The Senate met at 12:15 p.m., the Speaker in the Chair.
The following honourable senator was introduced; presented Her Majesty's writ of summons; took the oath prescribed by law, which was administered by the Clerk; and was seated.
Hon. Joseph Gérard Lauri P. Landry, of Village de Cap-Pelé, New Brunswick, introduced between Hon. Joyce Fairbairn and Hon. Louis J. Robichaud.
The Hon. the Speaker informed the Senate that the honourable senator named above had made and subscribed the declaration of qualification required by the Constitution Act, 1867, in the presence of the Clerk of the Senate, the Commissioner appointed to receive and witness the said declaration.
February 26, 1996
I have the honour to inform you that Their Excellencies, the Governor General and Mrs. Diana Fowler LeBlanc, will arrive at the Senate Speaker's Entrance at 13:50 on Tuesday, the 27th day of February, 1996.
When it has been indicated that all is in readiness, Their Excellencies will proceed to the Chamber of the Senate to formally open the Second Session of the Thirty-fifth Parliament of Canada.
Judith A. LaRocque
Secretary to the Governor General
The Speaker of the Senate
That the Senate do now adjourn until 1:45 p.m. this afternoon.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted, honourable senators?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Motion agreed to.
The Senate adjourned until 1:45 p.m.
The Hon. the Speaker: As there is no business before the Senate, is it your pleasure, honourable senators, that the Senate do now adjourn during pleasure to await the arrival of His Excellency the Governor General?
The Senate adjourned during pleasure.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Honourable Members of the Senate;
Ladies and Gentlemen, Members of the House of Commons:
A year ago when I became Governor General, I spoke about the generosity and the compassion of Canadians. I spoke especially of the unsung heroes, the volunteers and helpers who encourage and care for their communities.
Since then, travelling to almost every province, I have seen how much Canadians love their country and how generous and open they can be to those in need. I have discovered the great strength of those currents of generosity and compassion.
In the schools and the Scout troops and in every part of life, from the nurseries of the newborn to palliative care for the dying, Canadians give endless help to one another. Surely this must be the most giving of countries.
We are developing a new award to recognize the unsung heroes of Canada; and hundreds of Canadians have already put forward the names of their fellow citizens, to honour their constant help and their open hearts.
On the opening of the second session of this Parliament, and on behalf of the Government of Canada, I make the following brief statements of government policy. The Prime Minister and Ministers will expand on this in coming days. Legislation and other administrative measures will follow.
Twenty-eight months ago, Canadians elected a new Parliament and chose a new government. Since then, the Government has acted to meet its commitments to the Canadian people. Ministers have insisted upon the highest standards of integrity and honesty in fulfilling their mandate.
The Government approaches the second half of its mandate, confident that what unites us as Canadians is far greater than what divides us; certain that the values we share as Canadians are as relevant today as they have been at any time during our history; and determined to apply basic Canadian values and principles to the new policies and fresh approaches that are required to prepare ourselves and our national institutions to deal with the challenges of the 21st century.
Canadians are concerned about economic uncertainty, the sustainability of social programs and the unity of the country. The scope and enormity of the challenges are such that no individual, municipality, province or region acting in isolation can expect or hope to address them successfully. It will take the will to reason together and to pull together. Each of us must join with those with whom we have the most in common, with whom we share the most at the most basic level - at the level of values. When we reflect upon it, we realize that it is with other Canadians that we have the most in common. When we look at our history, and at our place in the world, we know we can solve our problems.
Ensuring Opportunity: A Strong Economy
A strong economy is the essence of a strong society. A strong economy creates the ability to translate into reality the values of equality of opportunity, compassion for the underprivileged and protection of the vulnerable.
Government has a necessary and essential role in facilitating change in society. Many Canadians are concerned about their security, and particularly their security of employment. The Government will work with the private sector and the provinces to make the collective investments required to produce hope, growth and jobs. Because government does not have the resources to do everything, it must be strategic in its approach. It must invest in people. The Government will focus its new initiatives on youth, science and technology, and trade.
Young Canadians want the opportunity to put their energies and talents to use. Young Canadians deserve a climate of opportunity. This must be a national objective.
It is time to harness the energy of the Team Canada partnership abroad between the federal and the provincial governments and the private sector to create hope, opportunity and jobs for young people at home. The Government will challenge the provincial governments and the private sector to enter into a domestic Team Canada partnership to create such opportunity for young people.
Science and Technology
To create enduring jobs for Canadians in the economy of the 21st century, investment in knowledge and technology is essential. The Government will establish guiding principles to improve the effectiveness and focus of the federal science and technology effort. In particular:
Canadian jobs and growth depend heavily on our exports. Every one billion dollars of exports means 11,000 Canadian jobs. The success of "Trade Team Canada" demonstrates the value of working together to succeed in world markets and therefore create job prospects at home.
Further "Trade Team Canada" missions will be undertaken under the leadership of the Prime Minister.
