The Senate met at 2 p.m., the Speaker in the chair.
Foreign Affairs Committee Authorized to Meet During Sitting of the Senate
Hon. Bill Rompkey (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I believe there would be agreement to allow the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs to sit at 3:30 p.m. today, even though the Senate may then be sitting, for the purpose of hearing Finance Minister Goodale. I would ask that we grant the committee permission to sit.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted, honourable senators?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I have the honour to inform the Senate that the Clerk has received certificates from the Registrar General of Canada showing that the following persons, respectively, have been summoned to the Senate:
Robert W. Peterson
James S. Cowan
Lillian Eva Dyck
Roméo A. Dallaire
The Hon. the Speaker having informed the Senate that there were senators without, waiting to be introduced:
The following honourable senators were introduced; presented Her Majesty's writs of summons; took the oath prescribed by law, which was administered by the Clerk; and were seated:
Hon. Art Eggleton, P.C., of Toronto, Ontario, introduced between Hon. Jack Austin, P.C., and Hon. David Smith, P.C.;
Hon. Elaine McCoy, Q.C., of Calgary, Alberta, introduced between Hon. Jack Austin, P.C., and Hon. Lowell Murray, P.C.;
Hon. Grant Mitchell, of Edmonton, Alberta, introduced between Hon. Jack Austin, P.C., and Hon. Joyce Fairbairn, P.C.;
Hon. Robert W. Peterson, of Regina, Saskatchewan, introduced between Hon. Jack Austin, P.C., and Hon. Pana Merchant;
Hon. Nancy Ruth, of Toronto, Ontario, introduced between Hon. Jack Austin, P.C., and Hon. Norman K. Atkins;
Hon. James S. Cowan, Q.C., of Halifax, Nova Scotia, introduced between Hon. Jack Austin, P.C., and Hon. David P. Smith, P.C.;
Hon. Lillian Eva Dyck, of North Battleford, Saskatchewan, introduced between Hon. Jack Austin, P.C., and Hon. A. Raynell Andreychuk;
Hon. Roméo Antonius Dallaire, of Sainte-Foy, Quebec, introduced between Hon. Jack Austin, P.C., and Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette, P.C.;
Hon. Claudette Tardif, of Edmonton, Alberta, introduced between Hon. Jack Austin, P.C., and Hon. Joyce Fairbairn, P.C.
The Hon. the Speaker informed the Senate that each of the honourable senators named above had made and subscribed the declaration of qualification required by the Constitution Act, 1867, in the presence of the Clerk of the Senate, the Commissioner appointed to receive and witness the said declaration.
The Late Pope John Paul II
Hon. Jack Austin (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, we begin a tribute to the death of His Holiness Pope John Paul II. From time to time human society produces a person who is acknowledged by all to stand pre-eminent among us. Such a person was Karol Wojtyla, whose fame and celebrity was earned as His Holiness John Paul II, undoubted leader of the Roman Catholic Church and an inspiration to millions of people, both of his faith and of other faiths.
From our perspective today, it is not easy to judge the whole worth of this holy man. What is certain is that he was revered in his time for his dedication to the ideals of tolerance, truth and faith. He epitomized the good instincts of humanity and reached around the world in his desire to connect with the global society.
The communities of other faiths, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu and many parts of the Christian faith, came to Rome for the funeral of Pope John Paul II. His hand reached out to them all with a sincere desire to correct the wrongs of history and to put relations in the 21st century on the path of respect and compassion. The Jewish community will not forget that he was the first Pope to enter a synagogue, to visit Jerusalem and stand and pray at the Wailing Wall and to describe those of Jewish faith as the elder brothers of Christianity.
The impact of the papacy of John Paul II will continue to reverberate beyond the confines of his lifetime. He demonstrated how we can recreate the world in a more tolerant and peaceful image. His personal example affirming the inherent dignity of all mankind will remain one of modern history's greatest legacies.
Hon. Noël A. Kinsella (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, on Friday last in Vatican City the world bade farewell to Pope John Paul II. The presence of the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition, who joined with millions gathered in Rome, spoke eloquently to the unique regard with which Canadians and Parliament held the late pontiff. The faith of Karol Wojtyla touched the hearts of millions and inspired peace in the minds of all people of goodwill throughout the world community.
A pilgrim of peace, he had neither weapons nor armies, yet this priest from Poland became during his pontificate the presence of a most powerful force for good on earth. His voice was a tireless moral call in a secular age.
Honourable senators, it was a privilege for many members of this house to have had the opportunity to meet this man of peace over the years. On one occasion, during a meeting in the Papal Apartments, together with Speaker Hays, senators will recall our delight in his interest in Canada and all of our people. Although a man of God, Pope John Paul was also a man of the people. He was a source of hope to so many and he honoured that devotion by travelling the world to reach out to people of all communities. He celebrated the great Canadian diversity in his visits to Canada.
The Holy Father reminded humankind of the dignity and worth of every human person, and he always stood for social justice and on the side of the oppressed. He would pray with St. Francis of Assisi that "where there is hatred let me sow love, where there is injury — pardon." To paraphrase the words of the Beatitudes, as a peacemaker, he has now inherited the Kingdom of Heaven.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, before we proceed further, I wish to advise that, pursuant to rule 22(7), the government whip has requested that Senators' Statements be extended for an additional 15 minutes so that the total time for Senator's Statements today will be 30 minutes.
Is it agreed, honourable senators?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Hon. Marie-P. Poulin: Honourable senators, I rise with humility today to pay tribute to a man who touched so many lives, a man of humanity and sanctity, whose unshakable faith in the dignity of every individual will influence generations.
History will remember both his life and his death. Never has the passing of a spiritual leader released such a flood of emotion. Pope John Paul II was a father figure to the entire world, the voice of conscience that earned the respect of world leaders, the bridge between friends and enemies, young and old, rich and poor.
What greater example could there be of the respect and admiration in which he was held than the presence in Rome last Friday of millions of people from all over the world, from all backgrounds, including leaders of countries, heads of religious groups, and political rivals.
Honourable senators, even in death, Pope John Paul II united people of all faiths and cultures.
It was my honour and privilege to be there. The experience was an unforgettable one, and I shall treasure it all the days of my life. I saw and heard, on the eve of the funeral, the throngs of backpack-toting young people in the streets of Rome from around the world — the young people for whom Pope John Paul II had a special affinity, as he demonstrated on his more than 100 pilgrimages abroad — slowly walking toward St. Peter's Square during the night to say thank you the next morning. I have no doubt that the participation of these people would have pleased him.
Again and again, I heard people say the following: "Pope John Paul II was a man who changed history. His message of unity and forgiveness reached out with a plea for harmony among all peoples. He was a prince of peace. He worked unceasingly for a rapprochement between all religions."
Today, I am reminded of a young man I encountered in St. Peter's Square. He recounted that Pope John Paul II had taught him two lessons; how to live and how to die — how to live by forgiving and how to die while working.
Yes, we will remember this giant of a man, a man of God, and how he brought his message to Canada and left an indelible imprint on the minds of so many Canadians through his innate piety, holiness and his charisma. Who can forget his heartwarming exhortation, "John Paul II loves you," and he meant it.
Honourable senators, this exceptional event at the Vatican was an historic moment that brought together people from five continents, 200 delegations and millions of pilgrims, and received massive radio and television coverage. I can still see the simple wooden coffin containing the remains of the great and holy man who will be remembered as a beacon for humanity.
Hon. Consiglio Di Nino: Honourable senators, the impact Pope John Paul II has had on the world is immense.
As we reflect on his life, we hear of his pivotal role in the fall of Communism. He is being widely applauded for his wisdom and sensibility in reaching out to the Jewish community and for his dialogue with other world religious leaders.
We hear about his humility, his courage, his stamina and his exemplary leadership on issues of values and about his commitment to the sanctity of life. Even many of those who have not always agreed with His Holiness now express respect and admiration for him.
During his last days on earth, together with an outpouring of grief and praise, much has been said and written about Pope John Paul's legacy. For me, his inspiration has been his steadfast, unwavering message of values, peace, justice and human rights, particularly the rights of those least able to look after themselves. The protection of the weak, the frail, the underprivileged was a constant in his messages.
