Above all, Cy Sherwood was one of my oldest political friends, as well as a mentor to me, as he was to so many others of my political generation. I first served with Senator Sherwood in the New Brunswick legislature following my election in 1967, and then after the 1970 provincial election, I served with him in the New Brunswick cabinet until his retirement from government.
Those of us who were new to politics and to government in those days were blessed to have Cy Sherwood as a friend, confidant and role model. His devotion to public service, his insistence on always doing right for his constituents and for the people of New Brunswick, and his good humour, even when things were not so rosy, were qualities that inspired us and taught us that you can have a heart and be compassionate while achieving great success in our highly competitive, political process.
However, if there is one thing that stands out above all in my memories of Cy Sherwood, it is what he taught me about the importance of personal relationships with your constituents - understanding their hopes and concerns; taking an interest in helping them to achieve their objectives and helping them to solve their problems; that no constituent's problem or concern is too trivial for an elected official's attention; and how satisfying it is to help make a difference in someone's life, no matter how small or large that contribution may be. In short, Cy Sherwood taught me the value and the importance of public life, and he taught me the most important lesson - that the greatest reward in politics is the opportunity and the privilege to serve to the best of one's ability.
Indeed, Cy Sherwood enjoyed a long and distinguished career of service both in government and in private life. First elected to the New Brunswick legislature in 1952, he was re-elected in five successive provincial elections and served with distinction as New Brunswick's Minister of Agriculture during the two terms of Premier Hugh John Flemming's government.
In addition to serving as Minister of Agriculture during a period of rapid modernization in the industry, Cy Sherwood held leadership positions in provincial and national agricultural organizations including the New Brunswick Cream Producers' Marketing Board, the Milk Producers' Association of New Brunswick, the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, and the Dairy Farmers of Canada. His life-long contribution to Canadian agriculture, through both his private endeavours and government participation, was appropriately recognized in 1986 when he was inducted into the Canadian Agricultural Hall of Fame.
Cy Sherwood's personal commitment to service was never more evident than during the period 1960 to 1966 when he led the New Brunswick Progressive Conservative Party through one of its darkest periods following the defeat by Senator Robichaud in the 1960 provincial election. It was Cy's belief in the importance of the political party system and his never-failing good humour - which he always expressed in the chipper phrase "Happy days" - that kept the party going. More important, he ensured the maintenance of an effective opposition and a properly functioning legislature in New Brunswick.
Cy Sherwood was called to the Senate in 1979 where he served ably and well until his retirement in 1990. I am sure those of you who served with Senator Sherwood have fond memories of him and remember the great respect he had for the Senate and how proud he was to be a member of this chamber.
Although in recent years I have not had the opportunity to see as much of Cy and his wife, Madi, as I should have liked, I will miss him greatly. I am thankful for the lessons he taught me. It is through such lessons that Cy Sherwood will live on as a continuing inspiration to many of us in this chamber and to countless New Brunswickers and Canadians.
I wish to join with those who have been touched by Cy Sherwood's life in offering to his wife, Madi, his children and family, my sincerest sympathy.
Hon. Louis J. Robichaud: Honourable senators, I am not eloquent when it comes to talking about the departed, particularly when they happen to have been good friends.
Since 1952, Cy Sherwood has been almost like a brother to me, despite the fact that we belonged to two very different political affiliations, the Conservatives and the Liberals.
We were elected to the Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick on the same date, September 22, 1952. That was some time ago. Of that class of 1952, I can think of only three surviving members. I am one, and Cy was the fourth, until a couple of days ago.
I remember Cy as a very quiet but effective man. He would never raise his voice. He would never show anger. Possibly he was not feeling that great inside, but I never saw him show any signs of anger or antagonism. Despite that fact, he was a very effective politician.
Senator Robertson mentioned that Cy Sherwood was chairman and president of many agricultural organizations, both provincial and national. The Canadian Parliamentary Guide lists a number of those organizations.
I have fond memories of Cy Sherwood when he was Minister of Agriculture and I was in the Opposition. For part of that time, between 1958 and 1960, I was Leader of the Opposition. When I became Premier in 1960, Cy Sherwood became Leader of the Opposition. I always enjoyed his participation in the debates. When he was appointed to the Senate, I was delighted, because it meant that I could enjoy his contributions here.
I wish to express to all the members of his family my deepest condolences. To his widow, whom we affectionately called Madi, I express as well my fondness. I remember Cy's deep affection for you. My thoughts are with you.
All the interns, including those from Leeds, work here in the Senate or in the other place from September through December. In January, these interns work in London for members of the British House of Commons.
It has been my great fortune - and this is the part I am not sure I should share with honourable senators - to have had one of these interns from September to December of this year. Her name is Kirstin Doull, and she is in the gallery today.
I want to tell you a little bit about what she has done in the last four months. We have tried to give her the widest possible experience by both having her attend sessions in this chamber and inviting her to sit in on committees. She has prepared briefing books for bills to be presented before the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs. She was the principal author of my fall newsletter, which went out in October. She has done everything she has been called upon to do with great expertise, willingness and devotion.
She also went through major surgery this fall and was back on her feet and back in my office within two weeks. I will miss her very much. I hope I will have other interns of her capability and quality. I would suggest that others of you apply to get an intern of this ability.
Recently, Canada has increased, not decreased, its contribution of greenhouse gases. In 1994, that contribution rose by 6 per cent. Unless a more stringent program is put in place, Canada will fall short of its promise to stabilize greenhouse gas production at 1990 levels by the year 2000 by some 8 per cent to 13 per cent. Canada is one of only 7 of the 36 industrial countries party to the 1992 convention that is expected to miss its commitment by more than 5 per cent.
Others are doing much better. They have a range of effective measures available, from emission taxes to tradeable emission permits to improved subsidies for public transportation.
Let us be very clear about the cost of our inaction: Canada is not a large contributor to greenhouse gas production in the global scheme mainly because of our relatively small population. For Canada, climate change is less a matter of our contribution than it is a matter of the impact on us of global changes in climate. As a result of these global changes, Canada is expected to suffer enormous damage to its boreal forests, damage to coastal communities through temperature changes in oceans and rising sea levels, drought on the prairies, and increasingly frequent damage from storms and floods in other parts of the country. Some of these impacts have already been observed, and insurers are tallying them.
Moreover, one of the world's two major studies offering proof to the scientific community that human-induced climate changes are happening now, not sometime in the future, took place right here in Canada: The Mackenzie Basin impact study offered such proof.
The cost to Canada of more forest fires, insect infestations, permafrost melting, coastal flooding, deaths from heat and smog and frequent storms could run in the order of $8 billion to$16 billion a year. That alone is reason enough for our energy and environment ministers to concede that their program is not working. If Canada is to have any moral authority in persuading other nations to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, we must live up to our international commitment. We cannot continue to hide behind rhetoric. We need a mandatory program of tough, effective measures.
I sincerely hope that the federal and provincial ministers will concede our failures, and soon begin to do the right thing.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Senator Andreychuk: I urge the Government of Canada, and particularly the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Honourable Lloyd Axworthy, to reconsider their position. I endorse the position that has already been eloquently stated by Senator MacDonald on this matter, and I urge the Government of Canada to take his comments seriously.
The Government of Canada continues to reassure Canadians that our commitment to human rights has not been abandoned. Furthermore, the Government of Canada continues to assure us that quiet diplomacy is a persuasive tool. What better way of persuasion can there be than through the dissemination of information by a fair, balanced and respected broadcaster? Television reaches few of the most disadvantaged in the world. Radio service is the only real technological link to many people around the globe.
In 1993, Guo Luo-Ji, a visiting professor at Columbia University, appealed to the Canadian government to increase funding to the CBC's international service. In the Montreal Gazette, around that time, he is reported as having said:
At home the Canadian broadcaster lets us know what is really happening in China. The authorities keep jamming the Voice of America broadcasts, but with the CBC there is no interference. The Canadian government should give it, the CBC, more funding so that it can do more overseas broadcasting.
Anyone who has taken the time to be informed about Radio Canada International will know that it is not viewed as a propaganda machine, but rather as a valuable information service presenting Canada, its policies, its values and its cultures in an appropriate light.
As we seek to promote, encourage and increase Canadian trade abroad, we must not lose the one efficient tool that projects Canada and promotes international understanding of Canadian values through presenting images and sound information about our country.
In today's competitive world, as Senator Grafstein has often said to the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, Germany and its Goethe Institute, the French with the French Cultural Centre and the British with the British Consul, and so forth, are all well funded and well placed, strategically, to deliver information as a foreign policy tool. We do not have the luxury of similar institutions, but we do have RCI to carry much of this kind of message abroad on behalf of Canadians.
May I suggest to the Government of Canada that, while the "Team Canada" approach does much to raise the visibility of Canada in our promotion of trade, RCI does the same on a consistent, daily basis, reaching a broader spectrum of the populace who are part of the business and civilian community. The cost of RCI is approximately equal to the real cost of one Team Canada venture. Both are necessary and complementary tools in furthering our foreign policy goals.
RCI is an indispensable investment in our future.
Hon. Raymond J. Perrault: Honourable senators, I attended a very interesting meeting this morning. At that meeting, we were discussing the forthcoming conference of members of Parliament from the Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forum, to be held in Vancouver in January. Among the matters discussed at that meeting was how we can improve the way in which we communicate with the rest of the world, how we need to become better informed, and how we can be more effective in promoting the Canadian viewpoint in the Pacific Rim area.
At the same time, we were told this week that there is to be a cutback in the budget available to Radio Canada International. I associate myself with the statements made by the preceding speaker and by Senator MacDonald, who made a fine statement on this subject just a few days ago.
As we enter this age of technological miracles, is this the time to silence the voice of one of the most effective international broadcast services in the country? It would be most unfortunate if this action by the CBC was deemed necessary. The government must find ways to keep this system in operation. It is important.
We have gone through similar crises in the past about this service. How can we have an effective international broadcasting service in this climate of uncertainty? The employees do not know where the money is coming from to keep the service going. Why not at least study alternative methods of keeping this operation going?
Some international services are now featuring programs whereby private companies will take commercial time. It is advantageous because these companies are able to perform a public duty as well as gain exposure through advertising and promotional opportunities. In other words, they are assisting these international services to stay in operation.
It does not make sense to divest this nation of one of its best communication mediums. We are talking here about the future of broadcasting people who have dedicated their lives to giving Canada an articulate voice in this world.
We say that we are one of the highest-per-capita traders in the world. Is this the time to cut back on our message to the world, when we are trying to expand Canadian markets?
Some Hon. Senators: No.
Senator Perrault: I hope that something can be done. I hope the Leader of the Government in the Senate can give us some reassurance that avenues are being sought to solve this dilemma. We know the budget situation is tough. We know that many unfortunate cutbacks have to be made. However, this is not the time to deal a death blow to a broadcast service that has done so much for this country.
Many of you have travelled abroad. Some of you probably carry, as standard equipment, a short-wave radio. Of course, catching Canadian news is important to many of the delegations from this chamber that have gone offshore. New digital techniques now make it possible to send a signal from Canada to a satellite, which is picked up by ground stations, providing CD-quality broadcasting in various parts of the world. Indeed, a facility has been established in the Ukraine that delivers top quality Canadian programming to that part of the former Soviet Union.
This is the time to move forward with confidence into this age of technological miracles; not to move backwards by silencing this voice of Canada, particularly when we would be the only major trading nation in the world to do so. Let us see if we can find solutions, and not reasons to cancel RCI.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I regret to inform you that although I have many senators standing who wish to make statements, the 15-minute period for Senators' Statements has expired.
Is leave granted to extend the 15-minute period?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is there to be a limit or is it to be without limit?
Hon. Senators: Without limit.
Even though sometimes no one pays attention to what some of us may have done, I wish to report to honourable senators that seven years ago I went to Australia and Singapore and recommended to former House of Commons Speaker, John Fraser, that Canada join the Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forum. The parliamentary association keeps referring to "a member" when they talk about who recommended that we join Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forum. When it is someone else, they mention their name, but I am always "a member." I simply want to show my interest.
Having said that, I should like to join with all those senators who today repeated what I asked very openly of the Leader of the Government in the Senate on Tuesday, following, I repeat, the brilliant intervention of Senator Finlay MacDonald. This issue is beyond partisanship, and we should do everything possible to keep Radio Canada International open.
Honourable senators may recall that on Tuesday I said that I wished I had a seconder for a motion, because without one I could not make any motion at all. However, today honourable senators on both sides seem to be in a good mood. Therefore, if someone would like to second my motion, I will recommend that the Senate, today assembled, highly recommend to the government that it re-evaluate the closing of Radio Canada International. If honourable senators want, I can think on my feet and produce a motion: Whereas we recognize the importance of Radio Canada International, whereas we know of the great reputation of Canada in the world, whereas everything Senator MacDonald said, whereas everything Senator Andreychuk said, for the foregoing reasons, it is proposed by the Senate and seconded by the Senate, that we recommend that the government re-evaluate this very important question.
That would be something worthwhile for the Senate to do.
I am in the hands of the Senate. Is there someone to second my motion to recommend that the government re-evaluate this question?
I must say, on behalf of myself, the deputy chairman, Senator Di Nino, and all members of the Internal Economy Committee, that we are very proud to have them as our employees.
The first group of employees who were honoured are from Information Services. In March of 1996, the Internal Economy Committee approved funds to replace our outdated computer equipment. The project also involved the installation of new communications equipment for the existing computers, the installation of a new standard version of operational software, and training for all Senate employees. These employees were responsible for replacing over 200 computers throughout the Senate administration with Pentium-based computers and configuring them; upgrading and configuring over 140 computers in senators' offices: installing new applications, such as the e-mail system and Internet tools; coordinating and training all Senate administration employees with regard to the new applications; and training and coordinating all senators' employees with regard to the new e-mail system.
On October 28, 1996, all objectives of this project were successfully accomplished.
The Senate is very proud to have a technological environment that is rapidly catching up to the Library of Parliament and the other place.
The second group of employees to have been honoured are from the Debates Branch for bringing to fruition the recording of all proceedings in "realtime." Honourable senators may say, "But have we not had realtime since the branch moved to the Victoria Building two years ago?" We have, but the software for French CAT has been lacking somewhat. However, since September, when we returned from the summer recess, the entire branch has been operating in realtime. I can tell you that everyone is happy with the result.
"CAT," in case you wondered, stands for "computer-aided transcription." "Realtime" is the function of CAT that reproduces the spoken word on the computer screen the moment the reporter keys it into the data writer.
The Senate is the first legislative body in the world to achieve this milestone. Other legislatures are at varying stages of development. As examples, the United States, Australia, Trinidad and Tobago have made great strides. However, they deal in only one language.
The CAT system has been a good investment for the Senate. It cost us approximately $128,000 in start-up expenses but each year since its inception it has saved the administration $530,000 - I repeat, $530,000 on an investment of $128,000. In fact, it continues to produce efficiencies, so much so that, for four of the last five fiscal years, the Debates Branch budget has been reduced.