To create jobs at home, the Government will announce new measures to enhance export development and financing, with emphasis on developing new products and new exporters and attracting new foreign investment.
The Government will continue efforts to expand NAFTA and will work towards more world trade liberalization.
Where there are trade disputes, the Government will spare no effort to promote and defend legitimate Canadian trade rights and interests.
A Climate for Economic Growth and Job Creation
In the first half of its mandate, the Government has taken steps to ensure that the economic and fiscal conditions are in place for sustained growth and job creation. The Government has made major structural reforms. The deficit has been cut. International trade and investment initiatives have been undertaken. Much has been accomplished. Canadians are beginning to see dividends, particularly with lower interest rates.
But the job is not yet completed. The Government will continue to take appropriate action to promote a proper climate for economic growth and jobs. In particular:
Ensuring Opportunity: Security for Canadians
Economic growth is not an end in itself. Government has the obligation, in accordance with basic Canadian values, to ensure security for Canadians in a rapidly changing world. Our legacy to future generations must include the assurance for all Canadians, wherever they live, that there will be a modern and accessible health care system; that a helping hand will be available when a helping hand is needed; that a public pension system will be there to support people in their old age; that our environment is protected; and that Canadians will be safe in their homes and communities.
A Secure Social Safety Net
The Government is committed to ensuring opportunity through a sustainable social safety net for the future. The Government will secure Canada's social union for the future and will adapt our federal arrangements as necessary to meet current challenges and to prepare for the next century. The Government is open to new ways and new directions to pursue our values. In particular:
Canadians attach high priority to our health care system and to the principles of medicare. The Government reaffirms its unwavering commitment to the five principles of the Canada Health Act. The Government will continue to work with the provinces to ensure the future of our publicly financed health care system.
Canadians expect to have secure elderly benefits and pensions available to them when they retire.
Equality of opportunity is a basic Canadian value. It begins with children. The Government will announce measures to improve Canada's child support system, with the particular objective of helping single parents and low-income working families.
Security for Canadians means ensuring that people who are out of work can get help while they are unemployed and can get help to go back to work.
While sustaining the social safety net is an essential element of security for Canadians, it is not all. The quality of Canada's natural environment is a matter of national pride. Security for Canadians means sustaining our environment. All Canadians must work together to protect the environment. In particular:
National parks are the heritage of a nation. The Government will seek agreements with provincial and territorial governments and with First Nations to establish new national parks and national marine conservation areas.
The solutions to many environmental problems lie outside our borders. The Government will continue to play an environmental leadership role both at home and in the international arena.
The non-violent character of our country - safe homes, safe streets - is also an essential element of security for Canadians. The Government will focus corrections resources on high-risk offenders while increasing efforts to lower the number of young people who come into contact with the justice system. The Government will develop innovative alternatives to incarceration for low-risk offenders. Criminal procedures will be reformed to better serve victims of crime.
In an interdependent world, security means taking an active role on the international stage. All Canadians strongly identify with, and take great pride in, the role Canada plays in the world. The Government will continue to work in the G-7, NATO and the United Nations for a more stable and peaceful world. It will pursue a wider-spread entrenchment of democracy, and greater respect for human rights.
In keeping with its commitment to advancing human rights and dignity, the Government will make the rights of children a Canadian priority and seek an international consensus to eliminate exploitative child labour.
The Government will pay special attention to addressing the growing crisis of confidence in the United Nations, which Canadians rightly regard as the most important multilateral organization to ensure international peace and security.
Canada will also do its part to help keep and build peace in Bosnia, Haiti, the Middle East and elsewhere.
A Modern and United Country
Canadians have a common history, a common collective experience, a shared territory, and institutions that are uniquely our own. The Government will act to preserve this heritage.
Canadians also agree upon the values and principles which bind us together and give us confidence in ourselves and in each other.
On October 27, the people of Canada came together in their own communities and in Montreal to demonstrate as never before the will to stay together. On October 30, the people of Quebec voted in a referendum to stay in Canada.
At the same time, the referendum result gave a clear message that Quebeckers want change in the federation. This desire for change is broadly shared across Canada. The Government will act on a responsible agenda for change for all of Canada.
In the last two years, the Government has made significant changes in a number of areas. The Government will work with the provinces and individual Canadians to ensure that the Canadian federation is modernized to meet the needs of the 21st century. This modernization must be respectful of our diversity and be based on partnership and dialogue. Canadians want and expect governments to be flexible and to operate efficiently and effectively so that the country functions well. In particular:
The federal government has an important contribution to make in preserving and modernizing Canada's social union so that the caring society remains Canada-wide in scope. In particular:
The federal government has a major role to play in strengthening the Canadian economy and the Canadian economic union. The Government will work with the provinces to take concrete steps to further improve the functioning of the Canadian economic union. In particular:
The Government welcomes public participation in the debate about Canada. It will encourage Parliament to reach out to Canadians to seek their views on the specific components of an agenda for change.