The amazing journey of Karol Wojtyla from humble beginnings to the Vicar of Christ is the stuff of legends. The man was the product of one of the most turbulent times in human history, particularly in his beloved Poland. These times shaped the man who would help change the course of history. It is said that adversity creates giants among men. This was certainly the case with Karol Wojtyla.
Rex Murphy, in last Saturday's Globe and Mail, referred to the Pope as a man who
...exercised a sublime ability to move and enter into the spirit of millions and millions of people.
I believe Karol Wojtyla's greatest legacy will be his inspiration to countless people all over the world by his exemplary life of integrity, love and compassion and his message of peace, forgiveness, justice and caring. At the beginning, he must have felt like a lonely messenger; but as time passed, we witnessed thousands, hundreds of thousands, and indeed, recently, millions of men and women who have venerated and exalted Pope John Paul II in a manner seldom seen. To the youth of the world, he was a pied piper with a message of hope. Millions of them have become the bearers of his messages.
Colleagues, those of us who held his hand, looked into his eyes and felt his spirituality were enormously privileged. I join the throng of millions in saying thank you, Holy Father, and we will not be afraid.
Hon. Lise Bacon: Honourable senators, with the passing of Pope John Paul II, we have lost a giant of the 20th century, a great man of faith and action. In spite of the controversy that he could sometimes arouse, Pope Jean Paul II exercised a real magnetism over the people he met. His penetrating gaze made quite an impression on people and, above all, everyone was drawn by his openness, his sense of devotion and his deep and sincere love of people. He was interested in and spoke to each person. His ideas and the prestige of his office were secondary to the magnetic personality of John Paul II, who established a close relationship with the multitudes and the population of the many countries he visited.
He was profoundly marked by his experience of two kinds of totalitarianism, Nazism and Communism. As a result, the human person became sacred to him, from conception to the end of life. He defended the dignity and fundamental rights of all human beings. Indeed, the right to life was a kind of obsession for him.
Family was one of his fundamental values and he defended it with great energy all his life. He had the courage to attack some of the prevailing attitudes in the Western world, such as materialism and consumerism, which destroy the solidarity of family ties and reduce persons to the status of goods. His views on these matters went against the current, and the media spoke little of them.
He was close to the sick, the poor, and young people in particular. In Toronto, in 2002, he told them again: "You are the future of the world." He had confidence that young people would create a new world that would bring about change. He enjoyed large gatherings, perhaps because of his Polish roots, especially those where young people could come to know one another, as they did during World Youth Day. His pontificate was marked by proximity to the people, and he travelled endlessly, to the point of exhaustion.
He worked for ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue. In his encyclical letter, That They May Be One, he was ready to debate reform of the papacy with Protestants. He preached reconciliation, and he asked forgiveness for the historic sins of the Church, especially towards the Jewish people, but also towards Africans and Aboriginal peoples.
He wielded political influence throughout his pontificate. We remember his determining role in the fall of Communism, his pronouncements against the death penalty in the United States and his condemnation of the two Gulf wars. He was also very perceptive. In his remarks at Riga, he criticized the excesses of capitalism. He referred to the good things achieved under Communism, the struggle against unemployment and concern for the poor, and he dared to express serious doubts about the validity of capitalism.
We will remember forever the words he spoke from the balcony of Saint Peter's basilica, shortly after being chosen as Pope: "Be not afraid." Those words should continue to inspire us when we are swept up in a storm and have to face the perils of our existence. His words should echo within us to comfort us and to remind us of a great Pope — Karol Wojtyla.
Hon. Gerry St. Germain: Honourable senators, the world is still in mourning over the loss of a giant of a human being. Much has been said in tribute to His Holiness, the late Pope John Paul II, for he left behind a huge legacy of caring and a profound love of humanity. His legacy will live on in eternity, enriching our lives and the lives of generations to follow.
Pope John Paul II was a leader like no other. His leadership was not of nations or armies; he was a leader of human beings, leading all of us by example. The example many recognized, and some sadly on his passing ridiculed, was his steadfast adherence to the principles he lived and preached his entire life.
It was this unwavering commitment that made this man a champion of humanity and a giant of a human being. Pope John Paul II understood that the word of God and the traditions at the very root of humanity are unalterable. These were the beliefs that guided him in his works of goodness. His demonstration of a firm commitment to these beliefs is the reason so many the world over came to admire this very humble man. Pope John Paul II reverently and passionately respected the traditions of Christianity, traditions founded in the same basic truths shared by all humanity. This is why so many came to admire, respect and love him.
To the doubters, many of them in the media today, who are quick to point to this acceptance of simple truths as a failing, I say this: Imagine a world where you had your way. Imagine a world where all traditions were dispensable and where there was no refuge from the tyranny of change and the ruthlessness of everyday life. Who would want to live in such a world? Where would such a world be headed in terms of humanity's future? We call this progress. This viewpoint simply perpetuates a modern-day fallacy, one that is popular with liberal-minded people who shun responsibility. Those people would have us accept that there is no baseline for humanity; they would have us believe that the whims and desires of mere mortals as they pass through life today should dictate our conduct.
Honourable senators, I have stood in this place on previous occasions and clearly stated that I believe in the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church and the teachings that were espoused by Pope John Paul II during his tenure as Pope. I thank God for the time He gave us with Pope John Paul II, who now rests with Him. May God have mercy on all mankind.
Hon. Marcel Prud'homme: A man has died. Of course, before the actual hour of death, he was simply going to die, as all men must some day. This man moved people's spirit and imagination throughout the 26 years of his reign. Today, I wish to pay tribute to him.
In great modesty, his spiritual testament, which the Vatican made public on Thursday, April 7, began lucidly:
Watch therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. (c.f. Matthew 24:42) —
John Paul II wrote:
...these words remind me of the last call, which will happen at the moment the Lord wishes. I desire to follow Him, and I desire that everything making up part of my earthly life should prepare me for this moment.
An exceptional Pope has died. I want to pay tribute to him today, not for the polemic he generated, not for the angry debate he caused, not for the criticism that many have levelled and continue to level against him, but for what he reminds us of. The role of the Pope is not to satisfy us; it is to elevate us. We may disagree with his thinking, but that matters little. John Paul II reminds us that we have a duty to one another.
I will never forget that he brought together 1 million young people in Paris and as many in Toronto. Often, young people feel lost, lacking in focus, and are searching for direction and ideals; they sometimes feel overwhelmed by the state of our world. They seek hope. The Holy Father himself gave them such hope and showed them the high road all too often obscured by the mists of modern life.
Even in death, John Paul II managed one last time in Rome, on Friday, April 8, to call millions of visitors to his side: Americans in shorts, Africans in boubous, Filipinos in flowered shirts, Calabrians all in black, and monks in sandals and cowls, cell phone in hand. His funeral was among the greatest in history. Was it a Roman-style miracle or representative of this man's exceptional power to bring people together? Did Karol Wojtyla suspect, when he died at the age of 84, that the Holy See would again become the centre of the world for a few days? Did he know that he himself represented hope? This was his task, his mission and his accomplishment. That is why I want us to remember him today.
The gospel selected for his funeral in Rome was John 21:15-19. Three times, Jesus asks Peter:
Peter, do you love me more than these?
Each time, his apostle answers in the affirmative:
Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.
And Jesus tells his apostle his mission and asks him to "tend my sheep," in other words, to watch over his people like a shepherd does his flock. Jesus concludes his gospel with a reminder of Peter's youth, "when you were young, you girded yourself and walked where you would." But he warns him of the fate that befalls all men: suffering, old age and death.
When you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish to go.
This summarizes the entire life and work of John Paul II: the faith of the Church, which he ardently defended; the conduct of his people rooted in God's love, the course of suffering, old age and death, and, finally, the certainty of transfiguration. All these themes were evoked by Cardinal Ratzinger in his homily.
We hope that the strong message of compassion delivered by John Paul II will be heard and that his successor will continue this work. His accomplishments were, in my opinion, the best way to bring the Church — and a good part of humanity — into the third millennium.