Honourable senators, on behalf of the staff of the Debates Branch, I invite you to stop by their offices on the fourth floor of the Victoria Building to see the CAT realtime system in operation. You will be warmly welcomed.
The last group of employees to be honoured were those of our Committees Directorate. These individuals are committee clerks, administrative assistants and support clerks, who provide operational support and logistical assistance to our very busy Senate committees. Committee work is really the heart of the Senate as an institution, and our committee system is generally recognized as being second-to-none among Canadian legislatures. We are all very proud of the work that these people perform and the dedicated service they give.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
I have had the opportunity to live in some isolated parts of the world, in the heart of Africa in particular, where the only link to the outside world was often Radio Canada International. At one point, I was 50 miles out in the bush, north of Lomé in Togo, with three Brothers of Christian Schools from the Quebec City region and, let me tell you, we were really glad to have Radio Canada International to listen to. I feel it is important to maintain this service, particularly at a time when the focus is on international trade, and we are looking for people to go abroad to open up markets for our goods and services. It seems to me that we need to be logical and to keep the services of Radio Canada International, at least.
Madam Minister, I believe you ought to speak to the Minister of Canadian Heritage, so that she can give the order - I use the word "order" deliberately, for ministers must not hold back from giving orders; that is what they are there for - to the CBC, that if they want to make budget cuts, they should do so in other areas, and not by closing down Radio Canada International.
While it is true that, for a time, grain prices went up a bit, cattle prices went down, and now grain prices are starting to go down, too. However, the price-gouging in relation to propane gas has doubled in just a few months. Fertilizers have doubled in price; repairs have doubled in price; the price of machinery is going right through the roof, to the point where some are predicting that the net income for farmers might be 9 per cent. Someone in authority should be looking into this matter.
People joke that farmers are always crying. However, honourable senators, this is an important issue for all Canadians. Food is important. I will give you one short example: In Estevan, Saskatchewan, good, sound, fleshy cattle are selling for 35 cents a pound. However, the price in the consumers' grocery store has not changed a bit. Someone is making a fortune out there, and I want to assure honourable senators that it is not the farmers.
Honourable senators, in my opinion there should be an inquiry into this matter. If the Minister of Agriculture does not bring it forward, then the Senate should do something about it, and I ask for participation and support from both sides of the house.
Today, I wish to draw your attention to Senator Landon Pearson herself, who chaired the national conference held two weeks ago on Canada's Children - Canada's Future. I was privileged to be a participant at that conference and to witness the admiration and respect afforded our colleague.
Honourable senators, Senator Pearson deserves our recognition as a noted international child advocate. She was so right yesterday when she said that children are a non-partisan issue.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this report be taken into consideration?
On motion of Senator Ghitter, report placed on the Orders of the Day for consideration at the next sitting of the Senate.
Thursday, December 12, 1996
The Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs has the honour to present its
Your Committee, to which was referred Bill C-347, An Act to change the names of certain electoral districts, has, in obedience to the Order of Reference of Wednesday, November 27, 1996, examined the said Bill and now reports the same with the following amendments:
1. Page 3, new clause 13.1: immediately after line 45 add the following:
"13.1. In the representation order declared in force by Proclamation of January 8, 1996 under the Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act, effective upon the first dissolution of Parliament that occurs after January 8, 1997, paragraph 92 of that part relating to the Province of Ontario is amended by substituting the name `Vaughan-King-Aurora' for the name `Vaughan-Aurora'."
2. Page 4, new clause 17.1: immediately after line 37 add the following:
"17.1. In the representation order declared in force by Proclamation of January 8, 1996 under the Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act, effective upon the first dissolution of Parliament that occurs after January 8, 1997, paragraph 8 of that part relating to the Province of Saskatchewan is amended by substituting the name `Regina-Lumsden-Lake Centre' for the name `Regina-Arm River'."
3. Page 5, new clause 19.1: immediately after line 10 add the following:
"19.1. In the representation order declared in force by Proclamation of January 8, 1996 under the Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act, effective upon the first dissolution of Parliament that occurs after January 8, 1997, paragraph 2 of that part relating to the Province of New Brunswick is amended by substituting the name `Beauséjour-Petitcodiac' for the name `Beauséjour'."
Senator Carstairs: With leave, honourable senators, later this day.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted, honourable senators?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
On motion of Senator Carstairs, report placed on the Orders of the Day for consideration later this day.
Thursday, December 12, 1996
The Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs has the honour to present its
Your Committee, to which was referred Bill C-63, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act, the Parliament of Canada Act and the Referendum Act, has in obedience to the Order of Reference of Thursday, December 5, 1996, examined the said Bill and now reports the same without amendment.
On motion of Senator Bryden, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for third reading at the next sitting of the Senate.
Thursday, December 12, 1996
The Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration has the honour to present its
Your Committee has examined and approved the following supplementary budget presented to it by the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications for the proposed expenditures of the said Committee with respect to its special study on the state of transportation safety and security in Canada for the fiscal year ending March 31, 1997:
|Professional and Special Services||$34,850|
On motion of Senator Kenny, report placed on the Orders of the Day for consideration at the next sitting of the Senate.
Thursday, December 12, 1996
The Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology has the honour to present its
Your Committee, which was authorized by the Senate on Tuesday, December 10, 1996, to examine and report upon implementation by the Department of Veterans Affairs of measures to expedite the adjudication of pensions and to present its final report no later than June 30, 1997, respectfully requests that it be empowered to engage the services of such counsel and technical, clerical and other personnel as may be necessary, and to adjourn from place to place within Canada for the purpose of its examination.
Pursuant to Section 2:07 of the Procedural Guidelines for the Financial Operation of Senate Committees, the budget submitted to the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration and the report thereon of that Committee are appended to this report.
MABEL M. DeWARE
On motion of Senator DeWare, report placed on the Orders of the Day for consideration at the next sitting of the Senate.
Bill read first time.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be read the second time?
On motion of Senator Carstairs, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for second reading on Wednesday next, December 18, 1996.
That a plan be established to save Radio Canada International.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable Senator Prud'homme, this motion must be presented in writing.
I refer to a question by Laurie Foster, who was from Regina and had trouble finding a job. She has three university degrees, and a focus on exactly where her training could take her, with luck. The Prime Minister, in his dismissive way, said to her:
...if your specialty does not lead to give you a job in Saskatoon, perhaps you can go to Regina or elsewhere. But I am not living there. I think that if you decide with a profession to stay in one town and it's not working, you have to look at different types of jobs.
This is a prime minister of Canada telling the youth of this country that no matter what their aspirations, their goals or their ideals, "Well, if it does not fit the market, tough. Look somewhere else." Is this what I am hearing and reading? I heard it and I insisted on reading it, hoping that I had misheard. But here it is in black and white. In other words, if you cannot do it, we will not help you or direct you. You are on your own.
The question is: Is it a policy of the Government of Canada to tell our youth, "Tough luck. If you cannot make it on your own, forget it. We cannot help you"?
Hon. Joyce Fairbairn (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, that is not the case at all. As I stated when referring to this issue in response to questions asked yesterday, one of the fundamentals of the job strategy of the government -
Senator Lynch-Staunton: Answer the question about this woman's concerns! Do not give us blarney about policies that do not work!
Senator Fairbairn: I am answering your question. Jobs for youth is one of the fundamentals -
Senator Lynch-Staunton: That is not what she is looking for.
Senator Fairbairn: I believe she is. She is looking for assistance in finding a job in this country.
Senator Lynch-Staunton: She is looking for a job.
Senator Fairbairn: Yes, she is looking for a job. Many young people are looking for jobs.
Senator Lynch-Staunton: She is told to move on.
Senator Fairbairn: Many adult Canadians are also looking for jobs. Through its fiscal policy and through its programs, as previously announced - and, my honourable friend may find this boring, but we did have a Throne Speech - the government outlined the fundamentals of our strategy, namely: youth, technology and job creation across this country.
There is no question - and I said this yesterday - that all of us sense enormous frustration and disappointment in the fact that, in Canada, the creation of jobs has not gone at the pace that any of us would like. We are doing everything that we possibly can to accelerate that pace.
I am sure that my honourable friend would agree that one of the first things that we must have is economic stability in the country. That is what we have been working on. We have creative job programs throughout the country in a number of areas for people who have educational training and those who do not; for people who are trying to get into the labour market in order to meet the responsibilities that have now been thrust upon them because we have a changed market. We are working on all of that. We announced a very important program on market training in Alberta last Friday, through Mr. Pettigrew.
Senator Doody: He has a job!
Senator Fairbairn: We are working on this problem with the provinces. We are trying to do all of these things in an effort to assist persons like the one who spoke in the town hall forum the other night. That is at the heart of what this government is trying to do. If I must repeat myself, I will do so every day.
Senator Lynch-Staunton: Laurie Foster did not ask the Government of Canada to explain all of the marvellous programs that are not working. She was saying: "I have a career choice, which I have made. I have three university degrees and I am having trouble getting a job." Her government, through the Prime Minister, answered her, saying, "If you cannot get a job in Regina, why not go to Saskatoon or somewhere else?" That is what she was told by the Prime Minister of Canada, namely, "Move out of the country, if you must," by implication. That is what she was told. She was not told "Laurie, you and thousands of other young people are having terrible trouble here. There may be something wrong with our educational system. We are trying to come to grips with it." Instead, the Prime Minister dismissed her and said, "Go to Regina; go to Saskatoon. Move away." To compound that reply, he said:
In the economy of tomorrow, people will be forced to change jobs four or five times in their career.
Young people are being told by the Prime Minister of Canada that no matter what they train for, perhaps four or five times in their careers they will have to change jobs.
Senator Doody: It is a good thing Kim Campbell did not say that!
Senator Lynch-Staunton: This is the Prime Minister of Canada talking. If only he would show some sympathy and compassion; but no. Rather, in his arrogant, disdainful way, he said that if you cannot find a job there, go somewhere else, and that, by the way, by the time you retire you will have had four or five jobs.
How can the youth of Canada have confidence in their government when the Prime Minister tells them they have no future?
Senator Fairbairn: Honourable senators, first, the youth of Canada are probably the best educated, and hopefully will become the best trained, of any country in the world.
Senator Lynch-Staunton: Yes, for four or five jobs.
Senator Fairbairn: In addition to that, the youth of Canada have before them the very exciting adventure of change through technology and of all sorts of advances that are taking place in our economy and in economies around the world. There will be opportunities and challenges in the lives of our young people, and although Senator Lynch-Staunton may not understand that, they do. The changes that will take place throughout their working years will, of course, lead them into different jobs, challenges and opportunities.
The young people in this country understand that and they are preparing for it. We will do everything possible to assist them to get the training to enable them to move to different job opportunities as our country develops, the way every other country in the world is developing.
Senator Lynch-Staunton: Honourable senators, I want to be clear on this point. Is the minister saying that the youth of today have now accepted that the next 25 or 30 years, the most productive years of their lives, will include five or six job changes, if they are lucky enough to get the first job?
Senator Fairbairn: Honourable senators, my honourable friend said "five or six," I did not.
Senator Lynch-Staunton: The Prime Minister of Canada said "five or six."
Senator Fairbairn: Honourable senators, young people in this country want, first, a job, and that is what we are trying to create for them. The honourable senator is absolutely right and that is why we have brought down interest rates, that is why we have brought down the deficit, that is why we have brought down inflation - in order that the private sector of Canada will have the opportunity to create the jobs of which young people can take advantage.
Another exciting part of the future for young people is that, through technology and change, they will have different kinds of jobs. They will be prepared, and we will be helping them every step of the way.
Hon. Consiglio Di Nino: Honourable senators, can the minister acknowledge, for once, that interest rates and inflation were brought down by the previous government and not her own government? She continues to make that incorrect statement. Please, at least, acknowledge that point and be honest.
Senator Fairbairn: Honourable senators, I am a little puzzled by what my honourable friend has said about the way interest rates have come down. Interest rates have been dropping like a stone during our administration. There is no question about that.
We have forecast our deficit reduction year after year. We have met our targets. We have gone beyond our targets. Our target will be a balanced budget, not the nine consecutive deficit increases my honourable friend's administration brought to the Canadian people, which we have worked very hard to bring down.
When the Minister of the Environment, the Honourable Sergio Marchi, was asked why we are collecting plutonium from the U.S, he said, "That is a good question." Believe it or not, he said that he is not responsible for these decisions. The man is merely the Minister of the Environment. Can the Leader of the Government in the Senate shed some light on this situation?
It is also interesting to note that in her press conference announcing this development, the U.S. Secretary of Energy said words to the effect that she fully appreciated that it was a touchy issue and that it caused some social tensions in the U.S. She went on to say that they had been informed that this arrangement is supported by public opinion in Canada.
I do not support it. I do not know if anyone here does. Presumably I do not count, but that does not matter. Has the government conducted any polls or negotiations?
It may be that, at one time, we sang When Irish Eyes are Smiling with the U.S. President, but we did not ask him to send us his nuclear waste.
Hon. Joyce Fairbairn (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I am sure that my honourable friend is aware that, when the Prime Minister attended a summit on safety and security in Moscow in April, he said that Canada had agreed in principle to the concept of using in CANDU reactors the MOX fuel containing a small amount of plutonium.
One of the underlying tenets of Canadian foreign policy is to try to get countries out of nuclear weapons. I think my honourable friend would agree with that. It has been well known for several months now that that is one way in which Canada could contribute to achieving that goal.
The two countries most concerned about this matter at the moment are Russia and the United States. The American government in particular is actively looking for options for how to deal with this matter. Assistance through Canada is an option they would like to consider. That is as far as it goes at this point.
Senator Cogger: Will the minister undertake to inform the Minister of the Environment?
Honourable senators, the Leader of the Government in the Senate has made a motherhood statement. Of course Canada is in favour of the reduction of nuclear arms. We always have been. This government did not invent that. The Conservative government was in favour as well.
However, at what cost, given that the U.S. is stuck with a huge pile of waste, as are the Russians? In the name of reducing or disposing of that pile, here comes friendly, little, old Canada, smiling and saying, "Hey, guys, come here; swing it over; we will see what we can do with it." Are we out of our minds here? When were Canadians consulted in the first place? Years ago - this is an indication of how old I am - I remember a government that was virtually defeated on the issue of nuclear warheads.
According to the press, the end result of Canada's nice effort to be the Boy Scouts of the world again is that the experiment will reduce the mass of nuclear waste by half. That is the good news.
The bad news is that the other half will produce a far more dangerous fuel than conventional nuclear reactor waste. In other words, we will chop it down by half and then we will be twice as dangerous. Is that the real policy? Can we be enlightened?
Senator Fairbairn: Honourable Senator Cogger indicated he was reading from news reports. He is as entertaining as ever in his accounting of this issue.
However, this is a very serious question. Honourable senators should know about this matter. I really do not believe that we should belittle the efforts of countries that have been through a Cold War as nuclear powers and that were causing considerable anxiety and fear throughout the world.