A First Ministers meeting will be called in the months ahead to discuss how governments can better work together for job creation in Canada, how to secure the social safety net and how to put into place a common agenda for change to renew Canada.
The Government intends to focus its energies on positive action to prepare Canada for the 21st century. The Government welcomes the commitment of the new government of Quebec to focus all its energies on the real problems of its citizens. The Government will work in collaboration with the Government of Quebec and all provincial governments on an agenda of economic renewal and job creation.
However, as long as the prospect of another Quebec referendum exists, the Government will exercise its responsibility to ensure that the debate is conducted with all the facts on the table, that the rules of the process are fair, that the consequences are clear, and that Canadians, no matter where they live, will have their say in the future of their country.
The Government recognizes that national unity is more than a rebalancing of roles and responsibilities of levels of government.
At a time of globalization of the economy, Canada is especially well placed to compete because of two official languages and the many Canadians who speak languages other than English and French. The Government recognizes that because of the minority status of the French language in North America, French-speaking Canadians have legitimate concerns. The Government affirms that it is particularly important to reinforce a francophone presence at home and abroad. Such a presence contributes to our national identity and is a source of strength and enrichment for our country.
Action has already been taken to recognize Quebec as a distinct society within Canada and to guarantee that no constitutional change affecting any major region of the country will take place without the consent of that region. The Government supports the entrenchment of these provisions in the Constitution.
National unity means reminding Canadians of what they have in common. The Government will put forward a series of measures with special emphasis on helping Canadians, particularly young Canadians, to broaden their experience of Canada and to learn more about their country. A new Citizenship Act will be introduced to better reflect contemporary views of the rights and responsibilities of citizenship.
Culture is at the core of our identity as Canadians. The Government is committed to strong Canadian cultural industries. The Government will propose measures to strengthen culture in Canada, and will ensure continued access to our own cultural products in order to maintain a balance between Canadian perspectives and those from abroad. The Government reaffirms its commitment to ensuring the long-term vitality of the CBC, the National Film Board and Telefilm Canada as institutions which interpret Canada to Canadians and to the world.
The Government believes that one of the tests of Canadian values is our ability to incorporate the aspirations of Canada's aboriginal peoples. The recent historic Nisga'a agreement in principle shows that this is possible. The Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development will continue to pursue other initiatives in partnership with aboriginal people and other governments.
Honourable Members of the Senate;
Members of the House of Commons:
In looking to the 21st century, it is essential that the federal government, in its own policies and programs, be dedicated to providing modern, flexible public services - services that are accessible, affordable and responsive to the needs of clients and citizens. The Government acknowledges the contribution of the Public Service of Canada to the continuing achievement of its goals. Further measures will be introduced to enable more flexible and innovative methods of service delivery.
By working in partnership throughout Canadian society to create jobs and economic opportunity, to provide the security of a modern social safety net, and to preserve national unity, the Government affirms that a legacy of hope can be left to future generations.
Members of the House of Commons:
You will be asked to appropriate the funds required to carry out the services and expenditures authorized by Parliament.
May Divine Providence guide all of you in your deliberations.
The House of Commons withdrew.
His Excellency the Governor General was pleased to retire.
Bill read first time.
Hon. Senators: Dispense.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this Speech be taken into consideration?
Hon. B. Alasdair Graham (Deputy Leader of the Government) moved:
That the Speech of His Excellency the Governor General, delivered this day from the Throne to the two Houses of Parliament, be taken into consideration at the next sitting of the Senate.
Motion agreed to.
That, pursuant to rule 85(1), the Honourable Senators Berntson, Corbin, Hébert, Kinsella, Olson, Petten, Phillips, MacDonald (Halifax) and Stanbury be appointed a Committee of Selection to nominate (a) a senator to preside as Speaker pro tempore; and (b) the senators to serve on the several select committees during the present session; and to report with all convenient speed the names of the senators so nominated.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Hon. Marcel Prud'homme: Honourable senators, on this solemn occasion, I would like to remind you once again that there are three honourable independent senators in this house.
I am sure that those three honourable senators, of which I am one, would like to play the true role for which they were called to the Senate, and I ask that you bear that in mind today. Because of the great ceremony we are attending, I do not want to get into a debate on this subject at this time, even though it would be in order to do so.
Honourable senators know how strongly I feel about this issue. Some of us have something to offer our country and the various Senate committees. I attend committee meetings because His Honour has said that non-members are permitted to do so. However, I should like those who will be appointing senators to the various committees to remember - and I shall not take my point further today, other than this signification to those very honourable senators who will decide the fate of all senators for the next two years - that independent senators have every right to offer their talents, if any, on various committees as they see fit. I shall await the report of the committee and discuss the matter accordingly.
Senator Graham: Honourable senators, before moving the adjournment motion, I wish to announce that the Committee of Selection will meet tomorrow morning at 9:00 a.m. in a place to be determined. You will be informed of the location of the meeting by our respective whips.
Motion agreed to.
The Senate adjourned until tomorrow at 2 p.m.