Hon. Wilbert J. Keon: Honourable senators, I rise to honour a great man, one who led his flock with immense reverence and grace, and at great personal sacrifice — Pope John Paul II. I am grateful to have been honoured twice by John Paul II; first, in 1987, as a member of the Order of Saint Gregory the Great and, second, in 1997, as a Knight Commander with Star of the Order of Saint Gregory the Great — the highest honour the Pope bestows on a layperson. I had the honour of being one of a handful of Canadians so privileged.
Pope John Paul II was a man of the people, particularly the youth, to whom he reached out with an open heart and infinite love and understanding. For that purpose, John Paul II founded World Youth Day, which he attended in person. Youth identified with him and considered him not only their spiritual leader but also a father and grandfather figure.
During the last several years, Pope John Paul II was able to see beyond his physical ailments to accomplish his mission, and did so to the end. His great dedication as a man of prayer and forgiveness and as a passionate advocate for peace crossed all geographic and religious boundaries. His vigorous love for life, his endurance for cruelty, his self-discipline and concern for all humankind, regardless of social status, colour, race or creed, were examples to all of us. He taught us how to live and how to die. His spirit will live with us forever.
Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein: Honourable senators, with profound humility I hesitate to rise to pay my meagre respects to Pope John Paul II; born Karol Wojtyla in Wadowice in 1920 — the same year that the Battle of Warsaw was fought and the Bolsheviks were defeated.
His father and mine, also born in southern Poland, less than 100 kilometres away, served in the Pilsudski brigades in that momentous battle for Polish independence. This slender but splendid thread was noted again over a year ago during my last audience in Rome with this charismatic personality. More than common Polish roots, the Pope's transformation of the Church, its teachings and practices towards Jews and Judaism and its policy towards Israel shattered the Church's previous history and drew me and those of my faith to him.
Honourable senators, all progress is by a winding staircase. The Pope spoke out repeatedly and forcefully against the rising scourge of anti-Semitism. He was the first Pope to visit a synagogue in Rome, to visit Auschwitz, to visit Jerusalem, to pray at the Wailing Wall, to pay his respects at Yad Vashem and to recognize the State of Israel.
In his 1994 book entitled Crossing the Threshold of Hope, given to me by my great friend and mentor, the late Emmett Cardinal Carter, which I cherish, John Paul II wrote these words in his own hand. Listen to his own words:
Through the plurality of religion...we come to that religion closest to our own...that of the people of God of the Old Testament ...
...The declaration Nostra Aetate represents a turning point...since the spiritual patronage (of Jews) is so great, the...Council reminds and promotes a mutual understanding and respect...
Remembering in his hometown where his school backed upon a synagogue, the Pope wrote these words:
... both religious groups were united...by the awareness that they prayed to the same God.
The Pope continued:
...a personal experience. Auschwitz...the Holocaust of the Jewish people shows to what length a system constructed on...racial hatred and greed for power can go...
To this day, Auschwitz does not cease to admonish ... reminding us that anti-Semitism is a great sin against humanity...
Allow me to repeat the Pope's words, "anti-Semitism is a great sin against humanity."
The Pope went on to write:
...a truly exceptional experience was my visit to the Synagogue in Rome ... the history of the Jews of Rome...is linked...to the Acts of the Apostles.
...As recognition of the State of Israel...it is important to affirm that I myself never had any doubts...
Honourable senators, how best to pay homage to this late and great Pope? By heeding his words, "Be not afraid."
Meanwhile, it grieves me to say that the OSCE resolution against anti-Semitism, vigorously supported by the Vatican, which I introduced in the Senate on November 21, 2002, languishes in the Senate Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights, still awaiting the committee's consideration and recommendations.
As for the Pope, permit me to return to his words in Latin taken from his Last Will and Testament. "Nunc Dimmittis." Lord, let this servant pass in peace. The Pope's closing thoughts in his Last Will in Latin were these: "...in manus tuas, Domine, commendo spiritum meum." In your hands, Lord, I commend my spirit.
As the Cardinals gather in Conclave in Rome, "To Find The Key," I ask: What was the key to Pope John Paul II? I say, as he said, "Shalom... Pax Vobiscum." Peace be unto you and all of us, now and through the ages. Let us say, "Amen."
Hon. Marisa Ferretti Barth: Honourable senators, it is with great sadness that I rise in this chamber to pay a last homage to the Holy Father. As you know, I am of Italian descent. For Italians, the Pope is, above all, an Italian.
The reign of Pope John Paul I lasted only 33 days. His death changed the course of history. On October 16, 1978, the council of cardinals chose a new non-Italian Pope, the first in four and a half centuries. It truly was a revolution. Without doubt, the reign of Pope John Paul II will go down in history. His death is a great loss for humanity.
During his pontificate, he travelled widely and went to meet all people, especially young people. He was able to mobilize, bring together and energize young people in all their splendour. Millions of young people, believers and non-believers, all over the world paid sincere homage to this great spiritual leader who left his mark on the 20th century. It was a great privilege for me to meet the Holy Father at the Vatican in 1998 and in 2001. He was a man of great courage and conviction, who often reminded us of the benefits of spiritual values in a world obsessed with material desires.
Pope John Paul II was also a great defender of older people. In his mind, reaching a ripe age was the sign of a blessing from the Most High. In that sense, longevity was to be seen as a special divine gift.
As he said in his last Easter message:
Human life is a precious gift to be loved and defended in each of its stages.
I would like to offer my most sincere sympathy to all those who loved and appreciated this great man.
Hon. Jane Cordy: Honourable senators, as so many have done since Pope John Paul II's death, I wish to pay homage to him today. As a Catholic, I thought of him as the head of my church. Honourable senators, he has proven to be so much more. His influence extended far beyond the Catholic Church and into all corners of the world. He is truly someone who has made a difference, someone who has changed the world and made it a better place. His hands reached out to those in need, to those less fortunate, to those less free. His support for the Solidarity movement in his homeland of Poland no doubt helped to bring down communist rule in some parts of Europe.
I was told of the Pope's death at a NATO meeting. The head of the Polish delegation told us he had sad news and in a very emotional voice told us of the death of Pope John Paul II. He spoke of what a great man and writer he was. I happened to be sitting next to the head of the United Kingdom delegation who commented on the effect the Pope had and how times had changed, because the Polish speaker, who was so moved and who spoke so highly of his fellow countryman, had been an influential member of the Communist Party in Poland.
Honourable senators, Pope John Paul II had such energy, warmth and spirit. This was evidenced by the worldwide reaction to his death. He travelled the world visiting about 130 countries, including Canada three times while Pope and once as a Cardinal. Upon his death, the world travelled to him, not only Catholics, but those of many faiths. He showed dignity and courage throughout his life, but particularly in the face of illness when he showed that dying is as much a part of life as is birth.
Honourable senators, Pope John Paul II touched the lives of many and changed the lives of many. May he rest in peace.
Words of Welcome
Hon. Jack Austin (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, it is a great pleasure to put on the record of the Debates of the Senate words of welcome to our nine new senators. They bear distinguished credentials, all of them. It is clear, from the work they have done in their communities and in their careers, that they will be of considerable value to the work of this chamber.
Honourable senators, Senator Kinsella and I had the opportunity to meet these senators to discuss the nature of our institution and the way it works. Obviously, it was a discussion that was completely focused on institutional behaviour and not that other kind of behaviour that sometimes arises in the debates of this chamber.
I find in each new senator a great interest in this chamber, a commitment to public service, and a desire to express his or her particular interests in public service through participation in the work of this chamber.
Honourable senators, I very much appreciate the welcome that all of you gave these senators when they were introduced today.
Hon. Noël A. Kinsella (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, I, too, wish to welcome to our ranks nine new colleagues, adding a full 10 per cent to our numbers.
As honourable senators know, the selection process continues to be a subject of debate in Canada. Those who argue that the democratic deficit in Canada could be reduced by changing the selection process perhaps make a good case.