These two nations are now trying to address what they have accumulated. There are a number of options. The Canadian option is only one of them. The Americans have their own options within their own country. Undoubtedly they will make use of them.
Regarding questions that require nuclear expertise, such as those just asked, I will not rely on a newspaper report. I will transmit the honourable senator's question to my colleague and try to get an answer for him.
Senator Cogger: Not to Mr. Marchi; he doesn't know.
Senator Fairbairn: Honourable senators, this is an option - and that is all it is - which has been identified by the Americans. We agreed in principle in April that this was an area in which Canada had a certain expertise. We have been studying this kind of thing in Canada for over 30 years. We can help.
I do not consider that to be a negative for Canada. I consider that to be a positive in our relationship with our allies. We are trying to deal with this issue which has had extraordinary effects upon our world for a very long time. We are trying to assist with it. That is a positive and not a negative.
Despite the fact that the United States Department of Energy has withdrawn its request to ship surplus plutonium to Canada pending an environmental review of plutonium disposal options, Atomic Energy of Canada is still interested in acquiring plutonium from Russia and the U.S. Cold War stockpiles and turning it into fuel for the country's nuclear power plants. They will now test-burn a small amount.
What will be the cost to Canadian taxpayers to purchase this fuel? Russia will not give it away. What is the cost of starting up the mothballed nuclear plants, such as Bruce "A" and Bruce "B" which were too expensive to run? There is a cost either to ratepayers or taxpayers.
More important, plutonium is still being produced in Russia, and they are building more facilities to produce it. Will we be encouraging the plutonium industry in Russia, one of the most dangerous elements of the world? This industry is in the hands of the nuclear mafia, which we will subsidize because we will pay for it.
MOX fuel comes in capsules that can be used to burn plutonium in a reactor. MOX production is not commercially viable anywhere. There is no commercially viable MOX facility in existence. It may be built in the United States or here. Will Canadian taxpayers subsidize that as well?
Hon. Joyce Fairbairn (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I do want to emphasize that we are talking about a proposal that is in the preliminary stages. It will not happen without a multinational agreement between the countries involved.
I cannot give the honourable senator an answer on the costs. I will find out if any estimates are available. However, we are talking about something that is in a very preliminary stage. It is not even a conclusive option for the Americans. We have a long way to go before we are anywhere near a project. However, I can assure my friend that, before there are any such projects, there will be an incredibly rigorous series of tests in various jurisdictions in the country. There will be many requirements, should this go ahead, and it will be done in the most stringent possible way. Regulations would require widespread approval throughout the area by all clients involved.
As mentioned by my colleague, turning plutonium into fuel and burning it in nuclear power plants only gets rid of half of the fuel. Fifty per cent is still left as waste, and it must be stored. It is highly radioactive. I see Senator Austin looking at me because he knows more about this than I do.
This waste is highly radioactive. It must be guarded. All that involves a cost, not to mention the danger of transporting the most dangerous material in the world halfway around the globe.
We are looking at testing this by burning it in the CANDU reactors because it suits our purposes. Why is Canada not exploring easier, cheaper and safer alternative options with Russia and the United States, such as vitrification and burying the nuclear waste in the country that produces it? That is the no-muss-no-fuss option.
Why is AECL so anxious to burn plutonium now when we have avoided it to this point? The Americans do not seem willing to do it in their own country. They want us to burn it here. Are we once again propping up the nuclear industry in this country through subsidization and other such methods without going through all the other options?
Hon. Joyce Fairbairn (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, Senator Spivak can be assured, as always, that I will transmit her questions to the ministries involved. I will simply say again that Canada is not launching something on its own. Canada is doing this, first of all, in concert with allies. It is not doing it to prop up the nuclear industry in Canada. It is getting into discussions, and we have no idea where they will go at this point.
Senator Cogger, we are talking here not about an agreement to do something. We are talking about an option that is available for us to be of assistance.
Before that option is taken up, there will be a long road of investigation of all the things that my friend from Winnipeg knows far more about than do I. We are doing this from the position of a country that wishes to help. We do not wish to destabilize anything or anyone. Certainly, anything we would be doing in concert with the United States - which also has its own options that it can use, and will - is to try to assist in helping two allies who were once enemies reduce the level of nuclear weapons and risk in this world. That may sound altruistic, but it is a fact. It is not an easy issue. It is a very difficult one. No one knows that better than my honourable friend.
I will ensure that the honourable senator gets every bit of information that I can find for her. Indeed, I would be more than pleased to talk to my colleague the Minister of Natural Resources and find out whether she will give to these two honourable senators a special briefing on this project.
Hon. Joyce Fairbairn (Leader of the Government): Frankly, honourable senators, my colleague probably knows more than I do, because I have been on my feet answering questions and he has been listening in somewhere else.
All I can say to the honourable senator is that, since those eloquent words were spoken in this house, including some convictions of my own, I might say, I have talked with my colleagues the Minister of Canadian Heritage and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, who just came back from Brussels today. The two ministers have been working very hard, along the lines of the speech delivered by Mr. Axworthy last Friday and quoted by Senator MacDonald the other day. In that speech the minister talked about the necessity of using new technology and new opportunities to expand information about Canada to the world as part of our strategic position in foreign affairs. These two ministers have been working together this morning. As I came into the house, my information was that they were pursuing within this framework the cause of Radio Canada International as a valuable leader in this broader strategy.
Senator Perrault seems to know more than I do, honourable senators. I believe that Mr. Axworthy has made a statement in the House of Commons, for which I am sure he received a standing ovation. I wish I knew exactly what his words were, but I am very sure they were positive.
Senator Perrault: We have reason to hope.
Honourable senators, to get back to the situation described by our leader, the other night Canadians were told that, because the words "scrap," "eliminate," "abolish" or "kill" do not appear in the Red Book, there never was a promise to scrap, eliminate, abolish or kill the GST. Since the Prime Minister says he never promised to scrap, eliminate abolish or kill the GST, then it must be true, because he is an honourable man, and he does not lie.
Could the Leader in the Government tell us where in the Red Book it says that a Liberal government would seek to hide the GST in the price of goods and services? Could she also tell us in what way the GST has been, to use the wording in the Red Book, replaced, given that it remains virtually unchanged?
Senator Berntson: It is on page 22.
Hon. Joyce Fairbairn (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, my honourable friend will know that on page 22 of the Red Book, the commitment is as follows:
A Liberal government will replace the GST with a system that generates equivalent revenues, is fairer to consumers and to small business, minimizes disruption to small business, and promotes federal-provincial fiscal cooperation and harmonization.
Ever since the election, the Minister of Finance has been negotiating with the provinces, seeking a national, harmonized tax. The three provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Newfoundland have signed on. It is his hope - and he has not abandoned his efforts - that there will be a harmonized, national sales tax across the country.
Senator Di Nino: Honourable senators, on television, over the last two or three days, we have seen the Prime Minister saying, "We will kill the GST. We will abolish the GST. We will scrap the GST - it will be gone." That is what he said, Madam Minister. Therefore, are we to believe that a promise that is made verbally is still a promise?
Senator Fairbairn: Honourable senators, since becoming involved in this issue, and from the very beginning, the Prime Minister, after becoming leader of the party, has made it very clear that we wish to remove the GST, change the GST and replace the GST. However, that has always been contingent upon finding the equivalent revenue for the Government of Canada and the people of Canada. The Prime Minister has been consistent in that context. That has been his promise all along. It is the promise in the Red Book as well.
The Hon. the Speaker: I regret to inform honourable senators that the time allotted for Question Period has expired, even though I still have several names on my list.
The Senate proceeded to consideration of the eighteenth report of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs (respecting Bill C-347, a bill to change the names of certain electoral districts), presented in the Senate earlier this day.
Hon. Sharon Carstairs moved the adoption of the report.
She said: Honourable senators, when this bill was referred to our committee, it had been drafted for the purpose of making changes to the names of 19 constituencies across the country. It was passed unanimously in the other place. When it came to this chamber, we heard from three additional members of Parliament who also wished to make name changes to their constituencies. There was a request to change the riding of Vaughan-Aurora to Vaughan-King-Aurora; there was a request to change the name of the riding of Regina-Arm River to Regina-Lumsden-Lake Centre, as well as a request to change the name of the riding of Beauséjour to Beauséjour-Petitcodiac. In all cases, the reason for these name changes is to reflect better the geography of the riding.
We made those amendments yesterday afternoon, and we report it now to the Senate with those three amendments.
Hon. Marcel Prud'homme: Honourable senators, this is not the first time we have seen such a bill. I attended the meeting yesterday and made two suggestions. More and more, I think we are seeing people getting carried away with multiple names to designate ridings.
In my view, with my 33 years of experience in sitting on these committees, especially for the purpose of changing names, two things strike me: First, there is an abuse in trying to acccommodate politically. I have no one in particular in mind, but it is becoming a total abuse of the process to try to please people in your riding by incorporating the name of every village in your district into the name of your riding. The historical intention in using geographical names was to honour people, honour a district, a city, or an event that took place in the history of our country.
I resisted changing the name of my district. I was the Member of Parliament for Saint-Denis. Azellus Denis, whom you all remember, was the member before me. There was pressure to change the name. My father objected to that, in 1935, whenDr. J. Arthur Denis, the brother of Azellus Denis and the member since 1917, said that we should change the name of the riding to put in the names of other streets or parishes. However, what is historical should remain historical.
Saint-Denis has significant meaning in the history of Quebec. It may not be well known by many people, but it has meaning. Saint-Denis is a particular place.
I know I have the support of Senator Carstairs in this matter. She is very sensitive, as everyone will agree. The time has come to go back to the root of that tradition, and to honour great Canadians. I am astounded at the small number of true first Canadians who have been honoured. There are some, but few. For example, the names of women are not used, although many women played great roles in Canadian history. We should honour them by using their names.
People put names on villages. Why? I will conclude by saying I would hope that, in the future, steps will be taken to return to the historical raison d'être of naming of districts.
Second, stop the practice of expanding the multiplicity of names. I think that is an abuse.
Third, do not forget to honour great Canadians. It is one way to teach the history of Canada, not only to Canadians who are here, but to new Canadians coming into Canada. That is one way to teach the history of our country.
I am in full agreement with the bill, but I hope that there are those who will read the testimony today, and I will come back when there is a new redistribution, because some of us will be here, hopefully, if Madam God is kind enough to give us health and prosperity.
The Hon. the Speaker: It is moved by the Honourable Senator Carstairs, seconded by the Honourable Senator Milne, that the report be adopted now.
Is it your pleasure, honourable senators to adopt the motion?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Motion agreed to and report adopted.
Senator Carstairs: With leave, now.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted, honourable senators?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Motion agreed to and bill, as amended, read third time and passed.
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Milne, seconded by the Honourable Senator Mercier, for the third reading of Bill C-45, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (judicial review of parole ineligibility) and another Act;
And on the motion in amendment of the Honourable Senator Nolin, seconded by the Honourable Senator LeBreton, that the Bill be not now read the third time but that it be amended:
(a) in clause 1, by replacing line 7, on page 1, with the following:
"may, with the consent of the Attorney General of Canada, apply in writing to the appropriate Chief";
(b) in clause 2, by replacing line 20, on page 6, with the following:
"may, with the consent of the Attorney General of Canada, apply in writing to the appropriate Chief" ; and
(c) in clause 2, by replacing line 41, on page 10, with the following:
"may, with the consent of the Attorney General of Canada, apply in writing to the appropriate Chief".
Hon. Anne C. Cools: Honourable senators, I rise to speak to third reading of Bill C-45, to amend the Criminal Code in respect of the judicial review of parole ineligibility and another act.
Currently, the Criminal Code, section 745, popularly styled the "faint-hope clause," allows first and second degree murderers serving life sentences to apply for a judicial review of their parole eligibility date after having served 15 years of their sentence. Bill C-45 will change this section 745 to disallow multiple murderers from applying for judicial review of their parole ineligibility. It will introduce judicial screening of all applications and will require unanimous decisions of juries to reduce parole ineligibility periods.
Honourable senators, the penalty for first and second degree murder is life imprisonment. A sentence of life imprisonment means precisely that: a sentence of life. That is, the length of the inmate's sentence is the length of his natural life. The authority or warrant of sentence is imposed by the judge for the inmate's natural life, and this warrant will only expire on the day that the inmate dies. The proper terminology of the correctional system of Canada is the warrant expiry date, commonly abbreviated as WED. Inmates serving life imprisonment are under warrants that expire the day that they die. There is much confusion in the public mind about the meaning of the term `warrant expiry date', about life sentences as a minimum, as in first degree murders, and the issue of 25 years time served on life sentences before parole eligibility date.
Many believe that the sentence of life imprisonment means 25 years imprisonment, and not life. This sentence of no parole before 25 years refers to time that must be served before an inmate may be eligible to apply for parole. The Parole eligibility date is abbreviated as PED. It is important that honourable senators understand that the warrant is life.
Honourable senators, the Criminal Code section 745 has bedevilled us for quite some time. Because of multiple murderers, such as Clifford Olson and Paul Bernardo, the issues of security and safety are paramount concerns for the Canadian public. Inmate Olson became eligible for a section 745 judicial review in August 1996, at which time he submitted an application for such a judicial review. Olson's application anguished his victims' families. Sharon Rosenfeldt, a mother of one of Olson's victims, described Olson's application for such judicial review in an interview in Maclean's magazine, March 25, 1996, saying:
... that just terrifies everybody that he even has the right to ask for early parole... I can only hope to God it will be repealed before August... so that our family and the other 10 families won't have to go through this whole nightmare again.
The victims of these murderers are dead, their lives ended brutally at very youthful ages. However, honourable senators, the families of the deceased victims are alive. Today, mothers such as Darlene Boyd and Debra Mahaffy seek to be heard on this issue, and have raised their voices asking the government to reconsider many of the issues, and to consider consequences for victims' families, and also the new social and political problems posed by this modern era, particularly problems in the courts.
Honourable senators, the issue of psychopathy and violent offences are compelling the attention of Parliament. Parliamentarians must inform themselves of the narcissistic psychopaths who derive gratification from the fact that they have inflicted pain on their victims and families, and also from the fact of the inconvenience and mischief that they inflict on the justice system and on Parliament. The presence and management of psychopathic personalities in the penitentiaries poses immense problems for the system itself.
We must begin to understand that the system is having enormous difficulty dealing with many of these problems that we, as parliamentarians and as politicians, are just beginning to face head on.
The management of these personalities is posing immense problems. These so-called high-profile killers - these infamous people - have learned to manipulate their so-called "high-profile" circumstances and are frequently propelled by the publicity that attends them. Inmate Olson, currently detained in the Saskatchewan penitentiary, has a penchant for such publicity, as well as a penchant for writing horrific letters to members of Parliament. He signs these letters: "Clifford Olson, Serial Killer 11 children."
