is sharing the results to inform policy and program development within governments and among service providers. Study participants spoke of the importance of working with legal and other professionals who understand the lived experiences of Trans people. The Department provided funding to Égale Canada to help LGBTQ2 Canadians resolve legal issues disproportionately affecting them during the COVID-19 pandemic and supported Égale Canada’s development of a National Gender Diversity and Inclusion Training Program for legal professionals. Our Government also announced funding to support The 519’s Increasing Access to Justice & Legal Services for Racialized 2SLGBTQI+ Communities project, and Éducaloi’s “Demystifying the legal aspects of sexual assault in LGBTQ+ communities” project.


Task Force on Women in the Economy

(Response to question raised by the Honourable Tony Loffreda on March 9, 2023)

Department of Finance Canada

The Task Force on Women in the Economy convened several times over the course of 2021 and provided advice to the Government of Canada on various policy topics related to the economic inclusion and advancement of Canadian women. The advice was communicated informally in the context of the confidential meetings of the Task Force and no written report was produced. These discussions informed decisions made in Budget 2021, the 2021 Fall Economic Statement, Budget 2022 as well as the negotiations with provinces and territories over Early Learning and Child Care agreements and their implementation. Task Force consultations were concluded at the end of 2021.


Cost of Fuel

(Response to question raised by the Honourable Dennis Glen Patterson on March 30, 2023)

Department of Finance Canada

Pollution pricing is designed to apply to a broad set of greenhouse gas emission sources across Canada, to ensure effectiveness and minimize inter-jurisdictional competitiveness impacts.

The Government of Canada does not keep any direct proceeds from pollution pricing. All direct proceeds from the federal fuel charge are returned to the province or territory of origin. For those jurisdictions that have voluntarily adopted the federal system – Nunavut and Yukon – direct proceeds are returned to the governments of those jurisdictions.

The government recognizes that particular groups or sectors require targeted relief from the fuel charge – in particular because of the small number of alternative options they may have in the face of pollution pricing.

This is why the Government of Canada provides full relief of the fuel charge to light fuel oil (e.g., diesel) and marketable natural gas that is used exclusively to generate electricity for remote communities.

Furthermore, the fuel charge applies at a rate of $0 per litre to aviation gasoline and aviation turbo fuel used in Yukon and Nunavut to reflect the high reliance on air transportation in the territories.

(Response to question raised by the Honourable Dennis Glen Patterson on March 30, 2023)

A price on carbon pollution is widely recognized as one of the most effective, transparent, and efficient ways to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change.

The Government of Nunavut (GNU) decided to have the federal “backstop” system, which includes relief for remote communities and intra-jurisdictional air travel, apply in full in its jurisdiction. All proceeds from the federal backstop collected in Nunavut are returned to the GNU, on condition that proceeds are not used to offset, reduce or otherwise negate the price signal on carbon pollution.

Other federal measures and investments support affordability. These include Canada’s $12.1-billion Affordability Plan, the $250-million Low Carbon Economy Fund, the Canada Child Benefit, increasing Old Age Security benefits, strengthening the Canada Pension Plan, enhancing the Canada Workers Benefit, and eliminating interest on Canada Student Loans.

Fisheries and Oceans

Fishing Vessel Safety

(Response to question raised by the Honourable Brian Francis on November 30, 2023)

The capsizing of the Tyhawk is a constant reminder that the safety and security of fish harvesters at sea must always be a departmental priority. Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) received and was briefed by the Transportation Safety Board on their final investigation report on the Tyhawk on November 17, 2023.

A number of safety considerations continue to be factored in the decision-making process, including how to identify hazards and their associated risks. The process of opening fisheries currently involves a sub-committee of stakeholders from the Government of Canada, First Nations and industry. This sub-committee makes recommendations on whether it is safe for fish harvesters to operate on the water based on considerations around presence of ice conditions, water and air search and rescue readiness, navigation buoys’ locations, weather conditions, and safe access to waterways.

DFO has recently developed and implemented a communication plan which provides safety reminders and tips to fish harvesters through the use of social media. This initiative is a direct result of industry feedback around increasing communication and educational awareness. DFO also continues to collaborate and work with all of its partners to promote safety at sea.


Bill to Amend the Criminal Code and the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act

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-15, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act.

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Honourable senators, I’m pleased to rise today to speak to Bill S-15, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and lnterprovincial Trade Act, which the government introduced in this chamber on November 21, 2023.

Bill S-15 is a continuation of the crucial work the Senate has done to protect animals. It builds on Senator Boyer’s work to prevent animal abuse, Senator MacDonald’s ban on shark fin imports, former Senator Stewart Olsen’s work on animal testing for cosmetics and former Senator Moore’s work on whale and dolphin captivity.

Our former colleague, Senator Murray Sinclair, proposed legislation similar to Bill S-15 during his tenure. This was later taken up by our colleague Senator Klyne, whom I’m very pleased is serving as the Senate sponsor for this bill. In his sponsor’s speech, Senator Sinclair stated:

In many Indigenous cultures, we use the phrase, “all my relations” to express the interdependency and interconnectedness of all life forms and our relationship of mutual reliance and shared destiny. When we treat animals well, we act with both self-respect and mutual respect.

When asked why we need this bill, his response was simple: “ . . . we owe it to the animals.”


Wild animals in captivity remain a growing concern for Canadians and for many people around the world. This bill will help us have this important conversation and uphold the Minister of Environment and Climate Change’s commitment to introduce and implement legislation to protect animals in captivity.


Bill S-15 amends two existing federal statutes, the Criminal Code and the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act, or WAPPRIITA, to prohibit the captivity of elephants and great apes except in limited circumstances.

Colleagues, Bill S-15 takes a narrower approach than Bill S-241, which was introduced in this chamber in March 2022, by focusing solely on phasing out the captivity of elephants and great apes in Canada.

Provinces and territories have primary responsibility for protecting animal welfare, and the federal government recognizes the significant role that many provinces play in regulating animals in captivity. It has been well-documented, however, that differences exist across jurisdictions, and that these differences may result in gaps in the protection of wild animals in captivity in Canada. That is why the Government of Canada has committed to engaging with provinces, territories and stakeholders to discuss the potential value of a national approach to protecting animal welfare and public safety in relation to captive wildlife and to build on existing federal and provincial roles and best practices.

Bringing together partners and stakeholders to advance discussions on issues like roadside zoos or dangerous wild animals being kept by private individuals will lead to improved outcomes for captive wildlife. The scope and focus of the national engagement will be determined following initial consultations with the provinces and territories.

Bill S-15 is another step in the right direction for protecting animals in captivity while continuing to respect federal and provincial jurisdiction. As I’ve implied, it builds on measures already in place at the federal level that can apply to these animals.

Let me address some of those.

The Criminal Code currently includes provisions and contains several offences related to animals in captivity, including an offence against willfully causing unnecessary pain, injury or suffering to animals. These provisions apply to all animals, including those kept as pets by private individuals or in zoos and similar facilities.

The Criminal Code also prohibits the ownership, custody or control of whales and other cetaceans kept in captivity, with limited exceptions, such as for the rehabilitation of a cetacean in distress. The code prohibits a variety of activities associated with the use of these animals in performances for entertainment purposes unless provincially licensed. It also prohibits the breeding or impregnating of cetaceans as well as possessing or seeking to obtain their reproductive material subject to limited exceptions, for example, unless it is done in accordance with a provincial or federal permit. Some members of this chamber would recognize these provisions as they were introduced in the Senate under Bill S-203, the Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act, which received Royal Assent in 2019.

As a complement to the code provisions relating to cetaceans, the Fisheries Act also prohibits fishing for a cetacean with the intent to take it into captivity, with limited exceptions; for example, when the cetacean is injured, in distress or in need of care. It also prohibits the import or export of living cetaceans or their reproductive material without a federal permit.

Another example of federal legislation that has an impact on certain animals in captivity is the Health of Animals Act and its regulations. This legislation is intended to protect the health of Canadian animals and people. It includes measures for the prevention and control of diseases, and sets out conditions for importing and exporting animals and the requirements for humane transport of animals to, from and within Canada.

Finally, Environment and Climate Change Canada, with the assistance of other federal departments and agencies, administers WAPPRIITA to regulate trade in plants and animals. Part of the act’s mandate is to implement the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, or CITES. This convention has been adopted by over 183 parties and was ratified by Canada in 1975. CITES regulates the international trade of wild animal and plant species that have been or may become threatened with over-exploitation because of trade. Species are listed under CITES based on the level of protection needed for conservation purposes.

Under WAPPRIITA and CITES, protection is achieved by controlling the trade of specimens of listed plant and animal species — whether alive or dead — and their parts or derived products. Permits could be issued if the species was legally acquired, and the import or export is not detrimental to the survival of the species.


Some requirements under CITES apply specifically to living plants and animals — for example, ensuring the proper care and shipment of the listed specimen. Elephants and great apes are already protected under CITES for conservation purposes.

Bill S-15, for its part, would strengthen the protections afforded to elephants and great apes in federal law.

Now, a combination of factors suggests that elephants and great apes, like cetaceans, should not be kept in captivity because of the cruelty to those animals that it represents. These are intelligent animals. They live long lives. They are large animals with a complex social functioning order and exhibit elaborate parental care.


Elephants and great apes come from warm climates, with specific habitat needs and extensive home ranges. Negative welfare indicators, such as poor health and bad behaviour, have been documented when these animals are kept in captivity. In his speech as sponsor of the bill, Senator Klyne talked about how captivity affects these animals. The details he provided compel us to take action to protect these amazing animals.


Bill S-15 recognizes that there are certain circumstances, however, where the captivity of elephants and great apes can be justified. Conservation programs run by zoological facilities can make significant contributions to the long-term survival of species in the wild, even when these programs involve the keeping of captive populations.

The Species Survival Commission of the International Union for Conservation of Nature recently published a report supporting the role of botanical gardens, aquariums and zoos in species conservation. Likewise, scientific research may be vital to our understanding of these animals and assist us in ensuring their survival in the wild. Finally, in some cases, the captivity may be in the best interests of the elephant’s or great ape’s welfare itself.

The goal of Bill S-15 is to phase out the captivity of these animals for purely private, entertainment or public display purposes over time.

The proposed amendments to the Criminal Code in Bill S-15 would prohibit the possession, breeding, impregnating or failure to take reasonable measures to prevent natural breeding of elephants or great apes in captivity in Canada. These prohibitions would be subject to a limited number of exceptions. These would include existing animals in captivity for veterinary care or when captivity is provincially or federally authorized for a justified purpose. Several activities related to the use of these animals in performance or entertainment purposes, which is framed broadly in the bill, would be prohibited, colleagues, without exception.

The proposed amendments to WAPPRIITA in Bill S-15 would complement the Criminal Code amendments by prohibiting the import and export of living elephants and great apes and would set out the federal authorities needed to allow captivity, breeding, import or export under limited circumstances.

The new permitting authorities in Bill S-15 required for the importation or exportation of a living elephant or great ape would build on top of the existing authorities in the act. A CITES permit will still be required for elephants and great apes to cross the Canadian border. However, if a person wanted to import or export a living elephant or great ape, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change must assess whether the import or export is in connection with a scientific research program, conservation program or in the best interests of the animal’s welfare.

The WAPPRIITA amendments would include the authorities for the Minister of Environment and Climate Change to issue permits related to the Criminal Code prohibitions on possessing and breeding elephants and great apes. These permits could authorize the possession or breeding of elephants or great apes in connection with a scientific research or conservation program and, again, if captivity is in the best interests of the elephant’s or great ape’s welfare.

Allowing for the issuance of federal permits for the keeping of elephants and great apes in captivity would also fill the gap should any province or territory not have a licensing regime. The federal government’s intent is to develop a policy that will elaborate on the criteria and conditions that could apply to each type of permit.

Colleagues, in my humble opinion, we would be hard-pressed to find a reason not to support this bill. Bill S-15 has been carefully crafted to address many concerns that were raised in the context of the debate on Bill S-241 — namely, the question of constitutional jurisdiction — and it was developed following proper consultation with relevant stakeholders in the field.

Colleagues, I would ask that Bill S-15 be referred to committee quickly so that we might hear from the experts who deal with these large animals. The protection of these large animals is timely considering the national engagement on this discussion.

Colleagues, on that, I conclude. Thank you for your kind attention.

(On motion of Senator Martin, debate adjourned.)


Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement Implementation Bill, 2023

First Reading

The Hon. the Speaker informed the Senate that a message had been received from the House of Commons with Bill C-57, An Act to implement the 2023 Free Trade Agreement between Canada and Ukraine.

(Bill read first time.)

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

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


National Security, Defence and Veterans Affairs

Notice of Motion to Authorize Committee to Meet During Sittings and Adjournment of the Senate Withdrawn

On Government Business, Motions, Order No. 131, by the Honourable Patti LaBoucane-Benson:

That, for the purposes of its consideration of Bill C-21, An Act to amend certain Acts and to make certain consequential amendments (firearms), the Standing Senate Committee on National Security, Defence and Veterans Affairs have the power to meet, even though the Senate may then be sitting or adjourned, and that rules 12-18(1) and 12-18(2) be suspended in relation thereto.

Hon. Patti LaBoucane-Benson (Legislative Deputy to the Government Representative in the Senate): Honourable senators, pursuant to rule 5-10(2), I ask that the government notice of Motion No. 131 be withdrawn.

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

Hon Senators: Agreed.

(Notice of motion withdrawn.)

Agriculture and Forestry

Committee Authorized to Meet During Sitting of the Senate

Hon. Robert Black: Honourable senators, with leave of the Senate and notwithstanding rule 5-5(k), I move:

That the Standing Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry have the power to meet on Tuesday, February 6, 2024, even though the Senate may then be sitting, and that rule 12-18(1) be suspended in relation thereto.

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.)


Roman Catholic Episcopal Corporation of Ottawa
Roman Catholic Episcopal Corporation for the Diocese of Alexandria-Cornwall

Private Bill to Replace an Act of Incorporation—Third Reading

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Clement, seconded by the Honourable Senator Saint-Germain, for the third reading of Bill S-1001, An Act to amalgamate The Roman Catholic Episcopal Corporation of Ottawa and The Roman Catholic Episcopal Corporation for the Diocese of Alexandria-Cornwall, in Ontario, Canada, as amended.

Hon. Yonah Martin (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, I rise today to speak to Bill S-1001, An Act to amalgamate The Roman Catholic Episcopal Corporation of Ottawa and The Roman Catholic Episcopal Corporation for the Diocese of Alexandria-Cornwall, in Ontario, Canada.