However, those who would argue for the abolition of the Senate seriously fail to understand the nature of Parliament. There have been some rather spurious suggestions in the media and elsewhere that the Senate could be abolished by attrition, through a simple failure of the Prime Minister to appoint replacements for those who leave by mandatory retirement, resignation or by an irresistible summons from a higher authority. Such a simplistic mechanism for the elimination of the Senate overlooks section 17 of the Constitution Act, which reads as follows:
There shall be One Parliament for Canada, consisting of the Queen, an Upper House styled the Senate, and the House of Commons.
While some use the terms "Parliament" and "House of Commons" interchangeably, they are clearly wrong. As matters currently stand, if the upper house ceases to exist, so does Parliament. That may not have occurred to those who found it encouraging that the Prime Minister had delayed filling so many vacancies until now. I would add that this gap in time between appointments is neither unusual nor unusually long in the history of the nation. There have been similar or longer intervals between appointments 17 times previously, the first occurring between June 1869 and October 1870. Of course, there were not as many positions to be filled in the early years of our nation's existence, but, on occasion, similar numbers of appointments were made.
As has become the norm, appointments have engendered negative media coverage, with various derogatory remarks directed toward this chamber, its function and membership.
Honourable senators, the Senate is an institution with a long and honourable place in Canadian history. Its primary function has commonly been described as providing "sober second thought" to proposed legislation passed by the other place, a function that has been diligently and successfully pursued and fulfilled. Amendments are regularly proposed by way of improvement, and despite the fact that many worthwhile modifications are not immediately accepted, the work of the Senate does not go unnoticed and our suggestions may later find their way into government proposals.
While "sober second thought" is an important part of the work of the Senate, the Senate has also gained increasing prominence through the many worthwhile studies undertaken by its committees, with significant reports emanating from those studies that have led to further discussion of critical issues and have formed the basis for later government action.
In addition to the good work done in reviewing bills and in committees, individual senators have made excellent use of their positions to shed light on a range of issues that have arisen and have been ardent advocates of advancing the interests of the nation.
It is also noteworthy that there is a high degree of collegiality within this chamber. That is not to say we agree on everything; far from it. However, this is a place where varied viewpoints are given a respectful hearing and in which reasoned and sometimes impassioned arguments have been known to sway opinion.
As a Westminster-model chamber, a healthy and robust official opposition party is critical in making the system effective. We on this side continue to hope that the Prime Minister will recognize the need for appointments to the ranks of the Conservative Party of Canada, the official opposition in this Senate.
In conclusion, I confidently anticipate that our new colleagues will soon find their stride and will make their own significant contributions to our common endeavour to serve our country to the best of our abilities. On behalf of all on this side, I wish to welcome our nine new colleagues to the Senate and wish them well as they assume their new responsibilities.
2004 Annual Report Tabled
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table the annual report of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal for the year 2004, pursuant to subsection 61(4) of the Canadian Human Rights Act.
2004 Annual Report Tabled
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table the 2004 annual report of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, pursuant to section 61 of the Canadian Human Rights Act and section 32 of the Employment Equity Act.
April 2005 Annual Report Tabled
Hon. Bill Rompkey (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, two copies of the Auditor General's report dated April 2005.
Hon. Bill Rompkey (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, two copies of the report of the Interim Committee of Parliamentarians on National Security.
Part III—Reports on Plans and Priorities Tabled
Hon. Bill Rompkey (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, two copies of Part III of the 2005-06 Estimates, Reports on Plans and Priorities.
Bill to Amend—Report of Committee
Hon. Lise Bacon, Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, presented the following report:
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
The Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs has the honour to present its
Your Committee, to which was referred Bill S-11, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (lottery schemes), has, in obedience to the Order of Reference of Tuesday, October 26, 2004, examined the said Bill and now reports the same with the following amendments:
Page 1, clause 1: Replace lines 8 to 17, with the following:
"(b.1) for the purposes of paragraph (1)(a), a game that is operated on or through a video lottery terminal or slot machine, within the meaning of subsection 198(3), situated on premises other than a casino, a race-course or a betting theatre referred to in paragraph 204(8)(e); or"
Page 1, clause 2: Replace lines 18 to 20, with the following:
"2. This Act comes into force on a day, not later than three years after the day on which it receives royal assent, to be fixed by order of the Governor in Council after the governments of the provinces and territories have been offered an opportunity by the Government of Canada to participate in consultation on its implementation."
Your Committee has also made certain observations, which are appended to this report.
(For text of observations, see today's Journals of the Senate, Appendix, page 710.)
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this report be taken into consideration?
On motion of Senator Bacon, report placed on the Orders of the Day for consideration at the next sitting of the Senate.
Bill to Amend—Report of Committee
Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein, Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce, presented the following report:
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
The Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce has the honour to present its
Your Committee, to which was referred Bill C-29, An Act to amend the Patent Act, has, in obedience to the Order of Reference of Monday, March 7, 2005, examined the said Bill and now reports the same with the following amendments:
1. Page 2, new clause 2.1: Add after line 19 the following:
"2.1 The Act is amended by adding, after section 103, Schedules 1 to 4 set out in An Act to amend the Patent Act and the Food and Drugs Act (The Jean Chrétien Pledge to Africa), being chapter 23 of the Statutes of Canada, 2004.".
2. Page 2, clause 3: Replace lines 20 and 21 with the following:
"3. (1) Sections 1 and 2.1 come into force on the day on which An Act to amend the Patent Act and the Food and Drugs Act (The Jean Chrétien Pledge to Africa), being chapter 23 of the Statutes of Canada, 2004, comes into force.
(2) Section 2 comes into force on a day to be fixed by order of".
JERAHMIEL S. GRAFSTEIN
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this report be taken into consideration?
On motion of Senator Grafstein, report placed on the Orders of the Day for consideration at the next sitting of the Senate.
Report of Committee
Hon. Wilbert J. Keon, Deputy Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology, presented the following report:
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
The Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology has the honour to present its
Your Committee, to which was referred Bill C-12, An Act to prevent the introduction and spread of communicable diseases, has, in obedience to the Order of Reference of Wednesday, March 9, 2005, examined the said Bill and now reports the same with the following amendments:
1. Pages 25 and 26, clause 62.1: replace lines 23 to 38 on page 25, and lines 1 to 13 on page 26, with the following:
"62.1 (1) The Governor in Council may not make a regulation under section 62 unless the Minister has first caused the proposed regulation to be laid before both Houses of Parliament.
(2) A proposed regulation that is laid before a House of Parliament is deemed to be automatically referred to the appropriate committee of that House, as determined by the rules of that House, and the committee may conduct inquiries or public hearings with respect to the proposed regulation and report its findings to that House.
(3) The Governor in Council may make a regulation under section 62 only if
(a) neither House has concurred in any report from its committee respecting the proposed regulation before the end of 30 sitting days or 160 calendar days, whichever is earlier, after the day on which the proposed regulation was laid before that House, in which case the regulation may be made only in the form laid; or
(b) both Houses have concurred in reports from their committees approving the proposed regulation or a version of it amended to the same effect, in which case the regulation may be made only in the form concurred in.
(4) For the purpose of this section, "sitting day" means a day on which the House in question sits."
2. Page 26, clause 62.2: replace lines 25 and 26 with the following:
"before each House of Parliament, the Minister shall cause to be laid before each House a statement of the".
WILBERT J. KEON
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this report be taken into consideration?
On motion of Senator Keon, report placed on the Orders of the Day for consideration at the next sitting of the Senate.
Notice of Motion to Authorize Committee to Extend Date of Final Report on Study of Bilingual Status of the City of Ottawa
Hon. Lise Bacon: Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:
That, notwithstanding the Order of the Senate adopted on Thursday, December 2, 2004, the date for the presentation of the final report of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs on the petitions tabled during the Third Session of the Thirty-seventh Parliament, calling on the Senate to declare the City of Ottawa a bilingual city and to consider the merits of amending section 16 of the Constitution Act, 1867, be extended from April 30, 2005, to October 27, 2005.
Dropping of Satellite Booster Rockets in Canadian Waters—Lack of Communication
Hon. Michael A. Meighen: Honourable senators, last week Canadians were shocked to hear more than once that the U.S. was planning a missile test that could see booster rockets and space junk land within 25 kilometres of the Hibernia platform off Newfoundland. I say that Canadians were shocked more than once simply because the U.S. has rescheduled the launch on several occasions, bringing considerable unease to Canada's East Coast and within the oil industry.