He wrote such a letter to me personally. That letter, dated October 27, 1995, demonstrated his callous disregard for human life and his persistent and continued degradation of his victims and their families. I spoke about that letter in debate in this chamber on April 23, 1996. Inmate Olson pursues his assault on public decency and on the political system. He has no respect for human decency. Parliamentarians, cabinet and politicians have a duty to check this persistent and continuous mischief. Failure to check this mischief, in turn, fuels the public discontent and despair with politicians, of whom I am one. Since sentenced to life imprisonment in 1982, inmate Olson has brought more than 30 court actions, usually claiming that his rights have been violated. I believe on one occasion a judge barred him from further legal actions. Inmate Olson is a public menace who fully comprehends and plans his role of political and institutional menacing.
The social and psychological forces in today's community that cause the proliferation and support of psychopaths such as Clifford Olson, Paul Bernardo, and I would include Karla Homolka, are insufficiently understood. It is time for serious study of these forces and related issues by Parliament.
Honourable senators, the issue of capital punishment is coming to the fore again. Canadian public opinion on capital punishment and the punishment of very violent offenders is commanding attention. We must recall that, in 1976, the abolition of capital punishment was secured by political compromise. Members of Parliament voted to abolish capital punishment in return for 25 years of sentence served before an eligibility date for parole for wilful, premeditated murders.
Senator Nolin: It was exchanged for life with a minimum.
Senator Cools: The minimum time to be served was 25 years. It was life, but that was the trade-off.
Until 1976, capital punishment had been Canadian society's most profound way of censuring and punishing murderers. On May 3, 1976, then Solicitor General Warren Allmand, in moving second reading of Bill C-84, the bill which abolished capital punishment, said that the debate over capital punishment brought forward two questions:
...the question of whether capital punishment is an effective means to the end of protecting the public, and the question of whether the use of capital punishment is in keeping with the end or values which we as a society embrace.
The challenge for us today is to maintain popular support for the criminal justice system, and support for the continued abolition of capital punishment, as a value we socially embrace given our citizens' growing concern over violent crime and given the obvious brutality of certain, and many, violent murderers.
Honourable senators, we must stem the flow of any public wish to return to capital punishment as a penalty for murder. Since abolition in 1976, public opinion in Canada has shifted considerably towards tougher sentencing for violent criminals. A March 18, 1996 Gallup poll revealed that, if a national referendum were held on the question of capital punishment, 55 per cent of Canadians would vote for reinstatement of the death penalty, capital punishment. We must be mindful of these sentiments and their potential for growth.
Honourable senators, I supported the abolition of capital punishment in 1976, a Liberal government's initiative under then Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau. As a Liberal senator, I believe today that capital punishment is as socially undesirable now as it was then.
I hold enormous esteem for all those - many of whom were friends of mine - who worked for many decades to terminate the use of death as a penal tool in this country.
I am concerned that we as parliamentarians must now do more to allay the sense of many Canadians that the criminal justice system is failing and that violent crime flourishes. We must endeavour to rebuild public confidence.
As honourable senators know, I served on the National Parole Board of Canada from 1980 to 1984. I personally granted parole to many inmates. I also personally revoked many paroles for many inmates. I personally granted many pardons. Those were pardons, by the way, under the Criminal Records Act, not royal prerogatives of mercy.
In addition, I worked closely with the Toronto Metropolitan Police, with successive chiefs of police and the police forces, including chiefs Harold Adamson, Jack Ackroyd, Jack Marks, and William McCormack, from the 1970s forward. I have observed much in this field of work.
Honourable senators, Bill C-45 creates two categories of murderers: multiple murderers and single murderers. Bill C-45 would limit the right to apply for a section 745 judicial review to those who have committed a single murder and would deny application to those convicted of multiple murders. The Department of Justice told us this at the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs hearings on Bill C-45. Howard Bebbington, Department of Justice Counsel of the Public Law Sector, at the committee's hearings on Bill C-45 on October 30, 1996, informed us that:
If someone has killed once, we can understand that it may be a mistake - it certainly is a mistake.
Honourable senators, this is an extraordinary system. This is an extraordinary division, a division between those who have killed once and those who have killed more than once. This is what Bill C-45 does, and it does so arbitrarily, without revealing the moral ground on which it chooses to stand. It creates the categories of deserving murderers and undeserving murderers.
Let us now review what other witnesses had to say about this. London, Ontario's Chief of Police, Julian Fantino, who used to serve in Toronto before he went to London, testified before the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs on November 7, 1996, for the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police. Chief Fantino cautioned all that they must:
...not lose sight of the fact that we are dealing with murderers who have been sentenced following due process.
That is very important. These people have already had the benefit of due process. They have been sentenced.
Chief Fantino reminded us that, in such convictions and sentences, due process has been followed and the court has imposed a sentence of life imprisonment in accordance with the statute, saying:
In the case of those convicted of first degree murder, the eligibility for parole should be as described by statute, not less than 25 years. In the case of second degree murder, the period should be at least 10 years or such greater period as the trial judge sees fit to impose at the time of sentencing, as permitted by the Criminal Code.
He told us that he personally believed that section 745 should be repealed when he said:
The proposed amendments do not amount to abolition of section 745, which, in the view of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, is the only reasonable course of action.
Chief Fantino revealed his views regarding deserving murderers and undeserving murderers, saying:
The honourable Mr. Rock has stated that the section 745 process will now only be available to those who are most deserving. This amounts to nothing less than a head count, if you will. If a killer has taken only one victim, he may be considered deserving, while the individual in the next cell, who has killed twice, will not be. Our position is that early parole should not be available for either of them.
Just en passant, honourable senators, it should be noted that there are many inmates who have killed several times. For example, I know of one case of a women who has killed three husbands. Many of these people were never charged with first or second degree murder. In this debate, we are dealing with first and second degree murder charges.
Chief Fantino continued, posing the question of altering the minimum time served to parole eligibility date prescribed by the sentencing judge, which is the heart, the nub, of the matter. He said:
They have abrogated their right to special treatment and privileges by the act of taking a human life, and should receive no special consideration beyond the statutory right to be considered for parole following the minimum period prescribed at the time of sentencing.
As to Bill C-45's artificial and arbitrary differentiation between multiple and single murderers, Chief Fantino cautioned that:
The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police believes that every life is precious and that it is morally unjustifiable to reward a killer simply on the basis that he has only taken one life. Moreover, it is an error to tie this legislation to the worst mass-murderers and serial killers.
That is a very important point.
The Hon. the Speaker: I regret interrupting the honourable senator, but I must inform her that the 15-minute period allowed for her speech has expired.
Senator Cools: May I have leave to continue, honourable senators?
The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted?
Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.
An Hon. Senator: No!
Senator Corbin: For how long?
The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Cools: Did I hear someone say, "For how long"?
Senator Kinsella: It is irrelevant.
Senator Corbin: Honourable senators, I do not mind granting an extension, but it would be useful to know for how long the honourable senator wishes to continue. There has been abuse of that practice in recent times. I am not saying that the honourable senator abused it, but it has happened.
Senator Kinsella: Order!
Senator Cools: I will repeat what I was saying. Chief Fantino stated:
Our concern is that less high profile but equally dangerous and evil individuals could reap the rewards of early release.
A valid example of this last category would be the murderer who has killed a police officer or jail guard. Under the proposed legislative scheme, this person would not automatically be excluded from making a section 745 application. It is the position of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police that he clearly should not be a candidate to be considered for release prior to the full term of 25 years.
Chief Fantino went to the heart of the matter, saying that section 745 amends and alters a sentence already imposed by a court. That is the nub of the matter that few of us seem to have been able to grasp. He said:
It amounted to an attempt to circumvent the original disposition of the charge which was handed down by a judge who made a decision and gave judgment based on fresh viva voce evidence concerning the manner in which the murder was committed and its effects on the family of the victim and others.
Honourable senators, in 1976, section 745 of the Criminal Code granted the courts unusual powers to review the sentences of upper courts - powers normally reserved to courts of appeal, to clemency agencies, or to Governors General themselves. It granted courts the unusual powers to alter sentences imposed by the sentencing courts. This is something reserved for the courts of appeal and for the clemency authorities.
Section 745 took the unusual step of conferring the power of clemency upon the courts. Such powers of clemency rightfully belong with the clemency granting agencies. The power to grant clemency to the already convicted and sentenced belongs with the National Parole Board of Canada, the Crown, the Sovereign and the Governor General's royal powers of mercy, and royal prerogative of mercy, which are exercised on the advice of a responsible minister. That is to say, they are exercised on the advice of the executive.
Bill C-45 will grant these powers to chief justices, which will diminish the powers of Parliament to respond to the will of the people. It will, in turn, enhance the powers of the chief justices. As we know, constitutionally, these powers do not properly belong with chief justices or the courts because these are political powers. These are powers exercised by the representatives of the body politic.
The issue of imposing sentences belongs to the courts, but the issue of sentence mitigation, sentence alteration and mercy are political questions and belong in political hands - in the hands of responsible ministers and exercised by cabinet, who are responsible to Parliament. These questions should be dealt with by people who will answer to the public will for the exercise of these powers. Her Majesty's clemency and mercy powers are not the proper business of the courts or of judges, but, rather, are matters for the executive. These are executive powers.
The proper exercise of the power of clemency is a key issue in Bill C-45. This issue has received insufficient attention. Bill C-45 will complicate the issue further because it will create this new category of the different levels of importance of lives.
Honourable senators, Bill C-45 compromises the will of the people as expressed by Parliament, by enabling, through legislation, the courts to make political decisions.
Inmates Clifford Olson, Karla Homolka, Paul Bernardo and the problems that they present are political problems in today's community, and are matters that should be handled by the proper political authorities.
I hope that the government will give Senator Nolin's amendment proper consideration.
In conclusion, it had been my wish that, before the government moved to amend section 745, they would have conducted an extensive study of all of the issues, perhaps along the lines of the study resulted in the excellent Archambault report of 1930. It has been a long time since we have tackled issues so thoroughly.
The issues are before us. The proper responses to the Olsons, the Homolkas and the Bernardos of the world are political questions. I would encourage governments and cabinets to face these problems directly and stop palming these matters off on the courts. They are our problems.
Hon. Lorna Milne: Honourable senators, yesterday Senator Nolin moved an amendment to give effect to a suggestion by the Attorney General of Ontario, the Honourable Charles Harnick. It was that the Minister of Justice and the Attorney General of Canada should become part of the judicial review process and decide whether or not a person may apply for a judicial review of his or her parole ineligibility.
It is difficult to know where to begin, my friends. It is surprising to me that a member of the bar would move such an amendment.
I hesitate to lecture a lawyer on the history and virtue of our adversarial system of justice, but Senator Nolin leaves me no choice; nor do some of the statements made by Senator Cools.
First, let us take the amendment at face value. There is an inherent problem with the proposal. It would place the Minister of Justice in a position of direct conflict of interest. On one hand, he represents the state, which is a party in the proceedings of the court that reviews the ineligibility period, and, on the other hand, he would have the power to prevent the applicant from having access to the courts. It would make no sense for the state to decide that the application could go forward only to then later oppose it in court. The conflict of interest could not be more clear.
Second, the amendment amounts to an Americanization of our system of justice, for it sets the Minister of Justice in the position of a judge. We do not elect our judges in Canada, we have a strong tradition of separating the judicial from the political. This amendment would violate that long-standing tradition.
Defenders of the amendment like to refer to the dangerous offender provisions of the Criminal Code, and Mr. Harnick did so. They point to this as a precedent where a justice minister is involved in authorizing the application of parts of the criminal process. I do not think the analogy works. In that example, it is the Crown itself, not the defendant, who is making the application. The minister's decision has to do with authorizing a member of his departmental staff to make a certain application to the court. The dangerous offender process does not empower a provincial minister of justice to tell a defendant what legal options he may or may not deploy in his own defence or his own best interests. The dangerous offender provision does not empower that minister to decide whether the defence can present certain arguments or move certain motions.
In this amendment, we are being asked to approve a proposal that would empower a minister of the Crown to decide who has access to the courts and who does not. We are being asked to let him decide who may have a full range of legal options and who may not.
Is there equal treatment under the law? Is this fundamental justice? Is this reasonable in a free and democratic society? My answer is no, no and no. I believe it is quite clear that the amendment proposed by Senator Nolin could not survive a constitutional challenge.
I have a second perspective on this amendment. Political reality suggests that no minister of justice would ever permit any application to proceed. Perhaps this point reveals the real motivation here. Let us say it out in the open. The real objective is to put an end to the process completely. To adopt this amendment would be to achieve indirectly what the opposition cannot achieve directly; in effect, the repeal of section 745.6.
I know there are senators who would prefer that outcome. If that is the case, let them say so. They are not improving the process by entrusting the Minister of Justice with this important judicial responsibility. They are attempting to gut the process and the statute.
I must argue against that position. The review process works. The recidivism rate among persons released under it is extremely low. The process needs tightening up, but it must be maintained and improved, not repealed.
Some of Senator Cools' remarks twigged my interest. I wish to set the record straight. In the case of sentence mitigation, the sentence is still life. In the case of sentence alteration, the sentence is still life. In the case of mercy, the sentence is still life. There is no mercy, no pardon - the sentence is still life.
Hon. Pierre Claude Nolin: I should like to ask a question of Senator Milne. Who does she think is empowered to grant mercy; the court, the King or the Queen, or the Governor in Council?
Senator Milne: The proposal of mercy derives from the Crown, but the sentence is still life.
Senator Cools: Honourable senators, I am honoured that Senator Milne has chosen to respond to some of my remarks. When I spoke of the alteration of sentencing, I was speaking of the phenomenon of reducing the time served before the PED. That is what judicial review seeks, and that is definitely alteration of sentence.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable Senator Cools, only questions are in order at this time.
Senator Cools: I am trying to find out from Senator Milne on what moral ground her claims stand. I laid out my claims based on the traditional roles of clemency, pardon and mercy as we Liberals have followed them in this country. I know my ground. I am trying to learn what is her ground and what is the ground of Bill C-45.
Senator Milne: The ground of Bill C-45 is that a sentence of life remains a sentence of life. A convicted person remains under that sentence for the rest of his or her natural life.
Hon. Philippe Deane Gigantès: Honourable senators, there is very little to add to what Senator Milne has said, so I will be brief.
In ancient Athens, the jury system was established in such a way as to divorce it from political influence. Five hundred jurors were selected at the very last moment in order that no one could exert political pressure on them. It was a separation of the executive from the judiciary. It was an attempt to insulate the judicial process from political passion, from the perception of a particular politician that it would help his electoral chances to adopt a particular attitude that might please a pressure group or even an important section of the public.
In the long run, justice is more important for the survival and the well-being of a community than the election of any political person, or the opinions of that political person.
Senator Milne is perfectly correct. The question of whether someone in prison can be considered earlier for parole should be one for a judge to decide and to send to a jury, just as the original sentence was passed by the judge after the jury spoke.
The jury is supposed to be representative of the peers of the person who is tried and later considered for parole. We have set that process aside from the electoral process. It would be bad to bring the electoral process back into the judiciary.
Senator Nolin: Senator Gigantès, you are far more expert than I in the law of Ancient Greece. In Ancient Greece, did someone have the power of clemency, and if so, who?