We have witnessed a meticulous process, one that has spanned nearly a decade, involving comprehensive consultation procedures. The Pope’s canonical amalgamation of these two regions marked a pivotal moment in this journey. Now, we stand at the point of legalizing this union under Canadian law, a step that will bring about a new chapter for the Catholic community in eastern Ontario.

Colleagues, allow me to re-emphasize the profound significance of this bill for its advocates, particularly the Catholic communities in Ottawa and Alexandria-Cornwall. The enactment of this bill will lead to the formation of a vast archdiocese, extending from the southern part of Ottawa to the St. Lawrence River. This unification merges the Diocese of Alexandria‑Cornwall, with its 27 parishes and approximately 60,000 Catholics, with the larger Archdiocese of Ottawa, which serves about 395,000 Catholics across 107 parishes and missions.

The rationale behind merging the Ottawa and Alexandria-Cornwall dioceses is complex. A primary consideration is the preservation of French-language Catholic services in eastern Ontario. The challenge of recruiting bilingual clergy capable of bishopric duties has been a significant concern. This issue, combined with demographic shifts and the inevitable closure of aging buildings, has catalyzed this decision.

The sentiment among the parishioners has been mixed. Many have seen the geographical proximity and historical ties of the Ottawa and Alexandria-Cornwall dioceses as a natural fit. Notably, several parishes from both dioceses are located along the same highway corridor, fostering a closer bond between them than with the neighbouring Archdiocese of Kingston.

Conversely, there have been voices of concern apprehensive that the unique identity of the region might be overshadowed within the broader archdiocese. There is also a profound respect for the history of the Diocese of Alexandria-Cornwall, which traces its origins to the earliest Catholic settlements in Upper Canada. While the merger might have seemed inevitable to many, it remains a keen hope that the archbishop will actively seek to honour and preserve the rich heritage of the Diocese of Alexandria-Cornwall.

As I mentioned in my second reading speech, Senator Clement, in her capacity as the former mayor of Cornwall and as an active participant in several community discussions about the merger, has a deep understanding of the aspirations and concerns of these communities. I commend her for her efforts.

This is why I was in favour of the amendments put forward by Senator Clement in our Senate Committee on Banking and Commerce and the Economy. The amendments proposed and passed, including the clarifications in clauses 1, 2, and 3, reflect our collective commitment to precision and clarity in legislative matters. These changes ensure that the new entity, The Roman Catholic Episcopal Corporation for the Diocese of Ottawa‑Cornwall, is accurately represented and legally sound.

Let us consider each amendment in detail. The amendment to clause 1 is pivotal for establishing the precise legal identity of the new corporation. By replacing line 25 of the English version with “pal Corporation of Ottawa-Cornwall”, we are ensuring that the title of the corporation accurately reflects its new, unified nature. This precise naming is not just a matter of legal formality but also of symbolic importance, representing the merger of two historic entities into a single, cohesive body.

Similarly, the modification in clause 2, which replaces line 15 of the English version with “poration of Ottawa-Cornwall as amalga-”, ensures that the language used in the bill aligns seamlessly with the newly adopted name of the corporation. This change highlights our commitment to clarity and consistency throughout the legislative process, reinforcing the identity of the new entity.

In the amendment to clause 3, which replaces line 25 with “of Ottawa-Cornwall” in English and “La” in French, is crucial for bilingual accuracy. It acknowledges the linguistic diversity of our nation and the communities this bill impacts. Ensuring that the corporation’s name is accurately represented in both official languages is not only a matter of legal precision but also of respecting the cultural and linguistic heritage of the communities involved.

I want to echo Senator Clement’s words once again from her sponsor speech in that it is crucial that the voices of those affected by such policies are heard and acknowledged. By adopting these amendments, we are not only facilitating a smooth legal transition but also honouring the history, identity and future aspirations of the Catholic communities of Ottawa and Alexandria-Cornwall.

As we proceed with third reading of this bill, let us do so with a keen awareness of the profound impact our decisions have on the communities we serve. Our discussions have not only been about legalities but also about the human aspect of this amalgamation. We acknowledge the diverse emotions and concerns of parishioners, from those who embrace this change to those who fear the loss of their unique historical identity. It is crucial that the new archdiocese honours and preserves the rich history and traditions of the Diocese of Alexandria-Cornwall, ensuring that its legacy continues within the larger entity.

In closing, I commend Senator Clement for her diligent stewardship of this bill. This bill represents more than a legal amalgamation; it symbolizes a new beginning and a blending of histories and communities united in faith and purpose. Let us remember the voices of all those impacted by this decision, and may the new Archdiocese of Ottawa-Cornwall uphold the values and traditions of its constituents while moving forward into a promising future. Thank you.

Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

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


Constitution Act, 1867
Parliament of Canada Act

Bill to Amend—Second Reading—Debate Adjourned

On Other Business, Senate Public Bills, Second Reading, Order No. 6:

Second reading of Bill S-226, An Act to amend the Constitution Act, 1867 and the Parliament of Canada Act (Speaker of the Senate).

Hon. Diane Bellemare: Honourable senators, I note that this item is at day 15. Therefore, with leave of the Senate and notwithstanding rule 4-15(3), I move the adjournment of the debate in the name of Senator Dalphond for the balance of his time.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Debate postponed until the next sitting of the Senate.)



Canadian Human Rights Act

Bill to Amend—Second Reading—Debate Adjourned

On Other Business, Senate Public Bills, Second Reading, Order No. 14:

Second reading of Bill S-257, An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act (protecting against discrimination based on political belief).

Hon. Salma Ataullahjan: Honourable senators, I note that this item is at day 15. Therefore, with leave of the Senate, I ask that consideration of this item be postponed until the next sitting of the Senate.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Debate postponed until the next sitting of the Senate.)

Can’t Buy Silence Bill

Second Reading—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator McPhedran, seconded by the Honourable Senator McCallum, for the second reading of Bill S-261, An Act respecting non-disclosure agreements.

Hon. Marilou McPhedran: Honourable senators, I note that we’re at day 15. Therefore, I move the adjournment of the debate for the balance of my time.

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

(On motion of Senator McPhedran, debate adjourned.)


Citizenship Act

Bill to Amend—Second Reading—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Omidvar, seconded by the Honourable Senator Ravalia, for the second reading of Bill S-262, An Act to amend the Citizenship Act (Oath of Citizenship).

Hon. Chantal Petitclerc: Honourable senators, I note that this item is at day 15. Therefore, I move the adjournment of the debate in the name of Senator Omidvar for the balance of her time.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(On motion of Senator Petitclerc, for Senator Omidvar, debate adjourned.)


National Strategy to Combat Human Trafficking Bill

Second Reading—Debate Adjourned

On Other Business, Senate Public Bills, Second Reading, Order No. 19:

Second reading of Bill S-263, An Act respecting the National Strategy to Combat Human Trafficking.

Hon. Salma Ataullahjan: Honourable senators, I note that this item is at day 15. Therefore, with leave of the Senate, I ask that the consideration of this item be postponed until the next sitting of the Senate.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Debate postponed until the next sitting of the Senate.)


Balancing the Bank of Canada’s Independence and Accountability Bill

Bill to Amend—Second Reading—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Bellemare, seconded by the Honourable Senator Klyne, for the second reading of Bill S-275, An Act to amend the Bank of Canada Act (mandate, monetary policy governance and accountability).

Hon. Julie Miville-Dechêne: Colleagues, I rise today to speak at second reading of Senator Bellemare’s bill, Bill S-275, An Act to amend the Bank of Canada Act.

Our colleague is a seasoned progressive economist, and issues like labour and better co-operation among economic players have long been a passion for her, hence her interest in monetary policy.

In the current context, Bill S-275 certainly deserves to be studied in committee and debated in the Senate, as Canada’s monetary policy has an obvious impact on Canadians’ daily lives.

Bill S-275 is a laudable effort to update the Bank of Canada Act. The central bank’s mandate has not been reviewed since 2008. Its mandate, as defined in the Bank of Canada Act, is to “promote the economic and financial welfare of Canada.” However, in reality, the Bank of Canada’s real objective is to fight inflation at all costs and maintain a target of 2%. It is high time we reflected on the Bank of Canada’s one-dimensional mandate.

Parliament must not wait until the central bank’s methods become outdated before starting to consider all of this.

Last September, the governments of Ontario, British Columbia and Newfoundland and Labrador all asked the Bank of Canada to lower its key interest rate and pay more attention to the human costs of its monetary policy.

Fortunately, politicians are not in charge of setting the key interest rate. That would be a disaster. However, this collective plea from politicians reflects deep concerns among members of the public, who wonder whether they will be able to make their next mortgage payment or what rate they will get when their mortgage comes up for renewal.

In the bill’s preamble, Senator Bellemare mentions the impression that there is a democratic deficit in monetary policy management. I agree with her.

Many people believe that Canadian monetary policy is too inflexible. In a 2023 article published in La Presse, National Bank Financial Markets’ deputy chief economist Matthieu Arseneau and economist Alexandra Ducharme said that Canada has one of the strictest monetary policies in the G7 and that Canada’s GDP is one of the slowest growing. In fact, both economists suggested that the consecutive key interest rate hikes were premature, if not perilous for the economy.

In a speech to the Montreal Council on Foreign Relations just today, the Governor of the Bank of Canada, Tiff Macklem, defended his mandate and recent decisions by reiterating that low, stable inflation is fundamental for shared prosperity, but he added that monetary policy has some limitations and cannot solve structural issues such as housing affordability and long‑term economic growth.

Bill S-275 proposes major changes to the current Bank of Canada Act.

First of all, it advocates for the creation of a nine-member permanent committee, and the major new element is that six of its members would be recruited from outside the Bank of Canada, in order to bring new perspectives to this institution, where power is mainly concentrated in the hands of a single person, namely the governor. The new committee’s responsibilities would range from assessing Canada’s monetary policy to setting the policy rate, and each member would have one vote, which would be unprecedented.

Second, the bill adds two explicit objectives for Canadian monetary policy, whereas the Bank of Canada Act made no mention of any official objective until now.

In the bill, proposed section 14 adds achieving and maintaining full employment to the de facto objective of the Bank of Canada, which is to achieve and maintain stability in the general level of prices over the medium term.

Finally, Bill S-275 calls for more transparency to make it easier to understand the choices that are made by the Bank of Canada, including the publication every year of a cost-benefit analysis of the various scenarios contemplated for the policy rate and summaries of the discussions between the Bank of Canada’s committee and the Department of Finance. The International Monetary Fund encourages greater central bank transparency. We can hardly be against that.

Let’s take a look at these important changes.

According to Senator Bellemare, who is a trained economist, the Bank of Canada should not limit itself to curbing inflation, as it is currently doing. The preamble of the bill states that demographic shifts, the climate crisis, technological change and political uncertainty are minimally affected by traditional monetary policy. However, it is not feasible to make a long list of criteria that would overcomplicate the central bank’s decision‑making process. The senator chose to add the objective of achieving full employment, but other people that we talked to think that it is more important to include the objective of financial stability, a broader concept that encompasses both inflation and employment, as well as other considerations, such as asset bubbles and the redistributive impacts of monetary policy.

What Senator Bellemare is proposing is a dual mandate: The Bank of Canada should take into account both inflation and full employment when setting its policy rate. Professor Lilia Karnizova, a monetary policy expert from the University of Ottawa, is of the opinion that this dual mandate could make the Bank of Canada’s job harder.

Since the bank has only one tool with which it must achieve two different objectives, how will it decide which one to prioritize if there is a conflict?

Also, is it realistic to have six external members on a nine‑member committee?

One of the newer members of the Bank of Canada’s governing council is an external member, and he participates in the discussions. Nicolas Vincent was appointed to the council in March 2023. He is a full professor of economics at HEC Montréal and a researcher. However, this position is not enshrined in the Bank of Canada Act, which means that it can disappear at the whim of the leaders who happen to be in power.


There is something else: The council’s decisions are made by consensus, without a vote. Many people think that our central bank needs more diverse points of view and expertise, because almost all the members of the governing council have the same profile, with a PhD in economics. Where Bill S-275 may go too far is in giving the balance of power to six experts from outside the bank, something that has never been done before by other central banks anywhere in the world. I noted that Senator Bellemare said in this chamber on September 26 that she was open to reconsidering the balance.

Debates over central bank policy are not exclusive to Canada. In fact, Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom have all adopted a model that ensures greater transparency from their central banks, while retaining a flexible mandate that is not limited to price stability.

The U.K. model is definitely the one that is most relevant to us. First, Great Britain decreed that its central bank’s Monetary Policy Committee would be made up of five internal and four external members. The external members are appointed to ensure that the committee benefits from thinking and expertise from outside the Bank of England. Each committee member has different expertise in the field of economics and monetary policy. Prior to being appointed to the committee, the current external members were all expert economists in domains such as risk management and real estate. They weren’t all from academia. Committee members don’t represent individual groups or areas; they are independent.

Second, the committee is primarily responsible for keeping the inflation measure close to a government-set target, currently 2%. However, the Bank of England has a secondary objective, which the government reinforced in March 2013: to support growth and employment. Bank of England policy-makers will still have an inflation target, but it will be more flexible, because the Monetary Policy Committee will be able to make trade-offs to support the economy. This implies that the committee will be able to justify inflation above its medium-term target if they find that the wider economic context requires measures to stimulate growth.

In the United Kingdom, the central bank’s new approach did not go unnoticed, particularly as it relates to the recent rise in inflation. The Bank of England came under growing criticism from Conservative MPs who claim its dual mandate made the central bank too slow in tackling soaring prices.

That being said, some economists point out that in most other advanced economies, rather than looking to change the mandate, most central banks review their strategies to ensure they can fully comply with it. Many have expressed concern that any call to review the mandate by the government raises questions about the Bank of England’s independence.

Historically, in the United States, the U.S. Federal Reserve also had a dual mandate, specifically to maintain stable prices and achieve full employment. However, a 2010 law enacted in response to the 2007-08 financial crisis introduced a third official mandate for the Federal Reserve, that is, to participate in the Financial Stability Oversight Council. This council identifies financial risks and imposes new regulations as needed. The council also brings together the expertise of federal and state financial regulators to identify and assess emerging threats to U.S. financial stability. According to a New York Times article published last summer, “the [U.S.] economy appears to have reached a better balance,” thanks in particular to the Federal Reserve’s various mandates. Indeed, after the last crisis of this magnitude in the 1980s, many economists feared that a repeat of the draconian measures put in place at the time would be necessary. However, last summer, the unemployment rate fell to 3.5% in the United States. By comparison, Canada’s unemployment rate for the same period was 5.5%.