As a result of conflicting reports from the Americans and, it must be said, poor cooperation between our two countries, 414 offshore workers from the Hibernia oil platform, the Terra Nova oil platform and an offshore drill rig could be evacuated at a cost to the industry of up to $250 million.
After extensive meetings with U.S. officials, Premier Danny Williams stated that there is little that can be done to stop the launch. How can this be, honourable senators? How can this be tolerated when Canadians may be at risk, as well as the well-being of the oil industry? The Government of Canada has taken a back seat and it is the Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador who has taken the leadership role in this issue, even though it is clearly a matter for the federal government.
My question for the Leader of the Government in the Senate is this: Given that the trajectory of the U.S. rocket launch may well put Canadian lives and interests at risk, will the government insist that the United States alter its plans and change the trajectory? If not, will the government insist that the United States pick up the tab for any industry evacuation?
Hon. Jack Austin (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, the Government of Canada has been working actively with American officials, with officials from the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador and with the oil industry to look at all of the issues that have been raised by this proposed launch. It is not correct for Senator Meighen to say that we have been taking a back seat. The government has worked in collaboration with the province and with the industry and is concerned to effect a launch by the Americans that would be safe for our workers on offshore oil platforms off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador.
The U.S. Air Force has identified a narrow band of ocean called a launch hazard area in which they expect their debris to fall. They have identified this area to the Government of Canada and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. The U.S. Air Force asserts that Hibernia and other platforms are some distance from this particular launch hazard area.
The United States can of course act unilaterally to launch this particular Titan IV rocket, which carries a satellite, which, according to the information we have been given, is designed for North American security purposes. The U.S. is planning at the moment to launch on Sunday, April 17.
Should any damage take place to Canadian property, of course, we would make a claim under international law on behalf of Canadian citizens to compensate for that damage. The issue of evacuation of the personnel is under active consideration, and that decision is entirely within the authority of the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Senator Meighen: Honourable senators, what is troubling here is the apparent lack of real communication between our two countries. Initially, Canadians were led to believe that the rocket launch over Newfoundland and Labrador was simply a missile test. Now we learn that a Titan IV rocket is intended to carry a satellite for the Pentagon. Surely Canadians deserve to know what kind of risk is involved and not have all of these conflicting reports.
Therefore, I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate, should Canadians come to expect this type of conflicting information, given the poor relations that exist between Canada and the United States that have developed under the watch of his government, or is this lack of communication perhaps one of the consequences of Canada's decision not to participate in the ballistic missile defence project?
Senator Austin: Honourable senators, the supplementary question is nothing but a pretext for political rhetoric.
Some Hon. Senators: Oh, oh.
Senator Austin: The facts are undoubted that the governments of Canada and the United States are working closely in all areas that relate to the defence of North America. The attempt to portray a poor relationship between the Government of Canada and the Government of the United States is inaccurate and does not serve Canadian national interests.
Hon. J. Michael Forrestall: Honourable senators, I should like to know whether the Canadian government has given any thought to the presence in that general area of a Canadian naval vessel and, if not, whether they urged our friends to the south to have naval presence in the general area that, if necessary, might be able to assist? In fact, is it required?
Senator Austin: Honourable senators, one hopes that the American military has mathematicians who can accurately calculate the trajectory of the rocket and can accurately calculate the release of its booster portions. That information is being exchanged with the Government of Canada and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. As I said, the ultimate decision with respect to whether the offshore oil platforms will be manned at the time this rocket is launched belongs to the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Senator Forrestall: Would the government take this opportunity to reconsider its stand on space and give to the Americans a clear indication that we are prepared to assist in whatever way we can, including general support, so that we might know of these adventures beforehand and be at the table to discuss the impact of such decisions on Canada?
Senator Austin: Honourable senators, this information was known beforehand. It was communicated to the Premier of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, who took the steps he thought were appropriate.
The relationship between Canada and the United States in matters of North American defence is excellent.
Hon. Terry Stratton (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Am I to understand that the federal government was aware of this rocket launch prior to Premier Williams becoming involved? Could the minister inform us as to the sequence of events that took place? Was Premier Williams informed first? Was it the federal government informing Premier Williams, who then made a decision to try to do something such as pulling the people off Hibernia? What did take place?
Senator Austin: It is my understanding that the federal government conveyed the information to Premier Williams. If that turns out not to be the case, I shall inform this house.
Hon. Bill Rompkey (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I have the honour of presenting three delayed answers to oral questions raised in the Senate. The first response is to a question raised in the Senate by Senator Tkachuk on March 23, 2005, regarding Welland Canal and a reduction in tolls.
I also have a response to an oral question raised in the Senate on March 23, by Senator Comeau, regarding the protection of inland fisheries and a response to an oral question raised on March 8, by Senator Oliver, regarding BSE-related tax measures.
Welland Canal—Reduction in Tolls
(Response to question raised by Hon. David Tkachuk on March 23, 2005)
The responsibility over the structure of Seaway tolls resides with the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC).
Transport Canada administers the management, operation and maintenance agreement between the SLSMC and the federal government. To this end, the role of the department was to ensure that this change to the structure of tolls was implemented in accordance with the provision of the Seaway Management Agreement.
The change to the structure of Seaway tolls is solely applicable to "new cargoes", specifically defined as cargo which has not moved through the Welland Canal in the past three years in an average amount greater than 10,000 metric tonnes. For such "new cargoes", the lockage fee on the Welland Canal will be replaced with a toll that is based on ship size (charge per gross registered tonnage). In addition, this measure will only apply if more than 50 per cent of the cargo carried on a ship transit qualifies as "new cargo." Lockage fees on the Welland Canal will continue to apply to all other cargo — that is, cargo that does not meet the specific definition of "new cargoes."
This change to Seaway tolls will have virtually no adverse impact on revenues but may encourage new cargoes / ships to a system that is not being used to its full capacity.
- Responsibility for the operations and maintenance of the Canadian Seaway resides with the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation under a long-term management agreement with the federal government pursuant to the Canada Marine Act.
- Under this agreement, the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation is authorized to charge tolls and other user charges to finance the operation and maintenance of the Canadian Seaway.
- Since Seaway commercialization in 1998, Seaway tolls have been increased annually at a cost of living index.
Protection of Inland Fisheries
(Response to question raised by Hon. Gerald J. Comeau on March 23, 2005)
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) takes its responsibility for the conservation of salmonids very seriously and devotes a significant amount of resources (over $2M annually) in the area of fisheries enforcement as well as resource monitoring, enhancement, habitat restoration, and stewardship.
DFO conducted a review of its inland compliance program in consultation with stakeholders in 2002/03 and has embarked on a 3 year plan to diversify and balance the program with a two-tiered approach, i.e. direct enforcement combined with a prevention/education component. The program will be more effective in the longer run with a diversified strategy that integrates stakeholder engagement, community partnership and stewardship initiatives along with direct enforcement activities.
The budget for the DFO inland fisheries enforcement program in the Newfoundland and Labrador Region has been stabilized at approximately $1.6M (exceeding the levels of the late 1990s and early 2000s). There are more than 90 DFO Fishery Officers and 150 Fishery Guardians involved in inland fisheries enforcement in Newfoundland and Labrador. In 2004, Fishery Officers and contracted Fishery Guardians spent nearly 62,000 hours on inland enforcement (this far exceeds the amount of effort devoted to any other species). More than 250 charges were laid for salmon and trout violations in 2004, with an increased emphasis on offences that pose the highest risk to conservation (e.g. netting).
The regulatory framework for inland fishing is governed by both federal and provincial legislation. Revenues generated from licensing are received by the province. Additionally there is tremendous economic benefit derived in the province from recreational angling through the sale of fishing gear/tackle and provisions as well as the economic benefits from the associated tourism.