Senator Gigantès: The jury.
Senator Nolin: I do not think so. Can you provide me with a document to prove that, not an opinion, but a document?
Senator Gigantès: Will the Senate allow me three minutes to explain a specific case to Senator Nolin? In the case of Socrates, the jury voted twice. The first time, it was on whether they believed Socrates or the accuser. They said they believed the accuser.
Then, the accuser proposed a punishment, and Socrates proposed an alternative, and the jury chose one of the two punishments.
Senator Nolin: That is not clemency.
Senator Gigantès: The jury could choose which of the two punishments showed the most clemency. The decision was up to the jury. There was no other authority that could pardon the accused, only the jury.
Senator Nolin: That is not the power to pardon, but the power to order a sentence. That is the judiciary power, and our common law comes from that time. I think we should be grateful to our ancestors for having so wisely designed such a system of law.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable Senator Nolin, ask your question, please.
Senator Nolin: In Greece, was there someone who could pardon an accused person, or was there not?
Senator Gigantès: Only the jury could pardon a convicted offender.
Senator Cools: Honourable senators, I was taken with the reference of Senator Gigantès to ancient Greece. I should like to ask him a question.
The Hon. the Speaker: Senator Nolin was asking a question of Senator Gigantès.
Senator Nolin: The answer is the "jury."
The Hon. the Speaker: I would remind Senator Cools that questions can only be asked of the last speaker. It is in order for Senator Nolin to ask a question of Senator Gigantès. It is in order for you to ask a question of Senator Gigantès. However, I must remind honourable senators that no honourable senator is obliged to reply. It is up to each senator whether he or she wishes to take questions.
Senator Cools: Honourable senators, I thought that a brief exchange on the subject-matter would be worthwhile. I was struck by the fact that Senator Gigantès was lending the Senate his wisdom on Greece. I was hoping that someone in the chamber could lend to the debate their wisdom on Canada. I was hoping Senator Nolin could instruct us on what parole is.
The Hon. the Speaker: There is no provision in our rules to allow Senator Cools to ask questions of Senator Nolin at this time. Of course, the Senate may wish to grant leave to do so.
Is leave granted, honourable senators?
Some Hon. Senators: Yes.
Some Hon. Senators: No.
The Hon. the Speaker: Leave is not granted.
Hon. Joyce Fairbairn (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, because of the interest shown earlier today by various members of the chamber during Senators' Statements and Question Period concerning Radio Canada International, I should like to tell my colleagues that the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lloyd Axworthy, spoke in the House of Commons earlier today on the matter. I should like to read into the record what he had to say. He said:
We certainly recognize how important it is to have an effective voice for Canada abroad, to promote trade, development, culture and the other values of Canada. To pursue that we in the government are working on a broader strategy to use new technologies and all the assets we have.
We recognize that Radio Canada is an important element and in light of the funding and the changes CBC has to make, we recognize that we have to fill in a gap during the time that we are working on the broader strategy.
He went on to say that, through himself, the Minister of Canadian Heritage and other ministers, the government will be able to provide ongoing funding for RCI and, at the same time, help them convert to a new instrument for Canada's voice abroad to represent our country in an effective way.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, is it your pleasure to adopt the motion?
Hon. Pierre De Bané: Honourable senators, as I rise today to speak to this bill, I cannot forget that night in 1947 when my family fled Haifa, the city where I was born, because the United Nations had announced the partition of Palestine between two states. The war had just started, and of course the memory of that night when my family fled is still with me.
Fortunately for me and for many people who were born in Palestine, Canada embraced us with a generosity to be found in no other country in the world.
That same generosity made it possible for me to campaign successfully in a riding where there were not even a dozen people from the Middle East and to take an active part in Canadian political life, as a member of Parliament, as a minister and today as a senator. And I would like to express my gratitude to the country that opened its arms to me.
Today, I rise as a Canadian to explain to my colleagues why this bill should be withdrawn, and there are a number of reasons. It is a bill that goes against the official policies of the Canadian government. It goes against the political and economic interests and the stability and peace that Canada is pursuing. It does not help promote peace in that part of the world.
My first point is that the bill, in its present form, extends the benefit of free trade not only to the state of Israel, as recognized by the international community in 1949, but also to the territories under its military control.
Honourable senators, I wish to start with the official position of the Canadian government under successive governments of every political stripe. This is the official position as it was sent to me in writing by the Department of Foreign Affairs a few days ago on the question of occupied territories:
Canada does not recognize permanent Israeli control over the territories occupied in 1967 (the Golan Heights, the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip) and opposes all unilateral actions intended to predetermine the outcome of negotiations, including the establishment of settlements in the territories and unilateral moves to annex East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. Canada considers such actions to be contrary to international law and unproductive to the peace process.
The Secretary of State for External Affairs, when he spoke to the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs on the Middle East issue, said:
Canada has made it clear to Israel that we cannot accept the position that it has gained the right to retain permanent control over the occupied territories. We are deeply concerned over action which Israel has taken on the ground to extend its control: its annexation of East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights as well as establishment of settlements in the occupied territories. We regard these actions as contrary to international law and extremely unhelpful to the peace process.
Under the next government, led by Mr. Mulroney, the Right Honourable Mr. Clark expressed himself this way:
We strongly support a just and comprehensive solution to the Arab-Israeli dispute based on Security Council Resolution 242, which provides for the right of all states, including Israel, to live within secure and recognized boundaries. We also support the realization of the legitimate rights of the Palestinians, including their right to a homeland within a clearly-defined territory, the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
As for the UN resolution 242, it calls on Israel to withdraw from occupied territories, contingent upon Arab commitments to accept an Israeli state, within mutually agreed, recognized borders.
The basic terms of UN Resolution 242 of 1967 are as follows:
(i) Withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict.
(ii) Termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgement of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries, free from the threats or acts of force.
In August of 1996, a group of distinguished Canadians wrote to the Prime Minister of Canada. Among the signatories are Professor Peyton Lyon, Professor John Sigler, the Right Honourable Robert Stanfield, the Honourable Flora MacDonald, Mr. Bill Janzen from the Mennonite Church, Mr. Ian Watson from the Canada-Arab Council, Mr. Michael Lynk, Dr. Ismail Zayid, Mr. William Barton, Dr. Joseph De Bané, my brother, Professor James Steele, Ms Carol Seaborn, among others. I would like to quote from their letter.
We believe that Canada, in company with like-minded allies, should augment its diplomatic pressure on Israel:- to accelerate the peace process.
- to honour agreements such as the one to remove troops from Hebron.
- to respect UN resolutions such as SC 242, SC 338 and SC 425.
- to allow East Jerusalem to serve as the capital of Palestine with special status for the three world religions.
- to permit Palestinian refugees to return, or be compensated fairly.
- to share water equitably.
- and, to respect human rights.
We believe that Prime Minister Netanyahu, his colleagues and his fellow-Israelis should be informed at this time of the principles that Canadians, who are among their closest friends, hold to be just and necessary to any secure peace in the Middle East. Furthermore, at the very least, Canada should suspend special deals such as the free trade agreement until Israel halts its illegal settlement expansion and honours international agreements.
One of the major flaws of this bill is that it will extend the benefits of free trade to Jewish settlements that the Government of Canada, under successive governments, has declared illegal.
As the report of the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs explains, Canada, as one of the major world trade countries in the world, has a vital interest in the stability of that part of the world. President Mubarak when he appeared before the House of Commons committee, said:
The problems in the Middle East are not solved because the Palestinian problem is very much part of the greater problem. Tension will grow in the area; problems will continue to exist in the area because the main problem is not solved. Unless we solve the Palestinian problem, peace will never prevail. Let us be frank and live in reality. The conflict in the Middle East started because of the Palestinian problem. These people cannot find a home, cannot find a place of their own. They are distributed here and there in every country. Some countries do not want them. Others accept them for a certain period of time. However, whenever you accept any Palestinian in your country, the first question you hear is "When are they going to go back home?"
These people are denied everything: their rights, their home. It is difficult to even imagine such a terrible situation. The Palestinian question must be solved because it is the crux of the problem. Some steps were taken towards that goal when the Israelis withdrew from some territories, but the conflict continues.
As the Canada-Israel Committee put it before the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, the core of the Arab-Israeli conflict lies in the refusal of the Arab countries - with the recent exception of Egypt - to accept the legitimacy of Israel as a Jewish state in the Middle East. That was, from the Jewish point of view, the main stumbling block to peace in that region.
I will expand on what has taken place since the Oslo peace process when the Palestinians finally and irreversibly recognized the right of Israel to live peacefully within secure borders.
A representative of the Mennonite Church of Canada who has been active in that area for the last 40 years, told our committee:
Israel continues to work very diligently to establish an irreversible position of dominance in the West Bank. Since the 1993 Oslo peace process began, Israel, instead of freezing settlement work, has allocated increased financial resources for settlement construction and building settler by-pass roads which Palestinians are not allowed to use.
Israel also controls the water resources on the West Bank, with the result that Israeli settlers have water for swimming pools, while nearby Palestinians do not have enough water for their own gardens.
When the current peace process began in 1993, the Palestinians understood they would get their own territory in which they would control resources and which would be more or less in one unit, where they would have control over resources and where they would be able to build their society and develop their economy. To date, they have been given full control over only 3 per cent of the West Bank.
Admittedly, these are the largest Palestinian cities. However, under the Oslo peace process, they were to receive control of additional areas representing 24 per cent in the second stage and most of the remainder in the third stage. The current Israeli government has indicated that it does not intend to follow that process and honour those commitments.
The representative of the Mennonite Church in Canada went on to say:
The Israeli government stance, it must be noted, is a sharp repudiation of Canadian policy. Canada continues to hold that the settlements are not only obstacles to peace but illegal; that the Israeli occupation of the Palestine territories is illegal; that the Israeli claim to East Jerusalem is illegal; and that many actions by which Israel maintains its occupation are illegal. Why then would Canada bless the government with a free trade agreement?
The situation has troubling similarities to the South Africa of 20 years ago. At that time, South Africa set up bantustans, such as the Transkei which, though technically independent, were small, fragmented areas subservient to the dominant power and doomed to poverty. At that time, Canada did not enter into a free trade agreement with a dominant power. It did not consider arguments that there would be trickle-down benefits for people in the bantustans. Instead, Canada imposed economic sanctions. I am no great fan of sanctions, but I have strong reservations about Canada blessing and signalling approval of a dominant power in such a situation.
I should like to quote now from Mr. Anthony Cordesman, co-director of the Middle East program at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. He said:
When the first Oslo accord was reached, there was already a huge economic disparity between Israelis and Palestinians. In Israel, the per capita income was about $13,880 a year, in Gaza, it was just $2,400 and in the West Bank, $2,800, according to the Central Intelligence Agency. Israel's unemployment rate was 7.5 per cent, compared with 45 per cent in Gaza and 35 per cent in the West Bank.
Since then, the Palestinian economy has deteriorated even further. In August, the World Bank team operating in Gaza estimated the per capita income of Palestinians has dropped by nearly 25 per cent. It's even worse now. Some estimates now put per capita income for Palestinians at well below $1,800. The per capita income for Israelis has gone up, to more than $15,000 a year.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian labour force has increased to 433,000, from 400,000 in 1994. However, with new Israeli security measures, the number of Palestinians working in Israel dropped from 53,000 to 18,000, according to the International Monetary Fund. (In 1992, such employment...
This is before the Oslo accord -
...was at 116,000.)
The Hon. the Speaker: I regret to interrupt the honourable senator, but the 15-minute period has expired.
Is leave granted, honourable senators, that Senator De Bané may continue?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator De Bané: I thank my colleagues on both sides of the house.
I believe I have exposed that the gift from Canada to Israel of such a free trade agreement at this time, with the provision that it would apply to all occupied territories, which Prime Minister Netanyahu does not want to give back to the Palestinians, will be seen as an encouragement to continue its stance, and this at a time when we thought it would induce peace.
Some people have said that we should not consider the political situation of the Middle East because this bill deals with economic issues involving trade. I would remind honourable senators that, in 1995, Canada exported multiples of what it sells to Israel to the Philippines, to Malaysia, to Korea, to Singapore, to Thailand, to Brazil, to Argentina, to Columbia, and to a host of other countries with which Canada does not have a free trade agreement, and where none is contemplated.
This is about far more than the trade between Canada and Israel, which is less than 1 per cent of our foreign trade. It is about the symbolism and the signals it sends around the region and the world. It is precisely these signals that are at the heart of my concerns.
It is difficult to believe that such an agreement could have been contemplated without the Oslo peace process. To divorce it from the peace process now will rob it of its context and its meaning. The Oslo peace process was supposed to hold promising benefits for the Palestinians in particular, and for the Arabs in general. It has already conferred substantial benefits on Israel. These peace dividends are expected to flow from an increase in external aid, from the rebuilding of indigenous institutional capacities to guide economic and reconstruction efforts, from greater and more guaranteed access to the Israeli market and possibly other western markets, from an increased Palestinian command over domestic natural resources, from the expected increase in international tourism, from the decrease in military spending, and from the reduction in political instability and general uncertainty that, in the past, militated against foreign investment in the region.
So far, the Palestinians have seen very little change in their economies and lives. Most of the benefits are going to Israel. What they have seen is strictly the opposite. Unemployment in Gaza is over 60 per cent and over 50 per cent in the West Bank. The territories are totally locked in primary and secondary closures. Very little has been achieved on the ground by way of reconstruction and increased sovereignty over their own destiny. Settlements increase daily and bypass roads create new facts on the ground.
Against this bleak picture, the implementation of a free trade agreement between Canada and Israel at this time is a slap in the face of Palestinians and other Arabs. It is a reward for intransigence. It is a legitimization of the policy of expropriation of Arab lands and the denial of Palestinians to their rightful title to their water.
Mr. Shimon Peres said that they have finally realized that, in order to have peace, they must give back the land to the Palestinians. Of his successor, he said that his policy is very simple: You give me peace and I will give you nothing.
Honourable senators, I think that, at the minimum, this bill, in order to be consistent with Canadian policies, should contain a general provision for the parties to respect international law, human rights and democratic principles. When the European Union signed with Israel a free trade agreement, the first clause read as follows:
Relations between the Parties, as well as all the provisions of the Agreement itself, shall be based on respect for human rights and democratic principles, which guides their internal and international policy and constitutes an essential element of this Agreement.
Canada has put a similar clause in its free trade agreement with Chile. I think Canada should include it here as well.
Second, Bill C-61 should contain explicit provisions for its staged implementation that tie the privilege of free trade with Canada with verifiable, positive progress by Israel.
Third, Bill C-61 should contain an explicit provision that forbids the import into Canada of any goods made or produced on Israeli settlements in any of the territories occupied by Israel, together with an effective means for verifying compliance with this provision.
I remind my honourable colleagues that recently the Department of National Revenue disqualified as a tax deduction donations to Jewish settlements in the Arab territories because they are against Canadian policies. They are disqualified because we cannot give a tax deduction to someone who sends a contribution that goes against Canadian policy.