Of course, these are just a few examples. It won’t surprise you to hear that some people don’t agree. Arjun Jayadev, an economics professor at the University of Massachusetts, published an article in the journal Economics Letters in 2006 stating that the dual mandate does not explicitly define the relative importance of the objectives of price stability and full employment and that it introduces uncertainty when it comes to the short- and long-term actions of a central bank. What’s more, according to the IMF, if less attention is given to inflation and price stability, the public may react negatively because inflation has a direct effect on people’s lives and they may think that the central bank is not concerned enough about this issue.

In short, a real discussion on the Bank of Canada’s mandate is needed. Should we maintain a single objective of curbing inflation, or should we try to take into account other criteria, such as full employment, in establishing our monetary policy? Should we bring external perspectives into this institution and reduce the democratic deficit by requiring a strong minority of voting members to come from outside the bank? In my opinion, these are some of the questions that justify sending this bill to committee for study.

Thank you.

Honourable senators, this item stands adjourned in the name of the Honourable Senator Martin and, after my speech today, I seek leave for the item to remain adjourned in her name.

(Debate adjourned.)


National Framework on Sickle Cell Disease Bill

Second Reading—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Mégie, seconded by the Honourable Senator Cotter, for the second reading of Bill S-280, An Act respecting a national framework on sickle cell disease.

Hon. Mohamed-Iqbal Ravalia: Honourable senators, I rise today in support of Bill S-280, An Act respecting a national framework on sickle cell disease. I applaud our colleague Senator Mégie for her extensive consultation with physician specialists and the presidents of the Canadian and Quebec sickle cell disease associations, as well as patient advocates, in helping to develop this bill. I would also like to recognize our colleague Senator Jane Cordy, who championed the designation of June 19 as National Sickle Cell Awareness Day in 2017.

As Senator Mégie has clearly outlined, this bill aims to bridge the current gaps in sickle cell disease knowledge, diagnosis and management. It aims to raise awareness amongst health care providers, improve research and facilitate evidence-based knowledge exchanges through a national registry. It will also help address the existing disparities, and ensure equal access to universal newborn screening and diagnosis.

In Canada, an estimated 6,000 Canadians live with sickle cell disease, and approximately 1 in 2,500 newborns will have the disease.

Sickle cell disease is a hereditary blood disorder characterized by abnormal hemoglobin — the protein responsible for carrying oxygen in red blood cells. The condition primarily affects individuals of African, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and Indian descent. These deformed red blood cells can block blood vessels, leading to a reduction in oxygen supply to the tissues — the so‑called vaso-occlusive crisis.

Individuals living with sickle cell disease frequently experience these crises, characterized by severe pain due to blocked blood vessels. These episodes can occur anywhere in the body, and often necessitate hospitalization for pain management and hydration.

The destruction of sickle cells can lead to chronic anemia, causing fatigue, weakness and pallor. It can also increase susceptibility to infections.

Prolonged vaso-occlusion can result in damage to other organs, often affecting the liver, kidneys, lungs and bony skeleton. Over time, this leads to chronic organ dysfunction.


Sadly, sickle cell disease also increases the risk of stroke, particularly in children. The abnormal blood flow causes sickle cells to clog up arteries, leading to brain damage and neurological deficits.

Honourable senators, in my own experience during my training as a physician in Southern Africa, I witnessed the tragic consequences of this disease and its devastating impact on the quality of life of those affected.

Many countries have implemented newborn screening programs to identify infants with sickle cell disease early, allowing for prompt intervention and management. With our changing demographics, it is imperative that we standardize these screening programs across the country to target at-risk populations.

Addressing pain is a crucial aspect of the management of sickle cell disease. Pain-relief strategies may include medications, physical therapy and psychological support. However, individuals with the disease are often labelled “drug seeking” and denied appropriate medications for pain relief, particularly in settings where there is a poor understanding of the disease and its devastating sequelae.

Despite advances in the understanding and management of the disease, challenges persist. As Senator Mégie outlined, access to comprehensive care, including specialized clinics and medications, remains elusive in many parts of our country.

Sadly, the spectre of anti-Black racism rears its ugly head in the overall response to individuals living with sickle cell disease. These unaddressed issues of racism within the health care system against individuals who are susceptible to the disease create additional barriers to care for those who need it most.

The lack of funding for research in Canada puts us at a significant disadvantage and needs to be addressed by the funding agencies and federal government. There holds strong promise for curative potential using gene therapy and gene‑editing techniques, a transformative development that is now available in the United Kingdom.

Colleagues, sickle cell disease is a complex genetic disorder with a wide-ranging impact on the health and well-being of affected individuals. Ongoing research, improved diagnostics and enhanced access to specialized care are essential in mitigating the complications associated with it.

As we move forward, a multi-faceted approach involving medical, genetic and social interventions is crucial to improve the quality of life for those living with this challenging condition.

Honourable senators, this is an important bill and should be referred to committee for further study and consideration.

I thank you. Meegwetch.

(On motion of Senator Martin, debate adjourned.)

Copyright Act

Bill to Amend—Second Reading—Debate Adjourned

Hon. Colin Deacon moved second reading of Bill C-244, An Act to amend the Copyright Act (diagnosis, maintenance and repair).

He said: Honourable senators, I rise today to speak as sponsor of a private member’s bill — Bill C-244, An Act to amend the Copyright Act (diagnosis, maintenance and repair). It comes to us having received unanimous support from the House of Commons, which is kind of rare these days.

The legislation plays an important role in enabling the implementation of right-to-repair frameworks across the federal, provincial and territorial levels of government in Canada.

Giving Canadians the right to repair their products strengthens their consumer rights. It reduces their costs. It helps to increase competition. It reduces harms to the environment. Specifically, Bill C-244 amends the Copyright Act to allow a person to circumvent a technological protection measure, or a TPM — I didn’t know about this either before now, so hang in there with me — but only when the purpose is solely to diagnose, maintain or repair a product.

A TPM is also known as a digital lock because it prevents, for example, a repair technician from accessing software code, consequently preventing them from repairing a product.

My hope is that by the end of my speech you’ll appreciate why this private member’s bill was unanimously supported in the House of Commons.

Before I get into the substance of the bill and its regulatory implications, I’d like to step back and speak about right to repair more generally and how it promises to help Canadians and small businesses in every corner of the country. I’ll then speak about the bill itself and why it’s central to making progress on right to repair.

Last, I’ll wrap up my comments by positioning the bill relative to another piece of legislation on our Order Paper, Bill C-294.

What is right to repair and why does it matter? Let me start with a personal example.

In 2019, we bought a new dishwasher. We gambled and lost because we bought the cheapest version of a supposedly respected brand, but we did not buy the extended warranty. It broke two years later. I happen to live in an area with a well‑respected repairman who, at no cost, politely listened to what I thought the problem was. When I finished, he asked a couple more questions. He said, “Well, it’s the pump. It’s the thing that goes first on that model. If you prefer, I can come over and diagnose it in person and charge $150 plus HST for the same answer I’m giving you now.”

He went on to say, “If you choose to fix it, with parts, service and HST, it is probably going to cost you about $600. For the same price,” he said, “you can buy a brand new dishwasher, but this time get the extended warranty.” Then he said, “When it breaks, call me.” He’ll fix it for no charge.

He’s not happy with the fact that the appliances at all price points are so poorly made and that the manufacturers’ overpriced components are taking about half of his total sales. He’s not happy about that, but at least he has found a way to make sure the community he serves knows that he’s not the one who’s ripping them off. Most importantly, it’s outrageous that he is so confidently predicting that the new appliance will almost certainly fail within five years.

Yes, we took his advice. We bought a new dishwasher. Yes, we got the extended warranty and then carried the one with the broken pump out to the end of the road, destined for the landfill. Needless to say, I wasn’t happy.

This concept where products are intentionally designed to have a limited lifespan is known as “planned obsolescence.” Consumer rights groups have and do push back in the most egregious of cases, but they need the help of legislators. In many jurisdictions, this help is well under way, and the balance of power is finally shifting away from global manufacturers and back to consumers.

When our dishwasher failed, I couldn’t help but think back to my parents’ purchase of a matching set of appliances. It was 1972. Most of you can probably guess the colour of those appliances — yes, avocado green, the pinnacle of fashion.

Despite their colour, these appliances were used continuously by four different households requiring only minimal repairs until they were finally retired in 2007. They delivered 35 years of reliable service. It still wasn’t long enough for avocado green to come back into fashion.

Today, poor quality and planned obsolescence have become the expected norm. From a selfish, business perspective it makes sense. Why would a manufacturer make one sale every 35 years when they can make a sale every 5 or less? Why would they empower others to maintain and repair their product without ensuring that they can maximize their share of repair costs through licensing fees, specialized tools and expensive components?

If you listen to podcasts, I recommend that you listen to CBC’s “What On Earth” with Laura Lynch, specifically the episode from November 1, 2023, called, “Let’s talk about all your broken stuff.” In this episode, she cites countless examples of products that are seemingly designed to become quickly obsolete. When you consider all of the energy, effort and environmental costs involved in extracting and refining raw materials, designing and manufacturing a product and then transporting it around the globe, it’s entirely unsustainable and unacceptable for our homes to simply be a pit stop for that product as it travels from the other side of the globe to our local landfill.


Money and carbon are being burned for a steadily diminishing return because designed obsolescence is so easily and invisibly achieved. For example, when the magnet required to ensure a tight seal on an expensive refrigerator door is not designed to be replaced, an otherwise excellent refrigerator is sent to the landfill. When a specialized battery is glued into a device, making it impossible to swap out and replace with a standard battery, it, too, ends up in the landfill. Suddenly, regardless of the price point, too many of our consumer products are becoming garbage.

I was thrilled when I heard CBC’s “What On Earth” actually reference Bill C-244 as an example of important progress on the path toward extending the reliability and lifespan of consumer products. The show’s host referenced the fact that virtually every product today is a smart product because it is controlled by some form of computer chip. This chip contains software, and, under our current copyright law, manufacturers use technological protection measures, or TPMs — or digital locks — to prevent third parties from accessing their software code, even when the reason is to diagnose and repair the product.

Allow me, again, to provide another personal example — I’m filled with them on this: Last winter, the check engine light came on in our car. I called our local garage in rural Nova Scotia. The mechanic said he couldn’t count on being able to fully access the car’s computer, so he told me that I should go down to the dealership. I phoned, made an appointment and drove an hour into Halifax. When I arrived, I waited an hour and was asked to pay $100. Why? It’s because the gas cap was not entirely sealed, which set off the sensor in the gas tank, triggering the check engine light. Needless to say, my hour-long drive home was powered by frustration.

I had just wasted over three hours and $100 because the vehicle manufacturer doesn’t allow others to fully access the car’s software for the purposes of maintenance, diagnosis and repair — or, in this case, the simple insight that their gas cap needs to be tightened another half turn.

Automotive industry manufacturers point to an existing agreement with the aftermarket repair industry called the Canadian Automotive Service Information Standard, or CASIS. This voluntary agreement allows, in principle, for:

. . . auto manufacturers to share service and repair information with the automotive aftermarket industry on a level equivalent to information available to authorized dealerships.

This sounds as if it achieves the right to repair without having to amend the Copyright Act. However, the CASIS agreement hasn’t been updated since 2009 and has no enforcement mechanism, and compliance is not mandatory.

A car uses software for just about anything and everything today, unlike in 2009, meaning that a TPM can legally block something as simple as a tail light repair. This agreement is no longer fit for purpose.

Colleagues, for much of the last century, music was distributed as a physical or tangible product — as a record, a tape or a CD. However, as digital distribution became increasingly common, the Copyright Act was amended to protect the rights of creators, particularly songwriters and musicians. This could be seen as a natural extension of existing copyright laws for tangible assets, such as books and pieces of art.

However, these TPMs have become invasive and are a manifestation of scope creep. They now effectively block consumers from having access to or control over the digital trail that they create when using products, and prevent third party technicians from providing maintenance and repair services to the rightful product owner.

Clearly, some manufacturers, with the help of their clever lawyers — those dastardly clever lawyers — have sought to discourage the right to repair, with too many prioritizing short‑‑term commercial interests. Whatever the reason, increasingly, the Copyright Act is being used to block the role of independent repair service providers by threatening those service providers with copyright infringement penalties, or threatening the consumer with voiding their warranty. This has the effect of reducing competition in the market to the detriment of consumers.

Allow me to recap: So far, we have reviewed the right to repair generally, and how the unintended use of copyright laws limits competition and increases consumerism to the detriment of quality over quantity, reaping harm on our wallets and the environment.

My hope is that you will see why Bill C-244 is a crucial starting point in the drive to securing consumer access to competitive and affordable repair services and an aftermarket.

The lack of the right to repair impacts farmers, mechanics, technicians, construction workers, electronic repair shops, artisans and all sorts of small business owners — not just consumers. Given this context, it’s not surprising that Bill C-244 was unanimously approved in the House of Commons at third reading, after seven committee meetings where MPs heard from close to 30 industry, government and expert witnesses.

Additionally, this bill aligns with Budget 2023’s announcement that the government will work to implement a right to repair, with the aim of introducing a targeted framework for home appliances and electronics this year — in 2024.

The government has also committed — in Budget 2023 — to launch consultations, including on the right to repair and the interoperability of farm equipment, and to work closely with the provinces and territories to advance its implementation.

Bill C-244 helps to fulfill a government priority and, therefore, is supported by the government and by Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, in addition to all the other parties in the House of Commons.

The fact that Bill C-244 is industry agnostic is the primary reason why I think it has secured so much support in the House. Previous bills have attempted to use an industry-centric approach with limited success. For instance, in the past, Bill C-273 — introduced in 2009 — sought to enable a mandated right to repair for motor vehicles only. Bill C-273 failed in the House.

A similar bill — Bill C-231 — was introduced in this Parliament by the same sponsor, MP Brian Masse. His bill relates to amendments to the Competition Act, which — as we have just heard — are now being incorporated as part of the announcements in the Fall Economic Statement. He views his bill and the amendments to the Competition Act as complementary to Bill C-244.

The key to why Bill C-244 earned unanimous support in the House is that it avoided the possible litany of carve-outs, which could have defeated the general-purpose intent of the bill.