Under the terms of an agreement between the federal and provincial governments, all Provincial Conservation Officers are designated as Fishery Officers and all Fishery Officers/Fishery Guardians are designated as Conservation Officers. Detailed operational guidelines have been developed to guide the officers in day to day work. In 2004, approximately 46 per cent of salmon-related charges resulted from independent DFO efforts, 12 per cent from independent DNR (provincial) efforts, and 42 per cent from joint operations involving provincial and federal officers. Cooperative working relations and specific Joint Project Agreements have proven effective in assisting conservation and protection efforts and DFO looks forward to continuing this good work with their provincial partners.
Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy—Aid to Cattle Industry
(Response to question raised by Hon. Donald H. Oliver on March 8, 2005)
- Senator Oliver has raised the idea of tax incentives to increase cattle slaughter capacity in response to the BSE crisis.
- The government has received requests for tax concessions to respond to a number of disasters or crises in recent years. The Government has generally provided relief through expenditure programs rather than the tax system.
- Tax policy in recent years has been focused on changes that increase both competitiveness and efficiency, such as a low uniform rate of tax across sectors, and capital cost allowance rates that reflect the useful life of assets.
- In some circumstances, tax incentives are not an efficient mechanism for delivering assistance. The government must ensure that the full value of the benefit is directed to the intended recipients. For example, tax incentives would be unlikely to benefit start-up operations in the near term.
- However, farmers do already benefit from preferential tax treatment through, for example:
- On the capital gains side, there is:
- intergenerational rollovers for the disposition of farm property;
- the $500,000 lifetime capital gains exemption for farm property; and
- the 10-year reserve for gains on disposition of farm property.
- On the income side, there is:
- cash basis accounting;
- a deferral of income from the sale of breeding stock due to drought;
- a deferral of income from forced destruction of livestock; and
- flexible inventory adjustment mechanism.
- The government recognizes the importance of quickly enhancing domestic ruminant slaughter capacity in the wake of the BSE crisis. In this regard, the Government has initiated direct financial support ($83 million) as well as regulatory changes to facilitate the development of new slaughter capacity:
- The federal government is establishing a Loan Loss Reserve to increase lenders' willingness to support projects to increase ruminant slaughter capacity, including expansion and construction of small and medium-sized facilities.
- The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is streamlining processes for establishment reviews and the approval of new plants under the Meat Inspection Act.
- The CFIA has been provided with incremental resources for increased inspection activities related to the planned long-term increase in slaughter rates.
- Governments will examine existing regulatory processes to identify opportunities for streamlining in order to allow expansion or construction of facilities to begin sooner.
- On March 10, 2005, the government announced a $50 million contribution to the Canadian Cattlemen Association's Legacy Fund to help launch an aggressive marketing campaign to reclaim and expand markets for Canadian beef. This marketing campaign is expected to generate more demand for the increased slaughter capacity being developed through the Loan Loss Reserve.
Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) Programs Since June 2003
(million of dollars) BSE Recovery Program (June 2003) 312 Cull Animal Program (November 2003) 120 Transitional Industry Support Program—direct payment component (March 2004) 678 Repositioning the Livestock Industry Strategy (September 2004) 488 Various food safety and research measures (2003 and 2004) 208 Total 1,806
Source: The Budget Plan 2005, Table 4.5, page 142
- Going forward, the Government is committed to examining all effective means of delivering assistance to this industry.
National Capital Commission—Policy for Acquiring Private Property in Gatineau Park
Hon. Bill Rompkey (Deputy Leader of the Government) tabled the answer to Question No. 10 on the Order Paper—-by Senator Spivak
Second Reading—Debate Adjourned
Hon. Joseph A. Day moved second reading of Bill C-33, to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 23, 2004.
He said: Honourable senators, thank you for allowing me to introduce Bill C-33 for second reading. This is a bill to implement many of the measures relating to income tax announced in Budget 2004. Among the budget measures included in the bill are the air travellers security charge and a provision allowing interested Indian bands in Quebec to conclude sales tax agreements with the Government of Quebec.
In the throne speech of February 2004, the government described the measures it intended to take to improve the level and quality of the lives of Canadians. The three main themes are the strengthening of the country's social foundations, the building of a strong economy for the 21st century and the re-establishment of Canada's influence in the world.
Echoing these themes, Budget 2004 set the foundation for a better future for Canada. Permit me to illustrate just how the measures contained in this bill reflect this goal.
Honourable senators, this bill contains numerous amendments to the Income Tax Act. In the interests of time, I will not be able to mention all of them. In fact, the intent and purpose of second reading debate is to understand the general principles of the bill before it is referred to committee. My intention today is to deal with the bill in a general sense, touching on some of the highlights. Undoubtedly, the issues will be dealt with in more detail before the committee once second reading debate is concluded.
I will discuss the following general subjects: persons with disabilities; amendments to the Income Tax Act relating to charities; fairness and integrity issues within the Income Tax Act — and here I refer to the general anti-avoidance provisions; changes to the Income Tax Act relating to small businesses: Canada in the world, particularly income tax provisions with respect to our Armed Forces serving abroad; the air travellers security charge amendment; and an amendment with respect to providing certain taxing rights to First Nations.
I am sure honourable senators will agree that a fair tax system must recognize the special circumstances of certain taxpayers that reduce their ability to pay tax. A fair tax system must also help remove barriers to participation in our economy and in our society. To that end, the Canadian tax system includes a number of measures that acknowledge the unique costs faced by persons with disabilities. Recognizing that a fair tax system must evolve over time in order to reflect changes in the economy and society, Budget 2004 contains measures to help persons with disabilities, building on past actions taken by the government.
Specifically, this bill includes provisions that will allow caregivers to claim more of the medical and disability-related expenses that they incur on behalf of dependent relatives. This bill also allows for a tax deduction for the cost of disability supports required for employment or education, such as talking text books for the hard of hearing and sign language interpreters.
It is important to mention that this last measure regarding support for education and employment is in response to an early recommendation of the Technical Advisory Committee on Tax Measures for Persons with Disabilities that was established in Budget 2003, and the government has reacted to those recommendations.
Honourable senators, with respect to charities, another area of importance, Canadians recognize that registered charitable organizations are an integral part of Canada's social fabric. Indeed, 80,000 charities registered under the Income Tax Act form a significant part of Canada's voluntary sector. These charities deliver social services and financial support tailored to meet the diverse needs of individuals and communities. In recognition of this contribution to the well-being of Canadians, Budget 2004 contains a number of initiatives that benefit the voluntary sector and the social economy. Specifically, Bill C-33 introduces a new regulatory scheme for registered charities. This is because Canadians must be able to donate to charities of their choice, trusting that their hard-earned money will be spent on charitable programs and services. Registered charities, for their part, must be able to operate with clearly established rules that are administered fairly and transparently. They must also have the flexibility to effectively manage the gifts entrusted to them by Canadians. This bill contains proposed changes to the tax rules for registered charities that will significantly help advance these goals.
First, the budget responds to the 75 recommendations contained in the March 2003 report of the Joint Regulatory Table that was launched in November of 2000 as one of six tables established by the government's Voluntary Sector Initiative. The report, resulting from extensive consultations between the Government of Canada, the charitable sector and other key stakeholders, called for improvements to the rules governing charities under the Income Tax Act.
Budget 2004 responded to the large majority of these recommendations concerning registered charities by proposing, among other things, a new compliance regime, a more accessible appeal regime, improved transparency and more accessible information. The Government of Canada has committed $12 million a year to implement these important reforms.
Honourable senators, that is not all the bill offers to assist charitable organizations. Bill C-33 also takes important steps toward improving the rules that determine the portion of charitable donations that registered charities must devote to delivering their programs and services and the portion they are entitled to use for administration.
These steps include proposals to support more effective gift management practices by charities. These proposals will help ensure that capital endowments can provide a stable and sustainable flow of funds for the delivery of charitable programs and services to Canadians.
Honourable senators, with regard to protecting fairness and integrity, I would raise an issue that has been brought to the attention of honourable senators through various means and by various persons. I have no doubt that this will be the subject of considerable debate when and if this bill is referred to committee.
The general anti-avoidance rule, sometimes referred to as GAAR, was enacted by Parliament in 1988. The debate is not whether the general anti-avoidance rule should or should not exist. It does exist and has existed since 1988. Its aim is to protect the tax system against abusive tax avoidance as such tax avoidance undermines the fairness and integrity of the tax system as a whole. Budget 2004 included a proposal to clarify that the general anti-avoidance rule applies to income tax regulations and to tax treaties between Canada and other countries, as well as to the Income Tax Act itself.