Finally, honourable senators, I should like to deal with an argument that was put before us at the committee. The argument was that the Arabs, and particularly the Palestinians, have not voiced objections to the bill.
To that argument, I would say the following: If there is one people who have been persecuted for the last 20 centuries, particularly in the West, it is the Jewish people. If they were apprehensive for many centuries to voice, forcefully, their grievances about their discrimination and to ask for equal rights, should one construe that to mean they were not discriminated against? If they were discriminated against in all walks of life for years in Canada and they did not, as they do today, voice their apprehension, should someone construe from that that they were not the victims of discrimination and injustice? The same situation applies here, honourable senators.
The Palestinians are in such a weak position today that it would be out of the question for them to voice any complaint about Canadian policies, particularly in view of the fact that Canada has been so generous to them. However, I do not think we should construe from their silence that they give their blessing to such a blatantly unfair deal.
I should like to quote from the minister of the foreign office in Great Britain, Sir Maurice Rifkind, who, besides being the Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Major government, is also a leading member in his own right in the Jewish community. Sir Rifkind visited Hebron in early November and told the Israelis that the settlements were illegal and that they should leave. He said that a Palestinian state should be high on the agenda of the peace talks. On Jerusalem, he pointed out that for Britain, Israel was in military occupation of Jerusalem and had only de facto authority over West Jerusalem.
The same week in Washington, the U.S. Commerce Undersecretary Stuart Eizenstat, a leading member of the Jewish community, warned Israel that they were choking the economy of the Palestinian territories under the guise of protecting security, and that Israel risked losing its prosperity unless it actively pursued its peace process with the Palestinians.
Honourable senators, this bill would have made so much sense when the government of Israel was actively pursuing a policy of peace. During the campaign for peace, Prime Minister Perez said that, in return for signing with Arafat, 50 countries had extended their diplomatic relations with Israel and foreign investment had increased by 50 per cent. To that, Netanyahu replied that he would not make one inch of concession. He said that he would not follow through with the Oslo process and that he would get as much from the rest of the world. I hope that Canada will prove him wrong.
Today, if our Department of Foreign Affairs has retained the reputation it earned when the person on behalf of Canada in the Middle East crisis spoke, not in favour of the Arabs or the Israelis, but in favour of a fair settlement - which has gained the Canadian people, collectively, the Nobel peace prize - I hope that we will not pass this bill, which would put an end to a policy that has been consistently pursued by all governments of Canada for half a century.
Hon. Marcel Prud'homme: Honourable senators, the declaration of principles and exchange of letters of recognition between the Israeli government and the PLO have changed the political landscape of the Middle East. A new era may have begun in which the enemies of the past could give way to cooperation and peaceful co-existence in the Holy Land.
A new constituency of hope may have been created. It is difficult to believe that the forces of goodwill and peace can be defeated. It has taken 50 years to come back to the historic resolution of the United Nations of November 29, 1947, which called for the creation of two homelands in the Holy Land - one for the Jews and one for the Palestinians. We are challenged, as never before, to make sure that peace reigns, that peacemakers are rewarded, and that we do not waste another 50 years of violence, misery and frustration.
There is nothing inevitable about peace. Rather, it comes only after many sacrifices, and an abundance of goodwill, encouragement and caring.
Ironically, we are about to approve the free trade agreement with Israel at a time when the new government in Israel has opted to slow down the peace process and reverse its historical achievements. It is inconceivable that Bill C-61 could have been developed outside the framework of the Oslo peace process. It is equally inconceivable that we approve of it without ensuring that it furthers the cause of peace.
I have a number of concerns about Bill C-61, some of which arise from what I know and feel about the area, and some that are the result of testimony we heard from the experts on the region at the House of Commons committee and here at our Senate committee. I should like to restate these concerns and invite you to reconsider your support and approval of this agreement at this time.
First, singling out Israel for this special treatment without ensuring its availability in equal and symmetrical terms to other trading partners in the region, some of them with trading volumes that are a multiple of our trade with Israel, is puzzling and not in the best interest of Canada. In 1995, we exported to Saudi Arabia alone, more than we exported and imported from Israel in the same year.
Second, there does not appear to be a problem of access for Canadian exporters to Israel. Last year, our exports increased by more than 37 per cent over the 1994 volumes. Even if our exports were to double and quadruple, our trade with Israel would still be small - one-tenth of 1 per cent of our total trade in comparison with our trade with the rest of the region. Is it really worth our while to risk antagonizing the Arabs for this small and trivial potential increase in our trade with Israel? I am sure that the Arabs will not voice their displeasure with this measure, but let me assure you, from the little I know about them, they will feel slighted and feel that Canada is moving away from her long cherished position of neutrality and fairness in the Middle East.
Third, we are about to engage in a contradictory policy posture. If we are not careful, we will be giving exports from the illegal settlements in the West Bank and Gaza preferential access to our market. This despite our long-established position that these settlements are illegal. Honourable senators, we cannot have it both ways. If we believe that these settlements are illegal, then we cannot give them preferential access to our markets - something that we reserve to our special trading partners.
Fourth, why is it that we do not insist on a clause to protect human rights in Israel in much the same way that our allies in the European Community have. They felt so strongly - and Senator De Bané reminded us about this - that they insisted on enshrining it in the preamble to their trade agreement with Israel.
Fifth, why is it that we include the Palestinians as only a subjugated entity within the Israeli economy? Would it not make more sense to give the Palestinians the same privileges that we are giving to the Israelis, and would it not make more sense and have greater meaning to give them this preferential treatment as a separate agreement that preserves and acknowledges their separate aspirations and interests?
Sixth, from the expert testimony that we heard, it seems that just bestowing on the Palestinians equal access to the Canadian market is meaningless and futile if we are to remain silent and acquiescent to the Israeli closure of the West Bank and Gaza. The closures are costing the poor Palestinian economy $6 million daily. Unemployment in Gaza is around 60 per cent and about 40 per cent in the West Bank and rising. Canadian and other western aid donors that were supposed to build capacity and generate peace dividends are singularly subsidizing Israel's closure policies.
Seventh, it is natural to expect that under a peace arrangement, most of the negative factors that developed under occupation will be eliminated. Some positive gains will be realized, and the Palestinians will be partially compensated for their losses and/or suffering. Under occupation, the West Bank and Gaza were forced into an economic union with Israel. A small, fragmented, disarticulated, poor, and labour-intensive economy was confronted with a relatively rich, advanced, capital-intensive, strategic and highly centralized economy.
Denied both the control over their most vital resource, water, and unimpeded access to the Israeli market or to their traditional Arab markets, agriculture, the mainstay of the pre-occupation economy and the largest employer of people, faltered. Displaced from agriculture, with no alternative employment in industry, labour from the territories moved to work in Israel, generally at higher pay than in the territories, but at the lowest end of the Israeli wage scale. Although they represented no more than 7 per cent of total employment in Israel, they constituted the majority of workers in construction and a large share of the agriculture labour. On the other hand, they represented over one third of all the employed residents of the occupied territories. Their earnings were about one quarter of the GNP of the West Bank and about 40 per cent of Gaza's GNP.
This export of labour and the rise in labour costs in the occupied territories destroyed the possibility of developing domestic manufacturing production. Earnings in Israeli shekels went ultimately to buy Israeli goods. It is small wonder that Israeli net exports to the territories were over $1 billion per year before the intifada.
Eighth, the communal pauperization of the Palestinians by denying them access to their resources, water and land, and ultimately labour, cannot be dismissed as a pure accident of history or as an unintended and incidental effect of the occupation. Rather, it is part of a long-standing Israeli policy to deny the existence of the Palestinians as a people and a community capable of leading an independent national existence. Improvement of the economic prospects of the Palestinians then requires their reconstitution as an independent national community. No amount of international aid can make up for the loss of land and water. No free trade agreement can work in a primarily agrarian economy if water, the most critical economic factor upon which the Palestinian economy can be reconstructed, at least in the initial stages of reconstitution of the economy and society, is denied them.
Unfortunately, Bill C-61 will exacerbate water shortages in the region, if not directly then indirectly. It is no secret that Israel derives one-third of its water requirements by pumping water that accumulates under the West Bank and the Gaza while at the same time denying Palestinians the right to dig wells that will meet their own water needs. Today, every Israeli consumes the equivalent of 375 cubic meters per day, while the Palestinian's daily per capita consumption is below 100 cubic metres. Israeli water policies and pricing are notoriously known for their irrational subsidization of profligate use of water. It is small wonder that the major Israeli agricultural exports to Canada were vegetable and fruits in the amount of $6.9 million. The latter are water intensive. It is ironical that a water-poor country like Israel would be exporting water-intensive products to a water-rich country like Canada.
Israel's water pricing policies are textbook examples of pricing non-renewable resources far below their scarcity values. This is responsible for reckless waste and exacerbating water conflicts in a region in which 15 out of 22 countries have been identified by the World Bank as water stressed. Even Israel's Auditor General has called this policy irrational and dangerous. Unfortunately, Canada's imports of vegetables and fruits from Israel contributes to water scarcity in the region and to the deterioration of the Jordan watershed, to sustaining Israeli deprival of the Palestinians of their legitimate water share in the common aquifer. Can Canada differentiate between an agricultural product that uses water that Israel takes illegally from the Palestinians and one that does not?
It makes sense that Canada either waits until peace negotiations resolve the water issues before it implements the free trade agreement with Israel or grants the Palestinians immediate, equal, and separate access to the Canadian market. By failing to do so, Canada will be condoning and encouraging Israel to sustain its water mismanagement and its usurpation of Palestinian water rights.
The financial requirements for development and reconstruction of the Palestinian economy are massive and urgent. The list of critical needs for sewers, roads, schools, hospitals, ports, airports, et cetera, is long and dire. However, finance without real resources will perpetuate the state of dependency of the Palestinian economy on outside help and on the Israeli economy. I am not arguing that a free trade agreement with an independent Palestinian state will not contribute to peace and would not serve the interests of Canada, Israel, and the Palestinians. It would be a good step in the right direction. It could be more meaningful if they were a free state, but a free trade agreement with Israel outside the framework of a clear and well-defined agenda for peace is not in Canada's interests and will delay, not speed, the process toward peace.
I was surprised, having attended the meetings, to see the result of the vote. The chairman was not required to vote. Three voted against the amendment put forward by the Honourable Senator De Bané; two were in favour of the amendment; there were three abstentions and three senators were absent. Honourable senators, that should ring some bells. Even today, if it were not for Senator De Bané and me who would have spoken? I waited to give members of the committee a chance to get up and defend the bill because I did not want to be the last speaker, but there was silence and everyone was ready to proceed. Did that not ring some bells that perhaps this measure is not in Canada's interests? Some senators, and I understand them, did not go further in their reflection than to abstain, than to absent themselves, or than to vote for the amendment. Senator De Bané, who is well known for his peaceful, quiet, gentle approach, made a speech that should have made honourable senators reflect.
Honourable senators were present when the new president of the Inter-Parliamentary Union provoked a debate to learn whether we would listen to Arafat, who was a guest of the government of Hungary for many years. We had to delay for hours. A fight broke out among members. Some wanted to listen to what Mr. Arafat had to say and others were denying him that right. He was simply trying to put forward his position.
In 1974, when I was a delegate to the United Nations appointed by Mr. Trudeau, I stood up for Mr. Arafat. As a result, I was not reappointed. Some people conveyed incorrect information to the press about me, and I paid the price.
When Mr. Arafat spoke at the United Nations in November of 1974, he was simply asking to be allowed to put his case forward.
My father called me and told me to call Mr. Arafat's bluff, but no one did. We did not listen to what he had to say. At every IPU meeting, the Canadian delegation voted one way, and the others voted the other way.
As my time has expired, I will only say that I will give notice tomorrow that I intend, on the next occasion, to speak about Canadian-Middle East politics.
Hon. A. Raynell Andreychuk: Honourable senators, my understanding of the role of Parliament is that it is an executive prerogative to negotiate the agreement and Parliament's right to either approve it or deny passage of it, but that our role is not to renegotiate the agreement, much as I would like to have had that opportunity.
I think this agreement is a fair one, but it is ill-timed. It is not that I believe Canada is losing its neutrality, but that it can be perceived to be doing so, as we have seen in this debate.
Surely, this agreement should have been introduced at a more appropriate time for the Middle East. I do not accept the situation of a failed peace negotiation in the occupied territories. I do not believe it is for the Government of Canada or the people of Canada to make that determination, but for the parties to the accord.
Some worrying signs have been raised by many world leaders and I believe that we would have been wiser to delay the agreement.
My other concern is that the Government of Canada indicated that its preferred route in trading negotiations is to look at multilateral, rules-based procedures as a first avenue of proffering Canada's competitive edge, and that we should look to regional and bilateral agreements as a secondary and follow-up route.
I did not discern from any comments made by any officials that we have an appropriate strategy in the Middle East. While officials noted that there were some separate initiatives, including some with Arab countries, I do not believe that this strategy for the Middle East has been well thought out. I would therefore urge the Government of Canada to immediately embark on a full assessment of proper policy for the entire area.
We cannot continue to talk about trade in isolation. Senator De Bané quite rightly pointed out that human rights should be part of the agreement. Time after time we see that we cannot isolate trade. I am afraid that following that course of action is what has brought this bill to us without proper consideration of the timing of its introduction.
Having said that, I cannot vote against this bill at this time because contained within it is a provision for its cancellation. I call upon the Government of Canada to ensure that this agreement is not applied in Israel and the occupied territories in any way that would prefer one party over another.
The tools to monitor this agreement can be put in place, if they are not already there, and there would be nothing wrong with Canada's putting the agreement on hold, should we come to see that we are becoming part of the problem rather than being a facilitator.
I do not believe that the Canadians wish this trade agreement to go at the expense of either the Palestinians or the Israelis in the occupied territories.
It is incumbent upon the Canadian government to move cautiously if this agreement is to be implemented, and to ensure that we do not politicize our trade agreement after having so strenuously taken the position that trade issues are neutral. I believe we will find out that trade instruments are not neutral; that they are part and parcel of our total political foreign policy.
While the agreement on its face is fair, its implementation will be the test. I believe that the Government of Canada will be forced to suffer the consequences should it not monitor the agreement adequately.
Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein: Honourable senators, we have had an extraordinary exchange of views, both in the committee and here in the chamber this afternoon.
There are 23 nation states in the Middle East. Only one is a robust democracy: Israel, replete with independent judiciary, free press, free unions and freely elected political parties - too many, some say - with the appropriate legislative checks and balances.
Israel represents less than 1/350th of 1 per cent of the lands of the Middle East. As a matter of fact, Israel, minuscule in size, could fit neatly on Vancouver Island. Despite threats to her security from her early birth pangs, from within and from without, Israel has emerged as a creative, technologically advanced economy.
The proposed Canada-Israel free trade agreement is fully consistent with Canada's trade-oriented foreign policy. However, more than trade, this agreement is in Canada's economic interest. A strategic goal for Canada has been, wherever and whenever possible, to divert, rebalance and redeploy trade so that it is not overly dependent on one major trading policy. That is what the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs recommended in its recent report on Canada's relations with Europe. This agreement presents exactly such an opportunity.