Now let’s focus on Bill C-244 and its implications. Bill C-244 introduces amendments to the Copyright Act, which, as you know, is an important marketplace framework law of general application designed to foster and protect cultural and economic creativity and innovation.

We’ve discussed why amendments are needed: It’s specifically to allow for the circumvention of digital locks which are coded into a product’s software — but only if the circumvention is solely for the purpose of diagnosis, maintenance or repair of a product in which the software is embedded.

These amendments will also allow for the legal manufacturing, importation, distribution, sale, renting and provision of technologies, devices and components if they are used for the diagnosis, maintenance and repair of products. Many maintenance people have to use specific software connections and small computers to connect to products in order to service them. There are a lot of individual tools needed to be successful in maintaining products today.

As an amendment to the law of general application, it is not designed to address sector-specific concerns, nor does it deal with safety, cybersecurity or environmental matters. The changes proposed in Bill C-244 are, by design, neutral and would not harm the principle or effectiveness of the Copyright Act.

Importantly, this bill does not supersede existing regulations related to specific classes of products. Those regulations remain unaffected, whether they exist for safety, design, the environment or other purposes.

For this reason, it’s preferable that stakeholder concerns and suggested carve-outs be addressed within the existing legislative and regulatory regimes that are specifically designed to regulate those classes of products, as is now done with medical devices and vehicles.

A specific example relates to medical devices that are regulated under Health Canada. A long-standing regulatory gap exists as it relates to uncertified third party repair shops. Bill C-244 has exposed the existence of various regulatory gaps, but specifically this one, which requires action on the part of Health Canada to address this. To be clear, this bill does not impact existing regulatory safeguards, and all evidence suggests that it will force those who are responsible for those safeguards to increasingly strengthen them.


Some stakeholders have raised concerns specifically related to software piracy. Importantly, Bill C-244 only allows the circumvention of technological protection measures, or TPMs, for the legal access of content. Piracy remains illegal. Specifically, Bill C-244 does not allow the copying or sharing of copyright-protected content if that access infringes copyright law. This measure is in clause 2, subsection 3 of the bill.

This is a concern raised by the video game manufacturers who are affected by the integrity, security and privacy risks in their marketplace.

In 2017, the Canadian Federal Court awarded Nintendo $12.76 million in damages for copyright infringement under the Copyright Act, demonstrating the enforceability of the law. I want to underline that the changes proposed in Bill C-244 do not undermine enforceability of the Copyright Act, but there is a concern that there is an increased burden of proof and therefore increased litigation costs and that may be worth exploring during the study of the bill.

In the House study at the Industry and Technology Committee, or INDU, there were other amendments made to clause 2 of the bill to further strengthen the right-to-repair provisions and also to ensure compliance with the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement, or CUSMA. I will speak on two of those consequential amendments to the original drafting of Bill C-244.

First, an amendment was made to ensure that TPM circumvention for right to repair would apply to sound recording or performance if a specific sound was part of a TPM. I don’t know how many of you own dishwashers, microwaves or washing machines that make certain beeps, sounds or melodies. You will be interested to know that if the part of the device that sound is connected with breaks, like a button, you’ll end up having to have that serviced because it’s protected by a TPM. Just for the purposes of making it more difficult, I think, for affordable service to occur.

This amendment empowers consumers and repair technicians to circumvent a copyrighted sound in order to fix a damaged part of the machine. I don’t think any of us view that sound as being a bonus at all, and that’s one of the things that shows how the TPMs have been used against consumers.

I don’t know about you, but I was astonished just to think about the legal convolution that has gone on — that a law to protect singers and songwriters is now being used in a way to protect manufacturers and increase the revenue to be secured. Talk about an anti-competitive practice.

Another amendment passed at the INDU committee ensured that Bill C-244 complies with CUSMA and the risk that applying the repair exemption to the device circumvention prohibition could be potentially causing further trade disputes under CUSMA. This is because the trade agreement does not permit any new exemptions for manufacturing of technology intended to circumvent a TPM. 

To put it simply, while the bill will enable anyone to access service that would allow a TPM to be circumvented for the purpose of maintenance or repair, it does not allow anyone to manufacture that device specifically designed to circumvent a TPM even for the purpose of repair. Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada officials have confirmed that this amendment would be consistent with the U.S. federal copyright framework for right to repair, therefore enabling Bill C-244 to comply with CUSMA.

Lastly, I want to briefly position Bill C-244 relative to a related bill on our Order Paper, Bill C-294, sponsored by Senator Housakos.

Clearly, the right to repair is about the Canadian consumer fighting back. This issue is supported by all parties with a growing number of Canadians supporting the right-to-repair legislation. Indeed, there is an accompanying bill currently on the Order Paper that works in conjunction with Bill C-244. Bill C-294, An Act to amend the Copyright Act (interoperability) also passed unanimously in the House and serves a complementary purpose, which I look forward to diving into as well following a colleague’s speech on this matter.

There are already certain limited instances where circumventing TPMs will not infringe copyright, including circumvention for the purposes of software interoperability, encryption research, network security and for unlocking a wireless device. Bill C-294 will broaden that exemption to allow a person in certain instances to circumvent a TPM to make a computer program or a device in which it is embedded interoperable with another computer program, device or component. This entirely supports the principle of a consumer’s right to repair, and particularly is very important as it relates to farming equipment.

Both are also crucial to the concept of a circular economy where the whole value chain of a product is considered and is aimed toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions and other excessive wastes through repairing, reusing and recycling.

These bills are part of a much broader global effort. Europe began legislating in this area with directives being devised in the 2010s and member nations creating their right-to-repair frameworks. The U.K. introduced right-to-repair law that went into effect in July 2021. There are currently 18 U.S. states that have implemented their own right-to-repair legislation.

Some provinces like Quebec are moving ahead with legislation such as Bill 29, An Act to protect consumers from planned obsolescence and to promote the durability, repairability and maintenance of goods, and that passed last month. Bill 29 goes even further for consumers’ right to repair by prohibiting planned obsolescence and ensuring that merchants and manufacturers always make the parts needed to repair and service a product to be available to consumers under warranty agreements. It is a first of its kind on the continent.

Before I close, colleagues, I have an admission to make. I have a very dominant Scottish gene. There are times when my family has described it as a genetic defect. I have to admit that I don’t like to throw anything away. Leftovers are my favourite meal. Repairing rather than replacing brings me considerable joy. My noise-cancelling headphones were repaired using electrical tape. The slippers I wear at home are only 20 years old, and I consider them new. I purchased some of the ties that I wear in the Senate back in the eighties.

To be clear, I prefer to be described as frugal rather than cheap, and I thank my parents who came of age in the Depression for that attribute. I consider it a pretty important characteristic that we need to have more of during this current cost-of-living crisis that is making life incredibly difficult for so many Canadians.

Bill C-244 is made for the times. It will help to reduce the cost of living of Canadians by making it easier and more affordable to repair essential products. It helps to drive competition and productivity into our economy, enabling more to be done for less. It limits the plague of repairable products being sent to the landfill and all of the increased harm and waste that is caused. But even more importantly, it makes it less profitable for companies to import lower-quality products into Canada and simply sell overpriced replacement parts or — worse still — limit the ability of their products to be repaired at all.

I much prefer to see higher-quality products that use standardized replacement and aftermarket parts, maximizing the amount of money we keep in our economy and allowing Canadians — no matter where they live — to affordably repair their products, allowing for many more years of continuous and reliable use even if those products and appliances are avocado green.

Bill C-244 is an important example of the urgent need to modernize our legislation and regulations in the face of accelerating change in the digital economy. Too many of our laws and regulations intended for a specific purpose have become outdated and are now harmful and having unintended negative impacts. We need to be smarter about how we devise legislation so that it is either future-proofed or offers an agile mechanism to adjust to technological change.

It’s important to move ahead with this bill, which is complementary to Bill C-294, so we can begin to modernize the Copyright Act to align with the realities of the digital and data era. Creating a federal framework with these two bills will spearhead action from our provinces and territories and deliver benefits to consumers across Canada.

I just want to mention that a lot of this aligns with work that we did in the Banking Committee last spring and talking with this same sort of effort.

For these and other reasons, this bill garnered unanimous support in the House. I would like to thank my colleagues in the House, especially MP Bryan May, who first introduced a version of this bill in the previous Parliament in February 2021, and the sponsor who shepherded this bill through the House in this Parliament, MP Wilson Miao. I also want to thank members of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Industry and Technology for prioritizing the study of this bill and investing the time necessary to improve its content.


Colleagues, the Copyright Act is a law of general purpose, and this bill makes important changes that will enable the right-to-repair framework to be created at federal, provincial and territorial levels, benefiting consumers and the environment. It is universally supported and will bring meaningful changes to Canadians.

Thanks, colleagues.

Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.


Hon. Diane Bellemare: Would Senator Deacon take a question?

Senator C. Deacon: Absolutely.

Senator Bellemare: The repair and maintenance economy is something we must encourage in a sustainable economy. This bill affects regulation, but it has no financial impact. Do you think it will have a significant impact on the expansion of repair services for electronics, mechanical devices and household appliances, which we all need, compared to fiscal measures like those used in Scandinavian countries to encourage people to repair things instead of throwing them out? Do you think this bill can accomplish all that?


Senator C. Deacon: Thank you for your question because it’s really important. This is one of many things that we have to do. This is a foundation. This is a whole-of-the-economy approach. By amending the Copyright Act, we now make it illegal to prevent independent repair shops from doing the job that is done by manufacturers. They can’t use TPMs as a way to block repair. That’s a really good start.

But Bill C-294 is another element to enable interoperability between different products and different manufacturers. There is going to be a lot of effort needed in order for us to turn the tide on where we find ourselves in an economy where, as they say, all the manufacturing, resource extraction and everything goes on, and then something is shipped across the world, and our house is just a pit stop. It’s just craziness where we’re at right now.

This is one of many, many efforts. I wouldn’t rule out anything else, but what I like about what this does is that it makes competition more robust, and I believe in competition. I believe competition is how we get better. Those who are more expensive and have less durable products will now do worse in this environment. To me, that’s structurally really important. Where we get to on other measures, I wouldn’t rule anything out. I hope that helps.

Hon. David M. Wells: Senator Deacon, thanks very much for your speech. You have educated us on this. You’ll know that I’m the critic of this here in the Senate.

Who would be against this bill? Who would raise their head to be against this bill if there is such widespread support?

Senator C. Deacon: A lot of entrenched interests struggle with this bill. When I speak to them about it, so far I’ve been very direct. I just say that I’m looking for observations versus amendments — if there is anything.

There are game manufacturers, for example, who say that this is going to make piracy easier. If it’s going to make it easier, it may be harder for them — as I said in my speech — to investigate and enforce the law to protect their copyrighted assets. However, the reality is that if you start making one exemption, they are just going to come in a groundswell.

There are others, like auto manufacturers. They say that they’re already doing it through the Canadian Automotive Service Information Standards, or CASIS. They say they’re already allowing access. Well, the access is not mandatory and not complete, and it hasn’t been updated in 15 pretty crucial years in our digital economy. There are a number of groups saying they have got real problems. We should always hear from the dissenting interests, but I think their issues can be managed.

I believe I mentioned another one in the speech — medical devices. It has exposed a challenge that there are unregulated, uncertified medical device repair shops. There are repair personnel in the country. Well, that shouldn’t exist. There needs to be a health regulation change. The reality is that a number of things have to happen in other areas of government in order to ensure that there are no unintended consequences from this action.

As a rule, nobody is against right to repair. They are rightly protecting their current interests, and we can find ways to work through that.

Senator Wells: I’m thinking about the provisions for warranties. If someone tinkers to fix something under warranty, that would void the warranty. I had a car once, and I had to bring it back to the dealership to just have oil changed every year. If I took it somewhere else, my warranty would be voided.

What about the provisions of private repair affecting the warranty?

Senator C. Deacon: That is a really important question. I would offer that there are other provisions. For example, if you tinker with the environmental control systems in a car, the car will not be living up to the standards that are required by law. There are different ways in which a vehicle or a piece of equipment can be tinkered with. Eventually, we will have to change a number of different elements.

Equipment manufacturers and equipment renters will have to change the contract they have with those they rent equipment to in order to ensure they don’t tinker with a product. But it’s the same as we would have in any other area. We have to make sure that our safety, environmental and other laws and regulations in other areas of government are going to be enforced.

The challenge with where we’re at today is that when you don’t allow somebody other than just that one group — the registered dealer — to make a repair where others can be trained to deliver it more cost-efficiently and be certified to deliver safe, secure, responsible technical repair, the lack of competition means they can charge whatever price they want. It means you have to do your oil change at a much higher price than you could at a competing shop that is much more convenient. Certainly in my situation, convenience is important because it’s an hour to get somewhere.

Therefore, I just offer that, in my mind, each one of these things could be managed very carefully and very easily, but we have to stop the use of TPMs for purposes that are harmful to consumers.

Senator Wells: Just a final question, I promise. Would you take it?

Senator C. Deacon: Yes.

Senator Wells: You mentioned farm equipment. What about farm equipment? A lot of farm equipment is leased. If you are leasing something to a farmer, grower, rancher or grain dryer, what about a provision for having that piece of equipment only serviced by someone approved by the owner of the equipment? I shouldn’t have used the word “tinker.” I’m talking about repair — if something goes wrong and it needs to be repaired. I’m not talking about changing the catalytic converter or anything like that.

Should there not be protections for the owners of the equipment that it be done by a licensed, permitted, registered repairer? That may be them if they are the dealer for Caterpillar or John Deere or whatever.

Senator C. Deacon: Again, Senator Wells, this is a really important point. It will probably change how a leasing agreement is done by an equipment-leasing company, where they don’t allow you — you have got to certify that you are not going to do any repairs that are not from a certified technician. That would be the case today. The reality is that when a piece of equipment goes out, there may be a TPM in place, but on other elements of the equipment, they could be making changes.

What we have to look at is that, yes, there are ways in which other contracts have to change. If a company can provide technical service to the equipment they are leasing at an affordable rate relative to somebody else who’s saying that it has to be at this rate, the more affordable company will grow. Right now, what we’re not allowing is competition to occur in any way, shape or form. For me, that’s the key issue. This opens up the opportunity for competition in various marketplaces. Speak to farmers about what they have to deal with as it relates to the digital elements of their equipment, the lack of interoperability and the increased costs that come with that — and the fact that they can’t integrate effective, aftermarket components to replace a broken component. It can be done — and done safely — but they are just not allowed to do it right now.