Since the inception of the GAAR, the government has maintained that it applies to abusive tax avoidance transactions whether they involve the Income Tax Act itself, the income tax regulations, or Canada tax treaties. Furthermore, while some practitioners argue that the GAAR does not apply to abusive tax avoidance in the tax treaty context, the only court decision to date that has dealt with this issue has supported the government's position by stating, in obiter, that the GAAR does apply to abusive tax avoidance involving tax treaties.
As I have noted, since 1988, no court decisions have ruled against the government's position that the GAAR applies in the context of tax treaties. Accordingly, it cannot be said that the proposal in this bill constitutes a retroactive tightening of the law. This does not change a well-known position, it merely clarifies a position that has been well known since its inception. This measure has, nevertheless, been assessed against the criteria of the Department of Finance that were established a number of years ago in considering any retroactive amendments. The government is satisfied that those rules are met by this proposed clarification.
In summary, honourable senators, with respect to this general anti-avoidance provision, the proposed change seeks only to ensure that the Canada Revenue Agency has the authority to challenge transactions that abuse our tax system. The only court decision that has dealt with this issue stated, albeit only in obiter, that the GAAR applies to the abuse of tax treaties.
The decision to clarify the GAAR to apply to the income tax regulations and to the tax treaties meets the criterion established by the Department of Finance for exercising the government's prerogative to introduce retrospective legislation. Based on these considerations, I trust honourable senators will agree with me that this is an acceptable provision.
Honourable senators, with regard to small businesses, as I have just indicated, the government continues to make the tax system fairer for persons with disabilities and for the charitable sector and to ensure that the fairness and integrity of the tax system applies to all Canadians. The government is also committed to providing a fairer tax system for small businesses in Canada, which are the key drivers of our economy.
The government knows that it must establish an environment that allows Canadian businesses to develop, to grow, to prosper, and to take on the world. To that end, the initiatives contained in this bill reflect the government's commitment to helping Canadian businesses succeed through supportive tax policies. One example of such a policy relates to the carry-forward period for business losses.
Honourable senators can no doubt appreciate that it can sometimes take many years before a new business begins to earn profits. A fair and efficient tax system must recognize, appropriately, both profits and losses in determining tax liability. The current rules allow businesses to carry non-capital losses forward for seven years and backward for three years. Small businesses have told the government that seven years is not long enough to carry forward losses, particularly for new businesses undertaking risky ventures.
For example, a small biotechnology firm may incur losses over quite a few years before successfully commercializing its technology and earning profits. To provide additional support, particularly to the small business sector, Bill C-33 proposes to extend the non-capital loss carry-forward for all taxpayers for 10 years. In addition to improving fairness and smoothing out the impact of business cycles, extending the period to 10 years will harmonize the small business carry forward with the periods already applicable to farm losses.
Another measure contained in this bill to help small businesses in Canada is a proposal to accelerate the increase in the small business deduction limit. Specifically, Bill C-33 proposes a measure to accelerate a previous initiative to increase the amount of income eligible for the 12 per cent small business tax rate provided to small businesses. With passage of this bill, small businesses will have access to the $300,000 limit for this taxation year, one year sooner than had previously been announced. This will help small business retain more of their income, income they can use for reinvestment and expansion.
Honourable senators, the next subject I will deal with is: Canada in the world. As you know, Canada plays an important role in promoting and facilitating peace and stability around the world. This role is fulfilled by relying on the contributions of the men and women of the Canadian Forces and the Canadian police services, including our RCMP.
Currently, men and women serving with the Canadian Forces on high-risk international missions receive special non-taxable allowances in addition to their regular pay, but the full amount of their regular pay has been subject to regular income tax. In recognition of the contribution of these individuals, Bill C-33 proposes to allow these men and women to deduct from their taxable income that employment income they earn while serving in high-risk military or police missions outside of Canada. To give you an idea of what this measure would mean for a member of our Canadian Armed Forces, an average soldier posted to Afghanistan for six months would save approximately $4,600 on the federal side of his income tax.
Other measures in Bill C-33 include the Air Travellers Security Charge. Honourable senators should not confuse the comments that I will be making with respect to the budget of 2004 with the more recent announcements and discussion of a further reduction in the budget of 2005. In Bill C-33, relating to 2004, honourable senators will recall that the Air Travellers Security Charge was put in place to fund a plan to enhance personal and economic security for Canadians following the events of September 11, 2001. You will recall that in December of 2001 the budget allocated $7.7 billion through to fiscal year 2006-07 for this initiative, $2.2 billion of which was identified to make air travel safer for Canadians.
This was in accordance with the new national security standards, including the creation of a new federal air security authority, the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority, sometimes referred to as CATSA. Following up on the commitment to review the charge in the budget of 2003, the government reduced the charge on round-trip domestic air travel by more than 40 per cent in 2003.
Based on updated revenue and expenditure projections, Bill C-33, this bill before you today, contains measures to reduce the charge even further, effective for tickets purchased on or after April 1, 2004. Specifically, for air travel within Canada, the charge will be reduced to $6 from $7 for one way, and to $12 from $14 for round-trip travel. For air travel between Canada and the United States, the charge is reduced to $10 from $12; and for international air travel, the charge is reduced to $20 from $24.
The government will continue to review the charge over time to ensure that revenue from the charge remains in line with expenditures on the enhanced air travel security system. As we know from the budget of 2005, the government has now completed its third review of the charge and has proposed further reductions, which will be before us when that bill is forthcoming in due course.
Finally, honourable senators, I should like to make you aware of an initiative with respect to our First Nations. One of the other measures contained in this bill relates to Aboriginal taxation. In 2003, the government introduced legislation to allow interested First Nations to levy on their lands a First Nations' goods and service tax that is fully harmonized with the federal government's goods and service tax. To date, the government has already entered into taxation arrangements allowing nine First Nations to levy their own sales tax on reserve sales of fuel, tobacco products and alcoholic beverages.
The government is also prepared to facilitate the establishment of taxation arrangements between provinces, territories and interested First Nations. In that regard, Bill C-33 proposes amendments to the First Nations' goods and services tax to facilitate the establishment of taxation arrangements between the Government of Quebec and interested Indian bands situated in the province of Quebec. The purpose of this initiative is to encourage these Indian bands to achieve a greater degree of self-reliance and self-government. The government remains willing to work with interested First Nations in putting these types of arrangements in place.
Honourable senators, I said at the beginning of my speech that, in Budget 2004 the government set the foundation for a better future for all Canadians.
The initiatives proposed in this bill represent important measures that will allow the government to build the society we all value, the economy we need, and the accountability framework we desire.
I am asking you, honourable senators, to vote in favour of adopting the bill at second reading.
Hon. Lowell Murray: Will the honourable senator permit a question?
Senator Day: I would be pleased to attempt to answer the honourable senator's question.
Senator Murray: Honourable senators, the provision that I am interested in at the moment is that which would change a definition relating to the general anti-avoidance rule in the Income Tax Act and make that change retroactive for 17 years, to 1988.
The sponsor of the bill has said that this change satisfies the criteria of the Department of Finance. This is not surprising. However, on the arguably more objective criteria of the Canadian Bar Association and the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants, which focus on such matters as the rule of law, this provision gets a distinctly failing grade.
We will have an opportunity to explore all of this if and when the bill goes to committee. However, just to satisfy my curiosity, can the honourable senator tell us of any precedents that he has at hand for making changes in the law retroactive by 17 years?
Senator Day: I thank the honourable senator for the question. I spent some considerable period of time during my presentation on second reading on this very issue because I know that there has been some discussion of these particular clauses by various persons outside of this chamber.
The honourable senator mentioned a change in the definition. However, since we have held two sessions on this issue thus far, the honourable senator will know that it is not described as a change in definition but, rather, a clarification; and it is not deemed to be retroactive.