Canada is a trading nation. Approximately one out of two jobs in Canada are directly or indirectly dependent on trade. Here, however, Canada is playing catch up. Both the United States and the EU, Canada's two major trading partners, have already entered into a free trade agreement with Israel. This puts Canada's producers and exporters at a competitive disadvantage. Witnesses said that the playing field is just not level. If this bill and treaty are not approved, Canadian exporters and producers will continue to be penalized.
There was uncontroverted evidence before the committee that a rather large number of Canadian producers and exporters are waiting anxiously to take advantage of this agreement. That means jobs and growth for Canada now.
Constructive engagement by trade continues to be a bi-partisan hallmark of Canada's trade and foreign policy. This bill fits squarely within the parameters of that policy.
Objections to this bill have been raised. Some say that it will send the wrong political message; a message of support for Israel's current actions, specifically with respect to her ongoing negotiations with the Palestinian Authority. Yet, the direct evidence, placed before the committee, is uncontroverted, that the Palestinian Authority itself does not object to the passage of this agreement now. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Honourable Lloyd Axworthy, and his Parliamentary Secretary, Ron MacDonald, informed the committee that, notwithstanding representations by opposing groups here in Canada, not one of the 22 Arab nations, or indeed the Palestinian Authority, voiced opposition to this bill or its passage now. This assessment is based on direct discussions in the past few weeks with the Palestinian Authority and the authorities of a number of other Arab states, all of which is on the record of the committee.
Indeed, the Palestinian Authority, in addition to its tacit support for this agreement and this bill, desires to open discussion on a bilateral trade protocol by an exchange of letters with Canada as soon as possible. This both the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Parliamentary Secretary have undertaken to do. We understand that they are currently in the process of settling the exchange of letters. Both the Minister and the Parliamentary Secretary stated that they see no technical or other impediments to facilitating such an exchange between Canada and the Palestinian Authority as soon as possible.
Another objection raised by opponents to this bill is the current level of trade between Israel and the Palestinian Authority because it is inhibited by levels of closure between Israel and the territories. Also, there was uncontradicted evidence before the committee that Israel has been easing the closures in the past few weeks. Yet, all opponents agree that one of the key priorities for facilitating economic revival for both the Palestinian Authority and Israel lies in increased trade between the Palestinian Authority and Israel. No one objects to this very laudable objective. As a matter of fact, this agreement gives such trade advocates precisely what they want; levers not presently available for this purpose, all to be established under this agreement and under this bill.
A trade commission, the commission of ministers and the trade dispute mechanism are three levers that give the benefit of established trade rules not now available to those who wish to argue against restrictive trade practices within Israel and between and within the territories. To those concerned with indirect subsidies, the trade dispute provision creates the very precise mechanism to deal with such issues. Moreover, Israel is the only member of the WTO and signatory of GATT in the entire Middle East region. These mechanisms provide Canadians other methods of peaceful suasion for those truly interested in increasing liberalized trade to that region.
For Canada to amend unilaterally the treaty, or restrict trade as proposed by some opponents, would effectively strike down this agreement. This in turn would have a counter-productive effect on trade between Israel and the Palestinian Authority and Canadian exporters, only further delaying and further pushing back sorely needed economic benefits of enhanced trade in this region. Increased trade with Israel and the Palestinian Authority can only enhance those economies and their markets and increase the depressed living standards so ravaged by war, insecurity and rejectionist policies of the past.
In conclusion, honourable senators, the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement is good for Canada, good for Israel, good for the Palestinian Authority, good for our respective peoples, and good for the neighbours adjacent to Israel who wish to engage in trade, not war. That is Canada's policy. It is a good policy. I urge the passage of this bill, unamended.
Hon. Nicholas W. Taylor: Honourable senators, over the course of the past two weeks, I did some business in Iran, after which I met with people in Tel Aviv to do some business in Israel. The Government of Canada is not very keen on Iran, which is a Muslim state. They are worried about the fighting, the Hezbollah, et cetera. We now hear that we are about to enter into free trade with Israel.
As a mining engineer I have worked in many countries around the world. I have been in countries when we had trade embargoes against them, countries such as South Africa and Cuba. We are now trying to proceed with some trade in Cuba in spite of the Helms-Burton bill in the U.S.
I have not been able to ascertain whether or not trade restrictions help to bring a country in line on human rights. There is hardly a country, our own included, whose record is so pure in terms of human rights that it can tell the rest of the world that it will not trade with them because their stand on human rights bothers it. A few years ago, as a result of the aboriginal crisis in Quebec, someone in the Congress of the United States suggested that they should suspend trade with Canada until we got our human rights in order with Quebec.
My own experience has been that the more you talk with people in either trade or tourism the more likely you are to impart what you think is morally correct. Sometimes you are not so right. Once you hear their side, you sometimes find that your sanctimonious halo has slipped down around your neck and choked off your thinking.
I should like to ask the honourable senator opposite this question. Every four years or so, if we are not happy with these countries, should we review our trade agreements with them? Should we do that every time there is an election in one of those countries if we are not happy with the results? I can imagine what a mess we would have. I can also imagine how we would feel if they did that to us.
For Canada to start lecturing the rest of the world by trying to hold back trade, or by trying to discipline people in trade for what we think is right or wrong, is not the proper reaction.
Perhaps this is my own approach because of my dealings with both the Israelis and the Iranians. I find them to be great people. They both fill my ears with the indignities committed by the other side, but no more than Tory senators who fill my ears with what is going wrong with the country.
Because we are talking we have a better chance of working things out than if we start deciding in our own way how to discipline people. Someone will bring up China and Cuba. I can think of no country that is so pure that they can pass the litmus test of what we seem to be debating in the Senate.
We should think more about this matter. We will do more to bring Israel into line by trading with Israel.
We should take a chance and support the Israeli agreement. We should also try to work out an agreement with the Palestinian authority. We need trading partners. I would like to see us trading with both sides.
The Hon. the Speaker: If no other honourable senator wishes to speak, I will proceed with the motion.
It was moved by the Honourable Senator Stollery, seconded by the Honourable Senator Bosa, that the bill be read the third time now. Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Some Hon. Senators: No.
The Hon. the Speaker: Will those honourable senators in favour of the motion, please say "yea"?
Some Hon. Senators: Yea.
The Hon. the Speaker: Will those honourable senators who are against the motion please say "nay"?
Some Hon. Senators: Nay.
The Hon. the Speaker: In my opinion the "yeas" have it.
And two honourable senators having risen.
The Hon. the Speaker: By agreement, the bells will ring for 15 minutes.
Please call in the senators.
Motion agreed to and bill read third time and passed, on the following division:
THE HONOURABLE SENATORS
|Adams, Anderson, Andreychuk, Atkins, Bacon, Beaudoin, Berntson, Bonnell, Bosa, Bryden, Carstairs, Corbin, DeWare, Fairbairn, Forest, Forrestall, Gigantès, Grafstein, Graham, Gustafson, Haidasz, Hays, Hébert, Hervieux-Payette, Kenny, Kinsella, Kolber, Landry, Lewis, Losier-Cool, Lynch-Staunton, Maheu, Marc hand, Mercier, Milne, Oliver, Pearson, Petten, Poulin, Rizzuto, Robichaud, Rompkey, Rossiter, Stan bury, Stewart, Stollery, Taylor, Watt, Whelan, Wood-50|
THE HONOURABLE SENATORS
|Cools, De Bané, Nolin, Prud'homme-4|
THE HONOURABLE SENATORS
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Kenny, seconded by the Honourable Senator Bonnell, for the second reading of Bill C-29, to regulate interprovincial trade in and the importation for commercial purposes of certain manganese-based substances.
Hon. Noël A. Kinsella: Honourable senators, given the time of day and the state of fatigue of all those in this chamber, I will attempt to be brief.
Bill C-29 deals with the additive methylcyclopentadienyl manganese tricarbonyl, which is added to petroleum towards the end of the refining process to boost the octane level of gasoline. This bill proposes to forbid MMT to be transported across provincial boundaries and across the border.
The purpose of debate at second reading is for us to focus on the principle of the bill. In focusing on the principle of this bill, the question to be asked is: What is the public policy issue upon which this bill rests?
Honourable senators, the essential element of my examination of this legislation has raised serious questions as to the impact on policy development, which the government has the responsibility to undertake in the public interest, when it is public knowledge that some of the titans of Canadian industry have brought to bear a great deal of pressure and lobbying around the issue. In a nutshell, we are dealing with the petroleum industry of Canada and the automotive industry facing off around the issue of who will determine the manner in which the gasoline used in Canada is manufactured: Will it be the petroleum industry or the automotive manufacturing industry?
From the standpoint of public interest, one would have expected that the health of Canadians, the best environment possible and the Canadian consumer would constitute some of the elements that should be factored in by the government in order to determine the public policy principles underlying this bill.
Honourable senators, by way of an outline of what I would like to say this afternoon, I have three questions: Does this bill require us to focus on whether or not MMT gums up - as Senator Kenny described it - the on-board detection device that the automotive manufacturers place in automobiles to help detect the presence of pollution going through the exhaust systems? In particular, I am referring to these on-board devices that the automotive manufacturers' engineers came up with and began to place in automobiles as of 1994. There have been modifications to those systems in subsequent years.
To place that question in context, we must realize that the Canadian fleet of vehicles, automobiles and trucks that use gasoline number about 14 million. Of that 14 million, only a small percentage are of 1994 and more recent vintage. Approximately 12 million vehicles were produced pre-1994. This number represents the vehicles that most Canadians are using; they do not have these on-board detection devices that allegedly are being gummed up by MMT-based fuels. Therefore, we are dealing with a small percentage of the Canadian automobile fleet to start with.
One of the most important questions that must be asked is whether or not this assumption that MMT gums up the on-board detection devices has any validity. Is there any science behind this? Is it true or is it not true? Obviously, if this is a government bill, what is the government's answer to the question? What evidence does the government have to determine whether or not MMT does gum up the on-board detection devices? We have not seen the government studies or the government evidence.
In the lobbying that has gone on between the automotive industry on the one hand and the petroleum industry on the other, they have argued about whether or not this gumming up occurs and is caused by MMT, the manganese in the gasoline. In order for us to be able to accept the principle on which the bill is based, we need an answer to that question.
My second concern relates to another line of argument that I have heard around this bill: that MMT is a health hazard. I tried to separate that out in my analysis of the bill. If the government has brought in this bill because they believe that MMT is a health hazard, then I have two questions: Why do we not have an amendment to public health legislation to ban the product, as opposed to what we have now, namely a bill that regulates the trans-border shipment of the product?
Proponents and opponents argue that issue. Some argue that there is no health hazard. Some have even quoted from the Canadian federal department of health and come to the conclusion that there is no health hazard caused by this substance. If that is so, then that cannot be the argument underlying the public policy of this government in bringing this bill forward. I would suspect that health considerations must be the first assumption upon which they are basing the introduction of the bill.
The third area, honourable senators, is the environmental question. Does MMT in gasoline present an environmental hazard? Again, I have seen the struggle going on between the titans, arguing whether it does or does not. I ask: On what basis does the Government of Canada come to whatever conclusion it has reached on the environmental question? If the Government of Canada believes that we need this legislation because there is an environmental hazard caused by MMT, then why do we not have before us a bill that seeks to amend legislation governing our environment?
Honourable senators, those three questions, in my judgment at least, must be answered before we are able to reach a judgment on the acceptability or the non-acceptability of this bill.
The fourth concern is very important, but tangential to the technical concerns, namely, the question of jurisdiction. Clearly, the manufacturing of petroleum and that of automobiles falls under provincial jurisdiction.
This legislation seeks to interfere with how petroleum is manufactured by forbidding the importation across borders of provinces or across our international border. Some provinces have already expressed their opposition to the bill because of the jurisdictional interference that they see.
On that point, honourable senators, it seems to me that both sides in this house - which, historically, has kept an eye on provincial rights - will be challenged to give careful attention to whether or not there is a constitutional issue here or whether there is an issue relating to interprovincial trade agreements.
When I began to reflect upon the principle of the bill, I asked this question of myself, and I now ask it of others in this chamber: What are the public policy principles that underlie the bill? Some say this bill will prevent air pollution and urban smog caused by automobiles.
Who could disagree with any attempt to improve the air quality of Canadian cities? Certainly not I. We are told that this bill will, for all intents and purposes, ban a product that causes malfunctions in sophisticated on-board diagnostic systems in cars and help ensure that tailpipe emissions are monitored and controlled. As I have outlined, I believe the issue is more complicated than that.
If one assumes that the principle of the bill is clear-cut and that the principle of the bill is the health of Canadians - and I believe that the health of Canadians must be of primary concern to all of us - then why is the substance not being banned outright? Why is the federal government erecting a trade barrier between Canadian provinces and between Canada and its closest and largest trading partner?
The Senate of Canada must know if this substance is bad for human health. If it is damaging to ourselves, to our families and communities, then it must be banned. However, what evidence is there to indicate that MMT is bad for human health or that it contributes negatively to greenhouse gas build-up or deterioration of the ozone layer? On the contrary, there is government evidence - preliminary, mind you, but there is evidence - that MMT is helpful to air quality in Canadian cities.
Honourable senators will recall that, yesterday, our colleague Senator Buchanan drew our attention to a letter from Dr. Savage, the Liberal premier of Nova Scotia - a good friend ofFrank McKenna and Senator Buchanan - in which he stated that the province was concerned with the negative effect on the Dartmouth refinery. Some are concerned that the bill will wipe out that refinery. Senator Buchanan also pointed out the concerns on the environmental question because of the prevailing winds in the Maritimes, which carry the pollution from here. Premier Savage points out in his letter of early June of this year that MMT in gasoline has the effect of reducing pollution.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I hesitate to interrupt the honourable senator, but his 15-minute period has expired.
Is leave granted for him to continue?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Kinsella: Your Honour will be on your feet in four minutes because it will soon be six o'clock.
Senator Berntson: We will not see the clock.
Senator Kinsella: That is excellent.
I am always guided by our friend Senator Perrault, who advises us not to get political. One must understand the political dynamic of the lobby effect that surrounds this bill and its predecessor. You do not have to be a rocket scientist to observe that those with political interests in Ontario, and in Southern Ontario in particular where the automotive industry is very strong, have a particular view in favour of this. The automotive engineers do not have the ingenuity to come up with an on-board device that would not get gummed up - that is, if their assumption is correct.
Other parts of Canada, particularly the oil-refining parts of the country, are interested in examining this issue. Clearly, we need to understand whether or not the powerful automobile manufacturing lobby and those who are supported by that community are elbowing out of the way those Liberal members and other members of both houses who come from other parts of the country.
The reality is that that is part of the dynamic of this bill which any government, irrespective of its political colour, must address. Why not ask that question? To what extent have the Southern Ontario automotive and ethanol lobbyists contributed to the reintroduction and, quite frankly, tortuous legislative route of this bill in the other place. It has not been easy for our colleagues in the other place.