The market and leasers will adjust with time in terms of how they deal with things, but we have to put this framework solution in place to enable competition to come along — and to allow the market to adjust to that competition.

Hon. Donald Neil Plett (Leader of the Opposition): First of all, during your speech, I was entirely supportive of the bill, but during some of these questions, I’m starting to feel a little uneasy. I know when this bill goes to committee, many of these questions will be answered, but you have on a few occasions said that these things will have a way of working themselves out, and we will have to do this, that and the other in order to compensate.

I want to get back to Senator Wells’s question about warranty. I have had manufacturers coming into my office — as you have, I’m sure — lobbying against it and farmers coming and lobbying for it. I’m also from a rural area, so if you are 100 miles away from a John Deere dealer and your combine breaks, you can’t stop combining. I understand that.

My question is this: If that combine is under warranty, are you suggesting with this bill that if the farmer tries to fix something that is a warranty issue and messes it up, that the dealer is still going to have to accept that and then repair something on warranty that the farmer — who wasn’t qualified to do this — tried to fix? I really struggle with that.

I support competition and see where some of the problems are, but I see a real problem if dealers are going to be forced to say, “Well, you messed it up, but we will still abide by the warranty.”

Senator C. Deacon: Senator Plett, thank you. I obviously was not clear.

No. Warranties will still be voided if uncertified, unqualified changes occur. I have no doubt about that. The key is that certified technicians could now come from organizations other than just the original equipment manufacturer. That’s the important element that allows competition to emerge.

This is the point made by the heavy equipment leasing companies, and it’s a really important one: What if they lease a piece of equipment for six months, and the person they lease or rent it to then makes changes? Then they get the equipment back, and a change has been made that has made it less safe or doesn’t fulfill environmental responsibilities, and then they take that on. That’s where they are going to need to have a very clear liability resting with the person they lease it to, saying, “If you make these sorts of changes, you are liable for them, not the leasing company.”

Thank you very much. That was well clarified.

Hon. David Richards: Will you take a question, sir?

Senator C. Deacon: Certainly, thank you.

Senator Richards: I don’t know much about this, and maybe it’s a question that has already been answered, but how will this square with the American manufacturers and the American monopoly on so many products? I mean, 80% of our products, from Massey Ferguson to toothbrushes, come from south of the border. This may well pass in Canada and go through the Senate. I’m just wondering how it will pass in Washington.

Senator C. Deacon: Thank you for the question, senator. Number one, this does comply with the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement, or CUSMA. That’s a key element. It doesn’t interrupt our trading agreement in any way.

What it does do is open the door for more competition, and that’s a priority in the United States, and is becoming a priority in Canada. The competition may come from the United States or it may come from Canada, but it loosens the lock that original equipment manufacturers have on their products and the control over consumers’ ability to maintain that product over time. Releasing that hold on consumers and freeing up others to start to make repairs in a qualified, competitive environment only benefits consumers, and it forces greater competition amongst the manufacturers to make better products that last longer and are more easily repairable.

If there are going to be experts that should be questioned in committee, they should look at that issue and say, “Where is there a potential risk with CUSMA?” We have been assured by Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, or ISED, and certainly by reading the testimony of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Industry and Technology, that’s not an issue.

Thank you.

(On motion of Senator Wells, debate adjourned.)


Food and Drugs Act

Bill to Amend—Second Reading—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Dasko, seconded by the Honourable Senator Coyle, for the second reading of Bill C-252, An Act to amend the Food and Drugs Act (prohibition of food and beverage marketing directed at children).

Hon. Chantal Petitclerc: Honourable senators, it is a privilege to be back in this chamber today and to speak in support of Bill C-252, An Act to amend the Food and Drugs Act with respect to prohibiting food and beverage marketing directed at children. I would like to begin by thanking our colleague Senator Dasko for agreeing to bring this important issue before the Senate.

In my speech today, I’d like to highlight the reasons this bill is essential, in my opinion, and address some of the myths about its scope.


Let’s begin with a line of reasoning that I believe we can all agree on. Canada is facing a juvenile obesity crisis. Kids are exposed to marketing and publicity like never before. They are vulnerable. We have a responsibility to look out for the most vulnerable and therefore must give attention to this important bill.


We have been facing an epidemic of childhood obesity for years. It is real and documented, and it warrants examination. It would be impossible to overemphasize the fact that one in three Canadian children nowadays is either overweight or obese. That figure is three times higher than it was 30 years ago, and 1.6 million Canadian children are affected.

Our failure to bring these numbers down means that these children are more at risk of developing a number of preventable chronic health problems at an earlier age, problems that could follow them into adulthood. The World Health Organization acknowledges a direct link between childhood obesity and junk food advertising.

Data from the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada show that $1.1 billion is spent annually in Canada on the marketing of food and beverages to children. This may be only a small share of the total advertising dollars spent in Canada, but it is a highly targeted share. In addition, the impact of exposing children to advertising is massive. Ads are becoming increasingly sophisticated and interactive, and most of them push foods that are high in salt, sugar and fat.

According to Health Canada, on average, in 2019, children and teens aged two to 17 saw nearly five food ads on television per day, for a total of 1,700 food and beverage TV ads. Allow me to make a very simple inference: The reason so much money is being invested in advertising is because it works. If you have young people in your life, you don’t need any major scientific data. You have surely seen children glued to a tablet or phone, rapidly absorbing a huge number of ads.


As we can see, kids are exposed to advertising like never before, thanks to all the technology and digital media we have. From the moment they wake up to when they go to bed, ads are all around them. Advertisers are never short of creativity when it comes to reaching out to our children and teenagers in their real and virtual environments.


However, we know these ads are not there only to entertain them. They are designed to influence our kids and make them want to consume. We know children are permeable to influence. Experts have demonstrated this time after time. Their brains are still developing, and until the age of 12, they don’t have the skills to see through tricky advertising.


Without this ability to distinguish between information and promotion, they are vulnerable. Quebec recognized that fact back in 1980. As a pioneer in the field, Quebec is still the only province where the law forbids marketing any good or service to children under 13 years of age. Although it took the Supreme Court until 1989 to recognize the constitutionality of these restrictions, Quebec’s legislation has been acknowledged as an effective safeguard.

However, under the exceptions set out in Quebec’s legislation, commercial advertising is still permitted on product packaging, in store windows and on store displays.

The industry has exploited this loophole to a problematic degree. Many organizations, including the Collectif Vital, formerly known as the Coalition Poids, have told us that Bill C-252 would fix this problem.

Outside Quebec, advertising aimed at children under age 13 is overseen by a system of industry self-regulation. Its most recent measure was the publication in 2021 of its Code for the Responsible Advertising of Food and Beverage Products to Children. Although I commend this effort, we must remain clear‑eyed. As Senator Dasko mentioned, self-regulating codes here and elsewhere in the world have not produced any proven positive effects.

It’s also important to note that this bill is not a stand-alone initiative. It complements initiatives under Canada’s Healthy Eating Strategy, such as the 2018 ban on industrial trans fats in foods sold in Canada, the 2019 modernization of Canada’s Food Guide, and the 2022 update of food labelling regulations.

As you can see, honourable senators, this bill is one of the missing pieces in this effort to make it easier for Canadians to make healthier, more informed choices.


Of course, this is where Bill C-252 comes in. It’s all about setting some rules across Canada to protect our kids and make sure they can grow up healthy and make good food choices without all the unnecessary pressure.

Colleagues, allow me to clarify what this bill will not do. First, Bill C-252 does not infringe on the industry’s freedom to advertise their product. This bill is about finding a balance. There will always be a right to free market enterprise, and businesses will have their right to advertise, but you will agree that it should never be at the expense of our kids’ well-being.

Second, this bill will not hurt the advertising industry. Studies show that marketing to kids is just a small part of their overall budget. If we rely on the Quebec experience, businesses can still be successful and ethical while keeping our kids safe.


In addition, the restrictions in Bill C-252 will not make Canadian businesses that export their products less competitive. Every market has its own regulatory requirements, of course, regardless of the product, and businesses know how to comply and are accustomed to doing so.

Finally, this bill will not limit children’s participation in sports and will not have a negative impact on the sport community. The restrictions that have been in place in Quebec since 1980 have not prevented the province from developing and sustaining a healthy and vibrant sport community. It is useful to point out that the bill focuses on foods, not brands. Corporate sponsors of teams and events will always be able to display their name on jerseys and event advertising banners. Well-known programs like Tim Hortons’ Timbits will continue to exist. However, companies will not be allowed to offer free products, food samples or coupons, which seems perfectly reasonable to me.


Colleagues, the goal of this bill is to put limits on advertising directed to kids. This can be somewhat easily accomplished when it comes to TV shows. You will agree those shows are often packed with ads for sugary or salty snacks, fast food and sugary drinks. These TV ads have a direct effect on what our kids want to eat, which can lead to child obesity. This bill simply says let’s cut back on those unhealthy food ads during kids’ shows. It’s simple, it’s common sense.

The challenge, I believe, will be to address advertising on all platforms because it’s true that children and teenagers surf the web more than they watch TV. What about social media influencers? They are everywhere these days and can have a real impact and influence on our kids. Attention should be paid in committee to the likelihood that advertisers will mainly focus on social media, YouTubers and other influencers once Bill C-252 becomes law.


Let me remind everyone that parents — and I include myself in this group — need support to protect their children from aggressive marketing tactics. It is time for the government to act, to support parents who are trying to make good choices. I want to be clear: This is not about government interference, interventionism or control.

It is about putting children at the heart of our priorities and taking the necessary steps to ensure that all children are on an equal footing from day one. The idea is to ask ourselves how we can create a Canada where, no matter who they are, where they come from or what obstacles and barriers they face, all children have an equal chance of reaching their potential and achieving their dreams. We did it with the dental benefit, and we want to do it with Bill C-35 to create a truly accessible, affordable and inclusive early learning and child care system.


Let’s be frank: With the passing of this bill, we are barely catching up with the world and are far from being pioneers. Other countries, like the U.K., Norway and Sweden, have already put some rules in place on advertising to kids and it’s been constructive and positive. Children in those countries are exposed to fewer ads that push unhealthy products, and this has led to better public health.


As we all know, this bill won’t solve everything. The reality is that the main cause of childhood overweight and obesity is an energy imbalance between calories consumed and calories burned. There will still be a lot of work left to do. Junk food and marketing are one part of the problem, but physical activity is another challenge that must be overcome. If we can ever get kids away from their screens, honourable senators, we’ll be on the right track.


It’s time for all of us, senators, to do the right thing and support this bill for our kids, who deserve a childhood free from the constant exposure to advertisements. As we are returning from a well-deserved break, it is my hope that this bill gets the attention that it deserves. Let’s work together to protect their innocence, promote their health and make sure that they grow up in a world that looks out for their well-being.


Meegwetch. Thank you.

(On motion of Senator Martin, debate adjourned.)


Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament

Fifth Report of Committee—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the consideration of the fifth report (interim) of the Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament, entitled Equity between recognized parties and recognized parliamentary groups, tabled in the Senate on March 9, 2023.

Hon. Diane Bellemare: Honourable senators, I note that this item is at day 15. Therefore, I move the adjournment of the debate in my name for the balance of my time.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(On motion of Senator Bellemare, debate adjourned.)


Study on the Canadian Foreign Service and Elements of the Foreign Policy Machinery within Global Affairs

Twelfth Report of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Committee and Request for Government Response—Debate Adjourned

The Senate proceeded to consideration of the twelfth report of the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade, entitled More than a Vocation: Canada’s Need for a 21st Century Foreign Service, deposited with the Clerk of the Senate on December 6, 2023.

Hon. Peter M. Boehm moved:

That the twelfth report of the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade, entitled More than a Vocation: Canada’s Need for a 21st Century Foreign Service, deposited with the Clerk of the Senate on Wednesday, December 6, 2023, be adopted and that, pursuant to rule 12-23(1), the Senate request a complete and detailed response from the government, with the Minister of Foreign Affairs being identified as the minister responsible for responding to the report.

He said: Honourable senators, I’m very pleased to rise today as Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade to begin consideration of the committee’s twelfth report, entitled More than a Vocation: Canada’s Need for a 21st Century Foreign Service, which was deposited with the Clerk of the Senate on December 6, 2023.


Colleagues, until this study, it had been more than 40 years since a substantive examination of Canada’s foreign service had been undertaken.

The last time was in 1981 when the Royal Commission on Conditions of Foreign Service — led by former Canadian diplomat, Pamela McDougall — was released.

Today, our foreign service faces new challenges.

The world of today is increasingly unstable and violent, with impacts on our trading relationships, supply chains, sovereignty, and our influence around the world. Also, there has been an increase in consular and humanitarian emergencies.

Our foreign service is under more pressure than ever, but it is full of dedicated and highly skilled professionals who work hard every day in service to Canada and Canadians.

That said, to be able to continue advancing and defending Canada’s interests at home and abroad, there is significant work to do to ensure our foreign service can meet the serious challenges of today, tomorrow and the decades to come.


The key question guiding our study was: Are Global Affairs Canada and the Canadian Foreign Service fit for purpose? The committee’s answer is yes — but with several caveats.

Over 16 meetings between April 2022 and June 2023, we were guided by 22 hours of testimony from expert witnesses, ranging from current and former ministers — including one former prime minister — to retired practitioners, academics, younger serving officers and members of employee-led networks within the department.

We made 29 recommendations designed to strengthen the already considerable abilities of our foreign service.

Among the committee’s concerns is staffing. The Foreign Service is still feeling the effects of a 10-year suspension in Foreign Service recruitment between 2009 and 2019.

We heard that Global Affairs Canada has been relying on short-term contractors and students, but this is not the way to develop an experienced workforce that can help Canada be a global leader in the 21st century.

One statistic that continues to stand out to me personally is that the average age of a foreign service officer below management or executive rank is currently 47.

In my view, this is a direct consequence of inconsistent recruitment and lack of planning and suggests that talent could be better managed.

Recent events have also underscored the importance of a foreign service that can respond with agility to emergencies. For example, Canadians have been evacuated from conflict zones such as Lebanon, Afghanistan, Ukraine, Sudan and Gaza — thanks in large part to our Foreign Service.

But we heard that what is known as “surge capacity” — that is, the ability to rapidly deploy resources to manage constantly developing events — should be increased.

Canadians abroad should feel confident that their Foreign Service will be there for them in their time of need.

The committee therefore strongly encourages Global Affairs Canada, in its ninth recommendation, to run an annual entry-level Foreign Service officer recruitment campaign to fill vacancies and create needed surge capacity.