Retroactivity would be to change a situation by stating that, no matter what was understood, this was the intention from the beginning. That is not the intention of this particular clause. This clause is an attempt to clarify what has been the general understanding in the industry, and has been the government's position since the inception of these general anti-avoidance rules, which apply to people who abuse the tax system.
On motion of Senator Stratton, for Senator Oliver, debate adjourned.
Second Reading—Debate Adjourned
Hon. J. Michael Forrestall moved second reading of Bill S-26, to provide for a national cancer strategy.—(Honourable Senator Forrestall)
He said: Honourable senators, in the gallery are dedicated Canadians who are extraordinarily interested in this work — as am I. I want to begin by thanking those who have given major portions of their life in this area that is so necessary to the well-being of Canadians. I wish to thank Mr. Joe Varner, in particular, for making Premier Hamm of Nova Scotia understand that we must get on with this work.
Having said that, honourable senators, it is my pleasure, coming as it does on the heels of the announced federal budget for the Canadian Strategy for Cancer Control, to stand in this chamber today and ask you to support Bill S-26, the proposed National Cancer Strategy Act, that helps to put the legislative framework in place to support the research in the fight to control and defeat cancer. The bill has been endorsed by the Canadian Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute.
The drive to get a Canadian strategy for cancer control has been endorsed by the Cancer Advocacy Coalition of Canada, whose members are in the gallery, and the Canadian Cancer Society, the Canadian Diabetes Association, the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada and the Canadian Lung Association — the so-called "Big Four" — after their successful drive to get a nationally funded strategy to control diabetes.
When you get to be my age, you start to think about health and wellness; you think about God's good grace for keeping you healthy. I particularly do, because I have been singularly blessed with good health all of my life. However, for many Canadians, health, wellness, being able to spend time with friends and family, being loved and giving of one's self, rests under the shadow of a dark disease, a fear, a remorseless scourge called cancer.
One in three Canadians is affected by cancer — one in three — and I suspect that number is much higher. For every statistic, there is a name; for every name, a broken heart, a broken family. Margaret Anne Lyons, 43, died shortly after her birthday of ovarian cancer. Dan Skaling — who was known to many here in Ottawa — died of complications from his fight again prostate cancer. Chris Houchin, 63, with whom I chased hurricanes around the Caribbean Sea and enjoyed myself, died this past summer of lung cancer. Three stories, three statistics, three families, three names and, sadly, three lives lost prematurely.
If current trends continue, 2.39 million Canadian workers will get cancer and, very sadly, 858,000 will die of cancer in the next 30 years. Cancer is the leading cause of premature death in Canada and will soon become the leading cause of death unless we take action now.
While the human cost is devastating, the cost in terms of economic damage to Canada and our ability to fund universal health care is cast in doubt. Cancer care in Canada is currently draining the health care systems of all the provinces. The economic productivity at cancer risk is $545 billion; direct health care costs at cancer risk are $175 billion; tax revenues at cancer risk is $250 billion — and of that $154 billion is federal tax revenues, and $96.6 billion is provincial tax revenues. Of this $250 billion of tax revenue at career risk, $228 billion will be associated with morbidity costs — that is, productivity losses prior to death.
The big message in these staggering numbers is that the ability of governments across Canada to raise revenues over the next 30 years will be significantly affected by cancer unless action is taken to confront this mounting challenge. Surely, if we can save just one life, it would be worth it.
Bill S-26 will not result in any increase in government expenditure and will focus national research on the control, treatment and finding of a cure for cancer in its various forms. We are said to be 10 to 15 years away from finding such control or cure for most forms of cancer.
Bill S-26 provides for the Minister of Health to consult with provincial ministers of health in each province and with charities involved in cancer research in order to develop a plan for a national cancer strategy. Following that consultation, the Minister of Health will be required under the proposed legislation to present a proposal to Parliament for the establishment of a national cancer strategy, the groundwork that has been well laid in the last two or three years by dedicated Canadians, as I have mentioned.
After the proposal has been debated in both Houses, the Minister of Health would then be required to introduce legislation to establish a strategy and an advisory committee.
The purpose of this bill is to compel the Minister of Health to show leadership on the introduction of a national research-driven strategy to control cancer.
Clause 3 of Bill S-26 compels that:
The Minister shall, within 90 days following the coming into force of the Act, consult with
(a) every minister responsible for the delivery of health services in a province, and
(b) every charity that is a registered charity under the Income Tax Act and that the Minister considers has, as its main objective, the funding of research into cancer,
to discuss the establishment of a national cancer strategy under the Act.
Clause 4 of the bill compels that the minister shall cause to be presented to each House, on one of the first five days on which the House sits after the expiry of 180 days following the coming into force of the act, a proposal for the establishment of:
(a) a national cancer strategy that provides for the Minister, and the ministers responsible for the delivery of health services in the provinces that agree to participate in the strategy, to coordinate the application of
(i) funds appropriated by Parliament,
(ii) funds appropriated by the legislatures of the provinces that agree to participate in the strategy, and
(iii) funds raised by charities that agree to participate in the strategy.
to finance research in Canada into the causes of cancer and its most effective treatments; and
(b) a committee to advise the Minister on the coordination referred to in paragraph (a)...
The committee for the coordination of the strategy would consist of representatives from the Government of Canada, the provinces and the designated charities.
Under clause 5, the government would then be compelled to debate the proposal in each House of Parliament during the first 15 days on which each chamber sits after the presentation of the proposed strategy.
Clause 6 ensures that within 90 days of the conclusion of the debates the minister would be compelled to introduce the legislation that the minister considers necessary to establish a national cancer strategy.
Bill S-26 was written with asymmetric federalism in mind such that a province can opt in or out of the strategy while still enjoying the benefits of the national approach.
In conclusion, honourable senators, I had the bill drafted after the September 2004 health care meetings of the first ministers. I watched my premier, Dr. John Hamm, a thoughtful Nova Scotian, tell his colleagues and the Prime Minister that Canada needed a cancer control strategy. The Prime Minister agreed but then, sadly, has done nothing about it. In the recent budget, the government showed again that, for some reason, it simply cannot bring health and health care in Canada into focus. It truly does not understand the implications of continuing failure in this area. Of the $300 million announced in the budget for the fight against chronic disease, $90 million was previously announced to fight diabetes, for which we are all grateful, and the promised $250 million over five years to fight cancer received only a few million dollars. It almost seems, because of its inaction, that the government would prefer that cancer continue to afflict and kill Canadians at the current rate. I do not honestly believe that, but it seems that way at times. Currently, 44 per cent of men will be afflicted with cancer at some time in their lives. Last year the figure was 43 per cent and two years ago 42 per cent were affected, and Canadians cannot afford that.
I ask honourable senators to support Bill S-26, to provide for a national cancer strategy, so that cancer might one day be beaten, once and for all.
On motion of Senator Rompkey, debate adjourned.
Bill to Amend—Second Reading—Debate Continued
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Nolin, seconded by the Honourable Senator Andreychuk, for the second reading of Bill S-23, An Act to amend the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act (modernization of employment and labour relations).—(Honourable Senator Rompkey, P.C.)
Hon. Madeleine Plamondon: Honourable senators, I would have liked to hear more about Bill S-23. I hope it will be referred to committee.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is the senator referring to Bill S-23?
Senator Plamondon: Yes, I would like to know more about it.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Senator Stratton, is it your intention to speak to the bill?
Hon. Terry Stratton (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, it was not my intention to speak. Senator Andreychuk is unable to speak to the bill today because of a commitment to the Foreign Affairs Committee but would like to do so at the next sitting of the Senate.
On motion of Senator Stratton, for Senator Andreychuk, debate adjourned.
Motion to Authorize Committee to Meet During Adjournment of the Senate Withdrawn
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Banks, seconded by the Honourable Senator Day:
That the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence be empowered, in accordance with Rule 95(3), to sit on Tuesday, April 5 and Wednesday April 6, 2005, even though the Senate may then be adjourned for a period exceeding one week.—(Honourable Senator Stratton)
Hon. Tommy Banks: Honourable senators, Motion No. 86 is no longer relevant because the date in question is past. I move that it be withdrawn from the Order Paper.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Senate adjourned until Wednesday, April 13, 2005, at 1:30 p.m.