We must stand back a little bit. On the one hand, each of us is obliged to look after the interests of our province and region as best we can, and, on the other hand, to try to seek legislation that is in the best national interests. However, we would be naive not to recognize the nature of the political dynamic that operates in a free and democratic society. We have a great free and democratic society in Canada.
Provincial first ministers representing governments of different political stripes have expressed their opposition to the bill, so this is a non-partisan issue from a certain perspective. However, it is a very serious one in terms of what constitutes the national interest. Is it good enough for us to accept a piece of government legislation that clearly has been motivated and encouraged by one of the sectors of the Canadian industrial community? When you have the two big titans of Canadian industry facing off and we get an all-or-nothing bill, then we must look at this very carefully.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable Senator Kinsella, I regret that I must interrupt you. It is now six o'clock. Do I understand that there is an agreement that I not see the block?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Kinsella: I hope the Senate can get an answer to many of these questions because the Senate is mandated constitutionally to ensure that the rights of Canadians and provinces in this country are maintained and respected. This bill affects the provinces in a way one might describe as a throwback to the days when governments talked about national interest but, in reality, were responding to political expediency.
I am trying to suggest, honourable senators, that it is terribly important to this house that the committee that receives this bill conduct a judicious and complete study of the matter. For weeks now, I have been looking at the bill and trying to understand its raison d'être. Its environmental aspects, in particular, are confusing. For many years, Canada has been at the forefront of the environmental movement with the realization that we must think globally and act locally, that our resources are finite and that our society must embrace and promote the principle of sustainable development.
Indeed, successive Canadian governments have become signatories to several international environmental conventions and declarations. Many will recall the groundbreaking 1987 Montreal protocol on substances that deplete the ozone layer. One particular resolution of the Montreal protocol we might well take under advisement - in fact, I believe it is of great import if a proper consideration of Bill C-29 is to occur - is the resolution on the exchange of technical information. That resolution recognizes the need for an early exchange of information on technologies and for strategies to achieve as quickly as possible a reduction in emissions that deplete the ozone layer.
Senator Kenny informed us on Tuesday that he is advised that the government had in its possession studies regarding MMT, showing it to cause and contribute to an increase in air emissions of substances that are harmful to Canadians. I am not surprised that he has not seen them because the government has been perhaps inordinately careful in ensuring that those interested in seeing the technological rationale for the bill have been thwarted at every turn.
To illustrate further this reticence on the government's part to provide parliamentarians with technological grounds for the bill, I have seen a response given under the Access to Information Act in which a memorandum from one scientist in the government's employ to another scientist in the government's employ was, I believe, unreasonably whited out. Are these cabinet confidences these two scientists were discussing? No, they were communicating about the technical and scientific merits of this bill. I think the Senate should be made aware of the evidence that the government has yet to divulge, even to its own proponents in this House of Parliament.
Honourable senators, all here today will agree that a most important and historic event occurred in Rio in 1992. The world came together to discuss our common future. Agenda 21 is a fascinating testament to the importance of environmental decision-making based on careful analysis and wide-ranging public consultation. I took a cursory look at Agenda 21 and came across several passages I should like to bring to the attention of honourable senators, particularly in light of the confusing nature of this bill before us.
Section 2.3 of Agenda 21 states:
The international economy should provide a supportive international climate for achieving...
- environmental -
(a) promoting sustainable development through trade liberalization;
(b) making trade and environment mutually supportive.
How does Bill C-29 stack up against those principles? It does not stack up very well. Indeed, it contravenes both of those stated goals.
Section 2.4 of Agenda 21 of the Rio Conference states:
We recognize that there is a new global effort to relate the elements of the international economic system and mankind's need for a safe and stable natural environment. Therefore, it is the intent of Governments that consensus building at the intersection of the environmental and trade ... areas will be ongoing in existing international forums, as well as in the domestic policy of each country.
It would appear that the objective of this bill, despite its stated principles, is contrary to the objective outlined at the historic Rio conference.
Honourable senators, before we make a final judgment on the bill itself, I should like to have answers to three questions.
My first question is: Is MMT-based petroleum the cause of OBD malfunctioning, "yes" or "no," and what is the evidence on that question?
My second question is: Does MMT in gas cause a health hazard to Canadians? If so, give us some recommendations on how to deal with it appropriately.
My third question is: Does MMT in gas cause direct damage to the environment?
Hon. Colin Kenny: Would the honourable senator accept a question?
Senator Kinsella: Yes, certainly.
Senator Kenny: Does the honourable senator accept the fact that the federal government has jurisdiction over the transport of hydrocarbons across provincial boundaries and across international boundaries?
Senator Kinsella: Absolutely, yes. I accept that the federal government does have that jurisdiction. I would, however, ask the question whether, in the exercise of that jurisdiction, limits are placed upon it if one is able to demonstrate that the effect of the exercise of that jurisdiction would be to interfere directly with the jurisdiction of a province?
Senator Kenny: My second question is: Are there substitutes for MMT readily available and produced in Western Canada at this time?
Senator Kinsella: It is my understanding that there are at least two that could be used. There may be more. In my visit to the largest oil refinery in Canada, which happens also to be one of the more advanced technological refineries, they showed me that point in the process where MMT is added. They described the process of polishing the fuel at that stage. They can polish it with several substances.
Senator Kenny: You mentioned that I had commented on reports and, in fairness, I undertook to provide them. However, given what has been going on in this house, it seems reasonable that I should have more than 24 hours to produce them. I still undertake to provide them. I just have not had an opportunity to bring them forward.
Hon. Philippe Deane Gigantès: Could you tell me what "OBD malfunction" means?
Senator Berntson: It means it quits working.
Senator Kinsella: OBD simply refers to the on-board detection devices.
On motion of Senator Berntson, debate adjourned.
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Kenny, seconded by the Honourable Senator Stewart, for the adoption of the twelfth reportof the Standing Committee on Internal Economy,Budgets and Administration (benefits re individuals oncontract with Senators), presented in the Senate on November 7, 1996.-(Honourable Senator Berntson).
Hon. Joyce Fairbairn (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I seek the indulgence of Senator Berntson to say a few words.
Senator Berntson: Certainly.
Senator Fairbairn: The report that is before us has been the subject of much conversation and study both inside and outside the Senate. At one point, questions were raised about whether we were proposing to extend employee benefits to contract employees, thereby setting a precedent for the House of Commons and the public service that would cost the Treasury Board significant moneys.
After carefully examining the proposal, both the Minister of Labour and the President of the Treasury Board haveconcluded - and have confirmed to me - that they do not have a problem with what is being proposed in this report. It does not, in fact, set a precedent of extending benefits to contract employees. Furthermore, Treasury Board is of the view that it is in conformity with the Compensation Act. For these reasons, as well as for reasons related to the proper and efficient operation of the Senate, I would certainly support this report.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your wish, honourable senators, that this order remain standing in the name of the Honourable Senator Berntson?
Senator Berntson: Put the question.
The Hon. the Speaker: It was moved by the Honourable Senator Kenny, seconded by the Honourable Senator Stewart, that this report be now adopted. Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Motion agreed to and report adopted.
Hon. Donald H. Oliver, Co-chairman of the Special Joint Committee on a Code of Conduct, moved the adoption of the report.
He said: Honourable senators, I am happy to see that Senator Stanbury is here because he was the co-chair of a past Special Joint Committee on a Code of Conduct.
The question of conflict of interest has bedeviled federal parliamentarians for over 20 years. The issue is a complex one, involving as it does the balancing of many competing interests. In June 1995, the Senate and the House of Commons each adopted a motion to establish a new special joint committee whose mandate it was to develop a code of conduct to guide senators and members of the House of Commons in reconciling their official responsibilities with their personal interests, including their dealings with lobbyists.
Over the last year and a half the committee has heard from a wide variety of witnesses, including the federal Ethics Councillor, parliamentary legal counsel, academics, private sector lobbyists, the media, consultants on ethical issues, parliamentary spouses and others. We have also consulted with a number of provincial commissioners of ethics and conflicts of interest, and we have surveyed provincial politicians.
In all, the committee has heard from 25 witnesses. The committee has also considered the work that was done in recent years regarding conflicts of interest and codes of conduct, including the work of the Special Joint Committee on Conflict of Interests in the last Parliament, chaired by Senator Stanbury and Mr. Blenkarn in the House of Commons.
We have also looked at all the work that has been done on these issues at the provincial level and in other jurisdictions, notably the United Kingdom where Lord Nowlan has done a great deal of work.
The code of official conduct that we are proposing is the result of a great deal of consideration and discussion. We have listened to the witnesses and reviewed the materials that have been prepared on this subject. We have consulted widely, and held discussions amongst ourselves and with our colleagues. The code that the committee has been developing is, I believe, a strong but fair response to the need for clearer rules. It will establish a regime and provide guidance and assistance to senators and members of the House of Commons, while assuring the public that allegations will be investigated and breaches addressed.
More work remains to be done, however. The most important issue is that the committee members must be satisfied that this code is the best that can be produced. I would, therefore, urge the Senate to adopt the motion to extend the committee's deadline.
I mentioned Senator Stanbury. The report that he had a hand in preparing at the last Parliament had the unanimous support of all the political parties represented on the committee. It is expected that the report to be produced by the parliamentarians in this house will also have the support of all parties.
With respect to the Stanbury report, the will of parliamentarians was thwarted by bureaucrats. Our biggest fear now is that the same thing will happen to this report. In asking for this extension, it is hoped that parliamentarians from both houses will have an opportunity to put forth their report free from the bureaucracy, so that parliamentarians can speak on an issue that is important to them.
Hon. John Lynch-Staunton (Leader of the Opposition): I should like to ask Senator Oliver a question because I am somewhat confused. This is the second extension that the joint committee has requested. My impression is that a draft report has been ready for some time.
Senator Oliver: That is correct.
Senator Lynch-Staunton: Why is the extension needed? If the report is more or less ready, why extend the period? Why not allow us to benefit from your deliberations, which have been going on with the Stanbury commission for a number of years? I do not understand the purpose for the extension if a draft report is prepared in such a form that it could be tabled just about anytime.
Senator Oliver: The Privacy Commissioner and one other person will appear before the committee. Following that, the committee will probably hear representations from the bureaucrats who wish to make suggestions regarding what parliamentarians should have in their code. That is the reason for the delay.
Hon. John B. Stewart: Honourable senators, is the extension of time allowed for the committee to complete its work likely to ensure that those whom my honourable friend called "bureaucrats" will not again frustrate the work of these committees?
Senator Oliver: It is certainly my hope that the members of the special joint committee from both the House of Commons and the Senate of Canada will be able to produce their report free from the representations, interests and desires of the bureaucrats.
Senator Lynch-Staunton: Am I to understand, to put it in more vulgar terms, that the Liberal-dominated committee will have this draft report screened by the bureaucrats? I am being a little more blunt than Senator Stewart but I share his concern that it may suffer the fate of the Stanbury report.
If Senator Oliver is telling us that the joint committee has agreed to delay the tabling of its report because the bureaucrats and others would like to consider it, that is fine. However, let us hope that, while doing so, they will not dilute it or add provisions that meet their objectives or goals rather than those who have been working on this for so long. If the extension is only for them to look at it, that is fine, but I hope that when Senator Oliver does table the report he will not have to admit that the result is not what he had in mind because the majority of the committee went along with the wishes of the bureaucrats.
Senator Oliver: Parliamentarians on both the steering committee and the special joint committee hope they will be able to table the report of the parliamentarians.
The Hon. the Acting Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Hon. Marcel Prud'homme: Honourable senators, this is one of those days when we seem to be bothering our honourable colleagues. Just a moment ago, I was greeted at the door with cries of "Oh, no." That is certainly not the right way to go about getting my consent.
I have been working with Senator Stanbury for many years on this committee on a code of conduct. I hope that, this time, the Senate will read the report very carefully. It is incredibly far-reaching. Those who have read the draft report will notice that the bill will affect the way several senators conduct business. I have worked with Senator Stanbury on this committee that he co-chaired.
Senator Stanbury will remember that we worked together on Meech Lake. I do not know whether we will have any success at this late date with this conflict of interest code.
We cannot legislate morality or honesty. I never understood why we needed to have a code of ethics. Those who do not intend to be ethical will find ways to bypass any code. It is sad that we must punish the majority of solid citizens who are good servants of Canada by introducing codes that can only make their lives more embarrassing.
It was highly enjoyable working with Senator Stanbury in the old days. I do not know who in their sagacity thought that we may have had too much knowledge, which is why new members were appointed. At least Senator Oliver has assured continuity.
Senators have a lot of knowledge and expertise to offer. As you all know, I sit as an independent, but I never missed one meeting of this conflict of interest code committee. The lords of the day were often absent travelling. We had to endure the repetition when the members who had been absent returned.
Now that some of us are more self-assured, we will use the rules.
"La maison brûle sous nos yeux." I still believe that senators can do a lot more to help the country.
I see senators responding in agreement. I have received letters and notes of encouragement. I understand the system well, but at times exceptions to rules must be made.
On the subject of the Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forum, it takes a little French Canadian from Montreal like myself to say that there is a window of opportunity in the region. That association was established seven years ago.
Do you think the interests of Eastern Canada will be well represented? I am glad Senate representation is very strong, although I am not a delegate. However, I must point out that a significant region of Canada, namely Quebec, will not be represented at the Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forum in Vancouver. There are senators from Quebec here who should take note of that. Who will represent the interests of Quebec in these discussions with these 25 Asia-Pacific countries? This is an important forum for all regions of Canada, and senators are appointed to serve the interests of their regions.
Having said that, I wish the committee good luck in writing a code of conduct. However, I am not sure we will see it before the next election.
The Hon. the Acting Speaker: If no other honourable senator wishes to speak on this motion, it is moved by the Honourable Senator Oliver, seconded by the Honourable Senator Berntson, that this report be adopted now. Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Motion agreed to and report adopted.
Hon. Mabel M. DeWare, Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology, moved the adoption of the report.
Motion agreed to and report adopted.
That, notwithstanding the order of reference adopted by the Senate on Thursday, March 21, 1996, the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce be authorized to extend the date for the presentation of its final report on the state of the financial system in Canada from December 12, 1996 to December 11, 1997;
That the Committee be empowered to adjourn from place to place outside Canada for the purpose of pursuing its study; and
That, notwithstanding usual practices, if the Senate is not sitting when the report is completed, the Committee be authorized to deposit it with the Clerk of the Senate, and that the said report shall thereupon be deemed to have been tabled in the Chamber.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. B. Alasdair Graham (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, with leave of the Senate and notwithstanding rule 58(1)(h), I move:
That when the Senate adjourns today it do stand adjourned until tomorrow, Friday, December 13, 1996, at 10 a.m.
The Hon. the Acting Speaker: Is leave granted?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Motion agreed to.
The Senate adjourned until Friday, December 13, 1996, at 10 a.m.