Enhancing the skills and abilities of foreign service officers can be done through other initiatives as well. The committee has made several recommendations in that vein. For example, our witnesses told us there are many advantages to encouraging secondments and hiring people with different professional backgrounds, including people in the middle of their careers. At the same time, we heard the culture of the department prizes knowledge gained from experience in international affairs.

While I can certainly vouch for the benefit of such experience, international issues encompass a vast range of topics.

One way to encourage the development of expertise in different areas is captured by the committee’s twentieth recommendation — namely, that public servants should pursue temporary opportunities, such as secondments and interchanges, in and out of the federal public service.

There is a wealth of knowledge and experience across our great country, but leveraging it requires some out-of-the-box thinking not inherent to a department as relatively risk-averse as Global Affairs Canada.

Further, the committee, in its twelfth recommendation, urges Global Affairs Canada to recruit more mid-career professionals from other government departments and, importantly, from outside government altogether.

This would immediately help to broaden the department’s skill set and is another way of providing it with more tools.

Our study revealed that generalist knowledge is prioritized over specific thematic expertise. That is due, in part, to some of the staffing challenges.

A good generalist can move from one file to another as needed, providing the department with flexibility and adaptability in sometimes rapidly changes circumstances.

However, it is clear that specialists are vital to the mission of Global Affairs Canada. Russia and China will continue to hold the world’s attention for years to come. As such, Russia and China specialists — people with profound understanding of the languages, cultures and goals of these countries and their governments — are invaluable.

Developing these capabilities will take time and money, but the rewards would be well worth it. That is why the committee is urging Global Affairs Canada, in its eighteenth recommendation, to increase investment in foreign language training and provide opportunities for Canada-based staff trained in a foreign language to maintain their foreign language skills throughout their careers.

This also speaks to the committee’s seventeenth recommendation on the equal use of French and English within the department and to ensure that ab initio official language training is maintained for new hires.

In recommendation 26, the committee is also encouraging Global Affairs Canada to establish a pathway for specialists who would be expected to maintain, with the support of relevant training, specific geographic, functional and/or linguistic expertise.


The conditions of the foreign service could also be improved.

The Foreign Service Directives provide for allowances and benefits for staff serving abroad and are long overdue for review; again, much has changed since 1981.


This includes the unique needs of officers posted with families — including blended and separated families, ones with aging parents and children with special needs — officers with partners with their own careers, and single officers posted alone.

As such, the committee, in its twenty-third recommendation, strongly urges a complete modernization of the Foreign Service Directives to ensure they are adapted to the current and evolving realities faced by Canada’s public servants.


While good progress has been made in seeing our country’s diversity reflected among officers at the working level, it should also be visible among senior management and heads of mission. For example, I would personally like to see more representation of Indigenous peoples.

On the positive side, as of June 2023, half of all of Canada’s heads of mission were women. That is a big deal, but moving forward on diversity does not stop there. Thus, the committee is encouraging Global Affairs Canada, in its tenth recommendation, to identify and address barriers faced by minority groups in the department, including Black and Asian Canadians and Indigenous peoples.

Canada needs a strong and capable Foreign Service. Whether it’s negotiating free trade agreements, providing expert analysis on trends and issues or assisting Canadians fleeing conflict zones, the Foreign Service has a broad range of important responsibilities that affect Canadians here at home and around the world.

The vital work of Foreign Service officers is a big reason why several of our major allies, including Germany, Norway, the United Kingdom and the United States, have also undertaken or are in the process of undertaking reviews of their own foreign services.

As such, the committee undertook two very important and productive fact-finding missions in support of this study: the first to Washington, in December 2022, and the second to London, Oslo and Berlin, in September 2023.

A question the committee kept in mind as a reminder of why this study was undertaken was, “Why does the Foreign Service matter, and why should Canadians care?”

It is exactly because of the broad range of duties of the department and the Foreign Service specifically that Canadians must care about their Foreign Service being ready to serve them now and in the future. What happens around the world impacts us here at home, from economic security to physical security. Canada’s Foreign Service is at the forefront of mitigating negative impacts and taking advantage of opportunities.

This goes to the very heart of the committee’s first recommendation — that Global Affairs Canada must do a better job of communicating to Canadians what it, and the Foreign Service specifically, does. There can be little understanding of the role of the Foreign Service without public outreach by the department. It is true that our Foreign Service faces many challenges, both internally and externally, but, as I strongly believe, Canada’s Foreign Service officers are the best in the world at what they do.

There is hard work ahead, and what the committee recommended is not the end of it. We did not even get into costing issues. The department also knows that the path ahead will not be easy, having launched its own internal review in May 2022.

I have every confidence that the government will consider our report seriously and take appropriate action, informed by the committee’s recommendations. Some of those echo ones made by Ms. McDougall and the Royal Commission 43 years ago. That should tell you something.

We need to ensure that our talented people have the tools, skill sets, funding and consistent non-partisan political support to do their jobs. It is often said that foreign policy is rarely, if ever, on the ballot, but Canadians would certainly notice if we did not have a foreign service. That is why the Foreign Service matters.

The committee launched this study in April 2022 with the goal of completing a thorough and thoughtful review of Canada’s Foreign Service and the foreign policy machinery at Global Affairs Canada.

As chair, I am very proud of the result of that study — this excellent report — and see it as a road map the department can use to modernize the Foreign Service as it considers lessons learned during its own Future of Diplomacy review.

I wish to thank my fellow committee members, including deputy chair, Senator Harder — who was at one time my boss at Global Affairs Canada in our previous lives — and other senators who participated in meetings over the course of this study.

I must also acknowledge our own highly skilled and dedicated professionals who worked so hard to make this study and report happen.

In no particular order, I want to thank our committee clerk, Chantal Cardinal, and our former, now-retired clerk Gaëtane Lemay, as well as their teams in the Committees Directorate. I thank our Library of Parliament analysts, Nadia Faucher and Brian Hermon, and my Director of Parliamentary Affairs, Christina Cail.

On the final report itself, I want to thank the committee’s communications officer, Amely Coulombe, as well as Michel Thérien, the graphic designer at Senate Communications who came up with the idea for the report cover’s much-discussed image of a pile of obsolete floppy disks.

Finally, while you will not see the names of senators’ staff in committee reports, I wish to thank the staff of members of the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade for their own hard work and contributions to our study and to this report.

Colleagues, as consideration of this report continues, leading to its adoption and a government response, I encourage my fellow committee members and other interested senators to speak to it here in the chamber.

Just as the Foreign Service would benefit from the perspectives of people beyond Global Affairs Canada, this report would benefit from the perspectives of senators beyond members of this committee.

As chair of the committee and as a former career Foreign Service officer deeply committed to helping ensure our Foreign Service succeeds now and in the future, it was my honour to lead this generational study. Thank you.

(On motion of Senator Martin, debate adjourned.)


Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration

Tenth Report of Committee—Debate

The Senate proceeded to consideration of the tenth report of the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration, entitled Senate Budget 2024-25, presented in the Senate on December 15, 2023.

Hon. Lucie Moncion moved the adoption of the report.

She said: Honourable senators, I rise today to speak to the report that deals with the 2024-25 Main Estimates, which total $134.9 million, an increase of $8.2 million or 6.5% over the 2023-24 estimates.

The estimates take into account the recommendations of the Subcommittee on Senate Estimates and Committee Budgets. The subcommittee is composed of Senator Forest, who is the chair, Senator Dalphond, who is the deputy chair, and Senator Plett, Senator Loffreda and Senator Tannas. I’d like to thank them for the time and effort they have devoted to examining the estimates.

The members of the subcommittee met with the Senate Administration’s Executive Committee and a number of directors in early December. The directors presented details of additional funding requirements for the 2024-25 fiscal year.


Throughout its review of the 2024-25 Main Estimates, the subcommittee was mindful of the Canadian economic context and the importance of balancing the Senate’s operational needs with the proper use of public funds. The budget has two parts, one representing legislative appropriations, and the other one voted appropriations.

Legislative appropriations are funds allocated by law. They include basic and supplementary allowances and pensions for senators; travel and telecommunication expenses; living expenses; and employer-paid costs for the Public Service Pension Plan, the Canada Pension Plan and Employment Insurance. Any deficit in these categories at year-end is covered by the Treasury Board. Conversely, surpluses are returned to the Treasury Board, as they cannot be reallocated.

The second part of the budget presents the voted appropriations, which are intended for Senate operations. These are the budgets of senators’ offices and the Senate Administration.


The total amount for statutory items is $39.4 million, an increase of $1.3 million, or 3.5%, over the previous fiscal year.

The main reason for this increase has to do with the senators’ living expenses budget, which has risen by $974,000 over the previous year—


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

Is it agreed to not see the clock?

Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Some Hon. Senators: No. 

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: There is no agreement; therefore, the sitting is suspended, and I will leave the chair until 8 p.m.

(The sitting of the Senate was suspended.)


(The sitting of the Senate was resumed.)


Tenth Report of Committee—Debate Adjourned

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Moncion, seconded by the Honourable Senator Cormier, for the adoption of the tenth report of the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration, entitled Senate Budget 2024-25, presented in the Senate on December 15, 2023.

Hon. Lucie Moncion: The main reason for this increase is the budget for senators’ living expenses, which are rising due to inflation and the rising cost of housing in the Ottawa area.

Each senator’s living expenses budget for fiscal year 2024-25 will increase from $26,850 to $37,000. Among other things, this increase is intended to take into account the expectation that senators should be present in the National Capital Region for four days instead of three during sitting weeks.

It should also be noted that in 2023-24, an additional living budget of $7,500 was added to the living expenses budget for senators who met certain conditions related to their responsibilities as leader or committee chair or who had travel constraints. Nearly 30 senators received this additional allowance.

Beginning in fiscal year 2024-25, the living expenses budget will be the same for all senators.

The budget for senators’ basic allowances, additional allowances and pensions is increasing by $630,000 to reflect the adjustment in effect since April 1, 2023, as well as the Senate’s contributions to the senators’ pension fund to the tune of 23.34%.

These increases are offset by a $278,000 decrease in employer costs for superannuation, the Canada Pension Plan and employment insurance.


The second part of voted appropriations amounts to $95.5 million — an increase of $6.8 million, or 7.7%, over the previous year.

The main components of the increase in voted appropriations are as follows: new funding requests approved by the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration during the year — representing $6.1 million — mainly due to the ongoing maintenance and renewal of the Senate’s network infrastructure, economic salary increases, the security evaluation program and services to senators, as well as the forty-ninth annual session of the Assemblée parlementaire de la Francophonie and the seventieth annual session of the NATO Parliamentary Association; an increase of $656,000 in the overall budget for senators’ office expenses — from $246,550 to $253,390 — reflecting inflation of 3.9%, and salary increases of 2.7%; an increase of $551,000 for broadcasting; additional funding of $500,000 for information technology services provided by the House of Commons; an increase of $490,000 — or 10% — in the budgets of senior officers, caucuses and recognized parliamentary groups; an increase of $250,000 for the work of Public Services and Procurement Canada, or PSPC, for the maintenance services on specialized equipment used by the Senate; $182,000 for the extension of funding for the Indigenous Youth Internship Program; and a decrease of $2 million related to efficiency opportunities and expired financing.


Initiatives requiring one-time funding will be self-funded up to $1.5 million, an amount set aside for replacing the multimedia components in the committee rooms and in the Senate chamber, as well as for the security assessment program and services to senators.

With regard to the Senate’s staff, the members of the Executive Committee have committed to maintaining a cap of 449 full-time equivalent jobs or FTEs across the institution. Despite the addition of seven new FTEs in 2024-25 for initiatives related to the security of senators and 3.3 new FTEs approved in December because the funding for the Indigenous Youth Internship Program was extended, the Senate Administration has committed to maintaining that cap by finding reductions elsewhere.

In closing, I want to once again thank the members of the subcommittee for their extensive work on developing this budget. I also want to thank the Senate Administration staff and the members of the Executive Committee. They dealt with the estimates in a thoughtful, careful manner.

I also want to thank the Senate Administration, particularly those in the Finance Directorate, who do excellent work and provide us with all of the information on the changes to the budgets.

I therefore recommend that you adopt the report.

Thank you for your attention.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!


The Hon. the Speaker: I see that Senator Batters has a question. Senator Moncion, would you take a question?

Senator Moncion: Yes.

Hon. Denise Batters: With this $135-million budget, that’s about a $50-million increase from the last year of the Conservative government, when we had a similar number of vacancies. This is one thing I noticed when I was hearing a little bit about this major budget increase this year: Now the budgeting is being done based on 100 senators, not on the full complement of 105 senators. I seem to recall that when I was the deputy chair of the Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration Committee, we did budget for 105 senators. Not budgeting for 105 senators, but only for 100 senators, is quite a recent thing, and that would also be a substantial — probably $5 million or so — savings in the overall budgeted amount.

Can you tell us when that change was made and why?

Senator Moncion: Thank you for the question.

This change was brought upon, perhaps, five years ago — so it was five budgets ago. We were always budgeting for 103 senators. For a number of years — since we have been here — you know that there have always been vacancies in the Senate. We have eight vacancies right now. Therefore, there were always surpluses in the budget.

It was decided — I would say it was five years ago or, perhaps, during the pandemic, so it was 2019-20 — to bring the number down to 100 senators. Since the money is there, and it’s not used, it’s just given back to the Treasury Board. It was making the budget much higher than it should be, and the monies that are not used are sent back to the Treasury Board.

Senator Batters: Even though you said the money is much higher than it should be, this does contain a substantial increase. I believe you said an 8% increase — a several million-dollar increase — despite the fact that we’re only budgeting for 100 senators.

What would you say is the most major cost of the Senate Administration? That has been a large amount of the increase. What has been the most major cost of the Senate Administration increase? Has it been those additional full-time equivalents, or FTEs, that you were talking about, or is there another topic?

Senator Moncion: As you know, in the past couple of years, there have been increases due to inflation and negotiations for salary increases. Most of the Senate budget is associated with salaries, and most of the increase is from salaries. Then, there are the senators’ living expenses. These have been adjusted this year to bring them to the level of the House of Commons, because the Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration Committee has been dealing with exceptions for a number of senators.


For some senators, the amount provided was around $34,000. We are raising it to $37,000 for everyone. It’s less than what is being provided for members of Parliament. It will give senators the flexibility to stay in Ottawa four nights, because the budgets were initially established for three nights. Now there are sufficient funds for the fourth night, so that the Thursday evening problem that we have been living with for a number of years will no longer be a problem for most senators.

These are some of the expenses — the large increases.

The other one comes from the House of Commons, where there are services that the Senate needs to use, and the increase for these services this year represents about 1% of the Senate’s budget.


Hon. Pierrette Ringuette: Senator Moncion, would you be willing to answer another question?

Senator Moncion: Yes.

Senator Ringuette: In answering a question from Senator Batters, you said that the per diem senators get for staying in Ottawa or elsewhere on parliamentary business was lower than the per diem MPs get, even though they have the option of holding hybrid sittings, which means no costs for accommodations in Ottawa or for per diems, and so forth.

I understand that there is a sort of rota in place in the caucuses where most of the members spend only half the time in Ottawa, to qualify for per diems and accommodation costs.

Could you clarify why senators, who don’t have the flexibility to hold hybrid sittings, are not entitled to the same per diem as their colleagues in the other place, who do have that flexibility, which automatically means lower costs?

Senator Moncion: Thank you for the question. Members of the House of Commons receive a bit more money than we do. I believe their budget is $38,100. We get a bit less. With regard to the amounts allocated to senators or members of the House of Commons, if the money is not spent, then it does not go into the pockets of senators. It goes back to the Treasury Board. In the past, there were limits in the budget for those who stayed in hotels or apartments when that was coming out of their personal funds. We set the budgets to ensure fairness and to eliminate the barriers that caused funding pressure and travel constraints. The unused amounts are not given to senators or members of Parliament.

The Hon. the Speaker: Senator Moncion, your time is up. A senator would like to ask a question. Are you asking for more time to answer his question?

Senator Moncion: I could talk about the budget for hours. Will my colleagues grant me five more minutes?


The Hon. the Speaker: Senator Moncion is asking for five more minutes. Is it agreed?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Hon. Percy E. Downe: Thank you, senator, for the work that you do on the committee. As a former member of the Internal Economy Committee, I know how difficult it can be.

I have received comments — I didn’t realize so many people were watching this so closely — from a couple of Prince Edward Islanders wondering why there was a maximum of 105 senators 10 years ago and there is a maximum of 105 today, but the budget has gone up dramatically over those last 10 years. What answer do I give them to that question?

Senator Moncion: When we look at budgets from 10 years ago, because we’re looking at 10 years now, there have been increases. Over that time, there have been salary and cost increases. If you compare the increases to 10 years ago, the calculation doesn’t stand anymore. We have had increases over the years, and a lot of changes have been brought forward. There are security issues now that we did not have 10 years ago. There are security elements that are part of the budget now that weren’t there before. The number of full-time equivalents, or FTEs, has gone up. There has been more work.

If we go back 10 years, I remember when I got here in 2016, there were only 26 senators who were sworn in during the months of November and December. If you look at a budget when you have 74 or 75 senators, we budgeted on that. Now, 10 years later, we budget for 100 senators, so that we still give as much of the right information to the members of the Senate and the public. The increases have happened everywhere — not only here. If you look at the budgets of every government office, everything has gone up. But we cannot always compare to 10 years ago. We have to look, at least to be fair, at the last two or three years, and then we will get a real sense of the increases and costs that are associated with the work that we do.

Senator Downe: Thank you for that.

One of the people who contacted me must have been an accountant, because they checked the increases and said they were much higher in the Senate, percentage-wise, than other government departments.

We also paid for all the Senate security 10 years ago. All those employees are gone now. But the full-time equivalent of 449 is much higher than it used to be, and I notice you put a cap on that.

What other efforts are you taking to reduce expenditures? For example, broadcasting is very nice, but how many people are actually watching it? Is it value for money? I know it’s great for the vanity of senators to see themselves in Twitter clips, but how much is it costing us? Is it an expenditure that we should embrace? You indicated the costs are going up substantially. I think it’s an additional $500,000 this year. You mentioned what the House of Commons is doing in many areas, but one of the things they are doing is hybrid. If we were hybrid one week out of every four, then 80 of us wouldn’t have to fly from all over the country and incur hotel expenses. That would substantially reduce our expenses.

What is the committee looking at to bring our budget down in addition to capping the full-time equivalent, which I think is too high? I think we have gone out of our main area. We’re all in favour of culture and art — I have many paintings in my home and so on — but we’re not in the business of running an art gallery. How much is that costing us? All these additional expenditures are adding to the public perception that we’re becoming way too expensive compared to what we should be doing. I’m interested in what your committee is undertaking to reduce the cost.

Senator Moncion: I will say two things: First, when looking at efficiencies to reduce costs, we have been working with administration to find areas where we can cut costs. For example, since the pandemic, we have workers who are doing telework, so we don’t need as much office space. We are looking at having common areas for when some of the staff come in for just a few days — or a few hours during a day. Not everyone has an office now.


The Hon. the Speaker: Senator Moncion, are you asking for more time to answer that last question?


Is leave granted?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Senator Moncion: This is something that is being looked at by the Long Term Vision and Plan, but reducing office space is one part of it.


In the last 10 years, the Senate went from the building on the Hill to become an autonomous building, an autonomous space. So a lot of the expenses that we had before were combined with the House of Commons in one building. Now, they have their building and we have ours. So there are a lot of costs that have been associated with the full-time equivalents, or FTEs, that have gone up because of the fact that we are in a single building now.

I assume that when we go back to being in one building, some of these costs are going to go down considerably. But then again, time will tell. I’m not making any promises here. But these are some of the elements. So now we have other things, such as maintenance of the buildings. We used to share maintenance for one building. Now — when I’m talking about Parliament — we have the Senate that has its own maintenance team, and then you have the House of Commons, which has these expenses also. These are the kinds of changes that have brought costs up and the number of FTEs.

One of the concerns that the Subcommittee on Senate Estimates and Committee Budgets has, and that your leaders and the Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration share, is how we contain and stop growth by finding efficiencies here and there. We have about 35 initiatives that we are looking at. We’re looking at cafeterias, transport, office space and computers. We’re looking at all kinds of things, but broadcasting is another one. Do we want broadcasting? Do we want web casting? How are we going to work around these things? These are all the things we are looking at. The last thing I will add is the cost of cybersecurity now, which has gone up considerably because of the threats that the Senate and any government institution is exposed to. So these are all costs that have brought the budget up.

(On motion of Senator Martin, debate adjourned.)

Indigenous Peoples

Motion to Authorize Committee to Study the Effects of Identity Fraud on Further Marginalizing Indigenous People—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator McCallum, seconded by the Honourable Senator Campbell:

That the Standing Senate Committee on Indigenous Peoples be authorized to examine and report on the misrepresentation of Indigenous ancestry, inadequate self‑identification standards and the profound effects that such identity fraud has on further marginalizing Indigenous people, in particular Indigenous women; and

That the committee submit its final report no later than December 31, 2023.

Hon. Patti LaBoucane-Benson (Legislative Deputy to the Government Representative in the Senate): Honourable senators, this item stands adjourned in the name of the Honourable Senator Housakos, and after my intervention today I ask for leave that it remain adjourned in his name.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Senator LaBoucane-Benson: Honourable senators, I rise today to address Motion 96, which was introduced last year by Senator McCallum. The motion would have the Indigenous Peoples Committee examine the issue of misrepresentations of Indigenous ancestry and identity.

I thank Senator McCallum for bringing this matter to the attention of our chamber, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to discuss it, particularly from a Métis perspective.

Overall, Canadians’ knowledge of the diversity of First Nations, Métis and Inuit culture and history is not what it should it be. It’s getting better, but there’s a long way to go.

Like many Métis people, I’m especially sensitive to the gaps and misunderstandings that exist about Métis identity. So, if you’ll indulge me, I’ve prepared some remarks on this subject — partly academic, partly personal. I hope you’ll find it interesting, as well as useful when matters that affect Métis people and communities come before us in the future.

The Rupertsland Institute, named for the original Métis homeland, states:

The Métis are one of three distinct Aboriginal peoples of Canada recognized under the 1982 Canadian Constitution. During the Fur Trade (1670-1870), the Métis were known to be fiercely independent and instrumental in the development of western Canada.

The word Métis comes from the Latin term “miscere” (to mix) and was used initially to describe the children of Native women and French men.

Colleagues, this is how many Canadians today think of Métis people. There is a misconception that, if someone has partly Indigenous ancestry, that makes them Métis. Often, people who are beginning to reclaim their Indigenous ancestry declare themselves Métis — in the old sense of mixed blood — without understanding that the meaning of the term has changed dramatically over the last 200 years.

The fact is that if someone discovers that their great‑grandmother was Cree, for example, then their responsibility is to connect with their Cree family members, find the community she was from and learn about what it means to be Cree from that geographical perspective.

To claim Métis identity without understanding the history of Métis people and nationhood is unfortunate and false.

Some do so with the intent to deceive; for others, it can be a good-faith misunderstanding. But it can be hurtful and harmful either way.

In her sweeping history of the Métis people, Jean Teillet writes that Métis identity is bound up in Métis history and stories. As she says:

Only descendants of those who lived those stories within the geographical boundaries of their motherland are part of the historical Métis.

The Rupertsland Institute describes the original Métis culture as:

 . . . a fusion of French, English, Scottish and Indian influences, and took root and flourished in the late 1800s. The Métis developed a unique language called Michif, using both Indian nouns, and English or French verbs. Métis fiddlers combined jigs and reels into their unique forms of dance and music. Métis women created intricately decorated attire included woven sashes, embroidered gun sheaths, deer hide caps, quilled and beaded pipe bags, and the capote, a European-style coat made from Hudson Bay point blankets. The sale of these items often contributed to the income earned by the Métis family.

The Métis developed technologies for moving freight, such as the Red River Cart and York boat, and were known to elect Councils to organize highly successful buffalo hunts. From the buffalo meat the Métis provided pemmican to the fur trade, a remarkable energy-giving food, which in great measure, is responsible for the first crossing of the North American continent and explorations of the far northwest. By 1816, the Métis had challenged the Hudson’s Bay Company’s monopoly of the fur trade, and began to develop a political consciousness and a collective sense of community and nation-hood.

I will note that the institute is referring to the first European crossing of the North American continent. The point is that, while Métis culture draws on a combination of influences — as many cultures do — it developed into something all its own.

Métis people established successful, self-determining communities throughout Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. Lawrence J. Barkwell lists and describes them in his 2016 report, Métis Homeland: Its Settlements and Communities.

It was — and is — at the Red River and in these Métis communities that the unique identity of Métis people was formed and forged — with language, clothing, art and a lifestyle that are distinct yet somewhat connected to both settler and First Nations culture.

Importantly, they developed a fierce sense of independence and commitment to self-determination that characterizes Métis communities to this day.

However, while past and current culture is essential to Métis identity, it doesn’t tell the whole story.

Identity for Indigenous people is also very political, and can include the requirement of official membership in a nation and proof of ancestry. This goes to the heart of what Senator McCallum is asking the Senate to study — fraudulent claims of Indigenous identity.

In September 2002, the Métis National Council adopted the following definition of Métis:

“Métis” means a person who self-identifies as Métis, is distinct from other Aboriginal peoples, is of historic Métis Nation Ancestry and who is accepted by the Métis Nation.

But we have to break that definition down to truly understand it.

“Historic Métis Nation” means the Aboriginal people known in the 1800s as Métis or half-breeds who resided in the Historic Métis Nation Homeland.

“Historic Métis Nation Homeland” means the area of west‑central North America used and occupied as the traditional territory of the Métis.

“Métis Nation” means the Aboriginal people descended from the Historic Métis Nation which is now comprised of all Métis Nation citizens and is one of the “aboriginal peoples of Canada” within the meaning of section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.


“Distinct from other Aboriginal peoples” means distinct for cultural and nationhood purposes. This means a person can’t hold a Métis and a First Nations band or treaty status at the same time.

In Alberta, to become a member of the Métis Nation of Alberta, in addition to meeting the Métis National Council’s national definition, the following documents are also required: a complete genealogy that clearly outlines your Métis ancestry dating back to the mid-1800s, a detailed birth certificate, one piece of valid photo identification and proof of permanent residency in Alberta for a minimum of 90 consecutive days.

I should note that there are different bodies that act as representatives of Métis people. In Alberta, for instance, there’s the Métis Nation of Alberta and the Metis Settlements General Council, which are land-based Métis people. To avoid oversimplification, I’ll refrain from trying to explain these distinctions in a short period of time, but the general point holds that Métis identity is not something you can claim simply by vaguely pointing in the direction of an Indigenous ancestor. Rather, it’s something very specific.

For example, allow me to tell you the story my own Métis family, which spans this vast and beautiful Métis homeland from Montreal to St-Paul-des-Métis in Alberta. Jean Teillet says that the Northwest — all the land west and north of Montreal — is our original Métis homeland, known at the same time as Rupert’s Land.

It was in Montreal where my first ancestor, François Fournaise, arrived from Toulouse, France, around 1725, first as a soldier, then as a voyageur for the Hudson’s Bay Company. His grandson Joseph Lafournaise moved to St. Boniface and married an Indigenous woman named Suzanne in 1830. Then they moved to the Red River. Their son and my great-great-grandfather Jean‑Baptiste Lafournaise dit Laboucane moved his family from the Red River to White Plains, Manitoba. These are all Métis communities.

According to the online Métis museum:

In 1878 six brothers of the Laboucane family left White Horse Plain in Manitoba and headed west for the Battle River (Alberta). They were accompanied by members of the St. Germain and Poitras families. Three Laboucane brothers, Jean Baptiste, Gabriel and Elzear settled on land north of the river crossing and the other three, Jerome, Pierre and Guillaume settled on the south side.

These entrepreneurial Métis families established a trade route for transporting merchandise in the famous Red River carts, as well as raising livestock and horses. The community was formally known as the Laboucane Settlement for many years, until it was renamed Duhamel, Alberta, and there is still a historical Laboucane Settlement sign in that area.

In his 2016 report, Lawrence Barkwell notes that:

With the arrival of homesteaders in the region, in 1896, a number of the families from the Laboucane Settlement moved to new colony of Saint-Paul-des-Métis north of the Saskatchewan River . . . .

According to the book Restoring the History of St. Paul des Métis, published in 2020, “In 1898, the prosperous LaBoucane family with their livestock and farm equipment started moving to St. Paul des Métis.”

Senators, I brought my receipts, but this is what you need to do if you’re claiming your Métis status.

By all measures, St-Paul-des-Métis was a successful, thriving community. Many of the Métis homesteaders had large herds of cattle and horses as well as other holdings. By 1904, there were 80 families and 600 people living there.

The later history of St-Paul-des-Métis is unfortunate. It includes a betrayal by a Catholic priest, even though the Métis families were devoted Catholics; racist laws regarding communal landownership on the “half-breed reserve,” as the community was classified; and the building of the railway, which suddenly made the land much more valuable and caused it to be rezoned to a municipality, with the Métis people now deemed squatters. They were told to leave, and the priest worked to attract White Catholic francophone settlers to populate the new town of St. Paul.

This true history of St-Paul-des-Métis is just now being told due to the efforts of a group called Reconciliation St. Paul. I’m so grateful for their work. As we’re all finally starting to realize, acknowledging and reckoning with our past is a prerequisite for building a better future.

Despite the evictions, my family stayed in St. Paul. My great‑grandfather Alfred, my grandfather Paul, as well as my father, Terry, and I were all born there. I’m proud to be part of a Métis nation that has First Nations and European roots but that has forged a distinct identity through unique history, geography and culture.

Honourable senators, the story of the Métis people on their homeland is the story of the Lafournaise dit Laboucane family. It’s my history. At the same time, it’s a part of the history of this country, which belongs to all of us. I hope you and all Canadians feel a connection to Métis history and culture. I invite you to enjoy it and cherish it. And I invite Canadians to respect it — which means, among other things, not laying claim to it if it’s not really yours.

Once again, I thank Senator McCallum for introducing the motion and giving me the opportunity to deliver these remarks.

Senators, I’ll add one more thing: that I’m really lucky. My dad’s cousin Barbara did all of this history. I have an entire family tree given to me by Barbara. When I was reading Jean Teillet’s book The North-West Is Our Mother, I could map my family history along her book. It was actually a gift to do this speech, Senator McCallum, because I got to sit in that history a bit.

But there are a lot of young people who are products of the child welfare system, and they don’t have a Barbara in their life, and they don’t have the capacity to find out who they are. I have to hand it to the Métis Nation of Alberta because they’re holding a lot of genealogy for those kids so that they can reclaim their Métis history. If we do this study, and I think it’s a good idea, we have to be careful to think about all those children who were not connected to their families, who don’t have a family tree to call upon. We have to be careful that they don’t get caught up in the identity fraud that is happening, because they just don’t know who they are. Thank you for your time today, senators. Hiy hiy.

Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.

Hon. Mary Jane McCallum: Thank you. Would you take a question?

Senator LaBoucane-Benson: Yes.

Senator McCallum: I wanted to ask if you have the number of communities that have sprung up almost overnight claiming Métis community. Because it’s not only an individual theft; it’s community theft. For example, the Cherokee Nation had three communities. Today, they have 200. It’s just to understand the magnitude of the problem.

Senator LaBoucane-Benson: Thank you for the question. I don’t have the numbers. I think it’s worthwhile studying that, for sure, in the committee study. I agree with you that finding the truth in all of this — and the history is oral, and it’s written; it’s definitely something that we can find — would be a worthwhile enterprise.

(Debate adjourned.)

Ongoing Concerns with Respect to Canadian Agricultural, Wetland, and Forest Land Reallotments

Inquiry—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Black, calling the attention of the Senate to the ongoing concerns with respect to Canadian agricultural, wetland, and forest land reallotments, as well as potential food, economic, and social insecurities as a result of reduced capacity for farming, pasture, forestry, and food production both domestically and internationally.

Hon. Marty Deacon: Thank you, Senator LaBoucane-Benson. I’m still processing your truth and all of our truths. It’s quite something.

Honourable senators, I wish to rise today to speak to Senator Black’s Inquiry No. 16 regarding the ongoing concerns with respect to agricultural, wetland and forest land reallotments in Canada, as well as potential food, economic and social insecurities as a result of reduced capacity for farming, pasture, forestry and food production both domestically and internationally.

I am happy that the senator has brought this issue forward, as it touches on three of the greatest challenges this country faces: housing, climate change and food security. These are challenges that every level of government will face as we move forward as a country, and cooperation between all these jurisdictions is paramount if we are to see it through successfully and not damage valuable and needed agricultural land in Canada.


I’ve learned time and time again as a senator just how much jurisdiction can trip up policy with no clear answers on what a good compromise might be when the levels of government don’t talk with one another. You will recall when I spoke to the federal-provincial-municipal inquiry, I talked about the continued, essential importance of these jurisdictions working together. This is all the more important as we move into the next few decades.

Statistics Canada estimates that our country could have 56 million Canadians by 2050. These Canadians will need places to live, and under current practices — which treat valuable arable land as places to build those houses — Canada will lose one of its most precious resources in its farmland.

All over the country, the urban and the rural are increasingly running against each other, and this friction often comes at the expense of the farmer.

It’s been estimated that over the last 20 years, Canada is losing the equivalent of seven small farms a day. Much of this land is being lost to urban sprawl. Reports from Statistics Canada comparing surveys from 1971 to 2011 showed an estimated 642,100 hectares of agricultural land were lost to new settlements around Canada’s largest metropolitan areas. Housing is tremendously important, as we well know, but all too often housing wins over conservation.

Built housing is something a government can point to as a policy win over the course of a typical election cycle. The negative effects of these, however, won’t be felt until much further down the road when the governments who may have made these decisions are long gone. This is why we need a national conversation, where all levels of government sit down, and shoulder the burden and make those necessary compromises to preserve valuable farmland.

This problem is, of course, a multi-faceted one. It’s not only a matter of not paving over arable land for urban and suburban sprawl; areas abutting cities and farmland are just as important to try and obtain some form of balance. It’s fitting, colleagues, that we are here in our nation’s capital, where just five and a half kilometres south from here, this intersection of rural and urban is playing out in real time.

Some of you might be aware of the Experimental Farm. I can’t recommend it enough for those looking to get in touch with nature when we are here in Ottawa. This farm is run by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada at the federal level, and does crucial research on maximizing crop yields and determining how climate change will affect some of the most important food staples.

Scientists grow special varieties of wheat, soybeans, barley, corn and oats there that might be better able to weather the effects of climate change. It’s important research being done.

This farm, being in the middle of the city, is surrounded by homes and apartments, abutting areas that need intensification and development to accommodate Ottawa’s growing population.

One developer has proposed the construction of two towers — 16 and 27 storeys — just northwest of the farm. These towers are slated to include 350 rental units, including some that could qualify perhaps as affordable housing. The problem here is the shadows the buildings would cast over the fields at sunset, with the lands just southeast of the proposed towers losing the equivalent of almost 70 days of sunlight per year. Researchers cannot accommodate this, and it would spoil years of work in these crucial areas.

I don’t tell this anecdote with any opinion on what the right answer is.

There are no easy, right answers when it comes to the intersection of housing and farmland, but we have ignored this problem for too long — much to our detriment. We have seen this in my own home province of Ontario. The largest conversion from arable land to settlement happened in the Golden Horseshoe area around Toronto that includes my region of Kitchener‑Waterloo, which alone lost 28,900 hectares of arable land between 1971 and 2011.

During that 40-year period, 85% of all urban settlement in the Golden Horseshoe was built on once-prime agricultural land. When farmland is lost to sprawl, it is unlikely to ever recover. Among other effects, “sealing” soil under urban development severely reduces its potential for carbon capture, groundwater absorption and supporting our dear wildlife.

I mentioned earlier that farmland doesn’t need to only be paved over to be ruined. Urban sprawl running up against farmland can have a negative effect on the farming in that region as well. Homeowners and farmers are almost always butting heads in those areas where new developments and farmland run up against one another. New homeowners don’t like the smell. They don’t like the noisy operations or the pesticides being used on crops. Farmers, on the other hand, have to deal with trespassers, vandals and people dumping garbage on their land.

New roads and suburban comforts fragment farmlands and make transportation more difficult. Businesses like abattoirs are driven out and farmers have to go further and further to access services vital to their operations. All this undermines the viability of the farm and, more often than not, it’s the farmers who ultimately lose in these scenarios and eventually leave the area.

This is where something called edge planning comes in, and where I am proud to say my hometown of Waterloo has turned into a national leader in preventing these conflicts from happening in the first place. To quote a report published by the Ontario Federation of Agriculture and Environmental Defence:

Waterloo Region is taking a very broad approach to edge planning — an approach that not only eliminates conflict between urban and rural land uses, but reinforces the region’s commitment to permanent rural landscapes outside its urban boundary. The Region uses major landscape features to define its urban boundary, composed of environmentally sensitive landscapes (wetland clusters, woodlots, etc.), protected countryside, and recharge areas (moraine). Urban expansion into areas with these designations is prohibited in the region’s Official Plan. Together, these wide swaths of land add up to about 70,000 acres of permanently open space. About 75 per cent of the urban boundary is buffered in this way with the remaining boundary being the direction the Region intends to grow in.

The Region is also using community design and infrastructure planning to reinforce its permanent urban edge. Subdivisions abutting the urban boundary are not permitted to contain road stubs that dead end towards the buffer area — short-circuiting a common practice that presupposes further additions to the urban area. The Region also requires that infrastructure servicing the edge areas be sized to accommodate only the land within the current boundary, making it very difficult for future councils to allow urban growth to penetrate the boundary.

Long-term and sustainable.

According to this report, colleagues, the creation of a permanent edge to the city has invigorated the farm economy outside the buffer area.

Speculation and creeping divestment in farm operations are being reversed as farmers realize they can count on being viable into the indefinite future from generation to generation.

Without wading into provincial politics, colleagues, we’ve seen this strategy challenged in recent years. The region is actively pushing back against what they see as forced expansion of an urban boundary that they think perhaps goes too far and undermines a sustainable future that maintains valuable tracts of farmland that can be used to grow food that feeds both Canada and the world.

It’s why this inquiry, I think, is so timely. I’ve shamelessly plugged the good work of my city in charting a more sustainable path for our growing population, but there are other issues at play here and other regions that have faced different challenges and come up with their own solutions. This is not about one level of government telling another level what to do. Too often that is the case, and it’s led to the kind of disjointed, frankly short-sighted and damaging policy we’ve seen over the last 40-odd years.

Municipal, provincial and federal governments need to sit down and chart out a sustainable path for the future, one they will all equally own and be responsible for. Without that, colleagues, we’ll just get more of the same, which, as we’ve seen, will lead our limited farmland to ruin.

I thank Senator Black for starting this conversation, and I look forward to hearing more in the coming weeks and months from my colleagues on how we might move forward together. Thank you, meegwetch.

(On motion of Senator Petitclerc, debate adjourned.)


Foreign Affairs and International Trade

Motion to Authorize Committee to Study Foreign Influence in the Electoral Process—Debate Adjourned

On Motion No. 90 by the Honourable Donald Neil Plett:

That the Standing Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade be authorized to examine and report on foreign influence in the electoral process in Canada; and

That the committee submit its final report no later than June 30, 2023.

Hon. Donald Neil Plett (Leader of the Opposition): Your Honour, I would like to reset the clock for the balance of my time.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Debate postponed until the next sitting of the Senate.)

National Finance

Committee Authorized to Study the Practice of Including Non-financial Matters in Budget Implementation Acts

Hon. Scott Tannas: Honourable senators, with leave of the Senate, I move, seconded by the Honourable Senators Plett, Saint-Germain and Cordy:

That the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance be authorized to examine and report on the practice of including non-financial matters in bills implementing provisions of budgets and economic statements, including, but not limited to:

(a)examining how the Senate generally reviews and considers non-financial provisions in budget implementation acts;

(b)examining how other legislatures review financial legislation; and

(c)providing recommendations and guidelines to the Senate and its committees on methods to provide proper scrutiny of non-financial provisions found within budget implementation acts while permitting financial provisions to proceed in a timely manner; and

That the committee report to the Senate no later than April 30, 2024.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Senator Tannas: Honourable senators, I’ll be brief. I’m all that stands between us and adjournment.

I’d like to start by thanking all senators who spoke to my amendment during the Budget Implementation Act, 2023, No. 1 — Bill C-47 — debates last June. That debate and the exchange between senators was a clear example of what the Senate does best. Together, we examine, comment and scrutinize legislation.

This motion is borne out of those and subsequent conversations and discussions that were had amongst senators; it was led, I would say, by the urging of the late Senator Shugart, who contacted a number of us over the summer — myself included — and urged us to do something to make it better, rather than just complain about how it always is.

I’d like to thank the leaders — my colleagues — who seconded this motion, and who also contributed in the drafting of the motion.

The purpose of this motion is for the National Finance Committee to conduct a review of how the Senate deals with non-financial items that are placed inside of budget bills, specifically budget implementation acts. We had a number of difficult examples of this last June.

Governments in the past have used budget implementation acts to include minor, non-financial items instead of stand-alone legislation or omnibus bills with housekeeping items. However, I think the experience last June highlighted that this practice of adding housekeeping items has progressed — over many years — into something far more consequential, where there are policy items that are not financial, and should not be afforded the shield of time-sensitive budget review pressure, coupled with the tradition of a hands-off approach by the Senate on amendments to budget bills.

The race against time — that we always seem to be in when we’re dealing with a budget bill — is a necessary part of time‑sensitive budgeting, but a lot of the non-financial items do not qualify for that kind of intense treatment, and deserve better consideration.

The motion proposes that our National Finance Committee — which is our main investigator of government financial matters — see if they can find better ways for us to deal with non-financial items.

Let me also address what this motion does not do.

The intention is not to do away with omnibus bills. We cannot wave a magic wand and make them go away. This motion is to examine how we, as senators, can possibly improve how we deal with budget implementation acts that contain non-financial elements. It is about looking for ways to balance the government’s need for speed while ensuring proper scrutiny by the Senate can occur.

This study also does not look to change the supply process. It will just examine how the Senate deals with these types of bills. This is not a challenge to the executive branch and its ability to propose legislative measures. This study will examine ways for the Senate to do its job.

It’s not a review to change our Rules. It is a way to find better practices for now. This could lead to rule changes down the road if we — the Senate — feel that’s warranted.

In conclusion, I’d like to thank all senators for their attention tonight on this topic, and I hope that we can potentially call the question this evening so that this study can be sent to the National Financial Committee for their consideration prior to us receiving the 2024-25 budget implementation act. Thanks, colleagues.

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

Hon. Senators: Question.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Motion agreed to.)

(At 8:57 p.m., the Senate was continued until tomorrow at 2 p.m.)

Appendix—Senators List

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